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3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

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  • Robert Dyer
    At the November meeting of the SRS one of our members (I don t remember your name, but a big THANK YOU is in order!) brought his new WaterColorBot, which was
    Message 1 of 13 , Jan 29, 2014
      At the November meeting of the SRS one of our members (I don't remember your name, but a big THANK YOU is in order!) brought his new WaterColorBot, which was cool. But more interesting to me was his mention of the Egg-Bot which he also owned. (Both at evilmadscientist.com by the way.) I had been looking at the Egg-Bot for a while, and his talking about it was enough to push me off the fence and buy one. I made a ton of Christmas tree ornaments for friends. They were a big hit!


      One of the key pieces to creating designs and ornaments is a piece of open source freeware called Inkscape. It's a 2-D drawing tool that creates the SVG drawing files for the Egg-Bot. Extensions have been written, and are also free to download, that directly drive the Egg-Bot through a USB cable. It's really great!


      The one quasi-limitation of using the Egg-Bot is the very full-featured nature of Inkscape. It's a very powerful drawing tool, and it took me a while to figure out which subset of tools I needed to perform the relatively simple tasks I wanted to accomplish. Once that was done I became quite productive.


      The same member at the November meeting also had a hollow 3D-printed sphere he'd created. This also spurred me towards buying a 3D printer. But before I invest in one I'd like to create some 3D models using modeling software. The double-edged sword is the large number of programs out there. I've started looking on the internet for reviews, but I'm always suspicious of ones on major sites not knowing if they're tainted by advertising budgets. Plus I think I better relate to our list members than some of the authors. So I'd like to turn to the members of this list for help, as I've successfully done before.


      My criteria:

      1) Free. 2) PC-Win7. 3) Creates standard files that can be drawn with some of the less expensive 3D printers (the Velleman K8200 looks promising) or sent to one of the many fab-companies I've heard about. 


      I'm not trying to use this software for video CGI. And at least initially, I'm not anticipating drawing complex objects such as human faces, etc, so I'll trade ultimate functionality and capability for a certain amount of ease of learning and usability.


      Any suggestions? Thanks.


      Robert


    • James Moore
      SketchUp Rhino, for people using Macs (it s free on Mac while it s in beta) http://www.rhino3d.com/ Another option for getting stuff printed are a couple maker
      Message 2 of 13 , Jan 29, 2014
        SketchUp
        Rhino, for people using Macs (it's free on Mac while it's in beta) http://www.rhino3d.com/

        Another option for getting stuff printed are a couple maker spaces - makerhaus.com in Fremont, metrixcreatespace.com on Capitol Hill.  (Haven't used 3d at either, but I've used the laser cutter at makerhaus.)
      • Mark Kenworthy
        A lot of folks in the 3D printer community use OpenSCAD, using Inkscape as the 2D drawing package. OpenSCAD is more of a programming language to form 3D
        Message 3 of 13 , Jan 29, 2014

          A lot of folks in the 3D printer community use OpenSCAD, using Inkscape as the 2D drawing package.  OpenSCAD is more of a programming language to form 3D shapes. So, it’s not like a typical CAD program.  If you look at Thingiverse, you’ll find a lot of models made with OpenSCAD.

           

          Mark

           

          From: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Robert Dyer
          Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 12:07 PM
          To: Seattlerobotics@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [SeattleRobotics] 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

           

           

          At the November meeting of the SRS one of our members (I don't remember your name, but a big THANK YOU is in order!) brought his new WaterColorBot, which was cool. But more interesting to me was his mention of the Egg-Bot which he also owned. (Both at evilmadscientist.com by the way.) I had been looking at the Egg-Bot for a while, and his talking about it was enough to push me off the fence and buy one. I made a ton of Christmas tree ornaments for friends. They were a big hit!

           

          One of the key pieces to creating designs and ornaments is a piece of open source freeware called Inkscape. It's a 2-D drawing tool that creates the SVG drawing files for the Egg-Bot. Extensions have been written, and are also free to download, that directly drive the Egg-Bot through a USB cable. It's really great!

           

          The one quasi-limitation of using the Egg-Bot is the very full-featured nature of Inkscape. It's a very powerful drawing tool, and it took me a while to figure out which subset of tools I needed to perform the relatively simple tasks I wanted to accomplish. Once that was done I became quite productive.

           

          The same member at the November meeting also had a hollow 3D-printed sphere he'd created. This also spurred me towards buying a 3D printer. But before I invest in one I'd like to create some 3D models using modeling software. The double-edged sword is the large number of programs out there. I've started looking on the internet for reviews, but I'm always suspicious of ones on major sites not knowing if they're tainted by advertising budgets. Plus I think I better relate to our list members than some of the authors. So I'd like to turn to the members of this list for help, as I've successfully done before.

           

          My criteria:

          1) Free. 2) PC-Win7. 3) Creates standard files that can be drawn with some of the less expensive 3D printers (the Velleman K8200 looks promising) or sent to one of the many fab-companies I've heard about. 

           

          I'm not trying to use this software for video CGI. And at least initially, I'm not anticipating drawing complex objects such as human faces, etc, so I'll trade ultimate functionality and capability for a certain amount of ease of learning and usability.

           

          Any suggestions? Thanks.

           

          Robert

           

        • Robert Dyer
          Thanks Mark, I have read a little bit about OpenSCAD being more of a programming language. The blurb I saw said if you understand basic geometric shapes it
          Message 4 of 13 , Jan 29, 2014
            Thanks Mark,

            I have read a little bit about OpenSCAD being more of a programming language. The blurb I saw said if you understand basic geometric shapes it isn't that hard to learn. Would you concur?

            This may be a hard question to answer, but if possible how would you compare the difficulty of learning OpenSCAD to Inkscape, since I have some experience there.

            Robert


            From: "Mark Kenworthy" <mark@...>
            Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 1:42 PM

             

            A lot of folks in the 3D printer community use OpenSCAD, using Inkscape as the 2D drawing package.  OpenSCAD is more of a programming language to form 3D shapes. So, it's not like a typical CAD program.  If you look at Thingiverse, you'll find a lot of models made with OpenSCAD.

             

            Mark

             

            From: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Robert Dyer
            Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 12:07 PM
            To: Seattlerobotics@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [SeattleRobotics] 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

             

            At the November meeting of the SRS one of our members (I don't remember your name, but a big THANK YOU is in order!) brought his new WaterColorBot, which was cool. But more interesting to me was his mention of the Egg-Bot which he also owned. (Both at evilmadscientist.com by the way.) I had been looking at the Egg-Bot for a while, and his talking about it was enough to push me off the fence and buy one. I made a ton of Christmas tree ornaments for friends. They were a big hit!

             

            One of the key pieces to creating designs and ornaments is a piece of open source freeware called Inkscape. It's a 2-D drawing tool that creates the SVG drawing files for the Egg-Bot. Extensions have been written, and are also free to download, that directly drive the Egg-Bot through a USB cable. It's really great!

             

            The one quasi-limitation of using the Egg-Bot is the very full-featured nature of Inkscape. It's a very powerful drawing tool, and it took me a while to figure out which subset of tools I needed to perform the relatively simple tasks I wanted to accomplish. Once that was done I became quite productive.

             

            The same member at the November meeting also had a hollow 3D-printed sphere he'd created. This also spurred me towards buying a 3D printer. But before I invest in one I'd like to create some 3D models using modeling software. The double-edged sword is the large number of programs out there. I've started looking on the internet for reviews, but I'm always suspicious of ones on major sites not knowing if they're tainted by advertising budgets. Plus I think I better relate to our list members than some of the authors. So I'd like to turn to the members of this list for help, as I've successfully done before.

             

            My criteria:

            1) Free. 2) PC-Win7. 3) Creates standard files that can be drawn with some of the less expensive 3D printers (the Velleman K8200 looks promising) or sent to one of the many fab-companies I've heard about. 

             

            I'm not trying to use this software for video CGI. And at least initially, I'm not anticipating drawing complex objects such as human faces, etc, so I'll trade ultimate functionality and capability for a certain amount of ease of learning and usability.

             

            Any suggestions? Thanks.

             

            Robert

             


          • Mark Kenworthy
            Hi Robert - Depends on what you are trying to do, and your level of comfort with programming. If all you want is a simple extruded shape, starting from a
            Message 5 of 13 , Jan 29, 2014

              Hi Robert – Depends on what you are trying to do, and your level of comfort with programming.  If all you want is a simple extruded shape, starting from a drawing from Inkscape, that’s super easy.  Many of the objects on Thingiverse have the OpenSCAD code with them, so you can easily look at examples.

               

              Mark

               

              From: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Robert Dyer
              Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 2:11 PM
              To: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [SeattleRobotics] 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

               

               

              Thanks Mark,

              I have read a little bit about OpenSCAD being more of a programming language. The blurb I saw said if you understand basic geometric shapes it isn't that hard to learn. Would you concur?

              This may be a hard question to answer, but if possible how would you compare the difficulty of learning OpenSCAD to Inkscape, since I have some experience there.

              Robert


              From: "Mark Kenworthy" <mark@...>
              Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 1:42 PM

               

              A lot of folks in the 3D printer community use OpenSCAD, using Inkscape as the 2D drawing package.  OpenSCAD is more of a programming language to form 3D shapes. So, it's not like a typical CAD program.  If you look at Thingiverse, you'll find a lot of models made with OpenSCAD.

               

              Mark

               

              From: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Robert Dyer
              Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 12:07 PM
              To: Seattlerobotics@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [SeattleRobotics] 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

               

              At the November meeting of the SRS one of our members (I don't remember your name, but a big THANK YOU is in order!) brought his new WaterColorBot, which was cool. But more interesting to me was his mention of the Egg-Bot which he also owned. (Both at evilmadscientist.com by the way.) I had been looking at the Egg-Bot for a while, and his talking about it was enough to push me off the fence and buy one. I made a ton of Christmas tree ornaments for friends. They were a big hit!

               

              One of the key pieces to creating designs and ornaments is a piece of open source freeware called Inkscape. It's a 2-D drawing tool that creates the SVG drawing files for the Egg-Bot. Extensions have been written, and are also free to download, that directly drive the Egg-Bot through a USB cable. It's really great!

               

              The one quasi-limitation of using the Egg-Bot is the very full-featured nature of Inkscape. It's a very powerful drawing tool, and it took me a while to figure out which subset of tools I needed to perform the relatively simple tasks I wanted to accomplish. Once that was done I became quite productive.

               

              The same member at the November meeting also had a hollow 3D-printed sphere he'd created. This also spurred me towards buying a 3D printer. But before I invest in one I'd like to create some 3D models using modeling software. The double-edged sword is the large number of programs out there. I've started looking on the internet for reviews, but I'm always suspicious of ones on major sites not knowing if they're tainted by advertising budgets. Plus I think I better relate to our list members than some of the authors. So I'd like to turn to the members of this list for help, as I've successfully done before.

               

              My criteria:

              1) Free. 2) PC-Win7. 3) Creates standard files that can be drawn with some of the less expensive 3D printers (the Velleman K8200 looks promising) or sent to one of the many fab-companies I've heard about. 

               

              I'm not trying to use this software for video CGI. And at least initially, I'm not anticipating drawing complex objects such as human faces, etc, so I'll trade ultimate functionality and capability for a certain amount of ease of learning and usability.

               

              Any suggestions? Thanks.

               

              Robert

               

               

            • Will Smith
              Hi Robert, I m going to bring my Printrbot Plus in to the meeting in February, would love to talk to you about my experience with software. (I use SolidWorks,
              Message 6 of 13 , Jan 29, 2014
                Hi Robert,
                  I'm going to bring my Printrbot Plus in to the meeting in February, would love to talk to you about my experience with software. (I use SolidWorks, but it's not free.) I'm not super keen on OpenSCAD but your mileage my vary.

                seemed like a good couple of options.
                -Will
                  
              • Will Smith
                Also, not sure if someone mentioned it already, but Autodesk 123D (and their suite of free software) seems well suited to 3D printing.
                Message 7 of 13 , Jan 29, 2014
                  Also, not sure if someone mentioned it already, but Autodesk 123D (and their suite of free software) seems well suited to 3D printing.
                • Robert Dyer
                  Great Will, I plan on being there so I look forward to talking. I think I ll bring my Egg-Bot for people to check out. (I missed the December meeting, so I
                  Message 8 of 13 , Jan 29, 2014

                    Great Will, I plan on being there so I look forward to talking.


                    I think I'll bring my Egg-Bot for people to check out. (I missed the December meeting, so I hope nobody brought one then.)


                    Robert



                    From: "Will Smith" <coinbird@...>
                    Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 5:48 PM
                    To: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: [***SPAM***] [SeattleRobotics] Re: 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions


                     

                    Hi Robert,
                      I'm going to bring my Printrbot Plus in to the meeting in February, would love to talk to you about my experience with software. (I use SolidWorks, but it's not free.) I'm not super keen on OpenSCAD but your mileage my vary.

                    seemed like a good couple of options.
                    -Will
                      


                  • James Hughes
                    My experience with OpenSCAD is that it s wonderful for inherently parametric things like printing gears. It s a pain in the butt for anything else. If you
                    Message 9 of 13 , Jan 30, 2014
                      My experience with OpenSCAD is that it's wonderful for inherently parametric things like printing gears. It's a pain in the butt for anything else. If you wanted to model a complete robot with gears, servos, MCUs, wires, etc then you'd be wasting your time trying to do it with OpenSCAD. If you just need to model one part, and you like thinking in code, then it may be the tool for you.

                      I've mainly used Rhino for 3D printing. It's not free, though. It has its strengths and weaknesses. If you want to do organic shapes, it's about the best thing out there. The Grasshopper plugin has some nice features for parametric modeling, but it sort of pulls you into a wholly different paradigm for modeling. If you have experience with any 3D software, then it's very intuitive.

                      Solidworks is great, too. Also non-free. If you're modeling mechanical parts, I'd highly recommend it over Rhino. Parametric modeling is a first class citizen as opposed to a bolt-on afterthought. Need to resize one little part without having to completely remodel it? No problem. It gets pretty kludgy when trying to model organic shapes, though.

                      There's a nice walk-through of some of the various free options on the Makerbot site:
                      http://curriculum.makerbot.com/2011/software.html

                      If you're not making parts that need tight tolerances, have a look at Blender. I think it uses floating point units internally, which is why I wouldn't recommend it as a true CAD package. But it does have a very rich tool set and a loyal following. Most people will get along just fine with its accuracy.

                      I'd really recommend trialling some of the non-free stuff just to see what the differences are. Most of them have free downloads, and though the learning curve is steep most of the ideas are transferrable between packages.


                      On Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 5:51 PM, Robert Dyer <robert@...> wrote:
                       

                      Great Will, I plan on being there so I look forward to talking.


                      I think I'll bring my Egg-Bot for people to check out. (I missed the December meeting, so I hope nobody brought one then.)


                      Robert



                      From: "Will Smith" <coinbird@...>
                      Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 5:48 PM
                      To: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: [***SPAM***] [SeattleRobotics] Re: 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions


                       

                      Hi Robert,
                        I'm going to bring my Printrbot Plus in to the meeting in February, would love to talk to you about my experience with software. (I use SolidWorks, but it's not free.) I'm not super keen on OpenSCAD but your mileage my vary.

                      seemed like a good couple of options.
                      -Will
                        



                    • James Moore
                      Oh, and once you start googling for these things, you ll find that every third ad on the internet becomes Solid Edge pushing their subscription package. Or at
                      Message 10 of 13 , Jan 30, 2014
                        Oh, and once you start googling for these things, you'll find that every third ad on the internet becomes Solid Edge pushing their subscription package.  Or at least that was my experience.  (Solid Edge 2d I think is free, too.).

                        $150/month for Solid Edge looks attractive when compared to the pricing for Solidworks - isn't it about $7k?  (Or is there a hobbyist package that I don't know about?)
                      • Mark Kenworthy
                        There are many levels of SolidWorks, and I think they start at about $3500. Really depends on what you are trying to do. I use SolidWorks all the time, and
                        Message 11 of 13 , Jan 30, 2014

                          There are many levels of SolidWorks, and I think they start at about $3500.  Really depends on what you are trying to do.  I use SolidWorks all the time, and it’s a fantastic CAD tool for designing mechanical components and systems.  All of our customers except one use SolidWorks.  If you are a student, you can get a student version on a low-cost annual subscription basis.

                           

                          There’s a similar product called Alibre that has much lower cost versions.

                           

                          Mark

                           

                          From: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of James Moore
                          Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2014 4:43 PM
                          To: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: Re: [SeattleRobotics] Re: 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

                           

                           

                          Oh, and once you start googling for these things, you'll find that every third ad on the internet becomes Solid Edge pushing their subscription package.  Or at least that was my experience.  (Solid Edge 2d I think is free, too.).

                           

                          $150/month for Solid Edge looks attractive when compared to the pricing for Solidworks - isn't it about $7k?  (Or is there a hobbyist package that I don't know about?)

                        • Kevin Ross
                          I have Alibre for my Tormach PCNC1100. It works nicely and is pretty simple to learn. It does most of the daily things for small projects. I don t think I
                          Message 12 of 13 , Jan 30, 2014

                            I have Alibre for my Tormach PCNC1100. It works nicely and is pretty simple to learn. It does most of the daily things for small projects. I don’t think I would design a plane with it, but it does a good job at solid model geometry and is certain worth a look if you are doing stuff at home or in a non-professional environment. It has all of the common features, but lacks some of the automation and parameterization that Solidworks and Inventor are capable of.

                             

                            Having said that, I use Inventor mostly but am thinking of switching to Solidworks. FIRST mentors can use either package for zero cost. I have spent a lot of time with Inventor and am proficient at it. However, my students use Solidworks in their classes, so I am going to switch for their benefit.

                             

                            Kevin

                             

                            From: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Mark Kenworthy
                            Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2014 4:57 PM
                            To: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com
                            Subject: RE: [SeattleRobotics] Re: 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

                             




                            There are many levels of SolidWorks, and I think they start at about $3500.  Really depends on what you are trying to do.  I use SolidWorks all the time, and it’s a fantastic CAD tool for designing mechanical components and systems.  All of our customers except one use SolidWorks.  If you are a student, you can get a student version on a low-cost annual subscription basis.

                             

                            There’s a similar product called Alibre that has much lower cost versions.

                             

                            Mark

                             

                            From: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of James Moore
                            Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2014 4:43 PM
                            To: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com
                            Subject: Re: [SeattleRobotics] Re: 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

                             

                             

                            Oh, and once you start googling for these things, you'll find that every third ad on the internet becomes Solid Edge pushing their subscription package.  Or at least that was my experience.  (Solid Edge 2d I think is free, too.).

                             

                            $150/month for Solid Edge looks attractive when compared to the pricing for Solidworks - isn't it about $7k?  (Or is there a hobbyist package that I don't know about?)

                             




                          • Mike Payson
                            I recently switched from Alibre to Solidworks. I used to be a big proponent of Alibre, but the last several versions have gradually stripped features out of
                            Message 13 of 13 , Feb 7, 2014
                              I recently switched from Alibre to Solidworks. I used to be a big proponent of Alibre, but the last several versions have gradually stripped features out of the low cost versions, while simultaneously raising the cost. Now if you want to do more than moderately complex things, you rapidly wish you had features that are only available in the $2000 expert version. To make matters worse, the last few versions seem to have gotten progressively buggier.

                              Unlike Alibre, virtually all the main CAD tools are included even in the least expensive version of Solidworks, and those tools are remarkably more powerful than the similar tools in Alibre. Going to the more expensive versions add extra features for simulation and interoperability and such, but the fundamental design tools are in all version. 

                              Obviously, if you are just a hobbyist, it is hard to justify spending $3500 for CAD software, but after using SW for just a few months, I can tell you honestly it is ridiculously superior to Alibre in nearly every way for the number of extra features you get with SW, it is well worth the extra cost if you can justify buying either of them.

                              For hobbyists, either Sketchup or DesignSpark Mechanical are tough to beat.


                              On Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 7:45 PM, Kevin Ross <kevinro@...> wrote:


                              I have Alibre for my Tormach PCNC1100. It works nicely and is pretty simple to learn. It does most of the daily things for small projects. I don’t think I would design a plane with it, but it does a good job at solid model geometry and is certain worth a look if you are doing stuff at home or in a non-professional environment. It has all of the common features, but lacks some of the automation and parameterization that Solidworks and Inventor are capable of.

                               

                              Having said that, I use Inventor mostly but am thinking of switching to Solidworks. FIRST mentors can use either package for zero cost. I have spent a lot of time with Inventor and am proficient at it. However, my students use Solidworks in their classes, so I am going to switch for their benefit.

                               

                              Kevin

                               

                              From: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Mark Kenworthy
                              Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2014 4:57 PM
                              To: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com
                              Subject: RE: [SeattleRobotics] Re: 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

                               




                              There are many levels of SolidWorks, and I think they start at about $3500.  Really depends on what you are trying to do.  I use SolidWorks all the time, and it’s a fantastic CAD tool for designing mechanical components and systems.  All of our customers except one use SolidWorks.  If you are a student, you can get a student version on a low-cost annual subscription basis.

                               

                              There’s a similar product called Alibre that has much lower cost versions.

                               

                              Mark

                               

                              From: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com [mailto:SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of James Moore
                              Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2014 4:43 PM
                              To: SeattleRobotics@yahoogroups.com
                              Subject: Re: [SeattleRobotics] Re: 3D Printer Modeling Software Suggestions

                               

                               

                              Oh, and once you start googling for these things, you'll find that every third ad on the internet becomes Solid Edge pushing their subscription package.  Or at least that was my experience.  (Solid Edge 2d I think is free, too.).

                               

                              $150/month for Solid Edge looks attractive when compared to the pricing for Solidworks - isn't it about $7k?  (Or is there a hobbyist package that I don't know about?)

                               







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