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  • Solid Modeling Software, Free or Cheap

    Tried the search option here and Google so bear with me. I'm looking for a decent CAD program for doing some solid modeling. But it has to be able to generate gear and spline forms as parts of an assmbly. I have access to AutoCAD and it isn't up to the task. I have an idea I am playing around with and have already gotten as far as I can get on paper doing isometric drawings.
    Forty plus years and I still have ten toes, ten fingers and both eyes. I must be doing something right.

  • #2
    I don't know about gears but I would give Alibre a look. They have a free version that seems pretty capable and the paid versions are circa $1000.

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    • #3
      Google Sketch is free, and very easy to use. Granted it's not CAD, but it's pretty sweet.

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      • #4
        Some questions

        Why the 3D model? Is it for visualization or to determines sizes and locations of parts. If for visualization then draw with AutoCad print and glue to model material, then cut it out with a scroll saw or what ever is at hand. If it is for size and layout you need to determine the gear spacing using the gear specifications from Machinerys Handbook or the gear supplier.

        If you wish a 3D drawing to see how it goes together, then the tooth form is not of great import. If you are going to have someone print the parts on a 3D printer the tooth and spline shapes are important.

        I haven't tried Sketchup for gears and close tolerance parts. The mesh surface it creates is fairly rough but adequate for visualization. Rhinoceros with the geargen plug in will create parts ready for a 3D printer or render them nicely. This would be a fairly steep learning curve. Price for Rhino if you shop online is under $1000.

        So the questions are What is the desired output, a drawing, a model, a printed part, a CNC part?

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        • #5
          Pro-E personal use edition is only $250. why would you mess around with any other wanna be's? Unless of course you are a business, then that is not a legitimate option.
          http://store.ptc.com/store/ptc/Displ...oryID.10011800


          They also have a free program called co-create. Havent used it, and others I turned on to it said they didnt like it.
          http://www.ptc.com/products/cocreate/

          I wont judge what you want and why, I'll just answer your question and let you make the decision.

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          • #6
            Rhino is not parametric but Pro-E is. Pro-E reads Rhino files. Rhino $1000.00 or less on line. Pro-E for industry many thousands.

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            • #7
              Pro-E personal for $250 sounds like a pretty good deal, considering that there is little out there for the home use in that sort of price range(I think). I could likely justify spending that, 500 to 1K and up, not so likely.

              I am familiar with Autodesk Inventor, I used it a bit at work a while back. I have never used Pro-E, nor even seen it "in person."

              Any of you guys familiar with these two packages? I'm curious how they compare. Are they similar in ease of use, interface, etc? Are the more similar than they are different? Everyone seems to have a favorite. Thoughts, opinions....?

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              • #8
                One reason is the old test drive. Another is having done some 3D solid modeling on AutoCAD it is a trying process. The avatar I use on PM was done on AutoCAD and took a bit of time as I wanted to get the shape of the gear teeth right. I suspect that JS if he has seen this thread has an idea where this is going. And that is part of the reason. The other is when presenting ideas for others to poke holes in it helps to have pretty pictures. This was another view of the avatar I am using and IIRC it took me at least an hour probably more to get this done with out the leaders

                Last edited by Spin Doctor; 03-09-2009, 08:30 PM.
                Forty plus years and I still have ten toes, ten fingers and both eyes. I must be doing something right.

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                • #9
                  I love Inventor!!! I use it every day at work. Very intuitive in my opinion. I'm still struggling with Pro-E. But I'm sure anyone that has used Pro-E for 10 years and just started Inventor would feel the same. They are similar in that they are feature based molders, but the way to get to things is what is getting in my way right now. ie, in Inventor, to create a new sketch to start a new feature (you need to learn the basics of sketches and features for either) takes me two clicks...the same in Pro-E is six clicks. Inventor is much easier for me.

                  Like you said, everyone has their fave's...but for us home hobbie guys, the cost comes into play much more. If I could...I would have Inventor at home, not Pro-E. Unfortunately, work is transitioning to Pro-E, so I'm just trying to get a jump on it. I guess fortunately, I'll be able to get training though them though. I'm also guessing fat chance any of the Pro-NC tools work with the personal edition.

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                  • #10
                    I use Inventor also and it is very cool. Since most of use aren't going to shell out big bucks for a program like that at home you are limited to free versions of programs like Alibre etc. As for gears etc (Inventor will generate accurate gears, splines, nuts, bolts and anything else you could want) they can be downloaded off of manufactures web site for free, there isn't any reason to draw these things anymore.
                    The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                    Bluewater Model Engineering Society at https://sites.google.com/site/bluewatermes/

                    Southwestern Ontario. Canada

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Spin Doctor
                      ...IIRC it took me at least an hour probably more to get this done with out the leaders
                      That could be done in about 30 minutes with Inventor. With great cost, comes great power...LOL. The best part is that you then can grab a gear and spin it and test the function of the design as well!!!! Then if you decided to change the gear ratio's...about 2 minutes!!!! For design, nothing beats parametric...if you just need to draw parts stick with Autocad. Nice job by the way doing that in Autocad... I couldn't do it.

                      ooops, sorry, I think I'm getting a little OT from the OP.

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                      • #12
                        Ask the kid next door for your favorite poison.

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                        • #13
                          I throw my chip in for Autodesk Inventor, too. Its a great program. If you happen to be a student, you can get a one year license for the software for free. Then, you can keep updating the software as long as you have a valid school email address. The same goes for teachers/professors.

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                          • #14
                            Any SolidWorks users out there? If so, read the licence very carefully

                            If you are the primary user at work, you can install another copy at home. Very nice.

                            Frank

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                            • #15
                              auto cad

                              Originally posted by Spin Doctor
                              Tried the search option here and Google so bear with me. I'm looking for a decent CAD program for doing some solid modeling. But it has to be able to generate gear and spline forms as parts of an assmbly. I have access to AutoCAD and it isn't up to the task. I have an idea I am playing around with and have already gotten as far as I can get on paper doing isometric drawings.
                              well i happy to help who ever i can,, in this case i have downloaded two auto cads for free, one was from delcam.com other was from emachineshop.com, emachineshop.com can help u draw spur gear simply by putting number of teeth and diameterical pitch

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