I haven't looked at all these free 3D tools but some may be of interest to those heading toward 3D printing. Not sure they all output files in the appropriate format(s). Nonetheless, some of these links might be useful to some inventors.
After last year's CES, I noted that makers of 3D printers and 3D printing service provders had a small but noteable presence. This year their booths seemed larger and at least when I came by, the crowds around the booth seemed larger and more engaged than last year.
If you haven't looked and your invention involves "things," you might want to have a look at the growing market for 3D printers and related services. Here is a short list of those I looked at @ CES. Look here for a basic view of 3D printing (stereolithography).
For those in Silicon Valley, the SVForum has established a 3D Printing SIG. Their next meeting is January 29th.
As the 2013 International CES (no longer officially the "Consumer Electronics Show") winds down in Las Vegas, a few observations.
The show broke records in terms of show floor space--1.9 million
square feet-- and attendance--150,000 people. The show felt much more
crowded than it did last year. Long lines, very crowded show floor, etc.
Noticeable was the continued absence of Apple and the absence on the show floor this year of an official Microsoft booth(s), this after Balmer announced Microsoft's
withdrawal from the show last year. The official absence of both Apple
and Microsoft felt like there were a couple of huge holes in the show.
Given the empty conceptual space, if you will, the view
provided--however broad and deep--has important limitations, chief among
them is that it's not possible to leave the show with a reasonably
complete picture of the "space."
At the same time, Microsoft did have a substantial presence, but one
had to look for it in the products of Microsoft's partners in the
smartphone, PC, tablet, and other verticals.
DRM remains alive and well in the TV / video / Blu-ray / Xbox / mobile space. The major smart TV
vendors (LG, Samsung and then Panasonic, Sony, and may Sharp) remain
committed to controlling video content, especially streaming movies, TV
shows, and the like.