How To Choose The Right Modeling Software | 3D printing software


Above: 3D design of the Mammoth interior mounting structure / Image credit: Materialize

With the rise of 3D printing technology, the demand for powerful 3D modeling software has also increased exponentially. Over the past two decades, we have seen the rise of a multitude of modeling software offering unique features specific to a certain industry, industry or user. But the abundance of choice has left users in a dilemma as to the perfect modeling software for their needs.

Choose a 3D modeling software is a challenge for all types of users, especially new learners. To help you overcome this challenge, we’ve put together a simple three-step guide so you can confidently choose the 3D modeling software that’s right for you.

When deciding which 3D modeling software is best for your needs, ask yourself the following questions.

1. What is my goal?

This is the most important question to ask. The main purpose of your use of 3D modeling software will greatly affect the software you should choose.

Learning / Teaching – As the popularity of 3D printing increases, more and more students are learning to design and schools are placing more emphasis on teaching this software. So, if you are a student or a teacher, you should look for software that meets your needs. Tinkercad, SelfCAD and 3D Slash are popular software used by this category of users.

(Note: Most companies offer their software for free or with inexpensive subscriptions for students, schools, and colleges.)

Artistic modeling – Artistic or character modeling is another popular application of modeling software. Animators, game developers and artists regularly use specific modeling software that gives them the freedom to create complex, artificial and abstract shapes, curves or corners. For such artistic needs, specific software like ZBrush, Mudbox and Blender are used.

Structural models – These are the software used to create building designs, such as houses, towers, bridges, stadiums, offices, and retail stores. They take into account specific considerations to help architects effectively design and analyze structures. Autodesk Revit, 3ds Max, and SketchUp are the most popular choices.

Product development – This is another category of specific software that requires a different set of modeling software. This software can perform surface and parametric modeling to create dimensionally accurate designs, and it has perfectly straight, smooth walls and uniform curves. Since this software creates most of the products that we see in our homes, they must be repeatable, predictable, and reliable in their results. CATIA, NX, and Creo are popular software in this category.

2. What type of modeling do I want to do?

It is essential to decide this early when choosing modeling software.

Modeling software
Above: Template created by Embark Studios using Blender software / Image source: Blender

Solid modeling – This is the computer modeling of solid objects and three-dimensional shapes such as cubes, spheres, cones and cylinders. Popular software like Tinkercad uses such a modeling technique. While it is easy to understand and learn, it is difficult to model complex parts in such software.

It is ideal for children, schoolchildren, new learners and academics to teach modeling.

Mesh modeling – Also called polygonal modeling, a polygonal mesh is a collection of the vertices of a three-dimensional object. For mesh-based modeling, vertices are controlled to manipulate the design of the object. Since all vertices are independent, this type of modeling is quite difficult and is generally used to design models needed for animation, computer graphics, figurines, etc.

Blender is popular mesh modeling software.

Surface modeling – Surface modeling consists of working with surfaces to create a 3D model. It primarily deals with the curves and contours of an object rather than the dense, solid object below the surface. For this reason, it is mainly used to design surfaces, such as those on airplanes or vehicles. However, it is not limited to surfaces as it is perfectly capable of creating full 3D models like any other modeling software.

CATIA, NX, and Rhino are some of the most popular surface modeling software.

Parametric modeling – Parametric modeling is one of the most complex ways to design an object, but it is also one of the most proficient and reliable types of software. As this software is built on a set of mathematical equations, the results are always consistent.

One of the most important characteristics of parametric modeling is that attributes that are linked automatically change their characteristics.

When designing an object, each activity you perform in the design is recorded separately and linked to the complete model, so that if a feature is changed, the connected features also change depending on the mathematical formula applied to them. via software. This real world behavior is not found in solid or mesh modeling software.

SolidWorks, Fusion 360, and Creo are some of the most popular parametric modeling software.

Read more: Best free CAD software for 3D printing

3. What is my budget?

This is a simple but crucial deciding factor that you should definitely consider.

To free – Most users, especially individuals, can’t afford a paid software because their income does not justify the costs. They therefore rely on reliable but free software. Tinkercad, SelfCAD, and FreeCAD offer free blueprints and are still powerful enough to make decent models.

Some advanced software also offers free trials (OnShape, Rhino) or free trial subscriptions (like Fusion 360). Some software, like SelfCAD, has paid versions, but the cost is quite affordable and many hobbyists can easily afford these costs.

Paid – If you are willing to pay then the world is full of great options to choose from. They range from cheap and affordable options to downright expensive. It completely depends on how much you can spend. An individual designer whose job it is to design can often afford to purchase a license for Onshape, Rhino, or Fusion 360. For an institutional user, options such as CATIA, Creo, SolidWorks, and Autodesk Revit are options to explore.

4. Do I need 3D printing compatibility?

3D printing software
Above: Designs can be saved as STL for 3D printing in Autodesk Fusion 360 / Image source: Autodesk

Finally, if you are using the software to create 3D printable models, you should also confirm the software’s compatibility with 3D printing. This means that the software must be able to export the 3D model in a compatible format such as STL, OBJ or STEP.

It was about choosing the right modeling software. We’ve also curated a list of the best photogrammetry software that converts photographs into a CAD file that can be 3D printed.

About the Manufactur3D magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine about 3D printing. which publishes the latest news, information and analysis on 3D printing from around the world. Visit our 3D printing education page to read more informative articles. To stay up to date with the latest happenings in the world of 3D printing, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn.

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