Author Topic: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?  (Read 4171 times)

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Offline GnatGoSplat

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Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« on: April 04, 2022, 02:48:42 pm »
I would like to learn how to design 3D models from scratch, for 3D printing.  I've used Blender in the very distant past for modifying game assets, but that's about it.

My requirements is that it be Windows-based and offline, not cloud-based.  Also popular enough amongst the 3D printing community that I can easily find help/support/tutorials online.

Any recommendations?
Shawn
 

Offline MarkF

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2022, 03:27:53 pm »
I've been using FreeCAD for sometime now.  It has some hiccups but it's free and totally off-line.
   Newer GitHub version of FreeCAD for Windows  or  FreeCAD Wiki for other downloads

Here are a bunch of tutorials that helped me get started:
   https://www.eevblog.com/forum/repair/recommended-3d-printer-for-printing-knobs-buttons-etc/msg3898820/#msg3898820
 
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2022, 08:56:15 pm »
solidworks. the gold standard
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Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 
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Online kripton2035

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2022, 09:21:50 pm »
+1 for freecad
there is a learning curve, like any cad program, but there are plenty of tutorials on youtube
and it's free. and offline.
and works native on macos ( that's what decided me to use it in fact)
 
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Offline Zucca

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2022, 12:45:34 am »
I used a cracked Solidworks form some obscure Torrent for a while, then I discovered FreeCAD.
The FreeCAD community is amazing if you post your problem before to go in bed in the morning you get already the solution served on a silver plate.

Not the best program for sure, but it is free and well supported.
I always got the job done with FreeCAD.
If you know python then again another big plus for FreeCAD.

Finally the cherry on the pie was for me the integration with KiCAD.
Can't know what you don't love. St. Augustine
Can't love what you don't know. Zucca
 
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Offline MarkF

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2022, 01:27:35 am »
I'm able to export .step files from DipTrace, the PCB design program I use, which can be imported into FreeCAD in order to build enclosures around.

Examples:  https://www.eevblog.com/forum/3d-printing/sketchup-help/msg4078429/#msg4078429
 

Offline dferyance

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2022, 02:06:16 am »
There are a lot of options out there so you'd need to be more specific to narrow it down. Are you looking to make mechanical parts, artistic models, figurines? Different tools for different jobs.

In general, Blender is a good choice. When I tried it for CAD designs it was problematic but my understanding is the new boolean engine makes it better. Still wouldn't be a good choice for mechanical designs.

I've been using Moment of Inspiration (MoI3d) http://moi3d.com/ exclusively for 3D mechanical designs. It doesn't have all the features a big CAD package has, e.g. cannot do parametric design. But has more of a focus on being able to quickly design something with a few simple CAD tools. It is NURBs based and booleans work a whole lot better than polygonal modelers. There is no online requirement and you can run it off of a USB memory stick.

I had good hopes for openSCAD but was disappointed while learning it by it's lack of NURBs surfaces and that it can only export polygonal models. Still, depending on what you need it could be good too.

Rocket 3F seems interesting but I haven't used it a whole lot to know if I'd recommend. I just end up going back to MoI. But I'd still suggest checking it out.
 
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Offline GnatGoSplat

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2022, 10:54:10 pm »
Thanks for the responses.  I think I'm going to start learning FreeCAD.  The price is right (free), and the fact there's a Mac version might be nice because my laptop is a Mac Pro M1.  I probably won't be doing too much CAD away from my desk, but it's nice to have the option.

Mechanical design is what I plan to focus on, since I would like to make custom adapters, brackets, and that kind of thing.  It seems like parametric design would be very useful for that kind of thing.  Judging by the tutorials for FreeCAD, it looks like it's the appropriate tool for the things I want to make.
Shawn
 
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Offline MarkF

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2022, 12:23:01 am »
If you're going to use FreeCAD on a Laptop, the very first thing you will want to do is select a different navigation mode.  It is so much easier to look at your model while using a touchpad.  In touchpad mode, holding down either the shift key or alt key while moving your finger on the touchpad pans and rotates respectfully.  (NO LEFT OR RIGHT MOUSE CLICK.)

Also select the units you prefer to work in.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2022, 12:24:36 am by MarkF »
 
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Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2022, 06:29:06 pm »
I personally use OpenSCAD. It's a different approach of course, it's not point-and-click. It generates STL so good for 3D printing.
 
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Online Mechatrommer

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2022, 08:50:24 pm »
autocad and inventor. the diamond standard
Nature: Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness (Stephen L. Talbott): Its now indisputable that... organisms “expertise” contextualizes its genome, and its nonsense to say that these powers are under the control of the genome being contextualized - Barbara McClintock
 
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Offline MarkF

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2022, 10:52:37 pm »
autocad and inventor. the diamond standard

AutoCad   $1865/year
Inventor   $2300/year

Need I say more.
 
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Offline Whales

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2022, 11:25:06 pm »
I use blender for all my 3d printing modelling.  I'm also from a computer game background (polaygonal), I don't have experience with mechanical CAD software (CSG/generative/etc).

The things I do to make my meshes are probably sinful in the eyes of cadders, but it's quick and I get the job done :)

Offline Le_Bassiste

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2022, 08:08:08 am »
don't know about the width of the support base, but it surely deserves mentioning here:
https://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/plmapp/education/solid-edge/en_us/free-software/community

An assertion ending with a question mark is a brain fart.
 

Online Ian.M

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2022, 08:24:25 am »
I personally use OpenSCAD. It's a different approach of course, it's not point-and-click. It generates STL so good for 3D printing.
'Vanilla' OpenSCAD is not the easiest to fully get to grips with, as its *your* responsibility to avoid generating non-manifold meshes, by extending 2nd (and subsequent) children of difference() operations so they extend past the surface of the first child,  and by overlapping the children of union() (and implied union) operations, and its difficult to do so unless you fully embrace parameterizing all dimensions of your models so you can 'do the math' and have it calculate the required sizes, rotates and translates at render time. 

Also, its too easy to get into the mindset of doing everything by unioning and differencing its 3D primitive objects, which rapidly gets out of hand when you start wanting stuff like radiused edges.   It is often preferable to calculate a list of points for a polygon with the required curves then extrude that, either making the required 3D shape directly, or use it as a difference tool to 'punch out' the features you want.

The biggest conceptual hurdle to those used to procedural languages is that OpenSCAD is a declarative language, thus any variable can only have a single value for its entire scope (although it can be overridden with a new value in an inner scope).  i.e. you cannot do a=a+1;   which obviously limits the use of iterative algorithms, unless implemented by recursion.

Another issue is broken or out-of-date OpenGL drivers on your PC may cause problems with OpenSCAD Preview, resulting in either no visible object  or in preview artifacts.  It all 'comes good' when you actually render the object as that doesn't call on the graphics driver to perform 3D Boolean operations.  As a workaround you can use transparency and the 'Thrown Together' view to get a feel for child object positioning before committing to a render.

I had good hopes for openSCAD but was disappointed while learning it by it's lack of NURBs surfaces and that it can only export polygonal models. Still, depending on what you need it could be good too.
Its not NURBs but OpenSCAD can do arbitrary computed surfaces.  In 'vanilla' OpenSCAD, that's limited to importing heightmap surfaces from an external file, but The Belfry OpenScad Library, v2 (BOSL2) adds the capability to generate a surface from an array or an arbitrary function [ref].  You can also generate Bezier surfaces from an array of control points [ref].

BOSL2 also simplifies combining 3D objects while avoiding generating non-manifold meshes as you can simply attach them with a defined overlap, removing the need to carefully and explicitly calculate all the translations and rotations required to do so [ref].
« Last Edit: May 09, 2022, 01:30:34 pm by Ian.M »
 
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Online TERRA Operative

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2022, 09:00:28 am »
I use Rhinoceros 3D, been using it for 20-odd years. Does the job and is intuitive to use.
Where does all this test equipment keep coming from?!?

https://www.youtube.com/user/NearFarMedia/
 
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Offline GnatGoSplat

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2022, 01:12:57 am »
Thanks, everyone.
So far, FreeCAD looks like it's going to work quite well for me.  Managed to learn enough to fully duplicate a bracket from scratch and modify it to suit my purposes.
[attach=2]

Exported to .stl and Cura is able to slice it.  Now I just need to buy a spool of material and see if I can make a decent print of it.  Thinking maybe PETG.
Shawn
 
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Offline GnatGoSplat

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2022, 03:19:10 pm »
Thanks, pretty happy with FreeCAD so far.  I've just been making simple brackets and adapters which is quite easy to do in FreeCAD.

The model I posted earlier came out close to perfect.  The inner dimension was supposed to be 140.35mm and came out 139.86mm when printed in PETG, despite having perfect results when printing a 20mm test cube, but nothing a little filing wasn't able to fix.
Shawn
 

Offline MarkF

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2022, 04:27:42 pm »
If your prints are a little off, you may want to check your X, Y, Z and extruder e-step calibration.

This will get the mechanical movement exact:

For distance movements, I taped a needle onto the extruder fan cover and laid a ruler on the bed.  Position the extruder on the left side of the bed, place the ruler along the x-axis and position the ruler 0 under the needle.  Then run the hotend to the right side (noting the distance you told it to move) and read off the distance moved.  If the distance moved doesn't match what you told it to move, calculate a new number of e-steps and store it into the printer.  Repeat for the rest of the axis.  (I try to move the full distance of the X and Y axis to get the best accuracy.)

For the extruder, mark off 120mm for example onto your filament, extrude 100mm and measure the distance to the mark.  If not 20mm left over, calculate new extruder e-steps.  Measure on the printer frame where the filament enters for the reference.

My printer defaults were off a couple of steps.  The rest of your tweaks would be done in the slicer.
 
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Online HighVoltage

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2022, 04:30:55 pm »
One more vote for Solidworks.
Only drawback is the price you have to pay!
There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who can count and those who can not.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2022, 06:03:45 pm »
FreeCAD seems to be the only free option, I have grudgingly started to use it as I can't afford what professional software costs and I don't really want to crack stuff. At least freeCAD does not randomly crash anymore.....
 

Offline metrologist

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2022, 07:40:27 pm »
I use FreeCAD, but struggle with it. Mostly because I use it infrequently and have to start over every time.

Last time, I wanted a simple 3D trapezoid (flat top pyramid) and could not figure out all the dimensions. I have not gone beyond dropping in simple shapes and modifying them. It would be easy some times to start with a cube and then draw a slicing plane or line to complete a plane, but none of that is apparent how to do.
 

Offline GnatGoSplat

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2022, 08:13:30 pm »
I found this Youtuber's lessons to be an excellent resource for beginners.
https://www.youtube.com/c/FreeCADAcademy

He's an excellent instructor.  I followed along, interactively instead of just watching, and was able to apply what I'd learned from the lessons without any issue.  Creating my own projects from scratch has been pretty easy, granted, I haven't done anything particularly complicated yet.
Shawn
 

Online Ian.M

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2022, 08:42:19 pm »
I use FreeCAD, but struggle with it. Mostly because I use it infrequently and have to start over every time.

Last time, I wanted a simple 3D trapezoid (flat top pyramid) and could not figure out all the dimensions. I have not gone beyond dropping in simple shapes and modifying them. It would be easy some times to start with a cube and then draw a slicing plane or line to complete a plane, but none of that is apparent how to do.
In 'vanilla' OpenSCAD, a truncated square right pyramid is simply:
Code: [Select]
rotate([0,0,45]) cylinder(h=10, d1=20*sqrt(2), d2=10*sqrt(2), $fn=4);
You may well ask what does a cylinder have to do with a pyramid?
Well OpenSCAD allows you to use the cylinder object to make right regular prisms, by setting the number of vertices (and thus sides) with which it renders round objects.  The $fn=4 thus gives four sides.   You can also use the cylinder object for cones and frustums - you get a cone if you set r1 or d1 to the base size and r2 or d2 to 0 for a point at the top.  Set r2 or d2 to a size smaller than the base and you get a frustrum.   The only remaining complexity is the *sqrt(2), and that's because when using $fn to make prisms, the diameter (or radius) gives the circumcircle, so we are effectively specifying the diagonal of the base and top squares, not  their side length, so by Pythagoras, we need that correction factor.  Finally as the circumcircle is divided into four equal sides starting with a vertex at angle 0, rotating it 45 deg about the Z axis brings the base and top sides parallel to the XY axes.

If you are using OpenSCAD with the BOSL2 library, its a lot simpler:
Code: [Select]
include <BOSL2/std.scad>
prismoid(size1=20, size2=10, h=10);
as prismoid specifically creates rectanguluar prisms and frustrums.

It also easily allows you to stack them e.g. to model the Bent Pyramid of Sneferu at a scale of 1:10000 (assuming the usual 3D printing convention of using mm as the unit):
Code: [Select]
include <BOSL2/std.scad>
prismoid(size1=18.943, size2=12.358, h=4.704) attach(TOP) prismoid(size1=12.358, size2=0, h=5.767);

I find it a lot easier to explore OpenSCAD, simply keeping the 'vanilla' and BOSL2 cheatsheats bookmarked in my browser, than it is to explore the myriad 'workbenches' of FreeCAD to find a reasonable method to do anything semi-fancy.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2022, 12:21:52 am by Ian.M »
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Recommendation for offline Windows 3D modeling program?
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2022, 08:48:01 pm »
I use FreeCAD, but struggle with it. Mostly because I use it infrequently and have to start over every time.

Last time, I wanted a simple 3D trapezoid (flat top pyramid) and could not figure out all the dimensions. I have not gone beyond dropping in simple shapes and modifying them. It would be easy some times to start with a cube and then draw a slicing plane or line to complete a plane, but none of that is apparent how to do.

I've used solid edge in my last job and to be honest, yes, freecad is a bit of a mess by comparison, the tools are nowhere near as flexible and easy to use, but it's free and I suspect that writing software to handle the required math is not easy.

For example, try making a rectangular solid and then round off two opposite corners so that the end is semi-circular, it can't be done, freecad cannot do the math to compute the two curves that need to touch each other in a tangent way. If you make the radius ever so slightly smaller so as to leave a small flat where the circular edges join it works. If you look at a cylinder you will see a line down it, this is a workaround.

In solid edge I would see similar errors in more obscure situations that were generally down to a mistake. They would be called a "0 thickness edge" which it could not handle.
 


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