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What programs (other than 3ds max itself) can import and render a 3ds max file? I'd prefer a program that is free or open source if it exists.

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4 Answers 4

A .max file can be imported into most Autodesk programs (Maya, AutoCAD, etc.) and can be exported to a .obj format by 3dsmax, then opened in almost every 3D modelling program in existence. All of Autodesk’s programs are available for free from their website on a student or educational license, however with that license you cannot use your creations for commercial gain.

I believe programs such as Mudbox, Softimage, ZBrush, etc. can also open .max files.

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Blender is FOSS

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Rhinoceros can, for one. Unfortunatelly, neither free, nor open source, but worth every eurocent otherwise.

As far as one can see, with appropriate plugins so can Inventor, Solidworks, and lady Maya.

I haven't used much that format (other suited me better), but it is a rather common format, nothing out of the ordinary. I gather most stronger ones would be able to load it, if not natively, then through a plugin or an add-on.

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There are many 3d apps that can import the .3ds and .dxf formats, which Max can export to. I don't believe there's anything other than Max that can read actual .max files because of the nature of that format (it's heavily dependent on the plug-ins utilized in constructing the scene).

Source: http://wiki.cgsociety.org/index.php/3ds_Max_File_Formats

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