3D printing under Ubuntu

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Until now I rather used one of my Windows laptops for 3D printing, except for OpenScad "development" or writing for this wiki. This piece aims to centralize essential tools that are easy to install and use under Ubuntu.

Install summary

For Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

apt install meshlab
apt install freecad
apt install blender
apt install inkscape
apt install openscad
apt install slic3r

Manual installs

* Reptierhost (if you need printer controller and wrapper for slicing)

Design tools

Free CAD

is probably still the most popular CAD tool that people use under Linux. It can import STL meshes.


Blender is maybe the second most popular free general 3D modelling tool (the most popular is sketchup). A very powerful tool, but has a steep learning curve and it is not per se designed for 3D CAD. However, many people seem to be happy just doing that.


Is a 2D drawing tool. You may need it to import, change and simplify SVG Graphics (that you got from either http://openclipart.org or the noun project. OpenScad can extrude SVG images.


OpenScad is a programming language for creating 3D objects. A good choice if you plan to create relatively simple "technical objects" like Lego Bricks (e.g. Doblo factory) that are parametrizable and that you plan to use for a longer time. There is a learning curve, but once you got your code you may save time and hassle.

Mesh manipulation and repair tools


Meshlab is one of the most powerful mesh manipulation tools, but it is rather difficult to use. It is a must have tool for:

  • Mesh reduction
  • File conversion (import / export Mesh)
  • Mesh merging


Netfabb Studio used to be the only STL manipulation and repair tool when hobby 3D printing started around 2010. It still is one of the tools I can't miss.

In 2016, the company has been bought by Autodesk and the product may disappear. The Debian version seems to be gone ...



A decent tool, but not outstanding. In our opinion there is lack of parameters (e.g. one cannot tell how the second layer should be printed). Certainly one of the programs for people who do not want or need to print difficult objects.

All-in one repair, slicing and printer control

  • Simplify3D is a commercial product.

Should exist under Linux

  • Meshmixer from Autocad (a Mesh manipulation, mixing and repair tool. Also allows to create custom support)