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  1. #11
    Technologist
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    Jul 2017
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    145
    Cougar, you're describing a typical GUI parametric CAD software. Fusion 360, Solidworks, Designspark Mechanical and Solvespace all do this. The drag and drop, stretch and so on is the G (graphical) part of the GUI. Typing in dimensions is called dimensioning, and yes solvespace can do this, select a line or circle or whatever and press D on your keyboard or click the dimension button in the interface and then edit the dimension line that pops up.

    There is a youtube tutorial series on solvespace, might be worth checking out. I personally prefer to learn by doing and find it more effective.

    OpenSCAD is scripting, rather than command line which is much less daunting. And it has a pretty good debug and error check tool, when something goes wrong it usually tells you exactly where and gives you a hint as to what might have gone wrong. I personally found the scripting language fairly intuitive and easy to pick up, but it isn't my first dive into programming. Most of the commands are sensibly named, cube() makes a cube, sphere() makes a sphere, translate() and rotate() do what you'd think etc. It's definitely not for everyone, though.

  2. #12
    Student
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    Dec 2017
    Location
    North Carolina
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    5
    I have used probably 50 + 3d applications over the years and a lot of them are trying to add 3d printing as a feature , some doing it better than others. Of the ones I have used the easiest by far is Fusion 360, it is basically a re-write of autodesk inventor for easier usage.
    If you are coming from a background of never having used these programs there isn't one that is going to be something that you just pick up and click around and make things without a learning curve. Fusion 360 has great learning tutorials on the site and all of it is free. You just have to invest the time in learning . Once you do you will have a new skill set that will apply to lots of other applications.

    Programs like openSCAD are great but the downside is the things you learn using it are going to be unique to that program and don't transfer well to other applications. Fusion and similar applications are all based around the same ideas and once you get comfortable working in the xyz world and with things like faces, vertex, edges, you can use any program that is out there.

  3. #13
    Technologist
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    Jul 2017
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    145
    You're quite unfairly singling out openscad. It's a different kind of modeler, it's script based not gui based. Sure it won't transfer directly to gui based modeling, but things like knowing how to lay out parts and approach designs do transfer over. I also think that people who use openscad have a better idea of how powerful 'parametric' modeling is. I think this is mostly because many of them have a programming background and are familiar with parametric functions and modules. I've seen so many people using fusion 360 and other programs, claiming they are so good at parametric modeling yet completely missing the main strength of parametric modeling. They assign constants (numbers) rather than variables for all of their dimensions. Just changed your model to use m5 instead of m8? Have fun going back and changing every screw hole.

    On the flip side I could jab back. How transferable is fusion 360? It's not like it'll give you a better idea of how to edit your printer's firmware. They both transfer in different ways, and for a hobbyist, you don't need your cad skills to transfer between 50 different cad programs.

  4. #14
    Student
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    North Carolina
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    5
    Quote Originally Posted by Trakyan View Post
    They assign constants (numbers) rather than variables for all of their dimensions. Just changed your model to use m5 instead of m8? Have fun going back and changing every screw hole.
    Go to the modify menu, select change parameters. In the window that pops up select the parameter in the model you want to change. Or create a expression that changes a parameter based off another .

  5. #15
    Technologist
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Posts
    145
    Having one parameter based off another, based off another in a long chain is bad practice and is prone to unintended consequences downstream of anything you change. And I know you can change dimensions once you set them, but the point still stands. Have fun changing every screw hole when sometimes there are hundreds across many different sketches and parts.

    That's rather clunky, and as far as I'm aware you can set variables in fusion 360, which would be a better way to do it. I.e. create a variable called 'bolt size' and whenever you dimension a bolt hole, dimension it with 'bolt size' so if you go back and change the value of 'bolt size' it updates every bolt hole to the correct dimension. Besides, my point was that many people missed this feature, not that it didn't exist.

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