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3D Design Software

Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:35 am

Hey all!

Second post here, hopefully better than the first. Also, hopefully not covered extensively in another topic elsewhere....

Getting my 3D printer this weekend, have Simplify3D for all of the wonderful things that it does. But it seems like (and please correct me if I'm wrong!) that Simplify3D is not a 3D design software package?

So what would folks recommend for a beginner, who'd like to try their hand at 3D design? I don't mind spending a little more money on features, although I've heard there's a lot of free/open-source stuff out there.

My new printer is going to be the FlashForge Creator Pro (for those curious). I'm assuming during the first few months, I'm going to be downloading, printing and slightly modifying existing models, but I'm also sure that I'm going to want to start working on modifying and creating new items soon enough.

As an aside, I have the full Creative Cloud subscription, with Photoshop and Illustrator. I'm not sure if those are "recommended" for the beginning part of the design workflow (with Simplify3D being the pre-printing tweaking/slicing), but it's there if it's useful.

Thoughts? I'm open to all ideas. And if there's another thread somewhere, please lead me in the right direction. Search didn't come back with much.


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Re: 3D Design Software

Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:00 am

Blender, TinkerCAD, Fusion 360 - there's a lot of options. Just try them out and pick one that seems intuitive to you.

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Re: 3D Design Software

Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:03 am

I had been using Designspark Mechanical and just started using Fusion.

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Re: 3D Design Software

Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:19 am

It's sometimes hard to decide, because this is my first foray into 3D design, and I know that most of the intermediate tools have a steep learning curve, so it's nice to know what folks use, recommend, and feel works for them. I've been playing with the FreeCAD tutorials, but it made me wonder if there's something better out there. I don't mind spending $100-200 on a good, professionally-developed and supported package, but I don't want to spend much more than that.

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Re: 3D Design Software

Fri Mar 31, 2017 10:55 am

You did not say what you hope to print. If you want to make organic models, the software is not the same as mechanical models.

I design mechanical parts. About 15 years ago, my local SolidWorks sales rep was so offensive that it caused me to google alternatives; that's how I ended up using Alibre, now Geomagic Design. (Not to be confused with Geomagic Design X!) It still crashes when I try to do section views with assemblies, especially if some of the parts are complex. It's easy to use, and common enough that it is not a tiny niche product.

As for 3d printing, it has a quirk with its STL export. It uses a common third-party solid model kernel, ACIS. Its quirks are well documented, because every CAD program that uses it shares the quirks. It regularly flips a triangle. I have not seen this be an issue with Simplify3d, but with some of my suppliers who use software typically importing SolidWorks files often do.

A consultant I know uses a half dozen different professional CAD packages so he can keep any client happy; he said they all have their weak points, and Alibre is not the only one that crashes regularly.

I was impressed with IronCAD's demo; check it out too.

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Re: 3D Design Software

Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:52 am
  • free (unlimited for everything you want to share, limited for private projects)
  • fast
  • constantly improving
  • easy to share documents
  • easy to collaborate with others
  • easy to move to it after using professional software like solidworks
  • import/export number of formats
  • nice manuals, examples, videos, webinars
  • great tech support
  • steep learning curve
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Re: 3D Design Software

Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:53 pm

Onshape has no privacy whatsoever for the free subscription. Anything you do can be freely viewed and copied by others. Previously free users could have some private documents, but not anymore. Personally, I ditched them and started using Fusion 360 instead.

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Re: 3D Design Software

Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:48 pm

I've been using ViaCAD pro.
Currently $250, but there are coupon codes out there...
Its also off line, no connection required. Full purchase price. I hate this rental crap.

It has its issues, but for the price I find it fantastic.
(I see the upgrade for me is 99 bucks... I'll be picking it up later tonight)

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Re: 3D Design Software

Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:56 pm

If you want to do anything hard surface/ CAD related (non-organic), and you plan on making this a legit hobby, I'd recommend Fusion 360. Free for causal users, amazingly powerful. I've never used OnShape, but I've heard good stuff, from a group of peeps that split off from Solidworks.

For anything organic, you can't beat Z-Brush. Steep learning curve, and there's a cost, but it's what all the pros I work with use.
If you want to dabble in organic, then you should start off with Meshmixer.
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Re: 3D Design Software

Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:06 am

Have used VCP for years. It can do what you want, when you master it.

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