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  1. #1
    Student
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    Sep 2017
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    New - Best Software

    Hello. I am both new to this board, and fairly new to 3d printing. I have a printer and have been making a few "things". That being said, I do have a question.

    My interests are in printing things such as plastic parts for restoring or customizing cars. I have been playing around with a custom Pontiac Fiero hood logo. I have been using tools such as Blender and Freecad. I guess my problem with some of these these tools is in regards to both the learning curve and sizing. I know that Blender is quite popular. Although most Blender instruction seems to focus on VR stuff, of which I have no interest.

    A lot of this stuff, particularly Blender seems to be a bit too "free hand" for my tastes. When I design stuff, I want to specify reasonably precise dimensions. Is it that I need to study Blender more, or are there other tools out there for designing 3d printable objects that is both easy to learn and easy to design objects with precise dimensions?

    Are there many out there in the 3d printing community who want to focus more on "parts" with specific dimensions, or on artistic things which might be a bit more "free hand"?

    Regards,

    George CLay

  2. #2
    I'm not an artist and I don't play one on television, which means that my creation interests tend to the practical construction of 3D printed items. I've fallen into that camp, the one aimed at creating parts with specific dimensions.

    If you don't have to operate at a strictly GUI level, you might want to look into OpenSCAD, which allows one to create a script of sorts, a series of steps used to create model components. It uses the common primitives such as a cube, sphere and cylinder, with modifiers, to create your objective. Many operators allow one to join, intersect, difference the created primitives.

    One can create an object with direct parameters, but it's far more practical to use assignments and references in the code.

    cube([10, 20, 5]);

    will create a block that is 10 mm wide, 20 mm deep and 5 mm high.

    block_wide = 10;
    block_deep = 20;
    block_high = 5;
    cube([block_wide, block_deep, block_high]);

    accomplishes the same thing, but allows those values to be used elsewhere, yet requires only one location to change all of them later, when you discover that bracket you made is just a tiny bit smaller than it should be.

    There are tremendous resources in the OpenSCAD forum/mailing list as well as on countless YouTube videos, but that can be said of any useful program.

    I've learned a bit of Fusion 360 (free for hobby use) but it also has a severe learning curve. What little I've learned comes in handy, as does using Meshmixer and occasionally Blender.

    Every program becomes a tool for your use and if you can use only portions of many programs, you have a well-filled toolbox.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
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    I'm solidly in the openscad camp. Can't draw freehand, never could.

    Openscad is a great piece of software - very easy to use, free and stuff can easily be made parametric and scalable. While precision is built in.

    It's biggest problems are that the manual is completely incomprehensible by normal humans and it's popular with programmers.
    Who when they try and explain something assume that you are also are a programmer - and thus the explanations do not make sense and rarely help.

    That said - once you've got the hang of writing a basic script, it's surprising what you can actually do.
    There are a number of tutorials on the web written by non-programmers - look for those :-)
    They'll make a lot more sense ;-)

    I have now given up asking people on thingiverse to explain anything. They just can't do it in non-programmerese.
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 09-06-2017 at 10:56 AM.

  4. #4
    Student
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    Thank you both. I will look into openSCAD (By the way I was a programmer before I retired)

    Regards,

    George Clay

  5. #5
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    lol - then you'll have no problem with openscad :-)
    Hell the manual might even make sense to you ;-)

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