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3D modeling , where to start

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  • 3D modeling , where to start

    Hello everybody,

    I am looking into working with SolidWorks at work, and wass wondering if anybody could give me a hint as to wear to start (book, on line site ect) that would get me started in learning more on how the hole 3D modeling programes work?

    Any ways, thanks alot fo your help , happy machining to everybody.


  • #2
    The best 3d works with direct X modeling. A compact method of data storage and retrieval..

    Unfortunatly, most 3d cad cam software does not use it.

    You have to know C or visual basic to use it. Plenty of programmer's code on the net for free.

    I bought "3d modeling in Autocad" for my study book. I convert to DXF then import into my Qstep program for Gcode conversion.


    • #3
      For 3D modeling I prefer POV-RAY. It is excellent freeware but you will have to learn POV-RAY Scene Description Language to use it. It's a single use programming language. POV-RAY is a ray-tracer and can model everything including optics. Learning curve is about like the side of Mt. Everest.
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


      • #4
        I've been using POV-Ray for years and its a great program, but like Evan says, there's a learning curve. The price is right though (Free). As I recall, their documentation wasn't too bad and had a lot of examples.

        If you're looking for a general approach to modeling, try thinking about it the same way you would if you were going to make a part from solid stock, i.e. start with the general shape and then subtract (or cut) away
        the bits that you don't need. This'll get you started, and as you get more experienced you'll learn how to optimize your models by using different techniques (lofts, extrusions, surfaces of revolution).

        BTW, Solidworks is a great program as well, and much easier to learn (if you can afford the license). If your thing is photo-realistic rendering, however, I think that POV-Ray gives you more control over lighting and texture.



        • #5
          Solidworks has an online tutorial. Just go to the pulldown help menu at the top of the screen and left pick on the online tutorial. That would be the best approach. I am totally self taught. It is not that hard to learn.


          • #6
            Check into Alibre for a (relatively) low-cost alternative to SolidWorks. They have a fully functional, downloadable 30-day trial version:


            BTW, I think they have a referral program that rebates both the buyer and seller.
            Mike Henry near Chicago


            • #7
              Check out PoserPro( ) it's designed for character creation, but you can import various formats in and in turn produce very high quality renderings quickly. Lighting and perspective is very easy to change. I use Poser, 3dStudioMax, and AutoCAD in many cases because they each have benefits and downfalls to getting the job done. They aren't free but you get what you pay for.


              • #8
                I started out with a $20 program called Keycad. It was too basic. A friend said try out Cadkey which is a 3D wireframe program ($800). I then learned Pro-E and used it for 3 years ($24,000 at that time, but now much less). Then learn SolidWorks and have used it for almost 4 years now. I had a 1 week class for Pro-E and learned SolidWorks from the Tutorial that comes with it. They are both very powerful programs. I would say that SolidWorks is an easier program for the occasional user. It also is very widely used by many companies. If you are just getting the program for home use, both of them are too expensive $4,500 or more. If you want it for use professionally, SolidWorks is the one I recomend. It is one of the most widely used 3D cad softwares. Unfortunately, many of the other Cad packages are not widely used. I never learned to draw but now I design and draw everything on the Cad before trying to make it. Many of the Cad programs are quite difficult in the beginning but I can't stress enough the value of this as a tool. I find that the Cad design work is as much fun as the machining is. I went from a guy that could make things to a guy that can design complex machines that all parts fit together the 1st time. Cad also gives me the ability to convey my designs to others.
                Walnut Charlie


                • #9
                  Hey guys,

                  Thanks alot for all the usefull help. I happen to have access to solidworks 2003 , So I think I will start learning it.

                  My only problem right now is I am first going ot have to up grade my machine, turns out my old machine dosn't have what its going to take to make the world go round. So in a few weeks when I get the new machine I will start learning SolidWorks.

                  Its going to be nice haveing access to the machines at the shop once I get the modeling down, realy realynicec actualy.

                  Once again, thank you for all the usefull help in desiding what programe to go with.



                  • #10
                    Hello All,

                    I use Rhino (ver 3.0) and Flamingo and for what I do, they cannot be beat. But again its one hell of a learning curve for a newbie.

                    Its not that great of a CAD program though

                    You can download a demo as well at



                    • #11
                      Stick with SolidWorks 2003 if you have it. You'll get done 99% of what you'll ever need to do mechanical design wise. Go through the tutorials in the help section once you have it loaded. I've used Autocad, Pro-E for 5 years, Autodesk Inventor, and CV Cadds 5....SolidWorks is hands down the best one (capability/support/ease of use).

                      Good luck

                      [This message has been edited by Brian Gale (edited 10-22-2003).]
                      I figured out that all pans are no-stick if you no-cook in them.