3D modelling software

I’m venturing into the world of creating the plastic box that will house all my electronic goodies.

I’m expecting to use 3d printing services like shapeways et.al. However I’m having serious trouble finding a good AND easy to use modeling software.

123d: This software has a very inconsistent UX and has frustrated me to no end.

Blender: It is very non-intuitive and I would hate to spend all the effort in learning it if there is something better.

Solidworks: I’ve used this before with success and happiness… but I don’t own it and it’s pretty pricey.

I’ve not had much success with sketchup, but I’ve spent the least amount of time with it too.

What do you use? Which would you recommend to me to spend the time & learn?

I would probably try to master sketchup. But check if it can produce something in the format that is accepted by the 3D printing provider.

Check out Alibre Design.

There are a couple of sub-$1000 options out there. I use Rhinoceros 3D version 5. I went with them because 5 years ago, they had the most features for the least money.

I’ve watched Alibre grow in that time but 3D Systems gobbled them up recently, the same as they’re gobbling up anything 3D that isn’t cemented into the floor. Alibre’s site shows something new, Hobby Design that’s focussed on 3D printing. But I really hate how they make you call them. If I can’t just buy it? Though I will probably try it! :smiley:

And get netfabb free edition to verify and fix your STL files before 3D printing!

If you want something simply easy to use, see if MilkShape is still around, I used this a number of years ago, knowing nothing about 3d modeling I was able to make a few things.

Blender would probably be your best bet as far as free software is concerned. This is my choice (although Jason will strongly disagree). I like blender, it’s free, open source, supports plenty of file extensions and is cross-platform.

If you want to use SketchUp, this is a free plug-in that will export to STL for 3D printing.

Just make sure that you are using the right units when designing…:slight_smile:

I don’t see Blander as software used for CAD design, but organic and hard surface modeling. I’m sure some people use it for CAD but the tools are not really made for it.

I use sketchup for modelling and Kerkythea if a need a quality render. Both are free. I’ve not tried SU with the 3d printer yet, but from what I’ve heard it works pretty well.

Alibre got back to me. The hobby version is $199, which seems reasonable to me. I asked for a trial key. Rhino is a bit much for building boxes with so if I can get an STL out of my brains and into disk faster/easier with Alibre, I’ll buy it.

The photo is the project I’m currently working on. It will automate testing of throttle position sensors. I’ve got the “doghouse” at the left in silver up on grabCAD. The box under it holds the thermal printer and power supply. There are 3 form factors we’re testing right now, so there are 3 different docks that bolt up to the stepper motor just to the right of the doghouse.

Alibre Design is easy to use. If you get into using 3D CAD a lot, I would recommend getting a 3D Connexion device for use with it. It makes moving around the 3D world so much easier.

You can also import all of the 3D Step models that GHI have on the website and use these in your design.

You can also export STL files for 3D printers (I see that your parts in the image are 3D printed and looks good)