Schwarz-Brot Posted July 27, 2020 Share Posted July 27, 2020 I'd like to jump in before @LostCosmonauts gets to write all the articles about 3d printing. My goal with this thread is to collect some information about software tools useful or needed for 3d printing. The list is by no means final, so if you know something or feel the need to correct some information jump right in. If you have some information about software not listed yet, please post it with some additional information. Creating 3d Models for print There's several ways to get models for printing. The easiest thing to start out is using a platform like thingiverse or cgtrader to get some models to start with. Can't find it? Hire a 3d artist - many are taking jobs via these platforms - or create it yourself. First thing to decide is what kind of model are you going to do: Something highly technical with many regular, symmetrical and angular features, or something very organic or with complex curves This gives a hint about the software to chose. Technical parts are ideally designed in a parametric CAD package. You can go back to any aspect of the design and set every part of the geometry to a defined size at any time. This is perfect for scaling and parts of known sizes. Organic parts are better approached with a 3d modelling or sculpting package like used for animation. What is important to understand is that you are not bound into one or the other world. For kit manufacturing it is easy to do the technical parts in parametric CAD, then import the model in a 3d sculpting software and design tubes, cables and tire patterns there to fit to the exact geometric parts. This way the strength of both worlds can be leveraged. For the average hobbyist high end software for professionals is likely unaffordable and for sure the wrong thing to invest in if you just want to test the waters. Luckily there are very powerful free or open source packages available that are not much behind the commercial offerings. Highly recommendable for high end use are the following: Spoiler Blender, available via https://www.blender.org/ is free and open source. Ultimately powerful for organic models, digital sculpting and photorealistic renderings. Can do technical designs as well, but is not a parametric CAD, so you are working with aproximations. Blender has a huge community and many professionals use it. Tons of youtube tutorials out there to help you get started. And those you will need - the learning curve is very steep and the usage is highly unintuitive for the average windows guy. Though you'll get to quick results working along some tutorials. Maya, a commercial offering by Autodesk. Does essentially the same as blender for lots of money. 3DS Max. Another commercial offering by Autodesk. Again a special effects and sculpting tool for big money. Tip by @Mig Eater ZBrush. Professional specialized Sculpting tool. Monthley subscription or very expensive standalone licence available. Accordingly to @ratsmitglied the goto solution for traditional sculptors making the switch to the digital domain. After browsing the pixologic site I can see why. http://pixologic.com/ ZBrushCore. Pixologics little brother for ZBrush. All the basic tools for a relatively affordable and probably very fair price. Also a cheaper subscription is available. http://zbrushcore.com/ Fusion 360, available here https://www.autodesk.de/products/fusion-360/overview is free, but closed source. It has all the tools the high end parametric CAD packages have, but works completely cloud based. Free versions are available but well hidden. Very powerful tools for all geometric modelling to exact dimensions. Good tools for designing technical parts with curves. Also a very steep learning curve, but tons of official tutorials I highly recommend to work along and lots of youtube content available to get you started. Probably the goto solution for most vehicle and technical modellers in any genre. Inventor, Fusion 360s big and expensive professional brother, also by Autodesk. TinkerCAD, Fusion360s little brother, aimed at the maker-market. Also Autodesk, free to use. Runs in the browser, so probably a good one to test the waters if you are new to the 3d designing game. Available here: https://www.tinkercad.com/ Thank you, @LostCosmonauts for the tip. Solidworks. Same level as Inventor, Professional software for CAD professionals. Expensive. Tip again by @LostCosmonauts Shapr3d. IPad only. Seems to be very intuitive. Have heard of it several times now. Tip by @Pouln OpenSCAD. Free and open Source parametric CAD system. Can do essentially all CAD work but is highly focused on the parametric aspect. You'll need to describe everything you do with coordinates, bool operators and mathematical equations. Very effective for simple designs, but IMHO nothing for modelling. Tip by @ratsmitglied. From the https://www.openscad.org/about.html Quote OpenSCAD is not an interactive modeller. Instead it is something like a 3D-compiler that reads in a script file that describes the object and renders the 3D model from this script file. This gives you (the designer) full control over the modelling process and enables you to easily change any step in the modelling process or make designs that are defined by configurable parameters. FreeCAD. Another OpenSource parametric CAD system. This one is more aiming to be like Inventor or Solidworks. Powerful, but not too polished yet. I expect this one to become more powerful over time. https://www.freecadweb.org/index.php Catia v5. The next BIG player in commercial CAD offerings. Big money, big feature list. Very common in the automotive industry. Tip by @wellsprop OnShape. Another Cloud based parametric CAD offering. Probably the equivalent to Fusion360 for the solidworks folks. Free to use but your designs end up free for all to use. Tip by @zebra https://www.onshape.com/products/free After the model was created it is time to export it to a format the printer software understands. This usually means STL format. These days almost all 3d software can export to this format, so no worries here. Checking and manipulating your files Why would you do that? It may happen you downloaded a model that wasn't intended for 3d printing. Then it may have areas that lead to errors - holes in the mesh, unfused edges, inverted surfaces... Things like that. Or the model needs to be hollowed out. You may have overhangs that are not printable and lead to missprints. You'll get the terminology when you dig a little deeper into the topic. Some printing software will throw errors at you, some will simply freeze and some will let you print anyway to find out something went wrong later. You may also have some files you need to cut into several pieces to fit them to your build volume or maybe wont to distort the part in a simple way. This can be done with the big tools above, but some simple tools go a long way here. Spoiler Blender again, has a 3d print plugin that allows to check for problems with 3d meshes. Very powerful if you can't find a problem or work with files not intended for printing. It can highlight the problematic mesh part and blender gives you the tools to repair the mesh. Meshmixer, again an autodesk offering: http://www.meshmixer.com/ This is probably not longer actively developed, but was the goto tool for quite a while. I don't know of a substitute as cabable. It can manipulate meshes very easily and in powerful ways. AFAIR it can repair meshes as well. Photon File Validator, available via Github: https://github.com/Photonsters/PhotonFileValidator/releases/tag/2.0 is a very helpful tool for resin printing. I use it all the time. Its only purpose is to find unsupported islands that lead to misprints because they start floating in your resin tub or stick to the FEP film. I highly recommend using it whenever you get a new design ready for print. Microsoft 3d builder is a free to use toolbox for simple manipulation and repairing Tasks. Tip by @LostCosmonauts and @ratsmitglied. Available here: https://www.microsoft.com/de-de/p/3d-builder/9wzdncrfj3t6?activetab=pivot:overviewtab Printing and slicing A 3d printer works by adding layer upon layer to build up the volume of the model. To do so it needs to know what these layers should look like. The slicer takes the model and breaks it up into layers of a defined thickness. With many printers you are free to use whatever slicing software you happen to have and like. Some printers only accept a proprietary file format. Often your slicer will be able to translate to that format. Sometimes you are bound to the printers original software. Usually the software that comes with your printer is good enough to get you going and do most things. Often it is a specialized flavor of an open Source slicer. Because of this I cannot recommend something specific - all I use these days is chitubox which is packaged with my printer. Please feel free to fill this blank space! Spoiler Cura. Free Slicer for FDM. Tip by @LostCosmonauts and @ratsmitglied https://ultimaker.com/software/ultimaker-cura Simplify3d. Commercial Slicer for FDM. Tip by @LostCosmonauts and @ratsmitglied https://www.simplify3d.com/buy-now/ PrusaSlicer. Open Source Slicer for FDM and SLA printing. Might need to check this one out. Tip by @LostCosmonauts and @ratsmitglied https://www.prusa3d.de/prusaslicer/ Slic3r. Open Source Slicer for FDM and SLA. Base upon which PrusaSlicer was built. Tip by @ratsmitglied https://slic3r.org/ Chitubox. SLA Slicer packed with most SLA printers. Basic but very usable. Under constant development - I highly advice to keep it updated - the new versions usually help with stability. https://www.chitubox.com/ Formware 3d. Tip by @Pouln. Another SLA / DLP slicer which supports many printers right away. Private license for reasonable money, if you want to earn something from your prints you'll need the more expensive commercial license. https://www.formware.co/slicer/download Please commit to this topic by adding your goto software and writing about what it can do and where to get it. My hope is to get a little collection over time that helps others to find alternatives and information to get started on the software side at all. 5 5 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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