by Max von Übel

Are you stuck with your math problem? Here is a list of some of the best 3D graphing calculator software tools. Some of them can guide you step by step through the problem – others are suitable for professionals.

The handheld 3D graphing calculator is a staple for any high school student who has moved beyond basic maths problems. This is because the display of graphs is an essential aid for understanding advanced problems in fields such as math, physics, and chemistry. Some desktop 3D graphing calculator software tools go even further by offering step-by-step expressions so that students can better wrap their heads around advanced mathematical concepts.

Professionals also benefit from 3D graphing calculator software. Spreadsheets can be loaded into many of them to perform statistical operations.

Finding the right 3D graphing calculator software for your needs can be tricky. That’s why we compiled a list of some of the best 3D graphing calculator software tools.

The 3D graphing calculator software in the following table is given in alphabetical order. You can filter them to your needs.

Academo features an easy to use 3D graphing calculator software tool. Enter a mathematical expression using the variables x and y. The tool will then plot it as a surface. Fine-tune the result by setting the range for the variables. Viewing options of the 3D graphing calculator software tool are pretty basic, but sufficient – The plot can be rotated and enlarged. You can trace the values of the graph by browsing it with your mouse.

However, this 3D graphing calculator software tool will not calculate solutions of the equation such as the zero of a function for you. The range of possible functions that can be entered into the expression box is limited but covers most of your everyday algebra needs. Possible expressions include the sine, cosine, tangent, square root, logarithm, and a few other essentials. Last but not least, you can share the graph by sending the link since the expression is included in the URL.

Overall this may not be the most sophisticated 3D graphing calculator software tool, but it will perform just fine for the operations it was designed for.

So, you want to have a handheld 3D graphing calculator, but don’t have the dough to buy one? Not a problem. Download this 2D graphing calculator tool to your Android device and get started right away! This app lets you use advanced functions such as sine, cosine or logarithms. Instead of squeezing your expression in a single line, Algeo displays the input as you would write it with pen and paper. Also, say goodbye the Enter button. This calculator tool answers your formulas automatically.

Algeo plots functions and calculates solutions of the equation such as the zero of a function for you and jumps to them. In case you need the values of a range of points, this 2D graphing calculator tool can output a table of values instantly. This feature allows you to correct your own solutions in a breeze.

If you want to want to experience 3D graphs in proper 3D, take a look at Calcflow. This is an open source 3D graphing calculator software for Oculus and Vive that offers a completely new approach to maths. The advantage of operating a 3D graphing calculator software tool is that the human brain is capable of interpreting the visual information quicker and more reliable than it can on 2D projections such as on computer screens and in textbooks. After experiencing functions in 3D, understanding even complex mathematical concepts becomes easier even when they are written out.

By using the Oculus Touch you are able to manipulate vectors with your hands. This transforms your Oculus Rift into an ingenious didactic tool to explore vector addition and cross product intuitively. If you don’t know expressions of the top of your head, you can load a series of presets into this 3D graphing calculator software tool and manipulate the variables to explore the manifold mysteries of math! For the future versions, the developers are planning export to the OBJ format and expand the tool’s usefulness not only for learners but also professional engineers and designers.

If you need a free professional 3D graphing calculator software that runs in the browser, CalcPlot3D is the only calculator you will ever need. Although this tool does not come with tutorials or manuals, the developers have prepared a large library of expressions that you can load. This way, you can study space curves, implicit surfaces, parametric surfaces and vector fields on the living object, so to speak.

The extensive viewport settings show that this 3D graphing calculator software tool was designed with professional users in mind. Graphs can be viewed as humble 2D projections, but if you have the necessary hardware you can also display them either in colored red-cyan or as stereo pairs. CalcPlot3D is the perfect 3D graphing calculator software tool to create plots for publications since it features several styling options for creating contour plots of the graphs.

Desmos is a high grade 2D graphing calculator tool for the browser and iOS devices that can be used for free. This browser app uses a very easy to remember notation for entering expressions. While you can simply use it as a tool in your everyday work, it also comes with a math learning platform. Teachers listen up! Desmos provides many classroom activities ready for use, but if they don’t fit your student needs you can create your own with the included activity builder. You can check a classroom set of graphs at a glance and prepare the next lesson accordingly.

Desmos is not only designed for use by students. It is also very well suited for demonstrating algebraic phenomena in the classroom, as it comes with a rendering mode that increases the contrast of the graphs for beamer projection. This graphing calculator tool also caters to the need of blind students. Not only can Desmos be configured to read expressions. It can render graphs as audio loops of modulated tone pitch, points of interest like intersections are rendered as pop sounds and other sonic aids.

GeoGebra is a free 3D graphing calculator software tool that has been developed for use in mathematics and science education. In the program, constructions can be made using points, vectors, segments, lines, polygons, conic sections, inequalities, implicit polynomials, and functions. These elements can then be dynamically modified to better understand their properties. Moreover, constructions can be studied in a range of different views. This allows pupils, for instance, to study geometric objects from the vantage point of algebra.

The online learning capabilities of GeoGebra are particularly strong: Teachers can create worksheets that they share with their class to solve. Worksheets can also be shared with teachers for re-use. The objects made in this 3D graphing calculator software tool can be exported in a wide range of formats. As static images, Vector files, LaTeX code, animated GIFs, and many more.

Those of you who own an Apple computer, already have one of the best 3D graphing calculator software tools bundled with macOSX (10.4 and later). Grapher is capable of 2D and 3D graphing and supports various coordinate systems (linear, polar coordinates, linear-logarithmic, log-log, polar log). At the top of the view enter the expression. You don’t have to learn a new notation for entering expressions, since this 3D graphing calculator software tool comes with an equation palette that allows you to drag and drop the most common symbols. As you enter the expression after expression in the top field they will be overlayed in the viewport. To the left of the viewport, the expressions are listed. Here, you can select and deselect expressions for viewing.

In addition to curve plots, you can also load spreadsheets into Grapher to create a point plot. Grapher’s inspector is where you turn when you want to prepare your graph for publication. It allows you to select different styles of lines (straight, Bezier), the color, the marks used to designate points and much more in the 3D graphing calculator. In case that you create a variable parameter animation Grapher allows you render it and save as a Quicktime movie file.

Unlike macOS, Windows does not ship with its own 3D graphing calculator software tool. Luckily there are some free solutions available, one of them is Graphing Calculator 3D. This sophisticated program allows you to plot in 2D and 3D. It can also handle implicit and parametric equations. Overall, the user interface invites exploration and experimentation of mathematical phenomena: While you type in the equation in the field to the left of the viewport, the graph is being updated after each keystroke. Impressively, this 3D graphing calculator works cartesian, polar, spherical and cylindrical coordinate systems. What is more, you can import your own data as spreadsheets to plot it Graphing Calculator 3D.

The appearance of the plots can be manipulated down to the last details in this 3D graphing calculator software tool. For instance, there are comprehensive rendering options that you to style graphs according to your needs. In addition, you can, of course, control the resolution of the graph by moving a slider. In case you need the values of a range of points, this 3D graphing calculator software tool can output a table of values in an instant. This feature allows you to find solutions to complex problems in a breeze.

This free german engineered mobile app especially shines when solving equations, helping you to find the fifth derivation or the integral of a term and also showing you the approach and tips on how to do it! This app is a must-have for everyone who struggles with solving a mathematical problem. It is no problem for the app to work with equations consisting of multiple unknown figures, numeric data or pure alphabetical letters. To support your conception Math42 also offers you a 2D plot feature. It calculates the points of intersections, gradient or boundary value. Math42 has a build in tutor and helps to train your mental arithmetic on the run. The 3D graphing calculator app is available for free for iOS or Android and supports six languages.

Mathpix is a 3D graphing calculator software tool that runs both in the browser and on mobile devices. solve equations, vector, display point clouds, and vector fields exports to 3D files also offers a series of applications that are designed for use by teachers and students in the classroom.

The mobile apps are particularly convenient, as they don’t require entering expressions manually. Instead, equations can be entered using optical character recognition. Meaning students can take pictures to solve their math problems in case they are stuck. Being a learning tool, Mathpix will not simply display the graph and the solution, but it will also guide the students step by step. This way they will be able to transfer what they have learned to the next problem. Conversely, teachers can speed up their grading of papers. Because of its thought through feature set, MathPix may well be one of the best 3D graphing calculator software tools.

MATLAB is used by millions of engineers and scientists worldwide to process data and work with matrix, array mathematics.

The software’s most powerful feature is numerical analysis and computing large amounts of data. It is based on a programming language which is used to quickly create scripts to document and evaluate data. You can learn this with one of the many free courses provided by MathWorks or the implemented tutorial. After that, you can simply input the equation you want the have solved and plotted.

Next, to its own programming language, MATLAB offers a toolbox to quickly calculate and depict functions. These can be graphically displayed in many customizable 2D and 3D and even 4D graphs varying in color. It also offers plugins for image data processing, controlling for dynamic and embedded systems or signal processing. MATLAB is available for all platforms and even offers a mobile app to solve for example boundary value problems and access and edit your files on the run.

This powerful software, however, comes with a hefty price tag. Single consumer licenses range between 800$ – 2000$. You can also license MATLAB for a 30 days trial and many technical or economical universities offer a student license.

Microsoft developed its own 3D graphing calculator software tool called Microsoft Mathematics 4.0. Though it used to be a paid product, it has been available for free download for a couple of years. This program is not only a scientific calculator but also a powerful teaching tool. Meaning this 3D graphing calculator software tool helps students to visualize, understand and apply abstract math concepts. What makes it particularly suitable for students since is the featured step-by-step equation solving. This way students can wrap their heads around the fundamentals of pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, and calculus at their own pace. In addition to the exact symbolic output, the program also displays a decimal output which helps students understand the correlation between the two.

To facilitate studying, it is also possible to load a library of 100 standard equations. However, the core component is the 3D graphing calculator that enables users to animate the parameters of their equations allowing an intuitive grasp of their role for the graph. Among the other advanced features are a triangle solver, a unit conversion tool, and ink handwriting support.

If you want to have a handheld graphing calculator, but don’t want to buy one? Not a problem. Download this 3D graphing calculator software tool to your iOS device and get graphing quickly! Quick Graph features an intuitive interface that makes it easy to enter expressions equations in mathematical notation and visualize them in as graphs in both 2D and 3D. What is more, this app supports all the coordinate systems you could ask for: cartesian, polar, spherical and cylindrical. In 3D mode, graphs can be shaded and lit to bring out the depth of the surface you are studying.

To make plotting even easier, Quick Graph comes with a library of commonly used equations. Most of the feature set is free. The viewport can display up to 6 graphs at a time – in case that does not cover your needs, buy an upgrade. The paid version also includes implicit graphs, inequalities, and other advanced features.

Before inkjet printers and computer memory became affordable, graphs and 3D objects were saved as vector graphic files. These files had the advantage that their size was immensely smaller than raster graphics files because they only displayed the outlines of objects. Hard copies were made using “plotters” – output devices that drew on paper along the X- and Y-axis using pens. Although they are no longer a necessity, vector files are still popular for their clarity.

This largely depends on the handheld calculator. One criterium is the support of CAS, or computer algebra system that 3D graphing calculator tools offer by default. Meaning you can enter mathematical equations symbolically and return symbolic equations as answers as you would with pen and paper. It makes it easier for students to transfer what they have learned from one mode of calculating to the other.

While advanced handheld 3D graphing calculators usually support CAS, most low-cost calculators do not offer this feature. The developers of some of the best 3D graphing calculators take advantage of CAS by offering step-by-step solutions to symbolic expressions so that students can study and understand their math problems in detail.

Moreover, CAS capability can mean that certain 3D graphing calculator won’t be permitted on standardized exams. Before buying a handheld calculator, you should find out what exact models are approved.

Did we miss a 3D graphing calculator that you can recommend? Let us know in the comments.

License: The text of "11 Best 3D Graphing Calculator Software Tools" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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