So I've been playing with FreeCAD on Windows and, honestly, it works, but there's a LOT for me to learn.
I've followed a couple of the tutorials, but when I went to try to make something which should be fairly simple (a coin-shaped object with raised or embossed text) there didn't seem to be a simple way. I use Adobe Illustrator (and access to the entire Creative Cloud), and it does a great job of making text from a good set of fonts. I'm sure there's an easy way to get the text from Illustrator (which I know relatively well - and does create 2D stuff), into a model I design in, for example, FreeCAD, but I'm just not seeing it. I've tried tons of different ways, permutations.
I saw a few people say "Inkscape!" but I've read that Illustrator trumps Inkscape in all ways except being free. So if Illustrator has all the features of Inkscape and more, why would I use Inkscape?
So right now, I for sure love using Simplify3D as the last step of my workflow. It's done a great job for me over the past four prints. (I have a day job.) I even got the Toshiba FlashAir working, so I can easily transfer files to the printer from upstairs (with a 8.3 filename limitation, but whatever - not a big deal), and use a high-wattage Belkin HomeKit switch, so even Siri gets in on the fun, and can turn the 3D printer on and off remotely.
I'm fairly technical. I've spent days Googling this on and off. So let's say I'm really into using Illustrator for my text workflow, but I'd be willing to learn another application IF it did everything I needed it to do, in one neat package. I want something as fully-functional as FreeCAD, but don't want to spend an arm and a leg.
Someone mentioned "organic versus mechanical" and I'm not sure what that means. I'm not really a designer. I download stuff from Thingiverse, and sometimes want to customize with text or whatever. Maybe make the text print in a different color through the second extruder. I was able to grok the first FreeCAD tutorial, where you build a part, and then add pads and pockets. I can imagine a world where I just import my perfectly-formatted text (say, text on a path, nice and curved), which is basically just a bunch of b-splines, right? And then take that into FreeCAD (or whatever), put the 2D text onto my object, and cut a 2mm deep pocket, or maybe a 2mm tall pad. It seems like it should "just work" but it doesn't.
I don't want to abandon Illustrator (which I really enjoy using, and am extremely comfortable with), nor do I want to give up (just yet) on FreeCAD. I haven't had a crash yet, but I've been working with very small models. And FreeCAD is -very- quirky.
So if I want to do fun things with text, that is 3D-aware/3D-friendly, what do I do? Is there an all-in-one solution I can use that will work as well with Simplify3D? I really don't want to have more than, say, three (tops) applications in my 3D workflow.
Also, it's not just text, obviously. Sometimes people give me logos or drawings, and I convert them to line drawings in Illustrator. Maybe I want to plop one of those shapes onto a cube or a sphere and have the printer print out that drawing 2mm deep in an alternate color? I imagine that -should- be easy, right? How about curved text? Upside-down text? Resizing? I want something powerful, but reasonably priced. Free is okay, but you get what you pay for.
I'm going to go through all of these comments again once my eye doctor's dilatation eye-drops wear off, because as nice as it is to see pretty rainbow halos around everything, they're giving me a headache.