3D Printer Software Part 1 3D CAD Programs to design 3D models
It is good to start with 3D modeling design services because they service mostof the industry. 3D modeling covers a broad range of disciplines so it hasbecome the umbrella term for any type of model made on a computer. At itscore, 3D modeling is the process of developing a digital representation of anyobject in three dimensions using a computer with specialized software.All 3D models created on a computer—regardless of the software used—are theresult of the 3D modeling process. Further divisions are made when you go intothe specifics of the process, including techniques and what the objects are;case in point, CAD and BIM.
Advantages of Designing with SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD Software
In today’s digital world, most manufacturers are moving their CAD files from2D to 3D to enhance their design process and improve communication withcustomers and the design team. From websites to rapid prototyping, designers,customers, and engineers now depend on the modern 3D CAD modeling software. SOLIDWORKS is a solid modeling computer-aided design and computer-aidedengineering software that enable you and your team to quickly transform a newidea into great products.
Advantages of Using SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD Software:
3D Printer Software Part 1: 3D CAD Programs to design 3D models
For any budding 3D designers who want to 3D print their creations, werecommend some 3D CAD design modeling tools below. We have sorted them frommost beginner-friendly to most advanced, and included a number of free 3Dprinter design software tools.
3D Printer Software Part 2: Sites to download STL files for 3D printing
This section features a few of the most well-known STL file download sites. * We also have a full article for every STL file site, marketplace and repository, including niche STL file repositories for NASA spacecraft, medical models, and more. Make sure to check our full article on STL file sites.
3 LibreCAD – Free Open Source 2D CAD
A lightweight and opensource software that lets you develop 2D technicaldrawings and designs. LibreCAD is cross-platform, it works on Linux, macOS,Unix and Windows operating systems. This CAD software lets you to create anddesign complex models, create numerous layers, and edit your previous models.There is an active community of LibreCAD users worldwide where you can seeksupport. LibreCAD is translated to more than 30 languages, so the languagebarrier has been addressed.Benefits of 3D CAD Modeling in Engineering DesignThe significance of accurate design and documentation can’t be stressed enoughin the world of operations and maintenance (O&M) especially in the oil and gassector, given the scale and complexity of projects. Whether it is basic plantengineering, piping design, piping stress analysis, commissioning, review ofdesign and detailed engineering services, transfer of data from facilityengineers to O&M team– advanced software and 3D designs are crucial foroperational readiness to improve asset data builds for plants – the importanceof 3D CAD Modeling becomes evident as the industry becomes more digital.With increased international competition, escalating costs and fluctuatingenergy prices, there is great emphasis on improving profitability with leanerprojects and shorter turn-around times. The oil and gas sector is now heavilyreliant on data and technology to provide a competitive advantage. Let’sanalyze the benefits of 3D modeling in engineering to optimize operationalefficiency:
The Best 3D CAD software tools
CAD software offer massive advantages over drawing on paper, as you caninstantly edit, make complex changes, and then export the model forproduction; such as by CNC machine, or by additive manufacturing or 3Dprinting. Iterations can be easily shared with clients or upper management,and changes made instantly based on their feedback.In fact, 3D CAD tools are one of the reasons for increased productivity inmanufacturing, and allow for more accurate and high quality parts to beproduced and brought to market in record time.A CAD software design for an expensive 3D ring.Advanced 3D CAD modeling software even simulate product or part usage to checkfor any weak points, and even use augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality(VR) technologies to see how your designs would look in the real world, beforethey actually exist.In addition to these industrial uses, 3D CAD software has also democratizeddesign. Hobbyist 3D designers can now design stunning models at home, and selltheir creations on 3D printing service marketplaces such as Shapeways foranyone who wants to buy one of their designs in brass or any other kind ofmaterial.Autodesk are one of the largest 3D CAD software companies around, offering avariety of different solutions across a number of industries, becoming amultibillion-dollar company. We recommend several Autodesk CAD software toolsbelow.
FreeCAD — One of the best free 3D CAD software
FreeCAD is a free and open source 3D CAD software modeling tool for buildingcomplex models, with the ability to design both 2D and 3D models. Firstreleased in 2002 and steadily updated since, FreeCAD has wide use in productdesign, as well as architecture and engineering and mechanics.FreeCAD is versatile, compatible with a wide variety of file types, and alsoaccommodates turning 2D models into 3D models by drawing the original base ofthe model in 2D, and then using that to design the eventual 3D model.As its open source, not only do you get to use everything for free, but you’realso welcome to build on what already exists, improving or finding new ways toaccomplish design tasks. Not only can you design 3D CAD models, but you canalso design new features for the 3D CAD software program, too!
Best 3D Printing CAD Software for Intermediate to Advanced Users
First, a mini-crash course in CAD: computer-aided drafting. This is the typeof software you’ll need to design what you want to print. It can be eithervector-based, which uses traditional drafting shapes, or raster-shape based,which uses pixels on a dot matrix data structure to show a picture. Confused?Basically, with CAD, you can either draw using shapes or draw using pixels.Which type you use depends on your personal preference and also a little biton the projects you’re doing.3D modeling in CAD comes in various levels of design nuance and manipulation.3D wireframe software means you manually draw individual through lines tocreate a 3D picture from a 2D shape.The drawings don’t have any mass properties associated with them, and youcan’t directly add any features to it; they have to be constructed as part ofthe through lines. 3D “dumb” solids start as basic 3D shapes such as cubes andspheres. You can manipulate them by adding or subtracting solid volumes. Butyou can’t see much (or any) motion between the components.3D solid modeling has two variations that expand beyond the capabilities of“dumb” solids. Parametric modeling lets you manipulate parts of your designwhile keeping the geometric and functional relationships of the parts to eachother and the whole. But keep in mind you have to change the parameters of thedesign for this instead of directly manipulating the shapes themselves.That’s where director explicit modeling comes in. This variation lets youmodify your design by directly interacting with the model’s geometry. It’s theclosest you can get to molding your design out of clay with your hands.Combine this with freeform surface modeling within your software, and you’vegot the whole package covered.Getting Started with 3D Printing – Steps for Learning How to 3D PrintAt this point, you’re either nodding along or pulling up Wikipedia. We’ve cometo the first real step in your 3D software buying journey: * Be honest about your drafting skill level. It’s super important for you to know what you know before you choose what you want. The best part of 3D printing is how accessible it’s gotten for everybody who wants to join in. But that also means it’s easy to get in over your head. To keep your printer from becoming your most expensive paperweight, take into account how familiar you already are with CAD and how much you are willing to learn. There is the software all along the spectrum of assistance, from basic models that are already made that let you choose your own finishing details, to completely blank slates that assume you do this for a living. Choose wisely, and you’ll be right in that sweet spot between being able to do what you want and continuously learning something new.Once you figure out what skill level you need your software to be at, it’stime for another step of self-reflection: price. * Be honest about your budget. Another cool result of 3D printing becoming mainstream is the wide variety of 3D modeling CAD software prices out there. The rise in maker space culture has spawned free programs whose quality start at adequate and go to excellent. But as with all software, “free” doesn’t necessarily mean “perfect.” You may find that if you have the money for it, shelling out for a more professional version is worth it. Be careful as well to not equate price with the assistance. If you’ve figured out that your skill level is lower than what you need for what you want to do, pricier programs may be tempting. Pay more, get more, right? While usually true, you can easily overwhelm yourself by getting something that has way too many features and a customer base assumed to have too much previous knowledge for its instructions to be useful to you.Now it’s time to expand your planning beyond yourself: * Consider your whole user base. This is easy if you’re getting 3D software for your own amusement. No other users mean you get to decide everything based on your own parameters. But 3D printing has become ubiquitous as a way for the public to get in touch with their own DYI side. Plus it’s more fun! Collaboration means combining brain strength and producing stuff that you wouldn’t be able to on your own. So embrace it. If you are a part of the maker space movement, you’ll need to go through steps 1 and 2 above for all the potential users you may have. That doesn’t mean you have to figure out everybody’s individual 3D modeling or CAD credentials and income, but it does mean you need to consider the lower ranges of need in both areas and how to compromise those so the higher end folks won’t get bored. * This is especially applicable if you’re in charge of a 3D printing operation within a public institution like a school or a public library. Will the CAD software be used as a teaching tool, or for more freeform experimental access? Will it be for general use, as in anybody who is curious can experiment with it? Or will it be for groups that are already selected for interest and knowledge of it, such as a high school robotics club or a library engineering program? This will also determine practical details such as how many users licenses doe you need, how long do you need the software to stay relevant before you can upgrade, what other hardware (if any) you may need for optimum performance, how teachable is the software to multiple people at once, and what is the troubleshooting process for the person in charge (which, if you’re in charge of ordering the software, will more than likely be you). Any other factors you know about the population who will be using the CAD will be extremely helpful in pointing you in the right direction.Once you’ve figured out what you need, check out the list below of our tenbest CAD software packages for 3D printing. They’re labeled by price point,experience level, and user needs so you can hone in on exactly which one worksbest for you. Click the links and explore!Read More * Price: Free for basic/$119 annually for Shop/$695 flat fee (no renewal fee) for Pro * Experience Level: IntermediateUser Needs: Another program you can start using for free, Sketchup is greatfor users who already know a little bit of 3D modeling theory and want aprogram that will grow with their skills.It hides some of its best features in plug-ins, and the premium-price updates,natch, but if you have a grasp on the basics you can go straight to the Shopversion and upgrade whenever you feel ready. We definitely recommend gettingthe Warehouse plug-in, which lets you access the designs of other users and isa great place for inspiration.See how Sketchup compared to other softwares:User Needs: This is the universal design software across professionalengineering and architectural projects. You don’t have to be a pro to graspits intuitive controls, but it might help to justify the cost and computingpower necessary for this program. If you want to make 3D printing part of yourjob – or already do – AutoCAD will have your back.See Some AutoCad Comparisons here: * Price: free * Experience Level: Beginner – ProfessionalUser Needs: Great for those leaning more towards the creative side of 3Ddesign and printing. This is not just a CAD software on its own but a suite of3D modeling programs that work together to realize bigger projects such asgame animation. Of course it 3D prints your models, too, and you have licenseto use it for profit or not, free and clear.That makes it perfect for an area like a public maker space, where anyone whowants can design something and put it to use whether that’s printing abracelet or designing a movie monster. It does depend on donations, so if youuse it and like it throws a few bucks at the creators to keep this softwaregoing strong.
Final Word on the Best Software for 3D Printing
There are many options when it comes to 3D printing software that is good forbeginners and new users. It is usually best to try a few of the free optionsbefore spending a significant amount of money on a piece of software youaren’t 100% sure will fit your needs.The possibilities of what you can do with 3D printing are only limited by yourimagination and your willingness to learn. Therefore, new users should notlimit themselves to only a few aspects or one piece of software.Once you have some experience, don’t be shy about leveling up your software bychecking out the advanced options. It can make a BIG difference.By trying several of the options listed above it will give you a much betteridea of what type of software and ultimately what type of 3D printer will helpyou best fulfill your 3D printing objectives be it for professional purposesor simply as a hobby.Further Reading on 3D Modeling Software:Top 5 Best Free 3D CAD Software for Windows
Top 5 Best Free 3D CAD Software for Windows
by Ramesh Natarajan on July 17, 2013Computer Aided Design, or CAD stands for any software that allows architects,designers, profilers and artists to recreate perfect scaled models, designsand graphs or diagrams in 2D and 3D with the use of a computer. Today, CADsoftware is used for more than just drawing electronic circuit boards. Theycan help create 3D animations, sketch the airflow across wing tips, draw toscale a building design showing weak spots and implementing good designstrategies and much more. The possibilities with CAD solutions are endless andin the right hands they are a powerful tool to design, innovate and inspire.
What software to use for 3D Printing?
In general, you need to have a single software tool for 3D printing, which isa slicing software. But, you need another software to create the 3D models tobe used for printing later. So, the first thing you’ll need is a 3D modelingsoftware.If you desire to design a 3D printable model on your own, perhaps you need a3D modeling software program. That specific software outputs the digital modelin a standard OBJ or STL format. There is an abundance of more or lessefficient tools for this purpose.Slicing software is a must for 3D printing. The software converts your digital3D models, which is basically an OBJ or STL file into standard printinginstructions called G-code for the 3D printer. This code is sent to theprinter where it gets executed and transformed into a 3D printout.