Blog Forums 3D Printers, CNC and Tools Best Design Programs for 3d Printers and CNC

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    • #13552
      123toid
      Keymaster

      3D Printers 

      Fusion 360

      This is an intensive design program that is not easy to pick up.  However, it is feature packed and typically free for hobbyist.  If you want to use it commercially, you will have to pony up a little money (about $350-500) a year.  But the best thing about Fusion 360 is it can be used for 3d printers and CNC.  There are also a lot of YouTube videos out there to help teach you how to use it.  The program itself even comes with some tutorials to help you learn it.  It might take a while to learn, but if you do, you will be better off.

      Blender

      Blender is another very powerful design program that can take a while to learn.  However, it is often labeled as the best 3d printer design programs.  so it is worth learning if you really want to make some unique designs.  Especially at it’s price point…FREE.

      TinkerCAD

      TinkerCAD is a browser based design program. It is limited compared to the other program listed, but it is easier to use and is free.  SO if you want somewhere to start, this might be one of the better places.

      FreeCAD

      FreeCAD is another free program.  But this is packed with some pretty great features.  If you want a good intermediate program, that is free.  This might be one to look into. THis also works on Mac and Linux.

       

      CNC 

      Fusion 360

      This is an intensive design program that is not easy to pick up.  However, it is feature packed and typically free for hobbyist.  If you want to use it commercially, you will have to pony up a little money (about $350-500) a year.  But the best thing about Fusion 360 is it can be used for 3d printers and CNC.  There are also a lot of YouTube videos out there to help teach you how to use it.  The program itself even comes with some tutorials to help you learn it.  It might take a while to learn, but if you do, you will be better off.  Also this program can not only model 3d components, but it is also a CAM program, which allows you to design your toolpaths into a code to send to your CNC.  It really is an all-in-one solution.

      Inkscape

      Inkscape is a free 2d drawing program that is popular for those who do not want to pay for a subscription. As such, it isn’t the most powerful, but it can do what you would need for basic speaker box construction.

      Vectric

      vectric includes Vcarve and Aspire.  They are both good programs for those who mainly focus on 2D carving.  It is a very simple program to pick up and use.  The also offer a free 30 day trial, downloadable projects and training videos.  It is one of the most used for basic CNC use, so there is a lot of community support and YouTube videos.   One of the coolest things about Vectric is that depending on the edition you buy you can use gadgets.  These gadgets are simple programs you can add in, such as dovetail joints, or box joints.  It makes it very easy to make a box with these type of joints as it will create the box and the cam (tooling) for the joints.  You can look at their gadget library if you are interested.  The bad part with vectric, is they are more expensive than the aforementioned Fusion 360 and not as powerful.  Also, there are multiple versions.  Some of them limit the cutting area of your machine or the use of special features.  SO f you want to use all of them, you buy Aspire, which is close to $2000.  The plus side, is it is a lifetime license.  

       

       

      @elliottdesigns – feel free to edit and add some more. 


    • #13555
      Elliott Designs
      Participant

      This is pretty much everything at this time, I would have thought. I use Solidworks, since I’m lucky enough to be studying an engineering degree that provides it for me, however I heard that they might be releasing a cheap plan for hobbyists and makers, if they do that it will definitely be one to add. A lot more capable than Fusion360 and a lot easier to use than FreeCAD. Very similar to other full fledged parametric 3d modelling packages (unlike fusion which is a bit in its own world in terms of how parts are built), so if it does end up opening up to hobbyists, I’d definitely recommend it!

       

      Edit: Solidworks also has immense capabilities in CNC work with advanced 3d tool paths and automated ones at that too!

      Also, fusion 360 may have this feature, but I’m not sure as I haven’t seen it used, with Solidworks you can export as .3mf (3d manufacturing file), which is essentially an STL but without any problems that come with STL files, it doesn’t even have triangles!


      Elliott Dyson – Owner of Elliott Designs (the YouTube channel) and 3rd year Mechanical Engineering student. -UK
    • #22723
      sfx
      Participant

      I am a Fusion 360 user and I love it. I have used if for designing full size space ships to be build full scale in real life. It has not let me down. I have also converted several colleagues who used solid works or Catia and wanted something a cheeper and easy to make 3D parts and other 3D designs.

      Yes you can send .3mf files strait to a slicer from Fusion. Its fast and very efficient. You can add the SHAPER plug into Fusion for an easy export of .dxf files for a CNC router or Laser.

    • #23102
      Elliott Designs
      Participant

      Oh, I’ve definitely used Fusion 360 too, they all have slightly different feature sets which is why it is good to mention all of them


      Elliott Dyson – Owner of Elliott Designs (the YouTube channel) and 3rd year Mechanical Engineering student. -UK
    • #23103
      Elliott Designs
      Participant

      Hey Nick, which part was it you wanted tips on?


      Elliott Dyson – Owner of Elliott Designs (the YouTube channel) and 3rd year Mechanical Engineering student. -UK
    • #23117
      123toid
      Keymaster

      All of it. I need to just sit down in front of it and watch some videos. I have not had a chance to do that. I started once, but never really got a chance to finish. One of the things that confuses me most, is how do I take the 3d drawing I make, say a speaker box, and port that to the CAM to cut out of a 4×8 sheet of MDF. Or even split it to multiple sheets. If that makes sense.


      • #23946
        Elliott Designs
        Participant

        Just realised I didn’t reply to this all that time ago. For things like laser cutters. You should be able to use the export option on the model itself and export it as your needed file type like .dxf for example. You can then select the perspectives you want to export (e.g. top down)


        Elliott Dyson – Owner of Elliott Designs (the YouTube channel) and 3rd year Mechanical Engineering student. -UK

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