Looking for 3D modeling software recommendation

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whereswalden90
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Looking for 3D modeling software recommendation

Postby whereswalden90 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:36 pm UTC

Hi all! Long time no post.

I'm in the market for 3D modeling software. I've looked at Google Sketchup and the plethora of Autodesk products, and I'm having trouble telling what will fit my needs. For the most part, I'd be using the software to plan personal projects (a spice cabinet, a bookshelf, etc.), but I expect some larger projects are on the way that will require more careful engineering. As far as I can tell, these are my needs:

  • Create assemblies from custom and standard parts (ability to assemble things like screws and bolts and whatnot is NECESSARY)
  • Do some basic stress tests on the models. The ability to use non-rigid components (i.e. rope) and test the results of applying small offsets to moving parts is a HUGE plus.
  • Create blueprints and/or build instructions from the model

As far as I can tell, this list is fairly standard for this sort of thing. So, fellow hackers and makers, what do you use? What would you recommend?
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Obby
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Re: Looking for 3D modeling software recommendation

Postby Obby » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:37 pm UTC

Well I'm not quite sure how well it will apply to your specific needs, but I've used a program called SolidWorks before. My professor built a car engine with it (including a blowup that showed all the individual parts), so I think it may just apply.

Also, my girlfriend uses a program called Rhinocerous for her 3D modeling of her jewelry that she makes. It's a NURBS program, whereas SolidWorks is parametric, so they work in different ways. Rhino has tons of plugins that all do different things as well, (for instance, Flamingo is a plugin that allows rendering of your designs), so some of those might be worth checking out as well.

I doubt it will be useful to you, but I use Revit at work, although that is more used for 3D structures like buildings, rather than smaller scale projects. Though you mentioned Autodesk, so you probably already know about this.
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gorcee
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Re: Looking for 3D modeling software recommendation

Postby gorcee » Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:56 pm UTC

Google SketchUp has has some addons or whatnot specifically for woodworking, if that's what you're trying to do. I haven't played with it yet, but I did see an ad for it in a recent Family Handyman magazine.

There are also other packages specific for woodworking that are pretty nice. http://www.woodweb.com/Resources/RSSoft ... ction.html has a list of them.

Some of these will be able to generate your cutlists, etc. I don't think any will do stress analysis, however. Honestly, though, for personal projects, do you *really* need to do that sort of analysis?

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whereswalden90
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Re: Looking for 3D modeling software recommendation

Postby whereswalden90 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 4:30 pm UTC

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! Sketchup addons look like a pretty attractive option, so maybe I'll give that a look.

@Gorcee, I actually do need the stress analysis. One upcoming project involves either a really nasty cantilever or a vertical load hung from horizontal wire. The load could be actually substantial, so I want to make sure my bolts won't fail ahead of time.

Great suggestions so far, keep 'em coming!
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Re: Looking for 3D modeling software recommendation

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:14 pm UTC

Google Sketcup (free) is perfectly capable for woodworking projects and most other home projects. I used it to design the desk I'm typing on right now. I wanted a fold away laptop desk. The laptop folded upwards to leave the desk clear. I've no longer got the laptop, but it functioned great when I had it. :D

Image

That's even before you add any plug-ins.
For things like animations and chains there is a physics plug-in for Sketchup, but Blender does most of it out the box. However I don't think blender does any actual stress calculations. For that your gonging to need full CAD software (I have no knowledge of that side of it, only the art side).

Solidworks has been mentioned, but AFAIK that's corporate level software. They don't do demos.
No idea if the student version would be any good. http://www.solidworks.com/sw/education/ ... ftware.htm

Otherwise there is an opensource CAD program, but I never looked at it myself. Was thinking of transferring some Sketchup models over to see if they exploded could be stress tested. :lol:
http://www.opencascade.org

Of cause, as it's hobby and home use your asking about, I stuck to the free options. Software for design or even just art can get into the ridiculous figures. Oh, and I'd recommend actually getting professional advice on load bearing if it's anything other than putting up book shelves. Can an architect/workshop/college etc help? That's probably a lot better than second guessing if the calculations on the CAD program match you actual construction when you get to put it together.

PS, thanks Obby. That's the first time I heard it called Parametric modelling. I knew of quite a few types, but did not realize it was not normal poly modelling or hypernurbs in Solidworks. :D
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gorcee
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Re: Looking for 3D modeling software recommendation

Postby gorcee » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:02 pm UTC

I think that you don't actually need stress computations, but rather static load computations (which computes forces, rather than stresses). Fasteners are rated for loads, so that's probably what you really want. Computing specific stress fields in your components isn't going to do you much good; you're much more likely to have failure in your joints (eg, where an anchor meets drywall) than due to stress-induced creep in a bolt. Also, stress computations are used more to determine fatigue life than anything. If you're planning something where you really, truly need to estimate cycles to failure, for safety reasons I recommend consulting a professional. Otherwise, all you really need to know is your static loads and the ratings of your anchors.

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Re: Looking for 3D modeling software recommendation

Postby Technical Ben » Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:19 pm UTC

Sorry to bump this, but to make a slight correction and addition in case it's of any interest to anyone. Opencascade does not actually do anything it's self it seems. But FreeCAD uses the resources from it in an actual CAD package. http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/f ... =Main_Page

I'll probably give it a go to see if it's novice friendly. It's got to have some relevance to anyone wanting to design something though, right? :D
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