What free software is best?

I’m looking to start practicing using some software before my glowforge arrives. What software can I use for free that allows the creation of objects in 3D?


Fusion360 is incredibly useful


There have been numerous discussions on this topic over the past year. One of the better features of the forum software is its search capability. Clicking the magnifying glass at the upper right and entering “learn software” or “best software” will lead you to a treasure trove of suggestions, based on what your needs are.

In the meantime, here a a few discussions you may want to check out:

And so on…



Another good resource is the Link Repository. It has helpful links for a lot of these programs, and more!


Fusion 360. Free license for the hobbyist. Powerful like crazy and lots of tutorials on YouTube.


+1 for Fusion 360. It’s as powerful as Rhino, in a slightly different way.


I’m an Illustrator person myself, but that isn’t free. I also have Fusion 360 installed and love it just as well.

Comments above list some great topics to check out for all the information you will ever need/want to know. :slight_smile:


Onshape has a free version and is cloud-based so it runs on Win, Mac, & Linux so long as you run it in a supported browser.


I will often design my project in a 3D program, such as Fusion360 or OnShape. Then I export it to a 2D program such as Illustrator (paid) or InkScape (Free).

For the Epilog laser I was using, I had to “print” from the software to the laser using the 2D program.

All, am I correct that we will need to upload 2D files to Glowforge’s servers to get output.

If you look at my previous post you can see an example of a project I made with that workflow.


That’s my understanding - SVG format preferred, but I think they can also handle AI. :slight_smile:

@Jules, thank you. I take this to mean that though you may want to build 3D objects, we will always need to divide them into 2D slices. In my mind, this is half of the fun of a laser cutter. It is amazing what you can do with 2D.

Nothing I have ever used unlocked my creativity like a laser cutter.

Can you go 3D to 2D in Fusion 360? Something like the Layouts files in Inventor/Soildworks?

Yes, as a matter of fact, i just had to ask that question the other day…(I’m new to it too.) :relaxed:

You can select a sketch and right click on it to export it as a DXF file, then convert that in Illustrator or Inkscape.

F360 does a fabulous job of it too - dead on accuracy for the ones that I’ve played with.

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You can also do what’s called ‘project to surface’ which functions like using a light to draw a silhouette on a wall. You pick the angle and the surface and it will draw an outline of the projected model onto the surface to create a sketch which can be exported to a drawing file etc.



Personnally, I started to design objects in 3D for my new Reprap 3D printer.

I start to use “FreeCAD” : http://www.freecadweb.org/ .

It’s free, open source, available for windows, Linux, Mac OS. It s quite well documented with a community and tutorials.

Marc from Britany, FRANCE