Best free CAD for 3D printing?

Discussion in '3D Printing' started by Fasted58, Dec 10, 2020.

  1. Fasted58

    Fasted58 Silver

    When I start sand casting aluminum in the spring I thought it would probably be best to start flat, as in plaques, license plates, signs etc.

    Received my Creality CR-10 S4 3D printer last week and am anxious to learn this machine, my first. Meanwhile, I'm looking for recommended CAD programs for making patterns in PLA. These would be great projects to keep me busy over the winter.

    There are Top 5- 10 free CAD reviews on the YouTubes and online but I'm not really sure how they would translate to pattern making for casting.

    One plan is importing logos of companies, schools, teams, vehicle brands etc. or designing from scratch into CAD. Besides images, probably a lot of letters and numbers which will all need draft added.

    I bagged a lotta hours already watching the CAD vids but figured this would be the right place to ask.

  2. Patrick-C

    Patrick-C Silver

    So, you are looking for free cad programs that are work well for 3d printing? Well I know of a two. #1 freecad, #2 blender. Ok, freecad is more of a precision design program, and I have used it a lot for parts. I do not know how well it would work for arts, or logos.
    But blender is a 3d/2d design, animation, and rendering software. And there are a lot of youtubes on 3d designing logos, and making real cool designs from photos and images. These can also be exported as .stl and .obj for 3d printing. Although I do not have a lot of experience I have seen a lot of that stuff done and it is not that hard to learn. It is said that blender has a very steep learning curve, but that is only if you try to learn everything it can do. I hope this helps!
  3. Fulmen

    Fulmen Copper

    If Autodesk software is of any interest you can register as a student and get a free licence. I've been doing that for almost 10years now without any problems.
  4. Rotarysmp

    Rotarysmp Silver

    If you consider Cloud based, I like Onshape. Free for private usage. Exports STL work flawlessly in Slicr and Cura.
  5. ddmckee54

    ddmckee54 Copper

    Here's a couple other things to consider when looking for the "BEST" free CAD for 3D modeling:

    From what I understand there are two primary methods of 3D modeling, direct modeling and parametric modeling. I have seen articles that have explained why I have a hard time using Fusion 360 or FreeCad, and don't have a hard time with DesignSpark3D.. All peoples brains are wired differently, but some people tend to be a better fit with parametric modeling, while others are better suited to using direct modeling. Fusion 360 from Autodesk, FreeCad, and Onshape(I think, don't know for sure since I don't DO the Cloud) all use parametric modeling. DesignSpark3D is another free 3D CAD software, and it uses direct modeling. (Basically it's just a dumbed down version of SpaceClaim) DesignSpark is not as powerful as Fusion 360, but I can relate to it better than I can to either Fusion 360 or FreeCad. I tried them both and then used the one that made my head hurt the least.

    The release notes for the latest version of DesignSpark, which I haven't downloaded yet, show that this version of DesignSpark will allow you to start adding constraints to your models if you want to. Maybe I'll be able to use it to ease my way into using Fusion 360 or FreeCad? It would be really nice to be able to mirror an object, something DesignSpark won't let you do. SpaceClaim will allow mirroring while DesignSpark won't, but then again SpaceClaim is the PAID version and DesignSpark is the freebie. You really do get what you pay for.

    Another consideration is what will happen with the software in the future? Fusion 360 is available both as a free version (for "hobbyists"), and a paid version from Autodesk. But they recently restricted some of it's capabilities in the free version. It is not out of the question that Autodesk could further restrict the hobbyist version of Fusion 360, or take it to a strictly paid version in the future - look at what happened with Draftsight. The same thing COULD happen with DesignSpark3D. FreeCad on the other hand is Open Source, so while the interest in it could dwindle - and its' updates might go away, it CAN'T go to a paid version.

  6. Mouse51180

    Mouse51180 Copper

    I started and learned using Google SketchUp. I have sense moved into AutoCAD Fusion 360.
  7. crazybillybob

    crazybillybob Silver Banner Member

    I have been deep in the Autodesk world since Collage (AutoCad, 3DStudioMax, etc). Most everything is in Fusion360 for me now (Helps that I'm in education so it's Free, Free for me). I try in Blender but never can quite figure it out.
  8. dtsh

    dtsh Silver Banner Member

    I use FreeCAD, works for me. It does have some quirks and I'd recommend going with a recent dev build if one were to try it.
    I'm an irregular user, design a couple of parts a month maybe. Not having to register the software is a nice bonus as I hate software that hassles me.

    I don't doubt there's better software but at my former workplace they used Fusion, AutoCAD, etc and it didn't seem to take less time or produce better parts; both the CAD guys and I fought with the odd bug here and there in the respective software, so at least there things were consistent.
  9. Patrick-C

    Patrick-C Silver

    By the way new avatar was made in blender. How do like it?
  10. Fasted58

    Fasted58 Silver

    Been doing test prints on the new CR-10 S4.

    The doggie is a Creality file, it came out great. Used TinkerCAD on the other prints, converted images or created and edited on TinkerCAD, text is limited there tho. There is no draft on the text or the GM and Chevy bowtie logos. That could be done with wood filler. For text I could use the premade text with draft built in like suggested here. I may just do that.

    The draft of the GM and Chevy logo base is 10°, I'll probably reduce that angle on the final piece. Base is .250" thick. I may glue that to MDF to reduce print time and PLA material and sand the edges of the MDF to 5°.

    Also been dabbling in FreeCAD but TinkerCAD is doing everything I need it to right now. Later on I'll get into Fusion 360.

    Been getting dialed in on the printer w/ bed leveling, adhesion and Cura settings. Raised the extruder and bed temps and slowed the print speed. Keeps getting better all the time.

    The GM logo print is 4.25 X 4.25". I think 8X8" or 10X10" would be a good sized plaque. Will get to that down the road.

    This is a great winter hobby.

  11. ddmckee54

    ddmckee54 Copper

    Not sure if any of the free 3D CAD packages will do text with an automatic draft angle, I know the one I use won't do it. That's not something that's required by a lot of people.

    You might have to brute force it. Draw a set of uppercase and lowercase letters in the font that you want. Then extrude them and manually add the draft to each letter. It'd be a pain in the tookous to do, but it would give you a master set that you could use anywhere - of course you'd have to do it for every font that you wanted to use.


Share This Page