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What do you use for 3D CAD?

Tom Simon

I'd be curious to know what people are using for 3D CAD for their 3D printers. I know that Fusion360 is getting traction. I found a lot of the low end free programs to be too simple for the things I wanted to make. I used Sketchup for a while, but the lack of parametric capabilities limited what you can do. I am learning OnShape now and find it is very powerful.

Please chime in!


Li Yisuo

Blender is free and complicated enough I believe. And we could have the code and compile it ourselves. - Home of the Blender project - Free and Open 3D Creation Software There are many useful add-ons. And I watched a introduction in their cloud for 3D printing. (I haven't practice it.)
The learning curve can be very steep if you would like to unleash all the power of Blender.
Basically it can be used not only for 3D modeling, but also wonderful ray tracing with the famous cycle engine, which can generate Holywood class movies. You can also use their game logic for easy game prototype. Fluid dynamic, wind, gravity, soft body and many other complicate physical simulations can be done inside. But it is a CAD mesh, (not 3D mesh.)

Tom Simon

The problem I had with Sketchup was that if you wanted to go back and change a dimension in your design, it would require a lot of rework. Also the free version does not include booleans. In a lot of cases you could figure out how to work around this, but it was a huge hassle. The last and biggest gripe with Sketchup is that it can be hard to get 'water tight' solids. It seems basic design operations would cause havoc and I spent a lot of time using plugins to debug small triangular holes and inverted surfaces.

OnShape let you define user settable dimensions on things that can easily be changed later. The design is essentially 'replayed' using the new value and all subsequent design steps adapt to the new values. Also It always creates good solids and the free version is fully functional. You just are limited in how many private designs you can have.

Tom Simon

Update: I have been using OnShape for several weeks and I am very happy with the reliability and the power of the software. I'd recommend it to anyone looking to do 3D design. It's free for personal use. Future of CAD | Onshape