Have you been following 3D printing news lately? If you are updated on the current trends in additive manufacturing, you will agree with me that there is a radical advancement in this industry lately. Many companies are now turning to 3D printing for product design.
One of the advantages of this industry is the wide variety of powerful CAD programs that allow designers to create amazing and functional designs. Having the correct 3D modeling software is a must as it helps you in creating perfectly assembled 3D models that are used in the interior design companies, animation, gaming, film and also architecture and 3D printing industries.
Choosing 3D modeling software that makes a great fit for your needs isn’t as easy as it may sound. You will agree with me that first, it makes sense to consider several factors before deciding on which program to go for.
To decide which tool to use, you must ask yourself at least some of the following questions:
What key features are you most looking for (for example, rendering, animation, parametric modeling, inbuilt slicer, sketching, sculpting brushes)? Which industry do you plan to create projects for? (such as engineering, industrial design, interior design, gaming) Which are the supported file formats? Does the software have a timeline editor? Is there a difference in usage between paid and free tools? How much does the usage cost?
In this article, we are going to review some of the most commonly used by professional 3D artists.
AutoCAD is a well-known professional 3D modeling software that is the industry standard. It was developed and marketed by Autodesk, the first version was released in 1982. AutoCAD runs on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It’s used by architects, graphic designers, city planners, engineers, artists, and other professionals.
AutoCAD allows you to draw your projects with high accuracy. It also includes collaboration options and robust customization that makes sharing with the team members easy and efficient. This is very important for large projects that could be handled by the whole team. It is geared more towards manufacturers and engineers though it has many architectural and BIM features too. If you have a complex project that requires the use of a CAD program this program is dependable.
AutoCAD is well known for its capability to draft and edit 2D geometry with solids, surfaces and mesh objects. Moreover, you can also customize the program with your preferred APIs and add-ons. In addition to that, AutoCAD has more than 700,000 parts and features that mechanical designers can use when working on their projects.
AutoCAD is used for making drafts, documents, visualizations. The drawing capabilities allow one to create dimensional styles easily automatically and also control the appearance of the texts. When working with your 3D models, Autodesk allows you also to add materials and lighting to make them look more real. This program also allows to analyze the inner parts of 3D models and ensure that everything has been done accurately.
AutoCAD is a great program for engineers, however, it has a high cost when compared to other professional programs like SelfCAD and FreeCAD. It may be a great solution for big engineering companies but rather won’t work for beginners and small startups which need a less-featured and less pricey solution.
Learning how to use AutoCAD needs a lot of time. This software requires a powerful computer for it to run efficiently and takes a lot of hard drive space. Hence if you have a less powerful computer, I recommend you try out browser-based programs as they need less memory.
SelfCAD is a young user-friendly online 3D modeling and printing software founded in 2015 by Aaron Breuer and launched in early 2017. It has become popular quickly and now it’s one of the most used CAD programs by both beginners and professionals.
SelfCAD is often compared to Fusion 360 or TinkerCAD, but let’s take a closer look at the interface, which is much easier to learn and get started with. However, the functionality behind the simple UI look is really powerful and impressive. Besides the educators and designers, SelfCAD is also being used by prototype designers, makers, jewel designers, architects, and big industrial design companies.
Amongst the features of SelfCAD, you can find very comprehensive 3D sketching and modeling tools. You can create, sсulpt, slice and magically fix 3D models easily. Additionally, SelfCAD offers artistic FreeHand drawing and 3D sketching (with standard or dynamic plane orientation) tools that one can use to design complex designs with great ease. You can export and import objects and apply tools to each imported 3D object because SelfCAD runs on mesh-based geometry which allows further modifications even for complete items. The Image To 3D helps to turn any image into a 3D printable model. SelfCAD has also powerful sculpting tools you can use to modify your object to suit your needs. All the tools are placed in a toolbar in a logical order, which makes it easier to find and memorize the features.
Just within a few hours, you’ll be able to make your first simple projects and in a few days you’ll end up using SelfCAD with ease. The best thing about cloud-based CAD programs is that you can save your designs online and access them anywhere, even when you don’t have your main device with you.
SelfCAD team wants to prove and show that 3D modeling isn’t rocket science as many people think. It may be difficult in learning and mastering, but with SelfCAD you can get started easily without spending much time. With the help of overviews, courses and modeling tutorials, beginner users just have to repeat the moves and memorize the displayed techniques.
Are you a beginner trying to wrap your head around the complexity of 3D modeling or an experienced designer looking for accessible software that can do the work without the high cost? SelfCAD is a perfect solution for both professionals and hobbyists who just want to get the CAD job done. To check out SelfCAD visit the link https://www.selfcad.com.
Modo is another widely used CAD program that was created by the Foundry Visionmongers group of engineers. It’s a British development group with headquarters in London. Modo is a 3D modeling, sculpting, and animation program. It’s quite simple in use and has mesh fusion, which allows creating nice geometry. Modo includes the best tools for hard surface modeling like weapons, cars, and more. Most of its common tools are assigned to hotkeys which can easily be mastered.
Key Features of Modo
Modo has highly efficient tools for adding textures to your models. The selection, modeling, and other tools are well aligned on the toolbar. There are shading tools you can use to make your design appear the exact look you want. Modo’s baking tools allow one to switch and review the settings before doing the actual rendering. Finally, there are rigging tools for creating, editing and managing complex models.
However, this great software also has some disadvantages. It costs $399/year or $1799 per individual license. This is a bit expensive for beginners. Also, working with large scenes is a challenge and the UI sometimes is confusing and it becomes really hard to know all its features. And finally, the file loading and saving speed is also quite slow when compared to other programs.
3D Slash is an online 3D modeling software that has a simple interface. It’s ideal for students and none-designers, it can be used in both online and offline modes. As the name suggests, the users of 3DSlash start modeling with a solid cube and then use other tools like the hammer to slash the parts of the cube to create their model.
This program has advanced features for precise work. It also comes with team features ideal for schools. 3Dslash is used by individuals who have simple projects to be done, startup companies, SMEs, agencies, and even big enterprises.
3Dslash is one of the great tools for students. The kids love working with it as it needs little to no experience in 3D modeling to get started with this program. However, this program rather cannot be used to design complex and big projects. It’s dedicated to beginners. If you are an advanced modeler you can try other programs like SelfCAD which are easy to use yet powerful.
FreeCAD is open-source general-purpose modeling software that was first released in 2002. It’s a parametric modeling software primarily designed for mechanical engineers and product design. It’s ideal for designing real-life models with varying sizes. FreeCAD can be used by experienced 3D modelers, educators, programmers, and hobbyists with programming skills. It’s a scriptable CAD program that can be extended around engineering and architecture. Users themselves can also extend its functionality using the Python language because it’s an open-source program.
Rendering of three-dimensional scenes and scene graph representation can be done easily. This is allowed by the Open Inventor-based 3D viewer. FreeCAD also has a reliable API and python interpreter that handles every aspect of the interphase, application and geometry representation on a 3D viewer. One can also make a 3D drawing at any projection or angle using this program. There are also rendering capabilities, path mode, and robot simulation capabilities.
In conclusion, you need to note that each CAD program is meant for a particular purpose and a particular target group, that is, either for beginners, intermediate or experts. Therefore before you choose any program you should consider that and figure out your needs first.
Cost is another key factor you need to keep in mind before choosing the right program for your needs. Paid applications usually come with more features included when compared with the free version though there are many free programs that can be a great help, especially when combined with other apps.
We hope that the list and our explanation above will help you in making the right choice for you as an educator.