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Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:33 pm
by bbinnard

Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:15 pm
by amarand
Wow, thanks!

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. :D


Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:34 pm
by amarand
bbinnard wrote:You might find this helpful :
That was a very nice description of parametric modeling. I learned something new today, thanks! It sounds like FreeCAD is designed for parametric modeling, which is a totally different skill-set than, say, other forms of modeling. I'm not quite sure which side I fall on, because right now, I'm just sifting through the three-quarters of a million objects on Thingiverse (and other sources with the help of Google), trying not to re-invent the wheel.

Today, I wanted to make a coin-shaped object with a friend's band's logo and band name on it. I couldn't figure out how to do that.

I'm not designing car engines, or buildings. I've been enjoying downloading gears and things that do fun stuff, but I'm not an engineer, so I don't understand any of the fine details of how they work. I just know that they do.

I come more from a graphic design mind-set, where I use the tools to make fun things. But it's far easier to take something else and re-mix it. If I can take a pretty box released under the Creative Commons re-mix license, I can then add my own bells and whistles - whether they're functional (say, a keyhole to install it with a screw on a wall), or decorative/ornamental (like some text or a logo). Will my needs change over time? Probably. But I know that I don't have enough time to sit down and become an AutoCAD expert (and I'm sure that's not an inexpensive road, either). I have a few hours every day that I have to learn. I don't want to waste it on a path that's sub-optimal for what I want to do going forward.

Basically, tweak existing designs, and eventually, start making my own. Whew....

Thanks again for the useful link!

Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:38 pm
by amarand
brian442 wrote:Blender, TinkerCAD, Fusion 360 - there's a lot of options. Just try them out and pick one that seems intuitive to you.
It's weird...I know intuitively that Adobe Illustrator is one of the most popular and arguably the best vector-based application out there. I also know that Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom work great for my photographic workflow. I can't imagine using any other tools. Many professionals agree with me.

But when it comes to 3D design, there are a ton of options, some free, some crazy expensive. Some crash, some don't. Some "flip triangles" (whatever that is :lol: ) and others don't. I downloaded Blender to try and make a YouTube intro, and I gave up, because it's super complex, and doesn't follow any of the Windows conventions. It looks and feels like a fantastic port of an open-source Linux application. It's also not very intuitive.

I should try TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 next. Do you think these will be better for me than, say, FreeCAD?

Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:19 pm
by amarand
tonyno wrote:I had been using Designspark Mechanical and just started using Fusion.
What made you decide to switch from DesignSpark Mechanical to Fusion?

Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:33 pm
by amarand
tenaja wrote: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 wish I knew the difference between these two? If I had to guess, I'd say "organic" because I don't build a lot of engineered parts or whatever? I'm 3D printing for fun. Small items/toys to give away to kids and staff at the library where I volunteer, weird solutions for things around the house (like, I'd enjoy remixing a tripod/mic stand top, with a Raspberry Pi [in case] holder on top of that, with a camera module holder with ball-joint on top - no one's made one of those combinations before - but all of those things are available and I imagine, easy-ish to put together?).
tenaja wrote: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.
See, with the Adobe products, there's a steep learning curve, but once you've mastered it, you're considered an expert, a pro, you can charge money for being a Photoshop, Illustrator or Premiere expert. I don't know the 3D Design world that well yet. None of these names mean anything to me like, say, Adobe, Quark or CorelDraw do.
tenaja wrote: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.
It's so weird. When I work with my professional 2D stuff, it works 99% of the time. It doesn't crash. There are very few quirks - I mean, hardly any that I notice, and I'm a fairly heavy user. I wish there were a reasonably affordable 3D design package that meshes up well with Simplify3D and my new printer.
tenaja wrote: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.
See, this is the weird part: I never had any fear learning the Adobe suite of products. They work great. I pay for a subscription annually, and I'm okay with that. I'm seeing a lot of people say "I used X, but then I used Y, and now I'm using Z." It feels like the 3D Design world either hasn't matured enough (I guess that means weeding out the bad ones? Less competition? Maybe that's a -bad- thing?) or maybe the products haven't? If a 3D design package were awesome, why would you switch? "Well, this one has this feature" or "it crashes less" or "it has fewer quirks...." I mean, if I'm going to pay $100-300 for a 3D design program, I want it to "just work," and I want it to be intuitive, and NOT quirky. Not one bit. Quirks are bugs that should be fixed. That's why I usually prefer to pay, because Open Source Free (as in freedom)/Free (as in beer) is often quirky, and people just accept (or fix themselves, if they're programmers) the problems. I feel like I've never had to compromise with any of the Adobe products. Maybe Adobe needs to come out with a 3D design application as a part of the Creative Cloud?

Also, half a dozen different professional CAD packages? Jebus...that's insane. I can't even imagine. The cost? The learning curve? The mental interruption switching between different applications during the workday for the same exact task? Yowzers! Is the CAD market that bad?
tenaja wrote:I was impressed with IronCAD's demo; check it out too.
I read an article about Rhino3D or something, and have yet to check it out, but there's a lot of products with cool names out there. Maybe we should compile a FAQ of all the products with their stats? I know there's at least a few comprehensive 3D printer comparison and review sites. I wonder if 3D design software has a similar thing?

Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:34 pm
by amarand
Interesting option, but not a fan of actual design-in-the-cloud packages. I have "Creative Cloud" but that's basically just the applications and updates pulled from the cloud. They don't actually run in the cloud. Eek.

Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:35 pm
by amarand
mroek wrote: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.
I'm seeing a lot of votes for Fusion 360. Oh, is that cloud-based too? :shock:

Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:36 pm
by amarand
Mogal wrote: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)
Neat! I'll go check that out. Coupon codes...wonder if they have a student/educational discount?

Re: 3D Design Software

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:39 pm
by amarand
AK_Eric wrote: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.
I've seen the term "organic" thrown around a lot here. Is there a good description of that somewhere? Sorry, I just...can't tell the difference between "organic" and "in-organic" especially when I need to try and map that to what it is I've been doing, and what I want to do in the future.

Is the Fusion 360 cloud-based only? I feel weird designing things in the cloud. I have a fairly powerful photographic workstation that can do a decent job of CAD work, with lots of memory and SSD storage as well. I like to keep things local.