Modeling programs are used for manipulation with an object, you can also use them for many parametric and modeling functions. Some of these can be used only in mass but others can be used even within the basic structure of a 3D model.
So let’s talk about these programs from the simplest. That would be TinkerCAD, SketchUp, and Meshmixer. These are programs that are free to use, and pretty much anyone can learn how to use them within a few minutes.
TinkerCAD is a cloud program, which means that you don’t install it, you use it in your browser. It is part of the 123D family. You can quickly and easily share the model with other users. It is very practical and simple, there is even a tutorial that will show you the five starting features, in fact, these are probably the only features it has.
SketchUp is an app that within the new version has a few not as good restrictions. For example, you can’t simply export your model in .STL format. But you can install a plugin that makes it possible. There is a huge library of finished models from other users, unfortunately, these are not made for 3D printing. The program is used for basic architecture and interior design purposes.
This is a little more advanced program. It is more for viewing and other manipulations such as fixing, with your finished models. There are functions such as Voronoi, holing the program, making them hollow, or gluing more models together, making this program very unique and probably unbeatable.
In the more advanced modeling programs category, we can also put 3Dmax, Blender, Cinema4D, and Rhinoceros. These programs are used for most 3D models and that is simply because of the great variability and size of these programs. Each and everyone one of them has their issues and bugs, it is either the price or orientation in the program. But if you give it a few months of intense trying with online tutorials, you might be a pretty good modeler with an aspiring career. If you feel like you used the program to its max, you might just find out that the functions have different names in different programs. You will get used to finding different icons and indescribable functions and your modeling will get easier with time. It may get frustrating with the screen being full of different tabs and lines that you don’t need for 3D printing. To make it cleaner for the use you can just disable additional tabs and lines that you don’t need,. For designers and architects are these programs usually the best.
The best thing about this program is the free license. On Tuesdays, there is a whole course on just Blender in MakersLab.
Way more modelers are now using this program. It is very open and has so many functions that it is a great rival to more expensive programs. There are even functions such as sculpting or parametric modeling, making it a very professional program.
Most of the things said about the programs above applies to Rhinoceros as well. One unique thing about this program is its addon Grasshopper. You can program models with prewritten functions or you can add your own formula and functions if you are looking for organic modeling and scripting 3D graphics. But it is harder to learn so it may take way longer than just a month.