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CAD Software Recommendations

Posted by dtmille2 
CAD Software Recommendations
August 27, 2012 12:09AM
I have my MendelMax 1.5 up and running, and printing well enough that I am ready to try printing some of my own designs. I have a decade or more of experience with CAD (ProE and NX/Unigraphics mainly) but I do not have a license for either of these outside of work, and so I would like to start using an open source or somehow freely available CAD package.

Any recommendations? I have seen that Google SketchUp (or Trimble ScketchUp) has the ability to export .stl files. Is this a viable tool chain to get from design to print? Or are there certain CAD packages freely available that I should look at? Thanks for any suggestions.

Also, I tried searching for "CAD" in the forum but it came back with no hits. Surprised that this topic hasn't been covered before in the forums, so if it has and I just missed the topic, my apologies.

D


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[DMillerRepRap.blogspot.com] -- 3D Printing Blog with Pics, Videos, etc. -- Please view and leave your comments and advice!
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 27, 2012 12:20AM
I'm an old hand at Autocad and a few others. Like you, I can't afford licensing for more recent CAD programs. I still "gimp along" on an autocad 2000 license I purchase a long long time ago when money flowed more freely. (I don't really mind most of the time, so 'gimping" is a bit of an overstatement)

As I get use to it, I'm finding that Sketchup isn't half bad. I've already used it to create a part that a friend printed (my machine is still a work in progress) and modified existing files imported as STL files.

The tool chain that was recommended to me is Sketchup followed by Slic3r followed by pronterface for running the print itself. Skeinforge for path generation and OpenScad for parametric modeling were also recommended and I at least downloaded them, although I haven't done anything in either.

I'm sure there are other options. right now for me it's Sketchup => Slic3r => Pronterface, although once I start printing I may also use skeinforge and openScad...idk...
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 27, 2012 12:43AM
i'd recommend openscad and blender

with those two you can do pretty much anything,
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 27, 2012 01:13AM
Openscad looks a little intimidating. Blender looks very cool. I will take a look at both.

I'm using Slic3r > Pronterface. You may have figured it out already, but if you install Pronterface, Slic3r is built in (maybe it needs to be a certain build or version of Pronterface).

I had gone through all of the trouble to install Slic3r and Python separately before I installed Pronterface. Could have saved myself some headaches.


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[DMillerRepRap.blogspot.com] -- 3D Printing Blog with Pics, Videos, etc. -- Please view and leave your comments and advice!
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 27, 2012 02:29AM
Repetier host also includes an integrated Slic3r and Skeinforge install, plus it has a 3D part placer and gcode viewer. I highly recommend it.
[github.com]

Take a look at FreeCAD and HeeksCAD as well.


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Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 27, 2012 01:41PM
I found FreeCAD to be full of bugs and Creo to be tedious to use. Blender works great but is better suited to "organic" designs rather than engineering parts.

I bought a $160 license for Alibre Design and it works great. I spend my time parametric designing and having fun instead of fighting the annoyances of free software. Sometimes you get what you pay for. YMMV.

Andy
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 27, 2012 04:29PM
I use both Sketchup and VIACAD 2D/3D
[www.punchcad.com]

I was able to get ViaCad 2D/3D for $50 after coupons/discounts.
but even at $99 I think its a good deal.
There are running errors with ViaCAD, but has still worked well for me.
If you understand nurbs and things, you could probly avoid the errors I get yawning smiley)
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 28, 2012 11:39AM
autodesk 123D. Free. There is a learning curve though.


- akhlut

Just remember - Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

[myhomelessmind.blogspot.com]
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 28, 2012 12:16PM
For those using Autodesk products at work, the license allows a home computer install as long as the you are the only one using both instances.
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 28, 2012 07:42PM
openscad is easy to use and programable. sometimes i still need to clean up stl files in netfab.
heekscad is easy because its gui allows importing of several stl files together for print jobs. imho.
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
August 28, 2012 10:05PM
Lots of good suggestions here, thanks all.

For now I am going to start with SketchUp since I already know it, and use that to learn the steps from rough idea to printed object. I'm sure I will quickly reach a point where i need more parametric modeling capability, and at that point these suggestions will be very useful.

Do any of these have an advantage in terms of licensing or issues with being able to design things that have commercial value and not give up the right to make a profit off of your ideas? I'm not very experienced with open source software and what it may or may not limit you to do. Pretty broad and poorly phrased question, I know. smiling smiley

D


===================================================
[DMillerRepRap.blogspot.com] -- 3D Printing Blog with Pics, Videos, etc. -- Please view and leave your comments and advice!
Re: CAD Software Recommendations
September 05, 2012 11:22PM
I've been using Heekscad for a couple of months now and there is very little it won't do. Tried Openscad and found it to be overly text based and difficult to use. I originally trained on AutoCad 20 years ago and do find their approach to GUI instinctive which is probably why I like Heeks, but these days I am looking for a free license and I cannot justify the cost of Autodesk products for hobby designs. The only draw backs with Heeks are a). the occasional bug in the program causing a random crash, b). the lack of a spiral or helix design object and c). the biggie - the fact that it won't read SCAD files. If it was for this annoyance it would be the best free software ever.


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Re: CAD Software Recommendations
September 05, 2012 11:50PM
You might check with your IT department (assuming you work where you have ProE).
they might allow you to check out a license from their server, at night.
We share our ProE and Solidworks licenses with different divisions, worldwide using this method.

Dave
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