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3D Hubs report shows most popular 3D Modeling software is SolidWorks

Global local 3D printer “connector” company published report on most popular 3D modeling formats sent to the agency for 3D printing jobs. Report hints at global popularity of CAD and 3D softwares.


3D Hubs, a global connector of sorts, bringing CAD and 3D users to local available 3D printers near them, has published its latest trends report that breaks out the most popular 3D file formats submitted to its vast network of 3D printer service providers.

Connecting over 14,000 local 3D printers to users, from Paris, to Milan, to London and New York, the company’s data on user software file formats can serve as an interesting proxy data for the outright popularity of 3D CAD systems. They write:

“This month we have something special to report. For the first time, we looked into the various file formats people upload to see what the most popular 3D modeling softwares of our users are.” (see image 01)

What’s Most Popular 3D CAD Systems—3D Hub Data

The winner at this moment in early 2015, is SolidWorks, a global MCAD market share leader, based out of Massachusetts. This was followed closely by Trimble’s modeler, SketchUp, a product very popular within the world of Architecture as well as in the “maker” community.

01 - The most popular CAD/3D file formats for the 3D Hub printer network.

01 – The most popular CAD/3D file formats for the 3D Hub printer network.

Speaking of communities, in terms of their data amongst their thousands of users, Hobby-DIY is the second most popular type of use (user), following Prototyping, which we assume is happening in the engineering, MCAD and product design markets.

After SolidWorks and SketchUp, the next most popular choice was Autodesk Fusion 360, a product that is growing rapidly in the product design and MCAD space. In fact, Fusion 360 is way ahead of Autodesk’s own SolidWorks competitor, Autodesk Inventor, which, actually is behind both Rhino, Blender and CATIA. (see image 02)

Other Software Notes

With a heavy amount of Hobbyist-DIY (do-it yourself) users, it should not surprise anyone to see the high SketchUp use, and it also explains the fourth most popular format—Autodesk 123D. It should be noted, from the graph shown above (see image 01) that Rhino is likely less represented because folks making scale models, like in Architecture where Rhino is popular, are not heavily represented in the user base.

02 - 3D Hub popular 3d printer models around the globe, as represented by its network of service providers.

02 – 3D Hub popular 3d printer models around the globe, as represented by its network of service providers.

The “Other” category is also nearly as large as SolidWorks and SketchUp combined, and more than 25 percent. A surprising level of folks use Blender, the only pure 3D suite with animation capabilities that was among the lead group apps.

The report covers details such as types of users, most popular 3D printer models and manufactures, plus the top cities that are doing 3D printing from CAD files. The top cities include New York, Milan, Los Angeles, London, Paris and then it goes into cities in the Netherlands.

The full report here. 

Architosh Analysis

The 3D Hub folks contacted us about this report because several of the leading 3D CAD tools placing in its top list are Windows and Mac based, including AutoCAD, SketchUp, Rhino, Blender and Fusion 360.

As noted above, given the high concentration of Hobby-DIY users sending 3D printing files through this network, a higher basis of Mac users might be expected as well. The Other category is so large, one wishes that it was broken down at least a bit. We would be curious to see if tools like SolidEdge, formZ and Ashlar’s tools are included.

One final note about the true popularity question, or at least the notion of this service equaling some sort of proxy for 3D software popularity, the company itself (3D Hub) list specific tools on its website under Design Tools, suggesting tools for use. Not surprisingly, tools like Blender and Rhino are recommended, as well as Autodesk’s 123D suite which competes with SketchUp on some level.