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Best Budget 3D Cad software

CAD software for designing models etc.

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David-Clark 106/04/2022 11:37:55
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220 forum posts

Hi there

Coming back to CAD after 10 years means my software is out of date. What are some of the commonly used software programs that are suitable for CAD, CAM and 3D printing.

There seems to be a few available but it seems like a minefield. I used to use Turbo Cad but the last version I have is probably v21, to old got Windows 10 probably.

Suggestions welcome. I don’t really want to spend more than about £100 and preferably less if I can.

IanT06/04/2022 11:46:24
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Why not try Solid Edge Community Edition David? That's what I moved to after using TC for many years.

It's free to download and a powerful, commercial grade system - I've posted about it previously here.

I'd recommend that you use this link to download the SE-CE software.

Siemens Digital Industries Software Online Store

Regards,

IanT

Edited By IanT on 06/04/2022 11:53:24

IanT06/04/2022 11:50:24
1993 forum posts
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The previous post I mentioned is here:

Solid Edge - Community Edition | Model Engineer (model-engineer.co.uk)

Regards,

IanT

JasonB06/04/2022 11:58:33
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Fusion 360 is another free option, there are a few bits that you don't get with the free one but it's not stopped me using it for their CAM

John Hinkley06/04/2022 12:03:25
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David,

Having initially tried Fusion 360 when it first came out, I rejected it mainly because I couldn't get my head around it. This was due to my reluctance to get stuck in and apply myself fully to it. When Alibre Atom3D was on special offer through MEW, I downloaded the extended trial version and made a concerted effort to use it. So much so that I am a keen user and licence holder of it for CAD. For the CAM functions, I export from Atom3D and open the file in Fusion 360 (free personal edition). I would suggest that the personal edition of Fusion 360 will fulfil all your needs. I personally don't like the "cloud" saving of files associated with Fusion so only save them to my home computer (by exporting, not saving).

John

 

Edited By John Hinkley on 06/04/2022 12:04:23

David-Clark 106/04/2022 12:11:04
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220 forum posts

Thank you John

Looks interesting.

I am looking to use it to write articles for ME and MEW. I presume I can’t do that with the free version?

John Hinkley06/04/2022 12:40:27
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David,

I must admit that hadn't occurred to me. I have had articles published in MEW which in part have made use of Fusion, likewise some of my YouTube content does so too. I think I'll just keep quiet about it. After all, I'm not making a living out of it, which would be my interpretation of the "non-commercial " restriction of the personal copy.

John

JasonB06/04/2022 12:51:42
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May be different as the mags pay for articles, Would really depends on how much it is used for the article, an odd screen shot may be OK but whole articles based on F360 may not go down so well particularly given recent deal/promotion with Alibtre.

Like John I still like Alibre for the actual design, I had it before I got the CNC so not worth learning another system or paying for two but I can do a bit of CAD with F360 when needed and it does a nice rendering too.

David-Clark 106/04/2022 13:09:48
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220 forum posts

Hi John and Jason.

I am not looking to make a living out of it. More to help others while making some of the money I spent on my hobby back.

Roderick Jenkins06/04/2022 13:16:42
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From the Autodesk website:

"Fusion 360 for personal use:

Free CAD + CAM software for individuals who are doing hobby, non-commercial design, and manufacturing projects."

I don't I imagine that Autocad would do anything other than approve of authors showing how good Fusion is in a publication. If, however, the author was using Fusion to design a pattern that was then 3d printed and used to cast a component that was the sold then that might be a different issue. There used to be a limit on turnover for commercial use of the free offering but since they cut down Fusion for personal use that seems to have gone away.

Incidentally, I have just had to do a 3 year renewal which meant starting from scratch with the installation software but as soon as I entered my details it knew who I was and all my old drawings were still there (most, of course, archived). Why was I doing this? So I could design and 3D print a 4" to 3" dust extractor hose adaptor smiley

Rod

JasonB06/04/2022 13:25:45
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So your still making sawdust and not Swarf then Rodsmile p

Mine was the same when I updates, all the files still there

Yes pattern making I've been doing with Graham from Alyn foundry are just for private projects like the CHUK-V and Brayton Flywheel.

Edited By JasonB on 06/04/2022 13:26:07

David-Clark 106/04/2022 13:29:16
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220 forum posts

This is from the Autocad uK website.

Fusion 360 for personal use is free for 3-years for qualifying non-commercial users. A hobbyist user must generate less than $1,000 USD in annual revenue, using Fusion 360 for home-based, non-commercial design, manufacturing and fabrication projects.

I think that covers my use for ME and MEW?

Would you agree Neil or would you like me to try and get written permission from Autodesk UK?

I have kept a screen shot for reference.

IanT06/04/2022 14:28:18
1993 forum posts
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Well, I did try - but it seems the Fusion Faction have won another convert!

crying

Regards,

IanT

blowlamp06/04/2022 14:50:02
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Posted by IanT on 06/04/2022 14:28:18:

Well, I did try - but it seems the Fusion Faction have won another convert!

crying

Regards,

IanT

It seems so. I never felt comfortable with Fusion 360 despite its many features, so I settled on MoI for my CAD and am happy with its workflow. It's quite easy to use and its simple interface is nonetheless very well featured.

Martin.

lee webster06/04/2022 15:08:30
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Another free 3D cad programme to try is Designspark mechanical. It won't produce detailed drawings but it will save a view of what you're drawing as a JPG with dimensions. I have produced some 3D prints to use in sand casting and it works fine. I find it a lot easier to use than Solid edge which I also have installed. I do play with FreeCAD now and then, but.......

Roderick Jenkins06/04/2022 15:31:48
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Posted by IanT on 06/04/2022 14:28:18:

Well, I did try - but it seems the Fusion Faction have won another convert!

crying

Regards,

IanT

Being completely free, having a comprehensive CAM function and being usable on a Windows machine adds up to a lot of plus points for many people.

Rod

mike robinson 206/04/2022 16:14:11
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referring to IanT's comments about Siemens Solid Edge it might be interesting for some to know the 3D parametric and synchronous technology modeller used within Solid Edge and also Siemens NX is Siemens Parasolid which is developed in Cambridge (UK). Parasolid is licensed to their competitors and partners for integration as the core modeller in other products including Onshape, TopSolid, SolidWorks, SurfCAM, Delcam, Bentley and Autodesk to name just a few.

SillyOldDuffer06/04/2022 16:38:54
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Posted by David-Clark 1 on 06/04/2022 12:11:04:

Thank you John

Looks interesting.

I am looking to use it to write articles for ME and MEW. I presume I can’t do that with the free version?

I can recommend Fusion360, even in the chopped down free-version.

However, I don't think using it to write articles for ME or MEW is 'non-commercial'. Paying the author for anything produced by F360 is a commercial transaction, and so is selling  the Magazines. Whether Autodesk care or not is anyone's guess. I'd ask permission, Autodesk might allow a freebie because using F360 in magazine articles is free advertising.

FreeCAD is an alternative I use a lot. It's open-source, zero-cost, and stores everything locally. Unlike F360 it doesn't have to phone home regularly over the internet, or stop working if you block it. Also unlike F360's complicated Terms of Service the FreeCAD licence is simple and friendly : for professional users the licence says:

FreeCAD can be used freely for any kind of purpose, being private, commercial or institutional. Any version of FreeCAD can be deployed and installed anywhere, any number of times. You can also modify and adapt FreeCAD for your own purposes without any restriction. However, you cannot make the FreeCAD developers liable for possible damage or business loss that could occur from using FreeCAD.

FreeCAD is good for single-part design. A couple of years ago I wrote a get you started thread, which takes beginners step by step through the initial 'OMG this is so complicated I don't know where to begin' stage. FreeCAD can be downloaded from here.

Downside of FreeCAD is it's in development, only version 0.93, and a little flaky. (Save work often). In several ways I prefer it to F360, but it's not as polished, or as full function. Nonetheless, serviceable and getting better with every upgrade.  An off-putting feature is the sheer number of workbenches on offer, most of which aren't needed for Mechanical Engineering and can be ignored. Almost everything we need is in the Part Design Workbench, and the TechDraw Workbench which creates 2D projections of 3D parts.

Dave

 

 

 

 

Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 06/04/2022 16:42:23

JasonB06/04/2022 17:12:46
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DC-1 mentioned he wanted to design engines so would a prog that is good for single parts be useful?

I model each part separately but find being able to do a virtual assembly very useful as I can check for fits, rotate the flywheel and watch to see if something like a conrod fouls the frame or a piston hits the end of a cylinder.

It's also good if he wants to publish his designs to be able to produce a general arrangement and possibly sections of the finished engine so again the ability to assemble parts is a bonus.

I've not tried assembly in F360 but works well in Alibre.

IanT06/04/2022 17:27:59
1993 forum posts
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Posted by lee webster on 06/04/2022 15:08:30:

Another free 3D cad programme to try is Designspark mechanical. It won't produce detailed drawings but it will save a view of what you're drawing as a JPG with dimensions. I have produced some 3D prints to use in sand casting and it works fine. I find it a lot easier to use than Solid edge which I also have installed. I do play with FreeCAD now and then, but.......

Lee, I used TurboCAD for many years in a way that I thought was pretty competent. Then I watched a video by 'Paul the CAD' and realised I really wasn't making best use of TC after all (I stopped using drop-down menus and started just using the keyboard). So I tried to approach learning Solid Edge in a more 'structured' way and Siemens provide some excellent aids to enable you to do so. It is very well documented.

Of course, it doesn't make you a skilled draftsman (as you will probably notice) but it does give you a good foundation to work with. After using TC for so long, I really love being able to change parts (dimensions etc) and then see those changes just automatically passed through to any related 3D assemblies and 2D drawings (e.g. it's fully parametric). Creating new 2D drawings is very simple, just a 'drag & drop' operation - a few minutes work.

Obviously these drawings are mostly just for my use but it's also nice to be able to share them and not be too embarrassed. I've got my SE print default set-up for A4 and I can just dump drawings straight to the printer. Very handy if I change a part for any reason, I can just click 'update' & then 'print' - and I've a new drawing (updated with the rev date etc) for workshop use. You should persevere with SE, it will reward your time and effort.

Rod, SE only runs on Windows - and does so locally (so no Cloud required). I've just upgraded my Laptop to Win11 'Home' (from Win10 Home) and SE 2022 works just fine, exactly as I expected. SE-CE does not have a (free) CAM function currently but it does have a slicer for 3DP built in (although I'm still using CURA). As I don't have any CNC kit at the moment, it's not an issue for me. If I ever do need CAM, I will probably look at exporting my SE models into FreeCAD's CAM - which is apparently greatly improved these days.

Regards,

IanT

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