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hacklordsniper

What software for beginner

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I would already start to design things i need until my UM2 arrives and learn. I have no experience in any cad as i had only designed PCB boards and that is another work.

Im searching a software where i could simply design easy stuff for beginning and can progress later. If its free, its ok but i don't mind paying some reasonable price for a paid software. While researching i found Autodesk123 and wonder is it a good starter or is there better and easier approach? I kinda like quite a lot what i have seen.

Mostly i need simple standoffs and connectors, brackets in metric dimensions and similar parts.

 

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I was struggling quite a bit with the same problem. I have settled for these two packages:

1. DesignSpark Mechanical

This is the free version of SpaceClaim (a well known CAD software - also used by Ultimaker). According to Daid there aren't many features missing compared to SpaceClaim. The catch - it is Windows only :(

 

2. Moments of Inspiration

This software has a quirky interface and introduces some UI paradigms, but it is really well thought out. I think it is more geared towards the creative designer. It is cross platform and costs around 300$.

 

 

I am using both, but I like MoI way better.

 

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I'm also in the same situation.

I think that it depends on what type of objects you will want to make. I tested a few and i'm quite lazy I want something straitforward where you don't have to read a ton of information or tutorials.

I've been trying FreeCad (http://www.freecadweb.org/) this weekend and it looks pretty easy to understand. I don't have much experience for the moment but i've been able to create an object i had in my mind in a couple of minutes

Google Sketchup is also pretty easy but i think it's limited in use.

There are a lot of softwares out there it's not easy to find something for total newbies like me. I look at blender and i was afraid by the complexity.

OpenScad looks interesting but i think you need to have some experience with programming and languages.

 

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This is a complex question with no simple solution. It depends mainly on two factors:

 

  • How much are you willing to pay, if at all?
  • What do you plan to use it for?

For designing art pieces, vases, and similar gimmicks, you need a polygon based modeler, (think 3dsmax, maya, blender, lightwave, zbrush, modo, mudbox, silo, hexagon etc.) or a NURBS based modeler (Rhino). With the exception of blender which is free (and from my limited experience with it, really weird) all other mentioned apps cost money, and the prices range from $100 to $3000. Each of these has it's advantages and disadvantages which are simply too many to include here.

If on the other hand you plan to design functional models, you need some sort of solid (possibly parametric) modeler (inventor, solidworks, spaceclaim) or again use Rhino (which I don't really recommend because it usually creates really bad meshes, often with a lot of errors, at least from my experience). There is also the option of autodesk Fusion 360 which has a free 1 year licence for non-commercial use, and Bonsai3d which could maybe be used for both the aforementioned scenarios and is worth checking out (it also promises some 3d print checking features in the latest version).

The main problem with most of these apps is that for good results a lot of practice is necessary. The better the features, the harder it is to learn usually. With the notable exception of SpaceClaim which is really awesome and takes a day to learn. DesignSpark Mechanical is a bit stripped-down free version of SpaceClaim, as already mentioned and should be considered.

Openscad is good for people who are more into programming than design and want completely parametric models. For anything else avoid it, you'll be much better of with actual modeling applications.

So, there is no single answer to this question. The best advice I can give is to really take your time and check all of these apps to see what features you like, how the interface suits you, and if the price is right for you. Some people will swear by Rhino for example, while I can't stand the sight of it, etc. Get a hold of trial software if possible (it usually is) and see for yourself what fits you best.

For any details about specific software and possible usage scenarios, ask, and I'll try to explain the ins and outs as best I can. :)

 

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I'm also in the same situation.

I think that it depends on what type of objects you will want to make. I tested a few and i'm quite lazy I want something straitforward where you don't have to read a ton of information or tutorials.

I've been trying FreeCad (http://www.freecadweb.org/) this weekend and it looks pretty easy to understand. I don't have much experience for the moment but i've been able to create an object i had in my mind in a couple of minutes

Google Sketchup is also pretty easy but i think it's limited in use.

There are a lot of softwares out there it's not easy to find something for total newbies like me. I look at blender and i was afraid by the complexity.

OpenScad looks interesting but i think you need to have some experience with programming and languages.

 

I've had horrible experiences with FreeCAD. While the sketch tools are pretty good, it quickly becomes rubbish after that.

SketchUp (no longer from google) is quite easy to start. But it has an issue where it totally screws over your manifoldness, causing problems later on in printing. I recommend DesignSpark Mechanical over SketchUp, same "easy to use" interface, but no problems with the tool destroying your mesh.

Blender is kinda cool, but, you'll need to sink a few hours into tutorials to get anywhere. And, it's not intended for solid modeling.

OpenSCAD is a strange beast. You'll love it or hate it. In my case, I love it.

 

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I've had horrible experiences with FreeCAD. While the sketch tools are pretty good, it quickly becomes rubbish after that.

SketchUp (no longer from google) is quite easy to start. But it has an issue where it totally screws over your manifoldness, causing problems later on in printing. I recommend DesignSpark Mechanical over SketchUp, same "easy to use" interface, but no problems with the tool destroying your mesh.

Blender is kinda cool, but, you'll need to sink a few hours into tutorials to get anywhere. And, it's not intended for solid modeling.

OpenSCAD is a strange beast. You'll love it or hate it. In my case, I love it.

 

I downloaded FreeCAD and attempted to open an STL. It locked up. I then tried it on a nice simple DXF that my own software has no problem with. FreeCAD locked up. I thought about creating new models from scratch but found the user interface completely opaque. Very bad first impression, I'll probably never look at it again. Definitely not ready for primetime.

So far, I love OpenSCAD, and especially I love the fact that I can tweak the dimension on anything in seconds. It's a pity that "Thingiverse" objects are mostly in "compiled" STL rather than in a tweakable source form a la OpenSCAD. Starting with zero previous 3D user experience I unboxed a 3D printer and created my own mid-complexity 3D object and printed it - all in the same day. I'd say that speaks for itself - though I admit I am a software engineer and hence am not intimidated by programming languages (unlike 3D graphical interfaces!).

If only OpenSCAD didn't grind to a halt as the model starts to get even slightly complex, I'd be a very happy bunny. I'm seriously tempted to write my own near-clone from scratch.

 

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After trying few softwares i finally ended in Design Spark mechanical. Without any previous experience this program made it possible to create few parts that i would need in minuttes. Im not sure does it remind me somehow in PCB design programs i have been using but i felt "like home" in minuttes.

Simple creation of mechanical parts in precision dimensions is what i was searching and what i found. Im just now reading the manual to understand more.

 

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I'm in the same boat - no experience of CAD at all, but I would like to make a simple hanger for my headphones - like a coat hook, so really simple. I tried using Cubify Invent as I have it installed but it is impossible to understand without, I suspect, hours in the help files.

Which of these free programs yo have all mentioned would be best to design a simple bracket as I described, with no frills or extras needed in the program? At least something to give me a stepping stone to understanding this stuff!

Thanks.

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@Truckle: download OpenSCAD, it's free and quick to install. It will excel at "engineering" shapes made from boxes, circles etc - and if you have any wood or metal working experience then the idea of "fix this rectangle onto that cylinder at this distance from the end" ... will come naturally. Unlike the perverted mouse activities found in 3D CAD. And the result will be parametric, meaning in practice: easily scaled in any dimension to suit future similar jobs. Some people are nervous about scripting, but really it's a doddle: if you are capable of writing down a list of things to do to make a part, then you can just as easily write it as an OpenSCAD script.

What OpenSCAD would be bad at is art, i.e. objects with non regular curves, horses, faces etc.

 

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This is a very useful thread. I'm very new to 3D printing and have been looking at which CAD packages I can best get on with and "relate to" I'm tending to gravitate towards OpenSCAD at the moment, only as it somehow makes sense to me and I'm finding it fairly straightforward to generate results quickly. My applications are more of an engineering bent than artwork so I completely agree with DonMilne.

I do a fair bit of embedded microprocessor projects so I guess I quite like OpenSCADs "C" type feel. To an extent the design becomes self documenting if you liberally make use of the comment fields which is another feature I quite like about it. Especially good when you come back to a particular design after a few months wondering how to change a particular part of it.

CAD software is interesting - as I think, there doesn't appear to be any defined "standard" to it. Each manufacturer has their very own particular take on how the interface should be for the user, a little like pcb design packages and the choice is really quite large. So I think try them all, at least those which have free demos, and settle with whichever package you feel you can best relate with.

 

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I just took a quick look at designspark mechanical (a couple of minutes) because it seems to be mentionned a lot for the moment. It looks pretty powerful and quite straight forward to use. I will definitely look at this more closely.

I think that it's also a good idea to work with several CAD softwares because some are more easy to use to do some stuff that others softwares can't to (think of the supports with meshmixer).

 

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The question of CAD is so important, I can only emphasize that before you even think about getting a 3d printer, try and familiarize yourself with CAD basics. You can't build what you can't draw.

My own "menagerie" of CAD programs consists of Cubify Design, Rhino and DesignSpark Mechanical. With these three I can get almost anything done. Plus the sculpture program Sculptris.

Cubify can easily import Two dimensional DXFs , so if you want to make gears for instance you can use the inexpensive " gear generator" or a similar program to do the outline as a DXF and then pull this into a 3d shape. Cubify's big strength is that you have the history tree and can go back any number of steps if you want to modify your design after the first prototype. This has saved me a lot of hassle. Cubify is the watered down version of Alibre design, and lots of tutorials are available for that. Cubify also has a great assembly function if you have a multipart project and want to see if the parts work together. Takes some getting used to, though.

I started with Rhino but found it impossible to tweak or modify anything. This is why I only use it now for freeform stuff that I cannot do anywhere else. Rhino is NURBS based so the strength is freeform surfaces. It has a good trial version that can save 20 times or so before locking up. This way one can try it under real conditions.

DesignSpark is the watered down version of SpaceClaim and some important functions are missing. The mirror function for example, and some align and orient functions used for assembling parts. Otherwise its just great. I whipped up some pretty good models and had them printed out in just a few hours.

On all these programs you will have to do some testing to tweak the stl export. One usually can modify the resolution of the stl. The compromise here is to get enough resolution to print a good model without visible "triangles", but not having a mesh that is so dense that it will cause problems with Cura or another slicer later on.

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I don't consider myself any sort of 'pro' and so I generally want cheap/free software for my 3D printing needs.

I've been a long-time user of Sketchup. I've done some fairly advanced stuff with it, but it does have some horrible bugs that get really annoying. It's easy to accidentally leave a hole in your object, or to leave some internal geometry inside your object, both of which screw up printing in weird ways. Things get a lot harder when you want to use curved shapes, or intersecting complex shapes - and let's face it, 'boxy' objects don't show off the great features of the 3D printing process, so I have been trying to use as many curves as I can :wink: Making things like screws and cogs is a pretty tedious affair with Sketchup - it can be done, but I've never actually made it through the whole process without giving up.

Recently, Google sold the Sketchup software, and since then it's turned into more of a proper "product", with license keys and features that don't work without one (sadly bug fixes don't seem too evident). It seems to be aimed at architects and such like, so it's got a bunch of features you won't need (some of which are license locked). I suspect that it'll gradually turn into a non-free option, so that + bugs means I'm looking to get off it.

I've been looking at Blender. I've seen some interesting objects created in Blender, some with complex shapes like interlocking cogs and screws and some textured ones too. Making more interesting shapes is partly what's drawing me to it.

Blender's not for newbies, but it does seem to have some amazing features. It's primarily aimed at 3D artists rather than printers, so has a whole world of features you won't use. There are loads of video tutorials on how to use it, so you can easily spend a couple of hours just watching those before you even try making something. I'm yet to really design something and print it in Blender, so not sure how easy or hard it really is.

Designspark Mechanical looks interesting. I just downloaded a copy so I'll have a play and see what it's like. If it turns out to be Sketchup-like, then it'll be good for quickly producing things - and sometimes that's all you need, and you don't want (by design) any funky textures or shapes.

OpenScad is another interesting one - in a left-field sort of way. It seems like it'd be good for making "boxy" objects that are based on cubes, cyclinders and such like. I'm not so sure you can make "free form" object so easily with it, but again, it might be good for making objects quickly. I dread to think how you'd describe the object they have on their home page, but clearly some people can, and it does seem pretty cool that you could parameterise your object so that you could make it slightly different based on a few preferences. In that sense, OpenScad looks pretty unique, as the best you can realistically do elsewhere is simple scaling.

I found this thread while looking for "best CAD software for printing", and seem to have answered my own question: Some packages are good for quick, simple objects, some are good for intricate complex ones, and one is good for mathmatically describing objects. It depends what mood you're in, and what you want to do as to which one is best. I'm looking forward to broadening my skills out to a few of them...

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As i said i'm a total newbie in CAD softwares but yesterday i followed the first tutorial of DesignSparks Mechanical it took me less than an hour, and this morning i was able to create 3 simple object i had in mind in less than a hour work. I save as STL and put in Cura and it slices perfectly (still have to test on my UM2 that should arrive very soon).

I like that it's very precise in scales and quite straight forward to use

 

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There's one further advantage that I think OpenSCAD has that I think should be mentioned. In two years time when half of the 3D packages listed above have disappeared from the market, I don't want to find myself with a hard disk folder filled with projects that I can't read. At the very least the file format must be open, and ideally readable by more than one package, and not just as a badly implemented buggy import function!

Now .scad files are ASCII text, you can't get much more open than that. It fails on the import front - I'm aware of a couple of clone parsers, but there doesn't seem to be much incentive to develop them. Of course OpenSCAD is open source, so it can't really disappear. Also, if the worst came to the worst I could use the script as a recipe and follow it manually in another package. The important bit is that all those dimensions and ratios I spent ages working out should not be lost.

How about the other packages mentioned in this thread? If they went belly up, how useful would your project files be?

 

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I have wrestled with this issue also.. I had no idea of CAD design... Then I stumbled upon Rhino and have not looked back. It's very easy to learn... Took me maybe a month to get a decent command of it. Lots of video tutorials about for small fee (Lynda, infinteskills.. etc..) Also it is half or quarter of a price in comparison with Autodesk's softwares. And you get your 20 first saves for free.

I design all sort of adapters and gears for underwater photography with it.

Brilliant software.

Jussi

 

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I have so far used Sketchup a lot. It's biggest plus is the very steep learning curve. It takes almost no time to create your first designs.

Reading this thread i will take a look at DesignSpark Mechanical, and a closer Look at openScad though.

While it is true that Sketchup can drive you up the wall, especially when it comes to non-closed objects and internal geometry, i have managed to create quite a lot of different things with it, some of them fairly complex, although all of them were mechanical things, so the basic blockyness of anything you create with it was not a problem for me.

I would not discourage anyone from giving it a try, especially for a newbie who would like some quick results.

I do agree though that over time you will want to switch to something better.

Yet, for a free version, i think it is better than it's reputation, at least as gathered from this forum :-)

 

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As a professional designer I have used many CAD packages over the years; both proprietry and free. If you want free you might well get away with using Autodesk 123D or Creo Elements.

However I use Geomagic Design and Moi in my business. Totally swear by them.

 

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I would like to just point out for some one VERY new to cad like programs, tinkercad is possibly the easiest to grasp. It's not the fastest, but it is versitle and understandable which is why I always start out kids (junior high students) on it and then move to other more complex software.

Either way every one should sample a couple of different flavors of software and see what suits them best.

Good luck.

 

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designSpark/ Spaceclaim is my favorite. I have just done some tests with SolidEdge from Siemens, they have a 45 day test version out. Again, just too many things are burdened onto the user, the interface resists the flow of ideas, and it took me hours in SolidEdge to get something that takes me only minutes in Design Spark.

BTW Geomagic seems to have switched over to the Space Claim kernel, too. Their GeomagicDesingDirect looks like SpaceClaim. Unfortunately there is no price tag but I guess it will be around 2400 Euros...otherwise space Claim would not be able to sell their original program anymore.

Has anyone tried the fantastic reverse engineering possibilities they claim? Like reading in an otherwise useless stl or a point cloud from a scanner and turning it into a solid model that can be worked on? This would come in real handy.

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Tinkercad seems a stupid CAD software for children.... at the beginning...

then you realize later that some functions are there... and that with the help of the shape generators developed by the community you can do more advanced pieces...

finally... you get used to do everything with the mouse...

and finally... you love it.

 

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