3D Printing

Create a 3D model – put your own ideas into practice

Creating, developing and constructing a 3D model yourself is very time-consuming. At the same time, it is the most exciting way to get such a model.

There are numerous CAD programs on the market for creating the 3D model.

An “all in one” – software is not included. The field of 3D modeling is just too multifaceted for that, just like 3D printing itself.

It is therefore important to familiarize yourself with the different CAD programs. This is the only way to find the right program for the respective application.

There are differences, for example, in complexity, user interface and tool tools. Some CAD programs were even developed only for a specific industry.

The creation of extensive 3D models cannot be learned in a short time, it requires patience and perseverance. But every hour of effort and mental exercise is worth it, as this topic forms the basis for all processes related to 3D printing.

For a better understanding of this topic, a brief explanation of the terms in advance.

Which CAD program to create a 3D model with?

In 3D printing are CAD programs indispensable. The abbreviation CAD stands for Computer aided design, so refers to the computer-aided generation of design data. The appropriate program support is available for the various areas of responsibility.

CAD programs are even available for download as a free version. Even with this freeware, the selection is very large.

CAD programs are used in a wide variety of areas and it is impossible to imagine industry without them. In addition to 3D modeling, renderings, animations, simulations and CAM programs can also be created with it, and even routine tasks such as dimensioning drawings are possible without any problems. The current CAD programs are available for all common operating systems such as Windows, Linux and Mac.

As big as the selection CAD programs are also the price differences.

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The prices of the well-known manufacturers are often in the five-digit range. A tinkerer or a start-up company simply cannot afford that.

Especially for beginners or smaller companies are therefore the Freeware CAD programs Interesting.

These are perfectly adequate for initial experiments. You can gradually familiarize yourself with it at your own pace without any additional costs.

Of course, various functions are limited compared to industrial software, but the cost-benefit ratio is crucial here.

Which CAD program is the right one?

There is no general answer for this.

The usefulness of the CAD program depends on the respective requirements of the designer and the technical functions of the component.

Some CAD programs are based on the needs of technical engineers, while others cater to artistic-creative needs. The latter are better suited to the implementation of organic shapes.

With the multitude of CAD programs very different areas of work covered. So suitable blenders for 3D printing models as well as for animations and is therefore also interesting for the creation of videos and games.

The free software Fusion 360 is suitable for the construction of technical models and provides many functions that are required for the creation of 3D models. In addition to 3D modeling, this program has other functions such as rendering, animations, simulations, and much more, which is why this software can cover a wide range of applications.

The most important decision criterion, whether free or paid, should always be the intended use

The large price differences can be explained by the functions and the expandability of the CAD programs. It is also worth taking a look at the detailed features, the advantages and disadvantages. The possibilities of modern CAD programs are very diverse. With the right selection, the potential of the 3D printer can be optimally exploited.

In general, we can distinguish between three broad categories:

  • construction programs
  • design programs
  • customizer programs

There are overlaps between the individual categories in the new software products from the major manufacturers, making it difficult to clearly allocate the individual programs.

Working method with CAD programs

Construction programs:

With construction programs, 3D models can be created in different ways.

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Create 3D model – surface modeling:

In most cases, the exact dimensions and dependencies of lines, points, areas, holes, etc. are used. The individual elements are dimensioned on the 2D drawing. This is then converted into a three-dimensional body using another tool (e.g. extrusion).

All work steps that can arise during the construction of a component are recorded in a progress tree. All created elements are connected to each other. The construction process can be changed or adapted at any time.

Create 3D modelParametric modelling:

In parametric modelling, the models are not drawn, but determined using mathematical rules and special parameters. This modeling requires practice and plenty of experience.

The great advantage of parametric modeling lies in the fact that the 3D model can be easily modified during the design process.

This is difficult with all other types of modeling, since dependencies between the individual elements are formed during the construction process, which cannot always be changed so easily.

Create 3D modelVolume – Modeling:

For volume modelling, you can choose between different basic bodies such as spheres, cylinders, pyramids, cuboids, etc.

These basic bodies are further processed and assembled. Complex 3D models can be constructed by connecting the individual shapes.

As software tools continue to evolve, the various modeling capabilities in some CAD programs overlap.

Design programs:

Design programs are often referred to as sculpting programs.

The term sculpting comes pretty close to the programs.

Here it is less about correct dimensions, but about the free design of shapes, figures and objects. Various construction programs now also offer the creation of free forms, but the special sculpting programs have more tools at their disposal.

With the help of sculpting programs, textures can be applied to the component and animation videos can be created for assemblies. In order to be able to use the full potential of such software, various training and further education courses are necessary.

You can find very good tutorials for beginners on the Internet.

Alternative programs/ customizers:

Customizer programs are usually cloud-based, meaning there is no software to buy or download.

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In the online customizers you will find basic shapes that can be changed according to your own wishes and ideas, for example vases, lampshades or keys.

Size, motifs, lettering, etc. can be changed as desired. Customer programs do not require any special prior knowledge and can be used free of charge in most cases.

Which file formats do I need?

Each file format contains specific information. That is why each type of software is only geared towards certain formats. The following overview shows what information this is and what file format is required for 3D printing.

File Formats:

A distinction is made between three major groups:

  • CAD format
  • mesh files
  • Mesh files with additional information

1.CAD format:

This type of file format is usually only suitable for CAD programs like Fusion 360, Inventor, Blender, Catia, SolidWorks, etc.

What are CAD formats:

*.step,*.stp,*.dxf, *.iges, *.ipt, *.CATDrawing, and many more.

In most cases, a slicer program for preparing and configuring the components for the 3D printer cannot do anything with these file formats.

Slicer programs require mesh data.

2.Mesh files

Mesh files can be exported from all common CAD programs.

The resolution of the “mesh” must be observed. If this is too small, small and fine details on the component cannot be printed correctly.

Especially in 3D printing, the *.stl format has established itself as the standard over the years.

In the mesh files, all data is converted into triangles and the geometry of the component to be printed is determined from this.

Mesh formats:

*.stl,

3. Mesh files with additional information

Pure mesh files such as *.stl do not contain any colors or textures

3D color printing are needed.

In the area of ​​color printing, formats such as *.3mf, *.obj and *.wrl have established themselves. These can store geometry, color and texture information.

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