3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

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Zelandeth
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3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by Zelandeth »

Okay, this is something that has been driving me around the bend for months now, and I know that we have quite a number of highly tech-savvy folks on here so though it was worth an ask, even though it is rather off topic.

I am looking for a software package that will allow me to (preferably freehand) sculpt a 3D object, define the necessary parameters and then spit out a .STL (Standard Triangulation Language) file that I can then use to get said object 3D printed.

The best known couple of programs that I'm aware of that do this are Blender and Sculptris (and obviously its big $795 brother, zBrush).

I have tried to persevere with Blender, yet after a couple of months have only succeeded in ascertaining that it is the most aggressively user-unfriendly piece of software I have ever used (Windows 8 possibly excepted). I'm sure that once you learn to drive it that it's great - but it really makes no allowances for newbies and I'm really struggling to get anywhere with it.

Sculptris I have used before so I reckon I should actually be able to model it in that (I originally expected that to be the hard part!). However the old version I have on my XP drive is old enough that it doesn't have the STL export functionality, so I needed a newer version. ...which I cannot get to run on any of my machines for reasons I cannot figure out. Which is particularly annoying as I installed Windows 7 entirely for the purpose of running that (the latest versions insist on 7 and won't run on XP annoyingly)...have tried three different physical machines and even VirtualBox on my desktop. In all cases I just get the Windows "This program has encountered an error and needs to close..." box appearing as soon as I try to start it. This happens irrespective of any compatibility settings, running as administrator etc.

Any suggestions for other software to give a try before I...

A: Tear my hair out.
B: Drop kick the PC out my bedroom window. Or...
C: Admit defeat and just commission someone to design the blasted thing for me. Which brings its own set of challenges given that I'm dealing with something that currently exists entirely in my own head, and is probably going to add another £150 or so as a minimum to the costs, which I'd rather avoid.

I was expecting a huge number of challenges along the road with this project - this particular one wasn't one I had anticipated though, and the 3D printing part was originally intended to *save* time...whereas I reckon I could probably have finished this using old school methods by now (non withstanding the fact that I'd never get it right first time of course and would probably be on version 1.7 or so by now - which is also why I like the 3D printing route as I know then that the model is right before anything actually gets touched in the real world. Saves time, frayed nerves and material wastage. In theory anyway.

So, any of you tech savvy bunch got any ideas? I have briefly consulted Google on a few occasions, but as usually seems to be the case with any software related question where I'm asking "what software do I want for...?" style questions, I seemed to find a huge amount of conflicting opinions that just ended up making my head spin.

PS. Bonus if you can find a solution that runs under Linux, double bonus if if can be obtained in a .deb package or via a PPA as Mint is my native environment. I also have available though Windows 2000, XP (32 and 64-bit versions) and 7 64-bit as well though if needed. ...even though I might need to find a network card for the Win2K machine if I need that one...we do have a PC in the house running Windows 10 as well, though that's not mine so access is more limited.

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Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by elma »

We use solidworks with our 3d printers for design. At £12k though it's not great value. My friend that I bought the printer with is a cad designer so we fortunately have access.
I agree blender is prity poor, not just in ui but in how it draws curves etc.
I've had no luck with finding decent cad packages for OS other than windows. As a Mac user I have options but they aren't great.
I think you'll find that unless you buy your own printer you will struggle to adjust the drawings to print well too. It took us a while to work out and we've had printers since the first generation. It's probably best to find a friend and share skills. My designer friend could never have set up a precise printer without me and I couldn't print anything on it without him.

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CitroJim
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Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by CitroJim »

Is there no good Linux packages available?

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Stickyfinger
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Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by Stickyfinger »

Pardon my interruption of the thread but....

? How easy would it be to model and print an insert for a headlamp "box" so it fits close around the insides and carries a pair of headlamp modules (as in my Activa thread)
What sort of cost would it be to print such an item ? (it would not need to be a "super smooth finish)

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Zelandeth
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Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by Zelandeth »

Probably not that hard to be honest given it's probably a pretty simple shape you'd be looking to model. The only issue I can think of is that you might need to be careful about what material you used to deal with the heat as most of the common filament types have a pretty low melting point.

I have made contact with someone on another forum who can do the whole design and print service as one package, and it's quite likely that I'll get them to actually print the thing as they know what they're doing, and dealing with a person is always preferable to a faceless company, but I still would like to have a shot at the design myself - even if at the end of the day it ends up being effectively a rough draft that ends up being the basis of the final design. Plus side is that I don't need a great deal of surface detail or anything, it really is just a base framework that's the right shape and size etc that I need. Really awkward shape mind you, but that's why I'm taking this approach.

Jim, I've not found any yet. 2D CAD packages aplenty and I've found a couple that can pass for things like mechanical and architectural 3D design most likely, but for anything more creative I seem to just keep getting pushed back towards Blender. I don't doubt that despite its flaws that it is quite a powerful package (I've seen what some folks who know their stuff have done with it!), but it makes GIMP look positively user friendly. ...which it is actually once you learn your way around it and realise that it is really intended for use on a system with two or more monitors...

Not really a problem using Windows given that the desktop has in addition to Mint, Windows XP and 7 on it, but even then I need to try to find something that I don't need a second mortgage to pay for the license for. zBrush definitely does the sort of thing I want to - but I certainly can't justify forking out $795 for it!

Have remembered one of the packages I read about a while back was SketchUp - which I then forgot about because it wouldn't play nicely with being virtualised and I didn't have an actual machine with Win7 on back then - so I will be downloading that later and having a play around with it.

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Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by Hell Razor5543 »

I have just spoken to my brother (who works in the training department of Autodesk), and he made a few suggestions. First, look for something called "Rhino" (no idea what that is). Second, try looking for "Autodesk Apps". He then asked if anybody in the household is a student studying for a recognised qualification (don't know if the tuition needs to be related to 3D stuff), as then they may be able to get the software for free.

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Zelandeth
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Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by Zelandeth »

Ah, Autodesk...still use an ancient (Windows 3.1 era!) copy of AutoSketch here from time to time. It does what I need it to so have never felt the need to change, it runs happily these days in a VM running Windows 3.11.

Thanks for those pointers, will have a rummage for them in the morning when I'm actually at a computer again.

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Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by Sloppysod »

I use Catia V5R18, it saves to STL file format, I have actually recently had some parts printed so it works well.

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Zelandeth
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Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by Zelandeth »

Interesting, will need to look into that one. Not a piece of software that I've heard of, that one.

I do actually have (after spending roughly an hour in a fist-fight with Windows) SketchUp running now, so will investigate that a bit further tomorrow and see if it does what I want it to. Will be interesting to see whether it really allows more freehand work or is more oriented towards engineering type applications, which has been a limitation I've found in a couple of other applications.

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Zelandeth
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Re: 3D Modelling Software Recommendations?

Post by Zelandeth »

Well finally started to make some progress!

Have got Sculptris co-operating and running in a vaguely stable fashion under XP. So have actually started working on the model. Haven't found anything else which allows the same degree of freehand control over things yet so sticking with this for now. Will see once I've got the overall form I'm after if I can then convert that into an actual mesh with wall thickness controlled etc. If nothing else I should be able to use it as a template for getting someone to put something together for me.

Sculptris is a really clever bit of software in its simplicity. It just presents you with what is essentially just a sphere of material and then lets you deform it freehand (with or without symmetry) as needed. No use for engineering type applications, but ideal for more organic targets like this.