49 Replies Latest reply on Sep 2, 2016 5:35 AM by danielw

    3D Modelling Software Recommendations

    spannerspencer

      Morning all!

       

      balearicdynamics has been posting some superb tweets that follow the progress of his Pi IoT design challenge, which include some great 3D models that (I assume) he then sends to the 3D printer. Is that right, Enrico?

       

      And shabaz often makes great use of some 3D diagrams for exploded views of his amazing projects, like the HAL-CAM 9001 – Building a New Security Camera he just posted.

       

      I've not much experience with 3D modelling software, which is my real obstacle to entry when it comes to playing with... er, I mean making use of, a 3D printer. It's not the hardware that's stopping me -- it's the software. Years about I used to dabble with Lightwave, but I was wondering what software you guys use to build your 3D models for printing (or for any other maker tasks, for that matter), and if you had any recommendations for beginners.

       

      Maybe if you guys could sound out the popular platforms, we could then run a poll to see which ones people prefer? That being said, if you're already familiar with all the popular options, do feel free to put a poll up and we can get opinions that way, too.

        • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
          beacon_dave

          I'm currently using Nemetschek Vectorworks for 3D modelling.

          Vectorworks, Inc. | BIM & CAD Design Software

           

          It's not oriented specifically toward 3D printing, but it can export to STL file format for 3D printing projects.

          Vectorworks KnowledgeBase :: Preparing STL files for 3D Printing

           

          Did a 3D print design using it last week, STL export looked good, just awaiting the final product to come back from printing.

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
              balearicdynamics

              Hi Dave,

               

              you don't print the files by yourself ?

               

              Enrico

                • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                  beacon_dave

                  Hi Enrico,

                   

                  Not for this project - I didn't have access to a 3D printer with a large enough print bed for this design, so it had to be outsourced via 3D Hubs.

                   

                  This causes issues as everything I've read about 3D printing to date suggests that it is a highly iterative design process and that you need to learn via trial and error the tolerances and quirks of both the machine and the material that will be used to print the material. However if that is really the case, then how do the likes of 3D Hubs survive ?

                   

                  This was a fairly simple two-part enclosure design for a display prototype using an E-Ink display, but it was around A4/Letter sized which made it just too large to do on a typical in-house 3D printer. Would perhaps need a printer chassis similar to the Tevo Black Widow to accommodate the size to be able to do it in-house. Alternatively it would have to have been printed in smaller parts and some method of joining them incorporated in the design.

                   

                  In this project I only had control over the 3D design and modelling stage, the out-sourcing of the printing has been handled by another person. This could therefore produce some 'interesting' results... (I hope they got the units right !) However it cannot be uncommon, as it probably also applies to projects where quick initial prototypes are done in-house but later prototypes are then out-sourced to be printed on higher quality equipment.  Perhaps a topic for discussion.

                    • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                      balearicdynamics

                      Hi Dave,

                      thank you for the details. You saved me a lot of questions LoL !!!

                       

                      I can answer to two points of your interesting discussion that is worthy IMHO to continue somewhere here available to all the users.

                       

                      The first is that the 3D print hub survive just because the assertion - as it seems you suspect - is 100% false.

                       

                      The 3D printing technology is relatively young but move the same concepts to the CAM routers and try asking to a simple question: why there are specialisation schools just for CAM usage and Mill machine use as well as there is a specific job "CAM Machinist" ?

                       

                      The problem is NOT the simplicity of the in-house machines but the complexity of the process. This is "sold" to the consumers for a question of business but there is not the same diffused experience. This is the problem and also the reason that I think it is time to create a real discussion context explaining what the 3D printing technology is.

                       

                      The second point is that I have never used the 3DHUBS for a question of speed (prototyping should be done at home, else it is so time consuming that it is impossible) and the second - maybe more important - is that if you make a calculation of the costs of these services you discover that prices are dramatically high. Just because - for now - they are able to do something that you don't (I mean in a general assertion, not just you).

                       

                      Just and example: the 64 cylinders for the Dynamic Surface (one of my last posts on PiIoT) needs about 3 hours to be printed and about 50 gr of PLA filament. This means:

                       

                      • Printed in lab with a 250$ good 3D printer in about 10-15 days (doing other things in the meantime)
                      • Include just 10$ of maintenance (a nozzle to be replaced, the bed surface glass broken or similar)
                      • About three Kg of PLA (1 roll = 15$) for a total of 45$
                      • Some hand job.

                       

                      Total expenses: about 60$ if you already have the printer or about 300$ if you should buy (and assemble) it

                       

                      The cheaper print HUB I have tested for the same file you saw 3D printed in my photos, same material, same conditions is about 2.500$ !!!

                       

                      With half you buy other three 3D printers and start printing for friends with a small fee.

                       

                      Enrico

                        • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                          beacon_dave

                          Some of the quotes for the project I was working on appeared to be quite high as well however I put that down to it being a slow process and each print job tying up a machine for long periods of time.

                           

                          Also perhaps need to differentiate between some of the different technologies here though. A powder bed deposition machine, or resin stereolithograpy machine is likely to cost a bit more to purchase than a fused deposition modelling machine.

                           

                          However I made similar comments to the project requester that it would likely be more cost effective to get the likes of a Tevo Black Widow kit (the only sub £1k printer kit which I could find at the time with a large enough bed) and do it in-house as it would likely pay for itself within the timescale of the first project, and then be a useful resource to have around to enable future projects or provide as a general low cost in-house service. There are some hidden costs however such as space to accommodate such a large printer and perhaps installation of ventilation and space heating for working with some plastics like ABS, additional software and the time taken to assemble it and get it to a stage whereby everything starts to work.

                           

                          There are also some other considerations - my design could have been part laser cut/engraved and part 3D printed on a smaller printer however the requester in this case was keen for it to be 3D printed in two halves after seeing the first 3D model.

                            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                              balearicdynamics

                              HellO Dave

                               

                              First of all you should never include the startup costs (those you mention like the site preparation etc.) as these increase senseless the first project production. And it is anyway a wrong evaluation of the costs. You should plan how and for how much you will use the machine. For example you are right thinking to a tool for low cost in-house third party production. At this point these costs become a number: the break even point. I mean how many projects or pieces you should produce before the machine cost and accessory is totally absorbed. I think that anyway it is not so high and probably you will cover the investment with the first two - three projects.

                               

                              Second - I think that you should not include the time for initial settings that you mention. It should be excluded at all. Else if you want convert it in a cost, also calculate the delay time you need doing every part to a service.

                               

                              Despite I remain of the opinion that the 3D print HUBS are a great idea these are perfect for small productions but not for prototyping: the concept is that if you want to make a project it is mandatory that you own the tools needed to create the project. As a photographer own a digital camera and a computer for his creations (and when I started in photography we was having the darkroom absolutely more expansive than a digital system), as a woodworker has a router to make his own stuff and an electronic engineer has its own soldering station why not a project that involve material machining can't follow the same path ?

                               

                              I have exaggerated just to make an example that in my opinion making something means making something. Else it is designing something then sending somewhere to ask others to make it.

                               

                              Enrico

                            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                              beacon_dave

                              Hi Enrico,

                               

                              For the Pi IoT 'Dynamic Surface' project at PiIoT - The perfect reading place #19 [tech]: Dynamic surface, design and simulation  what was your 3D printing workflow for printing the 64 duplicate parts ?

                               

                              Do you export a single STL for each component from the Rhino CAD software and then 'batch print' them on the printer one at a time with X & Y off-sets between each part, or do you create duplicates of the part in Rhino first and then export the batch as a single STL and print them all in one go layer by layer ?

                      • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                        balearicdynamics

                        Hello Spanner!

                         

                        Thank you, I like you appreciate the 3D work. As a matter of fact I have already started with a first 3D printing tips, just to point the attention on how to model objects - just for 3D printing - Then I started the challenge and this first tutorial remained alone. I though it was the worth to use it as one of a series. When the call for tutorials started here few time ago I have also asked if it was possible to use already published material but the answer was no, and it has a sense. But what sounded me strange is that the goal for these tutorials is a series of single shots. Unfortunately there are many aspects that should be considered in cases like this, involving a complex path; you should think to the 3D printer when you design and vice-versa so IMHO it is very difficult creating single articles, sometimes a series is needed.

                         

                        The idea, that I always find great when I approach a new context, was to "use" parts of projects and progressively focus the attention of the reader on some important aspects. Few words as an example:

                         

                        • Designing flexible parts - what involves and what we should consider
                        • Designing robust components - how much the fill percentage involves
                        • Mechanical parts - knowing how the plastic filament reacts maybe extremely helpful designing the components
                        • Moving parts - what are the tolerances and what to take in account when design?

                        and so on...

                         

                        If you have time take a look to this first post I published and let me know: 3D Printer tips series #1: LG-G4 Smartphone Interactive Cover

                         

                        Last, I think that a poll - hopefully promoted and followed by all - is a good way to focus the scenario. Depending on the 3D program used the final result may dramatically change. Why not adding a badge involving the users to participate ?

                         

                        Enrico

                        1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                          shabaz

                          Hi Spanner,

                           

                          I don't use any 3D modelling software currently, so I'm curious too to find out what gets used with 3D-printers.

                          (I don't own one yet).

                          I'm a heavy user of graphics programs (Paint shop, Inkscape etc), so all my 3D renderings are not to scale : )

                          and so I cannot do camera movements around the object etc, since they are all flat 2D with no modelling data.

                          At school we learned manual drafting from someone who did this once for a living, so I like isometric views and

                          orthographic projections!

                          I use PowerPoint to get most of it composed, create shadow and shadings, etc - not the best tool since it isn't designed

                          for it, but I'm a power-user of it now! I also like jancumps pencil renderings!

                          To get a rough idea of proportionality, I make use of the 'size' settings for objects in powerpoint, and

                          a calculator. Sometimes even placing a ruler on the screen : ) It's not so bad, it works.

                           

                          Here's an example, drawn up in PowerPoint, so these are just graphical lines, no 3D objects at all.

                          pi-duct1.png

                          Final result:

                          pi-duct2.png

                            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                              spannerspencer

                              Wow, never thought of using PowerPoint in that way -- looks great! I know it probably doesn't help with 3D modelling, but it's a top tip for schematic diagrams! Cheers man!

                              • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                beacon_dave

                                Really nice but I think we are still missing a few dimensions to work with on the 3D printer here 

                                 

                                • The top diagonal face - both end points
                                • The lower diagonal face - the end point in the centre
                                • The thickness of the base is unclear as well - looks like it could be 2mm but ambiguous
                                  • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                    balearicdynamics

                                    Dave,

                                    checking with attention, you can see that all the dimensions are shown directly or indirectly. The only mistake is the thickness of the base while all the other information if not directly quoted can be deducted. This is a technique used in all the quoted designs to avoid too many quotes. Personally I find this method of the indirect quoting a bit complex to read but I am aware that this keep the design clean.

                                     

                                    Enrico

                                      • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                        beacon_dave

                                        Enrico,

                                         

                                        Struggling with points 1, 2 & 3 even with attention.

                                         

                                        Point 1 - is 8 from the top edge but I don't see a measurement from the left or right edge. Looks to be less than 6 from the right edge though.

                                        Point 2 - there is no centre for the radius of the fillet to get a tangent for the edge of the diagonal face.

                                        Point 3 - is 31 from the top edge but I don't see a measurement from either the left or right edge. Looks to be less than 23 and greater than 15 from the right edge though.

                                         

                                        shabaz%20pi-duct2 - Copy.png

                                          • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                            balearicdynamics

                                            Hello Dave,

                                            This is an almost complex piece and quotes are not easy to deduct.

                                             

                                            1. Here you have a 8x8 square (view from top) and inside a 6x6 square. So the internal straight line connect the two sides of the square intersecting at 6 and 6. CAD usually gives this option to close with a straight line a surface (that then will be extruded) deciding the intersection points.
                                            2. These radius didn't need center. The reason is that these are not circles but arcs. Usually in CAD you should have several options to design arcs, in this case the ideal option in my opinion is arc by radius and two point. You set the first and second edge (that is exactly 90 degrees of an arc) and set the radius, then the CAD add the needed calculations.
                                            3. If you refer in this case to the internal straight line, the procedure is the same as in point 1. If you refer to potentially missing measures, the approach is the same: the internal part is 31  over a total length of 46 by one side and some calculation on the other side.

                                            The parts that seems not correct are automatically generated as the arc is fixed and the total length is shown on the other side.

                                             

                                            The issue in this design is that there are some wrong proportions respect the sizes to if you make a real object with these measures maybe you have some surprises. Remain the fact that designing with a CAD program it is sure extremely easier to generate with less measures but using relative reference points (e.g. intersections. Take in account that it is best practice with this kind of objects to create easy sub objects then joining them and applying boolean operations like element subtraction.

                                             

                                            BTW maybe I am not so clear due my language difficulties.

                                             

                                            Enrico

                                            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                              kulky64

                                              beacon_dave is right about all 3 points. They are ambiguous.

                                                • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                  shabaz

                                                  Hi!

                                                   

                                                  I don't doubt there could be missing measurements, (by the way this is a duct part, we expect duct area to be approximately consistent through the part).

                                                   

                                                  Actually I believe we could fix it with a single value (e.g. x degrees) and either text, or a center line. I'm not 100% sure this is valid on an isometric, but for an orthographic it would be.

                                                   

                                                  For example:

                                                  pi-duct3.png

                                                   

                                                  The center line or text would indicate that duct property we desire, i.e. parallel lines inside.

                                                  We already know the duct inside is 31-1.5 = 29.5mm.  And we know where the lower-rightmost leg of the duct is placed, because it is marked as 2mm. So this would result in all measurements being defined.

                                                   

                                                  The thickness of the part is not implied, it is given, you can see the 12mm measurement marked at the right side of the diagram, and 10mm marked on the left side of the diagram.

                                                   

                                                  I agree with Enrico, I don't believe any more is needed on the radii. Ordinarily that would 'naturally' occur if your tooling was of the same radius. I'm guessing when you do that in a CAD package, it would internally compute it the same way.

                                                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                    • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                      beacon_dave

                                                      Hi Shabaz,

                                                       

                                                      Yes the angle 'x degrees' would work for me

                                                       

                                                      The base thickness is a little ambiguous in my opinion as there is nothing to say that the upper and lower walls of the duct are actually the same height.

                                                       

                                                      The fillet radii are fine as long as we know the angle of the intersection of the duct. CAD as you say will do it automatically. In Vectorworks for example you can just select the two lines and specify the radius and the fillet is inserted in-between them.

                                                        • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                          beacon_dave

                                                          360 degree animation of the 3D model of the R-Pi duct. 

                                                            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                              shabaz

                                                              Hi Dave,

                                                               

                                                              That looks awesome!!

                                                              Nice to finally see it rendered correctly, rather than my approximation : )

                                                                • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                  beacon_dave

                                                                  Hi Shabaz,

                                                                   

                                                                  Your approximation was very close considering the method used. to draw it.

                                                                   

                                                                  It took me about 20-30mins in the CAD package from blank page to video. This could probably have been done in about 10min if I had been more familiar with the design (and hadn't just upgraded the CAD package to the latest version.)

                                                                   

                                                                  The power really comes next though, as once you have the 3D model you can then automatically generate as many different views and sections you like all from that one model.

                                                                   

                                                                  Like PowerPoint, Vectorworks has both a scripting and a programming language built into it, so you could automate some of the work to create more dynamic designs if you needed similar ducts of different dimensions.

                                                                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                                    • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                      balearicdynamics

                                                                      Dave what is the cost of vectorworks ? I suppose that the "Design" version is sufficient for mechanics and 3D printable objects. Maybe?

                                                                       

                                                                      Enrico

                                                                        • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                          beacon_dave

                                                                          Enrico

                                                                           

                                                                          'Vectorworks Fundamentals' is the basic design and modelling package common to all versions. It should be sufficient for 3D printable objects and I don't think I used anything outside of the Fundamentals toolset to create and render out Shabaz's duct.

                                                                           

                                                                          'Vectorworks Spotlight' adds entertainment and AV type extensions such as lighting, seating, staging, video displays. It does also add some mechanical engineering tools like tools for dynamic creation of bolts.

                                                                           

                                                                          'Vectorworks Architect' adds building / construction type extensions. (perhaps handy if you are planning on 3D printing your next house )

                                                                           

                                                                          'Vectorworks Landscape' adds plants and tree type extensions.

                                                                           

                                                                          'Vectorworks Designer' includes Fundamentals + Spotlight + Architect + Landscape

                                                                           

                                                                          I think a single full licence for Fundamentals is around £1,250 and the Renderworks extension adds about £500 if you need it.

                                                                           

                                                                          'Renderworks' is a rendering extension for adding more realism to the renders. Without this you are limited to OpenGL for 3D renders.

                                                                           

                                                                           

                                                                          Like AutoCAD there are free student versions and low cost educational versions.

                                                                           

                                                                          There is a command comparison matrix here

                                                                          http://app-help.vectorworks.net/2016/eng/Commands_Tools2016.pdf

                                                                          STL export is available in all versions.

                                                        • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                          shabaz

                                                          Hi Dave!

                                                           

                                                          You could be right, its a limitation of doing it manually, I could miss bits.

                                                          Whereas a 3D modelling system would not construct the shapes unless all

                                                          parameters were present, and then they can be used for generating the documentation (I'm guessing).

                                                           

                                                          Its a bit messy labelling all on a single isometric to be honest. But its the view most people recognise (probably orthographic projections are less familiar unless people are from an engineering background).

                                                      • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                        pettitda

                                                        I haven't done any original designs for 3D printing, but I did find this interesting web based software for making simple designs:

                                                         

                                                        https://www.tinkercad.com/

                                                        • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                          D_Hersey

                                                          I use inkscape to make dxf files, these I extrude or rotate_extrude into openscad from which I can export STL, among other things.

                                                            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                              balearicdynamics

                                                              Hi Dan,

                                                               

                                                              this method is not bad in some cases but it unfortunately it is ot reliable to make many other forms.

                                                              I see that many other uses several different software together to generate - also good quality - design. But the question is: assumed that anyway a software is needed to make objects for 3D printing and this needs anyway studying in depth the features, is it not the case to study just a software specifically good for 3D design?

                                                               

                                                              I am using Rhino 4 that is almost easy to manage. It is not opensource but it is easy to find licensed versions for few $ or nothing as this is a product distributed with no protection. The reason is that their business is mostly connected to the CNC machines they sells with.

                                                               

                                                              In past I have used more complex professional CADs but these are strongly oriented to design objects that should be milled to the effort to study them if you had not the need to create complex mechanic object is excessive. For example you should eliminate all the parts that are related to the kind of material, 3D printing has not design limits related to the tool needed and so on.

                                                               

                                                              In past, for both 3D printing and CAM design I have used artcam, another product distributed by Chinese companies together with the Mill Machines. It is very good but very specific for the art design with poor 3D features for mechanics. All the Artcam 3D features are oriented to create artistic objects so the approach is structurally different.

                                                               

                                                              Another 3D design complete tool I have used intensively is Blender. I consider it one of the best opensource 3D modelling projects but it is almost exclusively for animation. There are some recent plugin and development sub-projects for STL export but are not so reliable and are not yet complete.

                                                               

                                                              Together with these there are many online high level CAD programs well supporting the 3D printing features including a free usage version for personal use.

                                                               

                                                              All these cases are anyway based on a single program, that means a single environment and it is what I suggest.

                                                               

                                                              Enrico

                                                            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                              shabaz

                                                              This is a really useful discussion, so many good tips on software tools!

                                                              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                                • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                  balearicdynamics

                                                                  I agree with you Shabaz.

                                                                   

                                                                  What I don't understand is how someone uses the text-based only CAD. I have tried it (there was a design I was interested to open) but this method ad incredible limits respect the graphic design system!

                                                                  I maen openscad. Frankly I don't find a reason to use this software for direct design.

                                                                   

                                                                  Enrico

                                                                    • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                      beacon_dave

                                                                      I started out with text-based CAD with Autodesk v1 (or perhaps ver 2) which ran on MS-DOS. Data was input via text commands either as absolute or relative values and either as polar or Cartesian co-ordinates.

                                                                       

                                                                      If I recall correctly, on my dual head system stdaux was mapped to a text monitor for the command console and stdout to a Hercules graphics monitor for the visual CAD model.

                                                                       

                                                                      It probably seems strange now with the reliance on computer mice and '3D navigators' as input devices however at the time I recall it being absolutely fantastic, and it greatly speeded up prototyping as a modification no longer meant redrawing by hand from scratch.

                                                                       

                                                                      With 3D I'm finding that there is a bit of irony in the technique as it is perhaps more like subtractive sculpting whereas often the goal is additive manufacture. I still find myself reverting back to drawing a 2D plan first then extruding it into a 3D model section by section whereas the professionals appear to more often start off straight in 3D using solids.

                                                                       

                                                                      My latest challenge is to get used to using a space mouse for control.

                                                                      3Dconnexion : SpaceNavigator

                                                                      So six degrees of freedom on the mouse in the left hand and three degrees of freedom on the scroll mouse in the right hand. "Mr Spock, you have the conn"

                                                                    • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                      beacon_dave

                                                                      I'm a bit surprised that more people haven't spoken out about their favourite 3D modelling tools given the size of the Element 14 community.

                                                                       

                                                                      What tools are people using for slicing / validating / repairing of  3D models after design ?

                                                                      I've heard that a number of  3D printing projects fail because of models which aren't 'water tight' solids.

                                                                    • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                      Brian Welsby

                                                                      balearicdynamics  Over the past few years I have tried lots of software, but the one that suits me the best is OpenSCAD.

                                                                       

                                                                      I have tried Tinkercad, Sketchup, Autodesk 123D, FreeCAD, and many more but I still find I can do what I want quicker and easier with OpenSCAD.  I put this down to the years I spent programming in Assembler and C and OpenSCAD is to me just a programming language.    However, whatever suits you is what you use.

                                                                      Being "old school" I was taught engineering drawing using pencil, paper and drawing boards. I originally did circuit designs with pencil on paper or pen on film and PCB designs with tape on film. Those were the years BC - before CAD   but I am not a stranger to CAD software either, I worked 8 years for a CAD company.

                                                                       

                                                                      Anyway, to continue:-

                                                                      For slicing software I have used Cura, Slic3d, and Simplify3D (an expensive commercial product).  Simplify3D is written in C/C++ using Qt framework and for me has produced the best results so far and the speed performance just blows everything else away.

                                                                       

                                                                      For my printer I have two... My original was a ReprapPro Tricolour Mendel (ReprapPro is no more and this printer is currently dismantled to make space). My active printer is of my own design, I experimented with cube designs using CoreXY and H-Bot mechanics and also Delta designs such as the Kossel but I ended up with my own variant of the Mendel arrangement using 20x20 aluminium framework.  The drive electronics on my original was dual  Melzi cards and on my experimental machines I used RAMPS 1.4 (Arduino Mega base)  I am now using RADDS which is Arduino Due based

                                                                      For the printer firmware I started with Marlin but I am currently running with Repetier firmware (easy to configure for various designs with their on-line configuration tool)

                                                                       

                                                                      Driving my printer, originally I used Pronterface I have also tried Cura, Simplify3D, Repetier Host and remote software OctoPrint and Repetier Server.  I am currently using Repetier Server on a small PC connected to printer which is in another room. I will be replacing the small PC with an SBC built into the machine may be RPi, BBB or similar not decided yet. Repetier Server is written in C/C++ and is available for Intel and ARM hosts and I think it is better than OctoPrint but thats my opinion.

                                                                       

                                                                      My current workflow:

                                                                      Design in OpenSCAD - export STL or obtain STL if already designed  (thingiverse etc)

                                                                      Slice with Simlify3D - export GCODE

                                                                      Upload GCODE to printer server using web interface and PRINT

                                                                      I can monitor the printer from anywhere and I automatically get a notification on my mobile when print completed.

                                                                       

                                                                      I think that's all, hope I haven't overdone the links

                                                                      1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                                        • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                          D_Hersey

                                                                          If you have the misfortune of using openscad in a windows environment, be very diligent about hitting ctrl-s.  The other day I was gifted by an OS 'upgrade' overnight.  An allowed prior update flipped my 'ask first' switch.  This necessitated an unbidden reset and I lost a day's work.  Openscad is not very vigilant when it comes to auto-save.  Another downside is that it doesn't tag all parse fails and sometimes silently ignores improper code.  Great deal, though.

                                                                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                                            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                              Brian Welsby

                                                                              A good tip regarding regular saves, something you learn from experience.   Yes I have had windows auto reboot on me too, fortunately I didn't loose anything but it was very annoying.

                                                                              I run Lubuntu for most things and only use windows when there's no other option.  OpenSCAD is available for Windows, Linux and Mac it's open source and written in Qt which is a big plus for me.  Yes it has some quirks and bugs but it is ongoing development, again part of the Google Summer of Code in collaboration with BRL-CAD so we should see some good enhancements.  I was first introduced to BRL-CAD many many years ago at a conference on Parallel Processing for Computer Vision and Display where I met Mike Muuss and also  Jack Bresenham. ..  that's enough name dropping   at that time it was only available by request on Mag Tape for DEC Vax ... oh happy days.

                                                                          • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                            dougw

                                                                            I use Autodesk 123D Design - which is free. It has a very simple UI relative to most CAD packages, which means you don't have a large number of complex functions available with dedicated menu selection sequences. But it also means there is a lot less to learn and remember. You can still make complex designs - it just requires a little thought. I think it is great for users that don't do a lot of designs because the learning curve is shorter and it can be picked up after a layoff with minimal relearning effort. I wouldn't say it is totally intuitive for those of us who learned drafting with pencils and 3 orthogonal views, so you will need to watch a few Youtube videos. I have used a lot of different CAD packages and they almost always require an extensive commitment to learning in order to become productive. I find 123D Design to actually be fun to use.

                                                                            Simple interface doesn't mean totally simple functionality - here are examples of its power:

                                                                            LED Road Test - Dodecahedron Light Fixture  Blog 3 Nov12

                                                                            3D Printed Phaser

                                                                            • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                              D_Hersey

                                                                              I too am a linux guy, but I run WIndows on my laptop 'cause linux just won't take on it, I think because of unpublished vagaries of the video system.  I'm happier running linux and it seems that openscad is happier in the linux environment as well.  Other apps auto-save when notified by the OS of a pending shutdown, openscad just gives up the ghost without plaint.

                                                                               

                                                                              I often use a successive suite of apps to generate my 2d perspective work.  I start with inkscape to draw 2d objects, extrude them into openscad and then arrange them and export as image.  This image I process in GIMP them it it's back to inkscape for the final touches.

                                                                               

                                                                              Openscad is best if you are a mathematician, probably.

                                                                              • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                                ipv1

                                                                                Very interesting inputs and here are my two cents worth.

                                                                                The need to make a drawing stems from problems that need to be designed around. Example is the fan duct and there are many other examples in the Ben Heck Show builds. Today's 3D modelling tools can be confusing and can have a learning curve which is really not the issue. The focus should be to find out a workflow that works for you and then the tools that can assist.

                                                                                Ben for example draws everything using illustrator and then makes 3D drawings in software. Shabaz sir uses power point and coincidently, so does my mother who is exceptionally well versed with those concepts.

                                                                                I still have a white paper drawing book with me always and make pencil drawings all the time.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Once you have the basic idea, it can be converted into a model which is what the initial question was. Timble Sketchup is great for beginners but you can end up with shapes with zero thickness and hence unprintable objects. The upside is that there is a large amount ready made models out there and can be used as a base to build upon.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Autodesk 123D is also a user friendly software and Rick Winscott is someone I have seen build a Star Wars BB-Droid in it.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Andy of the workshopshed has preferred OpenSCAD which uses code to model objects.

                                                                                 

                                                                                I personally prefer Autodesk Fusion 360 because even though it seems a bit overwhelming at first but it has the ability to make incredibly complicated organic shapes using T-Splines.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Then there is Blended which is used for animated films but can also be used for 3d printing.

                                                                                 

                                                                                hope that helps.

                                                                                cheers

                                                                                ip

                                                                                • Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations
                                                                                  danielw

                                                                                  I'm using Solidworks for work, but is a bit pricey for tinkering at home.  So I've been having a go with OnShape, which is cloud based and free though you only get 10 Private documents. You can have more but they are made public.  I will have a look at the free Autodesk offering...