3D Design Software

Does anyone have a preferred design software for creating 3D models? Specifically, I’m trying to find something to build out mockups, and something that will work with exporting to the laser cutter (.svg or .dxf) and 3d printers (.stl) and isn’t $4k for a license.

I’ve been using Sketchup Make because I’m cheap, but I’m having a ton of issues getting files into AI. I’m considering jumping up to Sketchup Shop since I know the program, but I don’t love it being online only. Before committing, I’d love to hear other options.

I’ve found Fusion360 by AutoCAD to be very useful. The free version has many of the bells and whistles you need for designing your own stuff but no capability to collaborate with others. That has not been an issue for me.

It’s a pretty robust package. I found getting up to speed with the UI requires a deep dive and patience with myself. There are a lot of control / alt / mouse combinations that took some time for me to learn but they are pretty efficient once you’ve got them down.

I’ve got a Elegoo 3D resin printer that produces strong parts at high resolution. The build platform is not that big. The Chitabox slicer offers a lot of control re supports so a print is reliably successful.

Yeah, Fusion 360 seems like a great one for 3d printing, but have you used it for laser cutting files at all?
When I was looking at it, it didn’t seem like the free version allows you to export .svg or .dxf files.

I think you are right about that. It does that for me because I bought the lowest price license. I can’t view what limitations are there now for the free version. For .svg or .dxf files I used Adobe Illustrator and still subscribe to the CC version. They are just different applications with all the limitations. For CNC I still revert to Vectric Aspire to generate tool paths though I heard Fusion CAN generate toolpaths for a generic CNC machine, I just accept the manufacturers recommendations. Other Vectric applications are free but limited. You can explore purchasing Aspire version 9.514 from ebay but that’s all very sketchy and the downloads may not be fully functioning applications. the price is right but it’s basically a bootleg.

I would check on Onshape. It is free for the time being. All good free software will start charging at some point.

Would a DXF export plugin for Sketchup Make help with importing into AI?

Yeah, definitely. I’ve tried using an SVG plugin, Flight of Ideas, but it’s very inconsistent.

The freedfx_v16a.rbz file in the link I posted is a DXF export plugin.

I personally use onshape.com its a cloud based cad program that’s very similar to solidworks.

Its free on the condition your files are publicly viewable.

I am able to export .dxf files for when I do laser work.

i use solidworks professionally, but i really like fusion 360 for anything i do personally or for a side hustle i have. i also use fusion 360 for CAM at my main work. it has its shortcomings but is overall pretty good.

i will note that i pay for fusion360, and havent tried out just he free version since they switched things up last year. when that happened, i briefly looked at FreeCAD as an alternative. it’s ok, the functionality is there, but the user interface leaves a lot to be desired. if i didnt already pay for fusion, i would be much more inclined to give freecad a serious go. there has been a booming community around it since fusion tightened up their stuff last year, and it looks like a lot of progress has already been made on freecad.

I use Rhino for 2D and 3D. Although the product is proprietary, the company that makes it is very friendly, employee owned, and with a nice community. The data format is documented under the openNURBS Initiative. Grasshopper is fun for algorithmic design.

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