James, for "prototyping" software i am told Solid Edge is the software to go! (still on my to-do list to learn)
since inventor is not really that great if you are still in the designing phase of a construction.
That said: inventor is still the most adopted software our customers (from my engineering bureau) use.
mainly because you can buy it with a discount in combination with AutoCAD and 3D studio max.
One of the things i do at work is working with a Faro Photon 120 3D Laser scanner and editing 3D pointclouds into workable models
<Snap! cant post pictures!! URL:http://s203.photobucket.com/user/FrANTICxl/media/Naamloos.png.html>
(a small example of an processed 3D scan made by me, rendered in Inventor 2012 with raytracing (on the ribbon: view tab) on highest quality)
Currently though i am interested into starting a new "hobby", like making instruction videos for small engineering projects, since i cant do this at work, and not for customers we have at my office, i will aim this more into startups and household-engineers.. and do this in spare time. hopefully i can extend this plan.. but at its current state i can not yet reveal to much. (tough i'd love to do a brainstorm session on skype with people who are really interested but it is not yet mature enough for public forums).
Also i am still looking for an affordable Laser cutter for wood, plastics, cardboard and papers.
and a 3D scanner with a decent resolution.
if someone is building one of these and needs some feedback about it don't hesitate to ask!!
you can contact me on:
or Skype: franticxl
You are well positioned to make full use of a 3D printer as you already have the software knowledge.
It kind of seems crazy, but I thought about it for a year before I jumped in and am glad that I did because it was worth doing the research and get to an Ultimaker (I would otherwise have bought a makerbot).
I have spent the first month just doing really basic experiments with a 30mm box and lid, to understand what PLA can do and what tolerances the UM works to to generate things like an interference fit and nesting objects etc and how this varies depending on orientation ........ plus print speed, temperature cura settings.
Then downloading thingiverse stuff, printing it and seeing what works and what does not (loads does not!)
Now onto phase 2 where I am designing in 3D and printing - which is way more interesting but very time consuming.
I am hoping to move into inventor as I use Revit for architectural projects and it is not so happy at 0.5mm level - it does not like lines of that length, so about to download a trial of inventor and see if it offers more at this stage than 123D design (I am sure it will .
Update us on your progress - but there is nothing like having the machine next to you and just printing away !
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