3D CAD Tool Poll

What 3D CAD Tool do you use?

BRL-CAD
0
No votes
FreeCAD
13
9%
OpenSCAD (and/or ImplicitCAD --- specify)
15
10%
TinkerCAD
5
3%
SketchUp
48
32%
Directly create in opensource CAM (specify)
0
No votes
Directly create in commercial CAM (specify)
3
2%
Other Opensource (specify)
8
5%
Other Commercial (specify)
57
38%
Only do 2D (please give reasons why)
2
1%
 
Total votes: 151

cvoinescu
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Re: 3D CAD Tool Poll

Post by cvoinescu » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:50 pm

I have tried FreeCAD, but maybe I didn't invest enough effort, or maybe I started in the wrong place, but coming from SketchUp, FreeCAD seemed awkward and half-baked. I'm almost sure it's my fault, not FreeCAD's, so I should try again some time.

I learned the very basics of AutoCAD when an architect friend of mine gave me a half-hour tutorial. I used to use it on her computer when she lived with us, but she moved away so I was in need of a 2D CAD program that did not cost quite that much. I downloaded DraftSight (from the makers of SolidWorks), at the recommendation of the fabricator I use for laser-cut parts, but I haven't had a chance to play with it yet. It seems very similar to AutoCAD, so I should feel right at home.

A CAD program I could use pretty much without a learning curve was OpenSCAD. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I've already climbed that learning curve years ago: I'm a programmer. OpenSCAD is just one more language, and an easy one at that. What kills OpenSCAD for me are two things:

1. It can only export "rendered" geometry, that's already been converted to segments or triangles. It can't export a clean .DWG with arcs and circles -- only an approximation made of segments. Not good for sending to a fabricator.

2. Even though it supports colors and its preview visualization (F5) shows them, they are lost in all the exported formats. If it supported any sort of tag (color, material name, anything) that remained associated with an object in the exported format, I could have imported the result in Blender and rendered it to create my assembly instruction pictures. It would have been very handy for that. The pictures are much less fun with everything the same color, and manually editing them in Blender is out of the question (they'd be easier to do the way I do them today, in Sketchup; I'm trying to improve on that workflow).

There is still a glimmer of hope for OpenSCAD. I've just discovered that one of the Python OpenSCAD code generators (I forget which -- there are about half a dozen variations of PyOpenSCAD, OpenSCADPy, Py2OpenSCAD etc.) can be modified easily to conditionally include only the elements in a given material. That way, I can export one STL for each material, and import them in Blender one by one while assigning each its correct material. I still need to learn how to do the latter in Blender off-line, but with the amount of scripting it supports, it should be possible. My goal is to start with a bunch of text files that describe the "scenes" (each an exploded view corresponding to an assembly step), plus a seldom-modified Blender-specific "style", type make, go have a coffee, and come back to find rendered and resized .PNGs ready to upload.
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calica
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:13 am

Re: 3D CAD Tool

Post by calica » Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:51 am

twforeman wrote:I'm using Autodesk Inventor because I get a free student license through the high school FIRST robotics team I mentor.

I need to investigate the open source offerings.
Ha! Me too. I also use OpenSCAD. Easier for the programmer in me.

loopingz
Posts: 107
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:00 pm

Re: 3D CAD Tool Poll

Post by loopingz » Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:18 am

Catia V5 rocks. Mainly because I have years of work experience with it. Buying a license would be overkill.
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Llamas
Posts: 201
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 3:36 pm

Re: 3D CAD Tool Poll

Post by Llamas » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:16 pm

cvoinescu wrote:I have tried FreeCAD, but maybe I didn't invest enough effort, or maybe I started in the wrong place, but coming from SketchUp, FreeCAD seemed awkward and half-baked. I'm almost sure it's my fault, not FreeCAD's, so I should try again some time.
I've had to opposite experience when it comes to the usability experience, which probably says more about how much our comfort with what we already know can affect our evaluation of something different. Using the SketchUp interface almost always leaves me frustrated, and the lack of export to any of the CAD formats that I can import into other applications ends up causing frustration when I want to consume work someone has done in SketchUp. I guess it boils down to the fundamental parametric versus mesh characteristics of the modeling. (I can export to .dae, load it up in MeshLab, export it to .ply, and then import it to FreeCAD, but the result is usually not very good.)

Of course, FreeCAD crashes if you look at it wrong, which provides ample opportunity to get creative with profanity. (It doesn't handle regeneration of elements that are external constraints in existing sketches very well. So, if you make a change to a shape that alters more than dimension, FreeCAD usually can't match up the regenerated faces and edges with their previous ids, and the downstream sketches referencing the old faces or edges end up with null references. This is usually handled, not by removing the now-orphaned reference from the sketch, but by, well, not handling it. i.e. Crash.) I still haven't found something that works better for me, so I've learned to save often.

I haven't gotten into it because it didn't align with what I was trying to do when I first took a look; but, because FreeCAD is largely Python (with some things optimized in C++) under the hood, it's a very scriptable environment. The object model is exposed via a command-line window for line-at-a-time scripted manipulation.

Samurai
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:14 pm

Re: 3D CAD Tool Poll

Post by Samurai » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:26 pm

Rhino3D myself. I have models and renders on my Blog. http://gotastromech.com/blog

CrazyBillybob
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2013 2:09 pm
Location: Ohio
Contact:

Re: 3D CAD Tool Poll

Post by CrazyBillybob » Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:28 pm

I still use AutoCad. Learned it in school can do most things without a mouse. Tried some others had a hard time with being limited with my shapes or crashing. I'm sure some of it's me. I don't have tons of time for some projects so it's faster to do it the old way then learn a new one.

CBB

twforeman
Posts: 1347
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:51 pm
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Re: 3D CAD Tool Poll

Post by twforeman » Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:04 am

Llamas wrote:I've had to opposite experience when it comes to the usability experience, which probably says more about how much our comfort with what we already know can affect our evaluation of something different. Using the SketchUp interface almost always leaves me frustrated, and the lack of export to any of the CAD formats that I can import into other applications ends up causing frustration when I want to consume work someone has done in SketchUp. I guess it boils down to the fundamental parametric versus mesh characteristics of the modeling. (I can export to .dae, load it up in MeshLab, export it to .ply, and then import it to FreeCAD, but the result is usually not very good.)
I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't like the SketchUp interface. I ran CAD systems for 18 years starting in about 1982 with the early versions of AutoCAD and then using UGS Unigraphics before it became a Parametric system.

I have very strong ideas about how a CAD system should work, and SketchUp frustrates me.

I run AutoDesk Inventor now for my 3D solid modeling and I love it.

I use LibreCAD for the 2D stuff and it's just like using AutoCAD back in about 1990. :)
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RobCee
Posts: 587
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:33 am
Location: Birmingham, UK

Re: 3D CAD Tool Poll

Post by RobCee » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:14 am

I have very strong ideas about how a CAD system should work, and SketchUp frustrates me.
I feel your pain! As a long time (since the 80's) user of Pro/Engineer, Catia, SolidWorks and others, I find the Sketchup approach almost anti-intuitive. My only thought is that it is designed for left-brained people and I am a right-brained person and right-brained people like 3D to work the way most commercial solid modellers do (switch left/right as appropriate).
The best thing Sketchup has going for it is the price, which puts most main stream commercial 3D modelling outside the home user's finances.

I do find Sketchup good for quick proof of concept design and layouts. I guess this is really it's target market, with it's Architectural bias, rather than detail Engineering design. It does seem to be a shame that it cannot output anything particularly useful into the CAD world though.
Once I have my concept roughed out in Sketchup, I will typically draw it out in detail using DraftSight in 2D. I guess I really am one of those guys that I used to get annoyed with that always reverts to 'long hand' 2D drawings...
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Simon P
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:17 pm
Location: Wiltshire, UK

Re: 3D CAD Tool Poll

Post by Simon P » Wed May 07, 2014 7:50 am

I use Rhino, it's free on a Mac while they get all the bugs ironed out. You do have to put up with a forced monthly reinstall as they want everyone to be running the latest version. Fair enough as, otherwise, they'd be getting bug reports about things that have already been fixed.

I also use Sketchup when I want to design something dimensionally, I like it for that.
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ijv
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:41 am

Re: 3D CAD Tool Poll

Post by ijv » Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:47 am

Alibre Design for me. Its got about 90% of the capability of SolidWorks, Inventor etc for about 10% of the price. The base version used to sell for $99. But I see that they've been bought by Geomagic recently, so pricing may have changed.

ijv

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