With the insane amount of information available about 3D printing and looking at 3D printing market growth, it is very easy for anyone to get overwhelmed. The first step of initiating the process of 3D printing is choosing the right type of 3D modelling software in order to stand out from the crowd. Tremendous 3D printing market growth has made it very essential to have a unique concept behind your design. Therefore, selecting the appropriate model is very critical. The use of 3D printer in almost every possible industry has made it even more crucial to select the right software as every software available caters to specific 3D printing market segmentation.
3-D modeling is used in many different industries, including virtual reality, video games, 3D printing marketing, TV and motion pictures, scientific and medical imaging and computer-aided design and manufacturing CAD/CAM.
3-D modeling software generates a model through a variety of tools and approaches including:
• simple polygons.
• 3-D primitives — simple polygon-based shapes, such as pyramids, cubes, spheres, cylinders and cones.
• spline curves.
• NURBS (non-uniform rational b-spline) — smooth shapes defined by bezier curves, which are relatively computationally complex. [Source]
Considerations to make while selecting the perfect 3D modelling software:
Some great 3D modeling software programs are geared more towards artistic/sculpting while other 3D software platforms are intended for engineering purposes. Often it can be tough to achieve a design goal if you are using the incorrect 3D design software.
Ranges from Free to $5,000 +. Make sure you stay within your budget. For a beginner, most of the free 3D modeling softwares are the best for learning.
Ease of use:
Some design programs are easy to use and have great tutorials while others require some background in drafting or engineering which make it tougher (but not impossible) to pick up.
If you are looking to 3D print the parts you design, make sure the files are robust when saved. 3D printing uses the STL file type.
Creating three-dimensional models using computer software can be referred to by using many terms, but they all are generally interchangeable: 3D modeling, 3D drawing, 3D design, 3D computer aided design (3D CAD).
Parametric vs. Explicit Modeling:
If you are weighing these options you are already an advanced user, nevertheless, it may be good to know that there are two distinct methods for ‘defining’ 3D geometry. The parametric approach is typically used by engineers and architects because the file contains more specific dimensions, relationships, and can include a design history. The explicit approach is typically used by artists and industrial designers because it can be more flexible. Explicit modeling allows changes to be made on the fly and small changes are not necessarily related to any other defined point of the geometry.[Source]
To jump start your knowledge about the types of 3D modeling softwares available, here is list of the top players in the 3D printing market trend:
Blender is a free 3D modeling application. Its features include sculpting, animation, photorealistic rendering and video editing. For those ready to step it up a notch, the software also allows you to craft full 3D games, edit videos and realistic simulations (such as fluid, smoke and hair).[Source]Blender is a professional free and open-source 3D modeling software for creating animated films, visual effects, art, interactive applications, video games – and 3D printed models. Blender’s dizzying array of features includes 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, raster graphics editing, rigging, and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, soft body simulation, sculpting, animating, match moving, camera tracking, rendering, video editing, and compositing. In addition, this 3D modeling software features an integrated game engine.[Source]
Here’s a reason SketchUp is synonymous with friendly and forgiving 3D modeling software: they don’t sacrifice usability for the sake of functionality. Start by drawing lines and shapes. Push and pull surfaces to turn them into 3D forms. Stretch, copy, rotate and paint to make anything you like.[Source] Sketchup is a user-friendly application that’s free to download and great for 3D modeling beginners. More advanced versions cost money, but you can still create great renderings and animations with the free version.[Source]
If you are an experienced designer or just can’t have anything less than the best of the best when it comes to the newest gadgets, these Professional programs are an answer. Solidworks Professional grade 3D modeling/CAD software; Solidworks is typically used by professional design engineers. With that being said, they are atop the line of 3D design tools.[Source] Solidworks offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. Solidworks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The Solidworks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.[Source]
Autodesk’s AutoCAD is one of the most versatile and widely-used 3d modeling applications out there. It’s used by engineers as well as environmental, industrial and graphic designers. As an added bonus, they offer online videos to walk you through the software basics to get you started.[Source] AutoCAD, a software for 2D and 3D CAD, was released back in 1982! However, its popularity within the 3D printing community decreased lately: during the last two years, AutoCAD fell from rank 4 to 7.[Source]
Inventor offers professional-grade 3D mechanical design, documentation, and product simulation tools. It is a very advanced 3D modeling program that requires a lot of training to master. As a high-end tool, Inventor is a direct competitor of Solidworks.[Source]