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Help finding good CAD Software

Posted by Morpheus 
Help finding good CAD Software
March 22, 2010 07:56PM
Okay, I'm new, but I just got my BfB Rapman. I want to start designing stuff while I wait for it to get here, but I've tried all of the CAD things listed in the wiki under software, and I don't get any of them. I'm familiar with sketchup, as well as Autocad Mechanical, but I can't get skeinforge to take either format (or any at all really.) Assume I know nothing. Please help me get software and stuff from the ground up.
Re: Help finding good CAD Software
March 22, 2010 09:01PM
Skeinforge, just like all the other slice/dice/print stuff including the official java host, expects a STL file.

Most design software will have an option to export a STL file, it's a very common format. There exists a free plugin for STL export from google sketchup. Some free versions of full CAD packages omit that feature.

Skeinforge doesn't have rotation support - the orientation that the STL is exported it in is the way it'll print. Note that the STL format doesn't specify dimensions, and skeinforge doesn't support scaling the model last I heard, so you may need to double check that it's exported in mm. The java host does support scaling and rotation, last I heard anyway.

There's been some discussion of supporting other file formats, mostly because the STL format stinks. I don't know how much of that's working yet, and STL is more compatible.

I'm building it with Baling Wire
Re: Help finding good CAD Software
March 22, 2010 09:15PM
Alibre.com has some good CAD software - I liked it well enough to buy the cheap version, but they have a free version as well that's pretty good. It's more for mechanical engineering types, but it does the job.

Blender is my next favourite, but it's more of a mesh modeller than an actual CAD package.

AOI is similar to Blender, but crashes too much for my tastes.

Openscad is a modeller for programmers - I think it's not bad, used it a couple of times, but it's the wrong paradigm for the way I think about designing. It works well for some folks though, judging by the things I see on Thingiverse.

The most important thing is to find something you're comfortable designing with.

Re: Help finding good CAD Software
March 23, 2010 06:13AM
Yeah, I checked for free STL plugins on google. They say I need to have pro. Any CAD stuff works, as long as it can save or export as an STL, right?
Re: Help finding good CAD Software
March 23, 2010 09:03AM
HeeksCAD, freeCAD, NaroCAD and CAD Exchanger will convert IGES and STEP files to STL, if your CAD program doesn't do STL directly.
Re: Help finding good CAD Software
March 24, 2010 07:29PM
I really recommend openSCAD. I am not a programmer and started messing around in it a few days ago and it's very intuitive to me - instead of actually 'drawing' an object, you describe it as the shapes that make it. The only tough part is hat the documentation is a little weak. The tutorial on iheartrobotics.com ( [www.iheartrobotics.com] ) is really helpful, and so is the wikibook openSCAD manual ( [en.wikibooks.org] ).
Re: Help finding good CAD Software
March 25, 2010 04:48PM
No, I tried OpenScad. But I got my CAD teacher to land me an educational version of AutoCAD Inventor, which can export the STL's. w00T!
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