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  1. #1
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    3D printing deisign applications that actually work?

    I've got a 3d printer coming, and while I have a bunch of STL files for items that are of use, but I'd also like to learn to actually make things I need from scratch. That's where design software comes in and is my issue.

    I've tried three out of the top five in this list, and in my opinion, they all suck. The simplest of things like moving around the item essentially don't exist in any of them. In Cura, for example, you hold your right mouse button and drag around, and you move about your object. In every other application I tried, there is no 'easy' way to just rotate around your object. While there are some out there that would claim that I'm the smartest person they know, and while in some regards that may be true, you'll never hear me claiming to be the sharpest tool in the shed. I suppose it's possible that I'm crazy smart in some areas, but certainly not all - no one knows everything.

    For my first 'adventure', I'm trying to make a very simple piece. 20mm x 12mm x 205mm, with a 7mm hole at one end centered at 12.5mm from the end and a 7mm hole/slot at the other end centered at 11.5mm from the end (12.5mm would work too). Pretty simple to make, you'd think. Not so much.

    I was going to post a picture of what I am trying to replicate, but for the first time ever, apparently, the site won't let me upload pics directly or even link to my cheverto server. *shrug*.

    In Blender, I couldn't even figure out how to get the stupid thing to the dimensions I needed, let alone anything further. I mean, I saw the object, but nowhere could I find any idea what it's dimensions were - it could have been 20mm x .2mm x .02mm for all I know. In 'Fusion 360', I was actually able to set a scale and make my object to the dimensions I needed, I was also able to make the proper hole at one end, as well as radius the edges to smooth them out - but when it came to trying to make the slot at the end that needed the slot - a total fail (I was able to make a hole at each end, but when it came to making it a slot total fail). You'd think it woudln't be that hard even for a total noob.

    First, I don't want something 'web based'. I want something installed on my machine that I don't need to use some sucky browser to use (let's be honest - ALL browsers suck these days). I don't want some subscription (read: ransom) based application - if I'm going to pay for it (which I'm not against paying for something that's QUALITY - but I will NOT pay a perpetual ransom for the 'privilege' of using some software), I want to pay for it and be able to use it forever (within the confines of the version I purchased and such), not keep paying for the 'pleasure' of using the program.

    So within those parameters, can anyone suggest an application for designing 3d objects that is actually EASY to use for someone that hasn't been using similar software for a decade plus? All of the applications in the list I posted may be considered good for those familiar with similar software for decades, but nothing that I've tried seems at all 'noob' friendly.
    Last edited by Cougar281; 12-10-2017 at 01:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Openscad.
    Once you get the hang of it, you could do that design in about 2 minutes.
    cura is a slicer Not design software.

    That list is bogus. Given that a large proportion of the stuff on thingiverse is done with openscad - that alone should have moved it up the list.

    Try it :-)

  3. #3
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    do you mean:
    For my first 'adventure', I'm trying to make a very simple piece. 20mm x 12mm x 205mm, with a 7mm hole at one end centered at 12.5mm from the end and a 7mm hole/slot at the other end centered at 11.5mm from the end (12.5mm would work too). Pretty simple to make, you'd think. Not so much.
    20 long, 12 wide and 205 tall ?

    in which case - try this:
    $fn=100;

    difference() {
    cube([20,12,205]);

    translate([10,12,193.5]) rotate([90,0,0]) cylinder(d=7, h=13);
    translate([10,12,12.5]) rotate([90,0,0]) cylinder(d=7, h=13);

    }// end diff

    Now a hole is not a slot - so which do you mean, I put a hole :-)


    For the record dimensions are usually given: x:y:z Length:width:height.
    I've seen quite a few americans who put z first, or sometimes in the middle - or sometimes even use inches :-)

  4. #4
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    Thanks - I'll definitely take a look at Openscad. Yes, I know Cura is a slicer, not a designer, my reason for referencing it was just to comment on how just moving your object around the workspace and rotating around your object is a whole lot more intuitive in Cura than in the design applications I have tried so far.

    I'll get the X, Y & Z orders right one day . Brand new to the 3d printing scene, so I certainly have a bit to learn. 'Technically' it could probably be printed standing up, but it wouldn't leave much surface for bed adhesion, and it really doesn't make much sense to do so. My i3 clone will do 200x280x230. So I guess my proper dimensions would be 20x205x12?

    After a ridiculous amount of time with Fusion 360, I was finally able to make the piece like you posted the image of (which you probably made in like 30 seconds lol), but after at least the same amount of time, if not more trying to either turn one hole into a slot or replace it with a slot, I just couldn't get it to work.

    I actually got the image to post, so to make things easier (A picture is worth a thousand words), here's what I'm looking to replicate (just improved a bit). The end where it's supposed to hook over another 'peg' to lock the easel in place broke off the wood piece.

    Last edited by Cougar281; 12-10-2017 at 08:10 PM.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Roxy's Avatar
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    And just because I believe in helping people learn to help themselves...

    Try this code:

    $fn=100;
    difference() {
    cube([20,12,205]);
    translate([10,12,193.5]) rotate([90,0,0]) cylinder(d=7, h=13);
    translate([10,12,12.5]) rotate([90,0,0]) cylinder(d=7, h=13);
    translate([10,12,12.5]) rotate([90,0,0]) cube([15,15,15]);
    }

  6. #6
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    I'll throw something else into the mix, not that I don't love OpenSCAD (I very much do, and it's the only software I can get myself to model anything in to be honest. I've tried every GUI based modeler I could get my hands on and couldn't get he hang of it for the life of me).

    Solvespace is a graphical modeler, completely free and open source. It doesn't even need to be installed, just download the executable and run it. Some might call it primitive or basic, but I quite like it. The interface isn't crowded and I find it quite straightforward. It's quite nice for drafting up constraints and linkages quickly to see if they work, but it can be used for much more. No, it doesn't do chamfers and fillets at a click yet, but coming from OpenSCAD I just see that as something I need to plan ahead for, not a feature missing from the software

    Just an option if all the code and scripting isn't your thing. Like most 3D modeling software it uses true curves when modeling objects which should technically give it an advantage over OpenSCAD which uses polygonal approximations. The flip side of this that no one seems to mention is that STL files turn those curves into polygons anyway, and OpenSCAD is the only program I've seen that gives you definite control over how accurate the polygonal approximation is. Fusion 360 gives you some vague "high/medium/low detail" option, not sure what solvespace does but you can set exact detail values in OpenSCAD if you know how.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    I also try and add comments to my script - so It makes sense if I go back to it or need to modifiy something. All the brackets can be confusing otherwise.

    It doesn't matter which way up you make the model the slicer can rotate for best print prientation, and in this case lying flat would give you the strongest and most dimensionally accurate model. It also means you don't have to rotate your cylinders - so it's one thing to consider before starting a model.
    Plus if you make the model in the correct orientation for printing - it saves mucking about on the slicer :-)

    $fn=100; //makes round things rounder by using more facets for rounding stuff.

    difference() { // everything after the first line is removed from the object generated by the first line
    cube([205,20,12]); // basic oblong

    translate([193.5,9.5,0]) cylinder(d=7, h=13); // removes the top hole
    translate([12.5,9.5,0]) cylinder(d=7, h=13); // removes the bottom hole
    translate([190,-5,0]) cube([7,15,12]); // removes the side slot
    }// end diff // end of removal process.
    '//' - tells openscad ti ignore everything after until a new line is started. ';' tells it that particular command line has ended and to process the commands.



    install openscad. Paste the above text in. Press f6 on your keyboard. Then click 'File' and select expost as stl. And you'll have your printable model.

    One of the really great things about openscad is that it ONLY makes printable models. It refuses to export anything that won't print.

    Which can make modifying an existing stl tricky if the stl isn't manifold to start with.

    length: width: height
    205: 20: 12
    you're getting there :-)

    Once you get into it and start using modules and iterations - it is amazing just what you can make fairly quickly.
    Also there is no issue with moving or sizing things, you can change by any number large or small without having to fight a mouse or slider bar.

    Give me a pair of digital calipers abd openscad and I can duplicate most things pretty quickly.

    There is currently no 'bend' or 'curve' command - so making curvy organic shapes can take a bit of lateral thinking.

    If I ever find the openscad forum, I'll suggest it - but so far all I've seen is a mailing list and I get enough crap mail as it is :-)
    Last edited by curious aardvark; 12-11-2017 at 08:21 AM.

  8. #8
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    I don't recommend using a global $fn, 100 faces may be too much for a small circle and not enough for a big one. $fs and $fa scale much better. $fs sets the maximum length of a segment before it starts a new one, $fa sets the maximum angle it has to turn (i.e. to follow a curve) before it starts a new segment. I personally write my modules to use something similar to $fs because I find that scales best, all the objects look like they are the same 'resolution' whereas $fs and especially $fn can leave small objects overly detailed and large ones looking blocky.

    Also, OpenSCAD forum: http://forum.openscad.org/

    One thing I love about OpenSCAD is the idea of modules. You only ever need to solve a problem once. There's much, much more so if you're interested I will preach. Also, you can do things like chamfers and fillets, they just take a bit of pre planning, so don't let that put you off.

  9. #9
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    Thanks guys. Roxy, after your input, I was able to lay it down (I know that can also be done in the slicer and that's not a big deal to do). I thought that was going to be how it was done, but after trying it, I couldn't get it right initially, but with some trial and error and your input, I finally got it.

    I'm guessing OpenSCAD is only command line? No drag and drop objects and then drag it to the shape you want (or select it and enter the dimensions you want)? If so, that'll make for quite the learning curve. From the perspective of navigating around your model, OpenSCAD is GREAT and is they way they all should be - very intuitive. The actual building of items from a command line is a bit daunting (IMO). Some kind of a blend of both would be ideal in my opinion - drag and drop objects, pull, squish and merge objects until they're roughly what you want, then be able to enter more exact dimensions. Or maybe I'm just crazy .

    Trakyan, I'll take a look at Solvespace too.

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Roxy's Avatar
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    Try some of the debugging commands. That helps a lot to see what is happening. If you put a # in front of line, you can see what that line is doing.

    Try putting a # in front of some of the lines and then change the numbers on the line. That helps make things less daunting.

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