Best 3D modeling apps for iPad in 2022

3D modeling design of an old man in an iPad app

Due to its strong graphic capabilities, the iPad has always been a terrific tool for designers and artists. Now you can do 3D modeling on an iPad, which was previously limited to CAD software for Mac. So, if you wish to do 3D modeling on an iPad, here’s a list of the best 3D modeling apps for iPad.

  1. Shapr 3D CAD modeling
  2. Tinkercad
  3. SketchUp
  4. uMake
  5. Nomad Sculpt
  6. Sculptura
  7. Putty 3D
  8. Morphi
  9. Onshape

1. Shapr 3D CAD modeling – Editor’s choice

  • Requirements: iPadOS 14.0 and later
Apple Design Award Winner Shapr 3D CAD modeling iPad app

Shapr 3D, the 2020 Apple Design Award winner, is a computer-aided 3D design app for iPad with a full range of 3D modeling features. This app uses the Simens Parasolid engine to generate 3D models. As a result, it has become the most potent iPad CAD app. You can use 2D and 3D modeling tools, export manufacturing-grade 3D models, and more. 

So, the app is an excellent alternative for engineers and industrial designers. Also, it allows for connecting to desktop CAD software like NX, Creo, Catia, etc., for more precise formatting and editing. The app got noticeable visualization elements in the recent update, including additional material, lighting, and environment settings. The turn-off for me was that the app only works with Apple Pencil-compatible iPads.

Pros

  • Advanced modeling engine
  • Good for parametric modeling
  • Create 3D designs without internet

Cons

  • Only compatible with iPads supporting Apple Pencil

Price: Free (In-app purchases start from $29.99)

Download

2. Tinkercad – For beginners

  • Requirements: iPadOS 12.0 and later
Screenshot of Tinkercad iPad app with an Aeroplane 3D model

There are very few free 3D modeling apps for iPad, and Tinkercad by Autodesk is one of them. It retains several popular design features of Autodesk, such as a user-friendly interface and Tinkercad Tutorial Plans. So, you may begin learning the fundamentals of innovation, including 3D modeling, electronics, and coding on this app.  

You can use Arduino and micro:bit microcontrollers while creating circuits. Besides, the Apple Pencil compatibility helps to draw with ease. And the AR viewer superimposes your 3D model to test its use cases in the physical environment. The best part is the app is ad-free and has kidSAFE certification. So, people of any age can use it.

Also, Tinkercad offers Codeblocks to create 3D designs from code. It supports multiple file types like STL, OBJ, and SVG to import or export projects. But as per my experience, it’s not good for professional designs or advanced modeling. Also, I faced some bugs while signing up, as the app automatically logs out sometimes.

Pros

  • Unique CodeBlocks support
  • kidSAFE certified
  • Ads free
  • Compatible with Google Classroom

Cons

  • Not for advanced 3D designs
  • UX needs improvement

Price: Free

Download

3. SketchUp – With unlimited cloud storage

  • Requirements: iPadOS 15 and later
Building 3D model designed in SketchUp iPad app

SketchUp is a user-friendly 3D design app for architects, interior designers, construction specialists, and creatives. The only thing is the free version is limited to viewing features. You may take advantage of the seven-day free trial to check out all functionality. And if you like, pay $119 a year for an in-app membership to access premium options.

It’s compatible with Apple Pencil, mouse, keyboard, or multi-touch gestures. Besides, the Autoshape feature turns your sketches into 3D models. Also, you can add handwritten notes to 3D models using the Markup mode. I liked the 3D Warehouse with millions of ready-made parts, materials, and programmable objects for free download.

You can see your designs in the actual world using ARKit, the augmented reality (AR) viewing tool. The app allows importing location data, 3D landscape, and satellite photos to produce precise shadow studies. You can also sync files across all your devices with unlimited cloud storage. Besides, by turning Tags on or off, you may change the visibility of certain model components.

Pros

  • Cloud backup
  • Add photo textures
  • Multi-touch gestures

Cons

  • Expensive subscription

Price: Free (In-app purchases start from $119.99)

Download

4. uMake – Renderings like a pro

  • Requirements: iPadOS 13.0 and later
3D creation in uMake iPad 3D Modeling app

uMake is packed with an array of features and is easy to use, empowering 3D CAD experts and beginners. You can sketch, edit, export, visualize, render, and share your ideas in 3D designs. I found the drag-and-drop 3D models feature and simple lighting and rendering settings. The best part is it supports pressure sensitivity for the Apple Pencil.

You may produce precise, smooth NURBS vector-based curves and surfaces. You may also use mass modeling features, including push and pull, extrude along the path, revolve, array, layers, and geometry grouping. The unique rendering engine produces stunning images quickly and exports them to the STL, OBJ, STEP, and IGES formats. But I feel the free version is very limited.

Pros

  • User forum
  • Amazing presentations
  • One-minute video tutorials

Cons

  • The free version has fewer features
  • iCloud sync has bugs

Price: Free (In-app purchases start from $2.99)

Download

5. Nomad Sculpt – Premium 3D design app for iPad

  • Requirements: iPadOS 12.0 and later
Nomad Sculpt iPad app to create in 3D

Nomad Sculpt boasts excellent sculpting tools and brushes. So, it is an alternative to Mac 3D modeling software like Zbrush or Blender. Its user-friendly UI was created with mobile usage in mind, and you can modify the interface as you like. Also, you can use several sculpting tools, including Clay, Flatten, Smooth, etc., and customize the strokes. 

This iPad design app is unique because it can seamlessly sculpt complex polygons. I liked its Vertex painting technique with multiple resolution layers. The app has PBR rendering by default for previewing how your models will look in the HDRI environment.

Pros

  • Multiresolution sculpting tools
  • Stroke customization
  • Dynamic topology

Cons

  • Not good for animation
  • Drains battery fast

Price: $14.99

Download

6. Sculptura – Easiest 3D sculpting app

  • Requirements: iPadOS 15.2 and later
3D Octopus model designed in Sculptura 3D sculpting app for iPad

Sculptura is among the most user-friendly and powerful 3D modeling apps for iPad. It has an innovative clay engine with exceptional resolution and tools to create amazing abstract art and 3D models. Besides, I liked its GPU acceleration using Metal to speed up the whole sculpting process. If you want to return any past stokes, you can do that with a long undo history. 

Also, the exquisite rendering in real-time makes your sculpture look fantastic. The app supports Files, iCloud backup, Alembic, OBJ, STL, and USD file types. You may get ideas and inspiration from built-in templates and do symmetric sculpting. The best part is your projects aren’t exported in large files, so you may save space. But I feel the app should have offered more sculpting options at this pricing.

Pros

  • Full GPU acceleration
  • Artist-created templates
  • Long undo history

Cons

  • Limited features for professional works

Price: $9.99

Download

7. Putty 3D- Best in budget

  • Requirements: iPadOS 11.0 and later
3D Model Art creation in an iPad app named Putty 3D

Putty is more of a 3D sketchbook. It uses your iPad’s powerful graphics processing to provide a fluid and understandable sculpting experience. So, you can have larger sculpting volumes and even smoother performance with Apple Pencil. Besides, the 3D Touch support provides accuracy and pressure sensitivity.

You may export your creations to your preferred modeling, animation, and 3D printing software for Mac. This is possible because of the built-in support for OBJ and STL export. Also, you can use 3D printing to make your designs a reality. I liked its physicality-based rendering method that makes the materials look real. But I think if the app had a layer option, the 3D models would look more lively.

Pros

  • Export support for 3D printing
  • 3D Touch support
  • Record videos of your work

Cons

  • No layers option for modeling
  • Complex navigation and controls

Price: $4.99

Download

8. Morphi – Create your NFTs model

  • Requirements: iPadOS 12.0 and later
Screenshot of Morphi 3D Modeling app for iPad

Morphi is an iPad design app for generating and editing 3D models for augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D printing, animation, game creation, prototyping, and NFTs. It’s effective and easy to understand. Its free version offers decent features, so you may test every 3D design tool, including AR + 3D Render, before purchasing. 

Your iPad should support ARKit to experience immersive AR and snapping. Besides, the premium features include importing and exporting 3D models in STL and OBJ file formats to other AR/VR platforms. So, you can render your 3D models in the highest resolution without a WiFi connection or logins. The powerful CAD tools help in the creation of more complicated designs. 

The 3D lithophane tool allows 3D printing. Mostly, I have used it to create editable 3D designs from high-contrast photos. Besides, you may add textures to your models and type 3D text. The best part is it supports backup to iCloud, Google Drive, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc. Also, you can learn and showcase your designs to its amazing community.

Pros

  • Typing tools for 3D text
  • Does not require logins or a WiFi connection
  • Incredible community

Cons

  • No auto-save option
  • The app may crash while changing views

Price: Free (In-app purchases start from $0.99)

Download

9. Onshape 3D – CAD for free

  • Requirements: iPadOS 14.0 and later
Screenshot of Onshape 3D CAD iPad app

Onshape is a mechanical iPad CAD app for seasoned users and large teams. Thanks to the secure cloud workspace, you may create, edit, and collaborate with other users in real time. Also, you can work on a single project from multiple devices. But you are required to have an internet connection. Besides, the app offers a comprehensive set of parametric modeling tools.

You may use the built-in commenting feature in Onshape’s Follow mode. Also, the Apple Pencil compatibility makes drawing, navigating, and precise selecting easier. I recommend this app as it’s an open-source public workspace to support educators and students at no cost. The app updates dozens of new features and user-requested improvements every few weeks.

Pros

  • Full mechanical CAD platform
  • Collaborate with team
  • Easy data management

Cons

  • Don’t have a dark mode
  • Hard to find commands

Price: Free

Download

So, that’s all for today, folks!

All these 3D modeling apps for iPad are dependable, practical, and creative. These apps allow you to do your CAD work anywhere. Pairing it with Apple Pencil boosts efficiency and designing capabilities. There is an app for everyone, regardless of whether you are a student, professional, or hobbyist. So, choose the app that best meets your design requirements.

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