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A Free 3D CAD / CAM program that is pretty impressive

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[10] Like what you see?
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gr8legs

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#1
I've been playing with 3D printing with a Prusa kit I built and needed a CAD program to do designs. I first purchased TurboCad Deluxe ($150) which was painfully inadequate for machine shop type projects (probably just fine if you're desiging a house) and I subsequently upgraded to the TurboCad 'Platinum' edition ($1,500) which comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. While trying it in the first 30 days I got frustrated with some obvious bugs and shortcomings in the User Interface and looked around for an alternate. I found SolveSpace. (www.solvespace.com) which is a 'parametric' CAD program.

With SolveSpace you can do a rough sketch of whatever it is that you want, then tie down the dimensions of the lines, angles, diameters, etc. once you have the basic design sketched out. My impression: Slicker than deer guts on a door knob. I am still figuring out how to use it - the UI is a bit opaque but with a bit of twiddling I can already do amazing stuff.

Build a shape in 2D space then extrude it linearly or 'lathe' it in a circular extrusion around a point.

Want a solid cylinder? Click on the 'circle' icon, click where you want the cylinder base origin to be in XY space, click again for the radius and you have a circle. Click the circle to select it then click the 'extrude' icon - presto, a cylinder! Rotate the view with the center mouse button, select an end point of the cylinder and set the length by eyeball wherever you want it. If an eyeball isn't good enough, click the circle then press D, it pops up the actual measurement of the circle. Double click the dimension and set it to whatever you want. Presto, the circle (and the cylinder) change to that diameter! Same thing for the length of the cylinder! Press D, double click the dimension and set the length of the cylinder. Amazing!

And once you've 'constrained' a dimension or data point it can't be changed unless you delete the constraint. That lets you twiddle with other parts of the design without altering stuff that's correct. Brilliant! (Or maybe I've just been living under a rock in a small town too long and this is what I should be expecting from 3D CAD ? )

And of course you can move objects wherever you want them in 3D space and set your 'workplane' anywhere in 3D space and create new objects that intersect and interconnect with existing ones. Very cool!

There's a series of tutorials on YouTube - starting with #0 talking about the User Interface and going on from there. For some reason I cannot paste a link to a YouTube video here but go to youtube and search for SolveSpace tutorials by Eric Buijs and check out one in mid-series to get a feel for the program.

The best part is it the program is open source and completely free. That wouldn't mean much if it was crappy dumpsterware, but IMNSHO it is not - I'd gladly pay $$$ for it if I had to. The only thing it doesn't seem to do natively is ellipses but it has a Bezier Draw function that I guess I could use to simulate one.

Another thing: They say it runs on Mac, Windows or Linux ! I've tried it so far on Windows and yes, it works just like the demos. Since I'm trying to move everything to Linux (Ubuntu) this is a big plus!

The program outputs STL files as input for a 3D slicer, makes image files in pdf or png and drawing files as DXF - as well as many other output and input options I have yet to explore.

I have no financial interest in this (plus it's freeware!), it's just something I stumbled onto and thought needed a wider audience.

Stu
 

Ray C

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#2
After viewing the tutorial, this appears to have some really nice features for free (that I pay annual support fees for). I won't be jumping ship but, will keep my eye on this package.

Thanks for passing this along.

Ray C.
 

vtcnc

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#3
I have Ubuntu. I will download this and try it out!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

7milesup

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#4
How does this compare to Autodesk Fusion 360? Fusion is extremely capable and the best part....FREE! Fusion also has baked in HSM (tool path) should you want to use it that way. It also exports (actually save as) STL files. I use this for my Prusa printer amongst other things too.
Also, Solidworks is free too for the student edition if you join the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association), which cost $40 per year.
 
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JRP

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#5
I've had good luck designing parts in FreeCad and exporting the STL files to print. It sounds like Solvespace makes building assemblies easier than FreeCad though, so I might have to take a look.
 

MSD0

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#6
How does this compare to Autodesk Fusion 360? Fusion is extremely capable and the best part....FREE! Fusion also has baked in HSM (tool path) should you want to use it that way. It also exports (actually save as) STL files. I use this for my Prusa printer amongst other things too. Also, Solidworks is free to for the student edition if you join the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association), which cost $40 per year.
Thanks for the info about SolidWorks. Just joined EAA and started downloading the student edition.
 
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