Best STL Viewers 2020

Everyone who works with 3D files, from engineers and architects to graphic designers and artists, tries to find a perfect viewer that combines affordability and efficiency. Today, there are plenty of STL file viewers which are available free of charge, yet provide an extensive set of viewing tools. 

A reliable free STL viewer is an indispensable tool for 3D model inspection which doesn’t take up a lot of memory on your hard drive. Online browser-based viewers will come in handy in a pinch when you need to quickly review a 3D file, but don’t want to install new software to your computer. In addition to that, it is possible to view STL files on virtually any device, since there is definitely an app developed specifically for your gadget. 

Some of the STL viewers can also help to prepare your 3D models for printing. Since STL file format defines the surface geometry of 3D objects, an advanced STL viewer can offer some features which allow you to check if the model is printable. For example, these features enable wall thickness estimation, as well as make it possible to check the model for potentially problematic areas.

In this article, we will talk about some of the best free STL viewers available on the market. Continue reading to find a viewer that is a perfect match for your needs and requirements.

 

3D Builder

3D Builder is a free 3D tool available for Windows (it even used to come pre-installed with the system but not anymore). Simple, straightforward and highly functional, the program is more than just an STL viewer. It offers some editing capabilities, can be used for 3D repair (there’s an automatic error fixing feature) and there are even some slicing functions. 

The interface is clean and intuitive. The sidebar provides the editing options while the toolbar located at the bottom offers the abilities to view, rotate and move the objects. Everything looks well-organized. 3D Builder is a good example of a program that is both straightforward and packed with the features. Its editing and repairing capabilities might be lacking, but as an STL viewer, the program gets the job done. 

OS: Windows

Supported File Formats: STL, PLY, OBJ, 3MF, VRML (import only)

Visit: 3D Builder

 

3D Viewer

Source: Microsoft

3D Viewer is a simple 3D files viewing program, which comes preinstalled in Windows 10. 3D Viewer reads the majority of most commonly used 3D file formats. In addition to that, it is possible to display 3D animations. 3D Viewer offers a set of simple viewing tools, such pan, zoom, and orbiting controls, which can be implemented using your mouse, touch, pen or keyboard.

In this program, it is possible to inspect the 3D model mesh, texture and material, as well as choose from a variety of lighting and shading modes. On top of that, the application offers a Mixed Reality mode, which makes it possible to mix your 3D models into your actual surroundings using your computer’s the camera.

OS: Windows

Supported File Formats: STL, FBX, OBJ, GLB, GLTF, PLY, 3MF

Get the app: 3D Viewer

 

3D-Tool Free Viewer

Source: windows7download.com

3D-Tool is a free STL viewer designed for Windows. It is a sophisticated 3D software with an extensive feature set and an intuitive user-friendly interface. In addition to that, the program offers great CAD support which makes it a great tool for designers and engineers.

The viewer offers advanced viewing tools, such as cross-section view of the model. It is also possible to rotate the model in every direction and add an exploded view of the object. The program’s advanced measuring tool allows to access the dimensions of the model precisely. 3D-Tool enables to adjust the light source and the direction of the light as well. If you have to prepare your model for 3D printing, this program also offers many useful tools to test your model, wall thickness estimation being one of them. 

OS: Windows

Supported File Formats: STL, OBJ, CATIA, X_T, STEP, IGES, VDA, SA, SAB

Get the app: 3D-Tool Free Viewer

 

3DViewerOnline

Source: alternativeTO

3DViewerOnline is a free browser based STL viewer with simple and easy to use interface. On top of its main function, which is to view your 3D model files, this convenient tool allows you to measure the distance between two specified points in your 3D file and slice the mesh of the object open along the assigned axis. In addition to that it is possible to hide and show smart lines as well as customize your 3D objects. To make use of 3DViewerOnline’s additional features, you’ll have to register with the site via existing Google, Facebook or Twitter accounts or using your email. Registered users can share their 3D objects on their social media platforms or send them via email. On top of that, it is possible to embed this viewer in your e-commerce websites, which allows you to showcase your products. 

3DViewerOnline also offers a premium version of the app. If you upgrade to a premium account, you get full access to this viewer’s feature set. The premium edition offers an ad-free experience with the ability to upload up to 100 files simultaneously. The viewer is easily customisable, it is possible to personalise it to match your corporate style by adding your logo and using your company colors. 

OS: Browser

Supported File Formats: STEP, IGES, PLY, OBJ, 2D-DXF, 2D-DWG

Get the app: 3DViewerOnline

 

ADA 3D

Source: softpedia.com

ADA 3D is a very basic, yet effective tool for viewing STL files with a simple user-friendly interface. It allows you to adjust the colors of both the 3D model and the background to ensure that the object is clearly visible. It is very easy to examine even the finer details of the object, as it is possible to render the model with a flat or a smooth shader in the app. On top of that, if you contact ADA 3D’s publisher, there is an option to add your company’s logo to your 3D files.

OS: Windows

Supported File Formats: STL, OBJ

Get the app: ADA3D

 

Autodesk A360 Viewer

Source: youtube.com

This online 3D viewer by Autodesk is a professional software with an extensive feature set which makes it possible to view and inspect your 3D files completely free of charge. One of the main advantages of the app is that it offers support for more than 50 different 2D and 3D file formats, which makes it an indispensable tool for architects, engineers, graphic designers and professional users from other fields. 

A360 Viewer provides a great number of viewing tools, such as zooming, panning and turning. Other features include cutting and measuring of the objects. On top of that, the app offers a possibility to view 3D files in collaborative mode, making it a great option for group projects. 

This viewer allows you to share your 3D designs via high definition screenshots or links. For authorized Autodesk users it is possible to embed 3D models in a website or send them for printing. In addition to that, the viewer offers connectivity to the majority of common cloud storage services, which makes it even easier to inspect your files from any device. Autodesk Viewer also offers a premium subscription, which unlocks the rest of the advanced features and allows users to take advantage of the app’s full potential.

OS: Browser

Supported File Formats: DWG, DWF, RVT, Solidworks, STP and many more

Get the app: A360 Viewer

 

Dimension Alley

Source: DimensionAlley

Dimension Alley is an unusual 3D printing shop/coffee shop based in Berlin, Germany. They offer a great range of 3D related services from workshops and masterclasses for all ages to 3D scanning and printing. On top of that they have a free online STL viewer on their website. This viewer has quite a limited feature set, but fulfills its main function - it allows you to view your models in 3D. It is possible to slightly adjust your models in the viewer by coloring and scaling. Though Dimension Alley Viewer can’t offer much, you shouldn’t judge it too harshly - it was developed to help the customers of the shop view and inspect their models before ordering to have them printed. 

OS: Browser

Supported File Formats: STL

Visit: Dimension Alley

 

EasyViewSTL

Source: gCad3d

EasyViewSTL is a simple free tool for viewing STL files. The program offers you a wide range of view modes and settings to ensure the best possible viewing experience. Such features as grid make it possible to better understand the object’s dimensions and measurements. On top of that, this basic program is able to point out the potential problems of the model which can affect the structure and sturdiness of the finished product. Unfortunately, this app has a severe drawback - both the documentation and the website, along with the program itself, are all in German.

OS: Windows

Supported File Formats: STL

Get the app: EasyViewSTL

 

Fast STL Viewer

Fast STL Viewer is a free (with some minor paid abilities such as configuring color options) STL viewing program available for Android. Boasting minimalistic interface and offering all of the needed functions, the program is quick and able to work even with large files. 

The abilities include opening both binary and ASCII STL file formats, several viewing modes and selecting options. The files can be opened directly from email attachments and cloud services. 3D printing with Treatstock is also supported. The internal file manager keeps track of the last opened models, providing a fast and easy access to the files. 

Fast STL Viewer is a useful app for quick viewing of the STL files on the smartphone. Its feature set and interface might be minimalistic, but the speed of the program and the ability to work with larger files make up for that.

OS: Android

Supported File Formats: STL

Get the app: Fast STL Viewer

 

fstl

fstl is a free, open-source and cross-platform STL viewer designed with the speed in mind. The models load quickly, and the program can show high-polygon objects very smoothly at 60+ FPS even on a mid-range PC. 

It is also very clean-looking. The models are beautifully rendered with flat-shading and anti-aliasing.

fstl doesn’t offer any interesting functionality but it’s a decent STL viewer that’s extremely fast, smooth and good-looking. 

OS: Windows, macOS, Linux

Supported File Formats: STL

Get the app: fstl

 

GLC-Player

Source: sourceforge

GLC-Player is a powerful STL viewer available completely free of charge. This software provides a very extensive set of efficient viewing tools. GLC-Player enables you to view cross-sections of 3D objects, display respective properties of the models and take snapshots for sharing. This viewer is known for its model management feature, which makes it possible to display a tree view of the objects elements, such as dimensions, textures and materials. GLC-Player offers an opportunity to shift the camera to view the model from different angles. On top of that, you have the option to choose from four different shader modes and select a light source. Another noteworthy characteristic of this software is its support for a wide range of 3D file formats, including OBJ, OFF, COFF, COLLADA and 3DXML. Due to its extensive feature set, this viewing software can be quite a brainer for novice users, but after a short learning curve you can come to truly appreciate GLC-Player’s functions.

OS: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

Supported File Formats: STL, OBJ

Get the app: GLC-Player

 

Gmsh

Source: gmsh

Though Gmsh performs the viewing function perfectly, it can do so much more. It is a full-fledged open-source 3D finite element mesh generator with a built-in CAD engine. It was designed as a simple, yet efficient meshing tool with an extensive set of viewing features. They allow you to cross section 3D objects, and include such basic tools as panning, zooming and rotating. 

This program even allows you to create 3D models from ground zero. First, you have to define points, lines and surfaces of the object which are then extruded to form a 3D model. Though it can be quite difficult to get a hang of Gmsh at first, it proves to be a very useful tool due to its ability to import industrial CAD formats.

OS: Windows, Mac, Linux

Supported File Formats: STL, STEP, IGES, and BREP

Visit: Gmsh

 

Mac OS X Preview

Source: youtube

This is a very simple way to view 3D models, if you have a Mac computer running OS X El Capitan and higher. The preview application has a built-in STL file viewer, which allows you to zoom in on the object and rotate the 3D model in any direction. Though the features available are very limited and basic, it is more than enough to view your 3D files in everyday use. Like any Mac application, it has a very sleek and pleasant interface with the opportunity to switch to a darker background, which helps to highlight the model and inspect it more thoroughly.

OS: Mac

Supported File Formats: STL

 

MeshLab for iOS

Source: MeshLab for iOS

MeshLab for iOS is a simple reliable STL viewer. It has a very easy-to-use intuitive interface and offers a very straightforward navigation system, which allows to properly inspect even complex and large 3D objects (up to 2,000,000 polygons). This viewer supports a number of other standard 3D file formats aside from STL files. Another great feature, which makes MeshLab stand out from other free STL viewers, is the ability to open 3D files directly from email attachments, web pages and DropBox. 

OS: iOS

Supported File Formats: STL, PLY, OFF, OBJ

Visit: Meshlab for iOS

 

MiniMagics

This free STL viewer from Materialize was specifically developed to manage the work of 3D printing services. MiniMagics helps to facilitate great communication between account managers and customers, which ensures hatch-free efficient work on complex projects.

This software offers a very user-friendly intuitive interface which helps to analyze the uploaded 3D files quickly and precisely. MiniMagic provides a set of basic viewing tools, such as zooming, panning and rotating. On top of that, it is possible to display a cross-section view, which allows you to look inside of your model and inspect it properly. Another great feature of this advanced STL viewer is the integrated “3DPrintCloud” button enables you to efficiently repair 3D models before printing.

OS: Windows

Supported File Formats: STL, MAGICS, MGX

Get the app: MiniMagics

 

Open 3D Model Viewer

Source: Star Fighter 3000 to Wavefront convertor

Open 3D Model Viewer is an indispensable tool for everyone who has to deal with 3D files on the regular. This is more than just an STL viewer, it is also a basic user-friendly 3D editor. The app offers support for more than 40 most commonly used 3D file formats. In addition to that, this free app offers up to four viewpoints, which make it possible to inspect your 3D object from several different angles simultaneously. 

The app’s small but mighty set of editing features allows to edit and fix broken models, as well as generate skeletal animations. This, along with the yet-to-come mesh repair tool, makes the Open 3D Model Viewer a useful app to prepare your models for 3D printing.

OS: Windows

Supported File Formats: STL, OBJ, 3DS, BLEND, FBX, DXF, LWO, LWS, MD5, MD3, MD2, NDO, X, IFC, DAE and more

Get the app: Open 3D Model Viewer

 

Openjscad

Source: openjscad

This free online STL viewer is built on the base of OpenJsCad and OpenSCAD.org. Unlike the vast majority of 3D modeling and viewing programs, this software doesn’t offer you an intuitive and interactive approach to creating 3D models. Openjscad instead enables you to use Boolean operations to combine primitive shapes and develop 3D objects. Though this approach doesn’t particularly catch on with an everyday user, it still has its loyal fans who truly appreciate the accuracy and precision. 

One of the main advantages of this viewer is that it can work offline as well. On the downside, however, this viewer has a very limited feature set which allows you only to rotate around the object. More than that, the software supports quite a narrow range of file formats, which makes it impractical for a professional user. 

OS: Browser

Supported File Formats: AMF, X3D and JSCAD

Visit: Openjscad

 

Pleasant3D

Source: pleasantsoftware

Pleasant3D is a simple easy-to-use STL viewer developed for Mac OS X. The software allows you to inspect 3D models and offers a basic set of viewing functions; you can zoom in on the model and rotate it along the X, Y and Z axis. On top of that, the app enables you to alter the dimensions and location of your 3D objects. Another great feature of the app is the possibility to display the GCode of the model. You can examine your model layer by layer and determine all of the potentially problematic areas of objects, which helps a great deal when you’re trying to prepare your 3D model for printing.

Pleasant3D can also be integrated into Finder’s Quicklook function. This feature makes it possible to convert this STL viewer into a useful tool for convenient organization of your 3D files.

OS: Mac

Supported File Formats: STL, GCode

Get the app: Pleasant3D

 

STL Viewer for WordPress

This WordPress plugin is a great tool to help you showcase your 3D models on your website or blog. The viewer is based on WebGL and can be easily embedded using a shortcode. This STL viewer has a very limited set of features in comparison with other viewer software, but it still allows you to zoom and rotate the object in any direction to help you inspect your model more closely. It is a viable option if you need to display a small 3D object on your page. Otherwise, it is quite insufficient, as larger files slow the viewer down significantly. 

OS: Browser

Supported File Formats: STL

Get the plugin: WordPress

 

STLView

Source: freestlview

STLView is a basic free STL viewer software developed by CNC milling company ModuleWorks for Windows and Android. It has a great touch screen support, which is quite useful if you need to quickly view a 3D file on your smartphone or other device. The app provides the basic zoom and rotate functions. It is also possible to change the color of the background or the model itself to help you better inspect the object. 

OS: Windows, Android

Supported File Formats: STL

Get the app: STLView

 

STLView 2.0

The updated version of ModuleWorks’ STLView, 2.0 allows you to view your 3D files from your Android smartphone or tablet. The app offers a set of basic viewing features. Still, STLView 2.0 has one feature that makes it stand out from other trivial STL viewers. It is its “Gyrocam” - a viewing mode, which makes it possible to use your device’s G-sensor to twist and rotate the 3D models. The app is powerful enough to handle several models simultaneously without lagging. 

OS: Android

Supported File Formats: STL

Get the app: STLView 2.0 (free)

 

ViewSTL

When you are in a pinch, ViewSTL is the right tool to help you view 3D models quickly and easily. This is a browser-based viewer which doesn’t require you to download and install anything to your computer. You can simply visit the website and upload or drag-and-drop your files. This simple program offers different colors and three available views for your 3D models - flat shading, smooth shading and wireframe. 

For now, ViewSTL can only view OBJ files, but the developers plan to add support for other 3D file formats as well to make the software more versatile. In addition to that, this handy viewer makes it possible to send your 3D files to an online printing service near you to get your model printed. With the addition of WP ViewSTL plugin, this software enables you to display 3D models on your website or blog. It goes without saying that this viewer doesn’t have any special features, but it gets the job done. 

OS: Browser

Supported file formats: STL, OBJ

Visit: ViewSTL

 

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