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Best software for a beginner?
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imagiqc Offline
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Best software for a beginner?
Hi, I'm a 42 year old father of 6 and I'm looking to get into 3-d printing and CNC machining. I have some experience as a CNC Machine Operator, and I know the basics of programming computers.
I'm looking to get started one baby step at a time, so my first concern is the software side of things. What software would you all recommend for someone new to the field? I'm looking to eventually create both artistic objects (small figurines) and practical objects (legos, guitar picks, etc.) But I want them to be of my own design. So I figure I need to learn the software/design aspect first.
Any suggestions?
02-14-2013 09:27 PM
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Zephyrean Offline
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RE: Best software for a beginner?
Hi! I am also a beginner, and to be honest, I am using the program found on blender.org. It is a free software. I am going to continue to use it until I feel like I am ready to go on to bigger and better things. For now, it is a great learning tool!
02-28-2013 01:21 PM
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imagiqc Offline
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RE: Best software for a beginner?
For 3d modeling fun, you should try Sculptris, as well. the user interface is fairly intuitive, and made by the same folks that make Zbrush, a higher end 3d modeling program. It's not for calculating paths, or actual manufacturing of any kind. Just for 3d graphics manipulation. But it's fun to play with.
02-28-2013 10:22 PM
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rudalf Offline
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RE: Best software for a beginner?
I think you should search it over net for better help and reviews on it.

http://www.3dprintingservice.us/
http://www.3dscanningservices.us/
03-04-2013 10:22 AM
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VDX Offline
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RE: Best software for a beginner?
... for manipulating and creating mesh-based objects you can use MeshMixer: http://www.meshmixer.com/
03-05-2013 09:33 AM
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Marcus Offline
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RE: Best software for a beginner?
That's probably the hardest question when starting 3D printing, sometimes more difficult then on choosing your 3D printer :-)

In general there's no software for everyone and every task; While you can make organic, artistic stuff in technical CAD software, and mechanical parts in modeling software, it's easier in the long term to dig into two different programs.
Common beginner recommendations are Sculptris and Blender as mentioned here, but also 123cad, Tinkercad, and OpenScad.

Google Sketchup is also very common, and I have to confess, I use it a lot. It's rather easy to learn, but even with all the great free plug-ins/tools available it has limitations. It's one of the few programs that will run on my old laptop without problems though ;-) If you want to start with serious modeling/CAD-Designs I would strongly recommend getting into a more professional and more versatile software. Plus without plugins like STL-Export and other helpful plug-ins Sketchup is not even suitable or 3D printing...

With the web-based services such as Tinkercad I personally don't like having to pay for extra features and not "owning" the software / running it locally. But that's probably just me.

IF you have any experience at all with 3D software, go start from there. It reduces frustration when getting started in 3D printing.
Great tools that you will enjoy are Netfabb (basic version is free) and Meshlab (free).
Meshlab has a lot of filters to smooth or simplifly models. Netfabb has different tools to fix broken/faulty 3D models to make them printable and avoiding your printer to do weird things like starting to print mid-air or bumping into parts. Netfabb also has a webbased cloud service to fix your models, but usually the tool works fine.
Especially as beginner or when having to finish something in time errors do happen (holes, inverted surfaces/normals, intersecting pieces/faces...).

Also the already mentioned Meshmixer is nice (for example to fix holes in 3D scans with a Kinect/Reconstructme or David Laserscanner).
03-06-2013 12:36 AM
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Pecos Bill Offline
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RE: Best software for a beginner?
(03-06-2013 12:36 AM)Marcus Wrote:  That's probably the hardest question when starting 3D printing, sometimes more difficult then on choosing your 3D printer :-)

In general there's no software for everyone and every task; While you can make organic, artistic stuff in technical CAD software, and mechanical parts in modeling software, it's easier in the long term to dig into two different programs.
Common beginner recommendations are Sculptris and Blender as mentioned here, but also 123cad, Tinkercad, and OpenScad.

Google Sketchup is also very common, and I have to confess, I use it a lot. It's rather easy to learn, but even with all the great free plug-ins/tools available it has limitations. It's one of the few programs that will run on my old laptop without problems though ;-) If you want to start with serious modeling/CAD-Designs I would strongly recommend getting into a more professional and more versatile software. Plus without plugins like STL-Export and other helpful plug-ins Sketchup is not even suitable or 3D printing...

With the web-based services such as Tinkercad I personally don't like having to pay for extra features and not "owning" the software / running it locally. But that's probably just me.

IF you have any experience at all with 3D software, go start from there. It reduces frustration when getting started in 3D printing.
Great tools that you will enjoy are Netfabb (basic version is free) and Meshlab (free).
Meshlab has a lot of filters to smooth or simplifly models. Netfabb has different tools to fix broken/faulty 3D models to make them printable and avoiding your printer to do weird things like starting to print mid-air or bumping into parts. Netfabb also has a webbased cloud service to fix your models, but usually the tool works fine.
Especially as beginner or when having to finish something in time errors do happen (holes, inverted surfaces/normals, intersecting pieces/faces...).

Also the already mentioned Meshmixer is nice (for example to fix holes in 3D scans with a Kinect/Reconstructme or David Laserscanner).
Thanks, you really provided a lot of information.
04-14-2013 04:12 PM
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Polytech Offline
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RE: Best software for a beginner?
(02-14-2013 09:27 PM)imagiqc Wrote:  Hi, I'm a 42 year old father of 6 and I'm looking to get into 3-d printing and CNC machining. I have some experience as a CNC Machine Operator, and I know the basics of programming computers.
I'm looking to get started one baby step at a time, so my first concern is the software side of things. What software would you all recommend for someone new to the field?
You sound a lot like me Big Grin in which case I know money is an issue and so I would certainly recommend sticking to free software throughout the entire process. Luckily, there's free software to work with every aspect of 3D design and manufacturing. Yes, there are expen$ive software titles that do a wonderful job but to appreciate all the bells and whistles you would have to have a fair amount of experience. You can easily find free software that will have all the basics, and that's the only think you really need just starting out. Ontop of that my personal preference is to use a free OS, too - Ubuntu or another Linux flavor. If you haven't used Linux yet, I recommend you try it. It's come a long way from the hacker-only OS of yore and the experience is not much different from MS Win except that Linux is free and (mostly) open source.
(02-14-2013 09:27 PM)imagiqc Wrote:  I'm looking to eventually create both artistic objects (small figurines) and practical objects (legos, guitar picks, etc.) But I want them to be of my own design. So I figure I need to learn the software/design aspect first.
Any suggestions?
I feel that if you are coming from the world of CAD/CAM/CNC, you may like parametric CAD software (FreeCAD) better than freeform 3D modeling (Blender). Many great [free] software titles have been mentioned already although I'm surprised FreeCAD name has not come up yet. Definitely take a look, it's got all you may need for your first (couple of) year of designing 3D and beyond.
You probably won't be using only FreeCAD though because other (free) programs may be more useful for other tasks. For example, for calculations-based CAD (math and other regular shapes) you'll probably like OpenSCAD alot, especially considering you have programming experience. For verification and simple modifications/repair of your STL shapes you'll use something like netFabb basic.

I should say once again that the software I recommend tends to be heavy on Linux side although most of it exists in Win version, too. Other people recommended MeshMixer or Sketchup and they are nice, too but require a paid OS which I personally don't like much.

It's by no means an exhaustive list, you will be adding stuff to it as you go along but just these three (or even FreeCAD alone) may be enough to get you started.

Cheers!
Polytech

Idea Disseminating Engineering Knowledge - do it today!
04-25-2013 01:58 AM
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