/ 3D Modelling
I've got a design for what is effectively a photoframe-style item with a simple almost M-profile edge, and an assymmetric recess in the back (where you'd normally fit the glass/photo in a photoframe).
My plan is to 3D model it, then send it on for 3D printing, but never having tried 3D modelling before, I'm a bit out of my depth so looking for help/advice from UKC who know everything!
Can you recommend a relatively straight-forward package with will allow a newbie to do this, and export in a format suitable for 3D printing (.SRL?)?
You looking to spend any money? Mostly they cost quite a bit.
I shall take a look at Blender this evening, thanks.
There should be youtube videos to help you get started, and maybe a tutorial on the software once you've downloaded it.
Oh also, I've not used that package.
Where are you getting the printing done? Most online sites offer advice on packages for creating images. Try http://www.shapeways.com/ I'm pretty sure from memory they have a getting started section in there somewhere. Sketchup with the right plug-ins is apparently pretty quick and easy to use for basic gometric stuff though I've always found it far too vague/lightweight (in standard form) compared to traditional CAD packages. I guess the plug-ins make all the difference.
Blender is probably what you want (it is free and very good) but I find it far from being straightforward. Unfortunately I can't think of any equivalent that would be and wouldn't cost several tenths of grands...
It takes a bit of time to learn how to use it (you will easily find tutorials) but it is worth it if you plan to make some more modelling.
You live in the wrong part of the UK ! At least, it's wrong at the moment, but plans are afoot to change that.
There is a FabLab in Manchester. This would be ideal for what you want to do. There are plans for a FabLab in Brighton. If you are going to be doing more of this sort of thing in the future, then perhaps you should contact them ( http://fablabbrighton.org/contact/ ). I don't know how soon they expect to open, but I am sure they would be happy to hear from you.
If it is anything like the Manchester one (and it should be), then you will be able to get help learning to produce the 3d printer file, and then printing the object, paying only a nominal charge to cover costs of materials for the printer.
They are the programmes I use at work.
My suggestion would be Trimble (formerly Google) SketchUp to create the model, and then export to DXF, which I'd suspect most stereolith production tools should accept.
In fact, I'll bet that many 3D printers will take a SketchUp file direct.
Oh aye, that's a good point. Month free trial is a great idea!
Good call on the month free trial, do you think I can pick up the basics sufficiently in a month to generate something usable?
Brighton has a BuildBrighton warehouse with a 3D printer, that might be worth me investigating further too.
Alibre isn't a great program, but you can just download a free trial if you're having trouble from the others. It's really easy to learn too because the basic package is so simple.
Autodesk Inventor. You can register with Autodesk Education and get the software for free. Its fairly intuitive to use and there are thousands of tutorials out there.
The company I work for recently invested in a 3D printer and they are fab things. The plastic isn't that strong (unless you get an expensive ABS one I gather) but they are excellent for prototyping and quick mock ups of things.
Well, in the Google search I did, the first service has a SketchUp plug-in:
Add STL to the search string, and you get a whole bunch of useful-looking hits, including SketchUp extensions to save STL files, etc.
SketchUp Make is free.
"Hobbyists, kids and backyard spaceship builders all agree that SketchUp Make is the easiest, most fun, entirely free 3D drawing tool in the world. We think you will, too."
I'd done a Google search, but personal recommendation is always better than just a random stab in the dark at a package you're unfamiliar with.
Looks like I could be busy this weekend trying out packages to see which one I can work out the easiest!
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