Netfabb vs Meshlab - How do they compare/contrast?


Continuing the discussion from STL vs OBJ - I can use both, which should I use?:

I took a look at Netfabb and, while it has a free trial, I could find no mention of a downgrade to a free version after the trial period ends (like SU Make). And the monthly cost after the trial, even for the “Standard” version, is prohibitive for an occasional hobbyist user such as myself.

I also saw the recent thread on meshlab. And I also took a quick look. My next question:

What can I do in Netfabb that I can’t do in Meshlab - and vice versa?

And yes, I do realize that I might be asking for an apples/oranges comparison! I’m so new to 3d printing that I’m not sure what things are even possible between SU export of a .stl file and importing the .stl file into a slicer app immediately prior to printing!

Tagging @sketch3d_de and @mac7595 since they both replied to my previous topic (which spawned this one!)


[quote=“”]Instead of downloading netfabb Basic as a separate product, all customers have to do now is download the free Netfabb trial. For the first 30 days, users will have access to all the features of Netfabb Premium, including advanced packing, support structures and support for metal additive systems. When the trial expires, the software will continue to run with the same functionality that was previously netfabb Basic. For most users, it’s still the same basic Netfabb you know and love and can be used to preview, fix, and analyze STLs and much more. Unfortunately, we do not currently offer support for Mac or Linux users.

We made this change for many reasons. By accessing the basic version of Netfabb through the free trial, users get access to:

The advanced features available in Netfabb Premium, making it easy to see if they're right for your business or project
A free product that is updated and improved right alongside the core, professional products
New capabilities like unified materials definitions and machine support      

After the trial, if you choose not to renew your subscription, you still maintain access to all files and have basic printing and prep functionality. The paid features like metal supports will no longer be available, but users will still be able to open saved projects, slice them, and print them.

The team is committed to maintaining a free version of Netfabb as a high-quality tool for 3D viewing, repair, selective printing, and more. We will continue to update our customers on any changes, updates and new features here on the Netfabb blog.[/quote]


I’d say Autodesk hid that detail well! I hope they update the Netfabb site so that it doesn’t require a search of the blog to realize that you can still use it (less some features) after the free trial expires.


That is good new I have used free verion and think it is a great tool opening it to more functionality for use by us " cheap" folks is great!!


NesLab probably has more capability than any around but until recently the instructions on how to use is sorely missing.
It can do most things but is a number of stand alone filters and the sequence use can cause issues. It is one of the programs where you can actually decimate to reduce the number of edges and faces. Make sure to watch the videos if you want to try other wise you will get frustrated.


Meshlab is a general mesh editor supporting and converting lots of formats whereas Netfabb is located in the area of additive manufacturing analyzing, repairing and optimizing mainly for outputting generated data on a 3D printer.



Clear summary without reference details I wouldn’t (yet) understand! Thanks! As I’m starting out in home 3d printing, it makes my choice clear - Netfabb.



there will be surely functional intersections with the used slicer application, which is probably sufficient for beginners in this area at least until mesh data import is fine.


Most assuredly! Especially since, once the Netfabb trial periods reverts to the free version, one loses the ability to generate support structures, so I’ll have to rely on my slicer for generating support structures.

I’m still waiting for my printer which is coming from Hong Kong - and will then require assembly. But I have been practicing my workflow. Right now it is:

  1. Initial / Refine Design in SketchUp
  2. Export .stl
  3. Play with it in slicer (Simplify 3d)
  4. Goto step 1

Once I have a printer, I expect the flow to be modified as follows:

  1. Not satisfied? Goto Step 1
  2. Test Print
  3. Analyze problems. If likely slicer related, goto Step 3. If design related, goto Step 1. No problems?
  4. Done!


Netfabb was very limited with free version ; bought out by autodesk recently and there recent post indicates they are significantly opening its capability to free users. That is good selection especially for printing. Netfabb does not create support structure, tha only one I know of is MeshMixer, but you slicer crates what they call infill that serves the purpose of support for FDM. That runs the cost of print up but, since you are doing at home just additional material.
Do you design in Su and do not go repeatedly from STL to Su. STL is a output format not inport. It basically approximates the model with triangles and it can get big > That means it does not maintain topographical info. If you stay with pro I think Netfabb can export obj or ply that you may want to use. I do not have SU pro so import is ??? to me.
BTW do not dismiss MesLab in total. It has some good file conversion capability and is a good clean up tool to remove many errors other programs create. In fact Shapeways has a tutorial showing how to use for that very issue. Its free.
BTW I think you want slicer 3r??


Actually not. I already have Simplify3d. Yes, it’s a paid program. Why did I buy it before I have ANY actual printing experience? I don’t really have a good reason. I just did it.

I’ve already gone back and forth between SU and Simplyfy3D a few times - trying to make educated guesses on print time when I was planning on printing at a local community college’s Fab Lab. Then I found this:
Dual extruder with automatic leveling option for under $400! Yes! Mine’s on the way.

From what I’ve already tried, I’m not sure I’m going to need anything that Netfabb or Meshlab offers. My slicer has great support for controlling infill (with primary filament) and extensive separate control for supports - which can use the 2nd extruder. I’m planning on using mostly PLA filaments for my models, with water soluble PVA for support.

And yes - I know I’ve set myself up for a steep learning curve! Before I print my first part, I’m going to have to:

  1. Assemble the printer
  2. Calibrate the printer - and the profile settings in Simplify3d - for the filaments I intend to use

I don’t expect either step to be either fast or easy, but I’ll persist!