Very good, free 3D modeler software

The place to discuss all aspects of building models from scratch.

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GAG-E
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Post by GAG-E » Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:07 pm

Hey, does wings3d support .stl files?









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kitty
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Post by kitty » Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:41 pm

I use Lightwave 8.5, maya 2008 and autodesk 3d studio max 9.
But recently i have become interested in Blender, because it is opensource and free software.
I'm having a problem with that program though, for some reason i cannot import or export LWO files, although that option is available in program.
And it seems the import/export funtions are not documented anywhere.
You should visit their website www.blender.org and see what you can do for free.
Amazing.
They will release a movie in may, free downloadable, called big buck bunny, a bit like iceage.
And a DVD set with all pc formats of that movie (including HDTV) + a disc with the complete database used for the movie (the 3d models, the storyboards, animation rigs etc.) will be released for €34.00.
They will use it to finance the next project :)
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Magnatude
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Post by Magnatude » Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:38 am

GAG-E wrote:Hey, does wings3d support .stl files?

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Caligari Truespace 7.6 is now free (formerly a $700+ program)
just go to www.caligari.com and download a copy.

Truespace exports to .stl

treker2557
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Post by treker2557 » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:45 pm

I'm interested in making an attempt in prototyping a model in a CAD program and then have it sent out to a company to produce a master either by 3D printing or rapid prototyping. I was wondering what program I should get? Any good advice? I read that some people use Blender 3D with some CAD tool add on.

ajmadison
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Post by ajmadison » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:59 am

Before spending any money, try using google's Sketchup. You can rough out what you want there. And if you don't mind entering individual dimensions for each component, its still pretty good.

However, if you have some very specific 3 view drawings you want to replicate exactly, Sketchup is not the cheapest solution for that, because you'll need to purchase the pro version, and that is very pricey for what you get. For example, I have photographs of an under-researched portion of a Star Trek ship. I merely imported the picture into Turbocad (not necessarily a recommendation by the way) and I can draw off the picture. You can't do that with the base version of Sketchup. But its a cheap way to get started tho.

macfrank
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Post by macfrank » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:09 am

treker2557 wrote:I'm interested in making an attempt in prototyping a model in a CAD program and then have it sent out to a company to produce a master either by 3D printing or rapid prototyping. I was wondering what program I should get? Any good advice? I read that some people use Blender 3D with some CAD tool add on.
The .stl (stereolithography) file format is the standard for 3D printing, (although there are companies that will take other file formats).

The only advantage to Blender is that it's free; the interface is bizarre and irrational and the program has a brutal learning curve. What is your time & frustration level worth?

Rhino 3D is expensive, but by the time you figure out how to save a file in Blender, you'll probably have a simple 3D design ready to print in Rhino. Rhino has a steep educational discount, so if you may find a college or university extension course that can qualify you for the discount.


I would not recommend Sketchup, either. While it's easy to draw boxes, etc. in Sketchup, getting a dimensionally correct (and connected) complex object is very difficult. Also, their STL export is primitive (through a plug-in) and mesh repair options are also primitive. Again, what's your time & frustration worth? You can use Sketchup or Blender, but give up in frustration long before you even have a simple printable object.

Once you have the STL file of your design, you'll need to verify that it is printable. Minimagics will load up your STL file and tell you if your object is printable; if it's OK, you're ready to print. If there are errors, it'll highlight them but will only give you the most basic indication of what the errors are; to fix them, they want $8K+.

Netfabb Studio basic runs the same checks, but the errors are better described and the free version has some simple mesh repair tools that may be enough to make the object printable.

Once you have a good STL file, you're still not in the clear, because your results will depend on the resolution & limitations of the printer you choose. You also want to learn how to minimize the volume of your object (a solid object = lots of expensive material) while not having walls that are too thin to print properly.

treker2557
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Post by treker2557 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:11 pm

Thanks for all the help. I have a friend that uses autoCAD for work and she was interested in what other people use for their 3D rendering. I'll check into Rhino 3D and probably purchase it at the student pricing. Thanks again.

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