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Need help choosing a 3d cad program
RC-Monster Carbon Fiber
Posts: 125
Join Date: Sep 2007
Need help choosing a 3d cad program - 03.01.2013, 12:52 PM

I love modifying and making adaptions to make my life easier and more fun. But I am a quadriplegic so making custom parts with my hands not working is beyond difficult. I want to learn how to use a 3d cad program so I can design my own custom parts and buy a 3d printer to make prototypes.

I have seen a few members here post some cad designs and I'm hoping they can point me in a good direction. I don't mind a steep learning curve I am mainly looking to get my feet wet and see if it is something I can get into. I won't invest in a printer unless I can become efficient in cad first.

I was thinking about autocad student but am open to sugestions.

Any advice is welcome as I have zero experience in any 3d design.

Also I'd like to be able to learn as much as possible at home mainly online tutorial videos or something as I don't have the funds to attend cources.

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WheelMan's Avatar
Posts: 298
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Erie, IL
03.01.2013, 02:58 PM

For 3D modeling, AutoDesk Inventor is a WONDERFUL piece of software. I would highly recommend you at least take a look at it.

It has a very user friendly interface, and can do some very powerful things. I used it for a couple years at work, and wish I still was.

Second to Inventor (IMO) would be Solidworks. It is also a great programe to work with. Much of the same great qualities, but a little different of course, and just not my favorite like Inventor.

And both of these programs have plenty of online tutorial support.


Adults are just kids, with money.
Common sense, is not so common.

Last edited by WheelMan; 03.01.2013 at 03:04 PM.
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RC-Monster Carbon Fiber
Posts: 116
Join Date: Apr 2011
03.02.2013, 02:33 PM

Autodesk Inventor is great, but has a somewhat steep learning curve (to master all its options, especially simulation), but perfectly suited for this sort of modeling and design, this was some fun I was doing with Inventor getting to learn it.


Now Autodesk Autocad, also is non dispensible as a CAD program, but mainly its for drafting, although can handle 3d, not as nice as Inventor. I still use it for fast drafts or checks, or if i need to import any drawing for CNC'ing. I find it faster to just start drafting something and take some measurements and check an idea.

The problem with these programs, I feel you will tend to get a biased answer, or a brand loyalty, for instance I have used Autodesk: Autocad, 3dsmax, and inventor, and hence have not tried other brands to give you more feedback.

Nontheless shoot your questions, maybe we could help in answering some questions you have.
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RC-Monster Carbon Fiber
Posts: 125
Join Date: Sep 2007
03.04.2013, 01:51 PM

Thanks for the info Autodesk Inventor looks great and is user friendly but the $800.00 price tag is scarry as hell and thats with an instant $200.00 savings. I wish I was in school so I could use the free student version to see if its worth the hefty price tag as the 30 day trial wont be long enough for me to build any real skills with the program. It will end up being a $3,500.00 investment for the software and 3d printer. I am going to have to start saving I guess. I could buy a cheeper printer and software but in my experience you get what you pay for so cutting corners will probably cost me more in the long run.

This is the printer I have in mind.
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Owner of Unlimited Engineering
Posts: 99
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Simpsonville, SC
03.04.2013, 05:44 PM

Solidworks hands down. Kicks all the other's butts. Is very $$. +annual maintenance $$.
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03.04.2013, 06:30 PM

I use Solidworks at school, which does the job. Students who used Inventor say it's much easier to use than Solidworks. I don't know. My only experience is Google Sketchup and Solidworks.
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