Autodesk Fusion 360 or other free software?

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MrMetric

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There are some legal ways you can get some stripped versions of SolidWorks through professional organizations, often for the cost of the membership itself. That can often be a good way to go.
 

stanstocker

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<snipped> I would rather use Solidworks, but even the student licence is a bit steep. I do have ViaCAD version 10 that I have bought (£50 from Germany, legal) but it is not too user friendly.
If you join the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) for $40 / yr Solidworks is included for personal use. It's real solidworks, not some watered down weasel version.


Cheers,
Stan
 

SmithDoor

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With respect to CAM and 4th axis - FreeCAD v.19 has added some "preliminary 4th-axis" features to its CAM capabilities. I'm not sure what that means, since I don't have a 4th axis, and indeed don't have a CNC mill. But just a word of encouragement that FreeCAD might be, now or in the near future, a viable alternative.
The 4th axis is used for rotary table or dividing head.

Dave
 

SmithDoor

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I am starting to get to know Design spark mechanical version 5. It's better than I thought and has some usefull features that I dont have in FreeCAD. To produce an oval shaped nameplate with text on a curved path I first created a drawing in Inkscape, a free programme. I then saved the drawing as an SVG and imported it into FreeCAD, another free programme. I then used FreeCAD to save the file as a STEP file to import into Design spark 5, another... Yep, free. There's a pattern here. In Design spark I can extrude the text and then add draft to it. There is a limitation to the amount of draft a shape will take. I can then save the file as an STL for 3D printing. I would rather use Solidworks, but even the student licence is a bit steep. I do have ViaCAD version 10 that I have bought (£50 from Germany, legal) but it is not too user friendly.
You buy Autocad 2000 on eBay.
It does need 32 bit installer.
I have up load the installer to this site.
You may look Autocad 95 it works great on Windows 10 64 bit.

Dave
 

ddmckee54

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Dave:

You are going WAYYYY back with those two versions. They're only a a few years newer than the Autocad 10 that I started out on 30 years ago. On Ebay, If you aren't getting the original disks there's a good chance that you could be getting a pirated copy.

I'm not even sure if those versions of Autocad are 3D capable or not. Even if they are, their version of 3D cad will be a completely different animal than F360's version. Which may not be a bad thing, I've got a friend that used the 3D cad on full blown Autocad 2019, and didn't have any problems wiith it. But both he and I had problems with F360. This is highly subjective, but to us F360 just didn't feel right. To paraphrase the Clancey Brothers, "It baffled the hell out of us!"

Also both of those old Autocad versions are just drawing packages with none of the, at one time, built in goodies that the free version of F360 had. (Losing the goodies is kinda what this thread was about.)

Don
 

SmithDoor

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My copy I purchased in 2000 new
I also have Autocad 95. 97 & 98 too.
After 2000 I stop up dates as 2000 works Great.

I would send drawing in DFX format for CNC work. There at subcontractor simple program to use on there CNC machine.

Dave

Dave:

You are going WAYYYY back with those two versions. They're only a a few years newer than the Autocad 10 that I started out on 30 years ago. On Ebay, If you aren't getting the original disks there's a good chance that you could be getting a pirated copy.

I'm not even sure if those versions of Autocad are 3D capable or not. Even if they are, their version of 3D cad will be a completely different animal than F360's version. Which may not be a bad thing, I've got a friend that used the 3D cad on full blown Autocad 2019, and didn't have any problems wiith it. But both he and I had problems with F360. This is highly subjective, but to us F360 just didn't feel right. To paraphrase the Clancey Brothers, "It baffled the hell out of us!"

Also both of those old Autocad versions are just drawing packages with none of the, at one time, built in goodies that the free version of F360 had. (Losing the goodies is kinda what this thread was about.)

Don
 

Jasonb

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DXF is not going to be much use for Lee's 3D printing or any 3D CNC work for that matter.
 

ddmckee54

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You're right about the 3D printing, all the slicers I know of need an STL file.

As far as the other 3D CNC work goes... That depends on how much BS you're willing to put up with. On another forum a guy is building a 1:3 scale Mercedes-Benz W165 Grand Prix engine with some amazily complex CNC machined parts. It's my understanding that the code for those parts was pieced together from code generated by 2.5D software. My 2.5D Ventric software uses DXF files.

I don't know what the 3D version of Ventric needs, but you're right a DXF probably wouldn't be much good there. You need something that separates the solids from the air a little better than just by defining lines and points in a wireframe. I haven't tried looking at the DXF's that my 3D cad generates, maybe theres something in there that defines the solids?

Don
 

Jasonb

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Mike (Vixen) stacks up a load of DXF files and produces the G-code for each layer which is a long winded way to do it as he has not updated his software for some time and therefore only has 2D CAD and non 3D CAM so his parts are really just a stack of individual contours.

3D CAD/CAM will work it all out for you and do in minutes what can take Mike several days to do and also likely to cut the job quicker and need less hand finishing afterwards. A lot will depend on what you are drawing and machining, less complex items will be OK in 2 or 2.5D but once you start getting compound curves meeting other similar curves and fillets at the intersection it's hard enough to draw those let alone cut them working out all the offsets manually.
 

ddmckee54

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Jason:

It is definitely the long winded way to do it, that's why the comment about how much BS you're willing to put up with. I'm not advocating to only use the 2.5D, I'm just saying that if it's what you've got - you can still do some pretty amazing stuff with it.

When I saw all the contour lines that made up the interior of Vixen's W165 oil sump, and realized he did it with 2.5D, all I could think was "Holy Moly". (Or something like that.) I wonder how he generated those lines, I'll have to ask.

Don
 

lee webster

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I recently downloaded Solid edge for hobbyists. It is free and I have installed it on both of my Windows 10 computers, one of them is not connected to the internet and didn't complain. I also tried to install it on my Windows 7 computer, my cad computer, and it wouldn't run. Solid edge did flag a warning before the installation started. The tutorials I have watched on youtube so far show it to be very similar to Solidworks. Anything free is well worth trying!
 

Zeb

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For engine/steam type stuff F360 is my ticket for one-offs, since I can still produce parts. I've thought about joining EAA for Solidworks. I've signed off dozens of experimental aircraft/rotorcraft, so it wouldn't quite be cheating. I've been to a few of their local meets and Oshkosh a few times.

Blender is great for organic shape sorts of stuff, but it's always seemed too different from CAD for mechanical "drafting" sorts of uses, and their constraints seem all or mostly related to objects and actions on objects rather than to the relationships between line segments and such.
Agreed. And with Boxcutter/Hardops, you can work parametrically and constrain vertices/edges with empties. But Blender is pretty steep on the learning curve. As a Blender fanboy, I'm not saying it works for everyone. Lacks CAM support too, but it can export just about any format.

Here's an organic-ish cyclic using sculpting tools, constrained booleans, and references. The fit on the 1" steel tube was snug.
Organic.jpg


This is a series of non-destructive parametric models that I did to test Blender. You can select empties and drag parametrically (or assign an accurate XYZ location). You can also bool any cutaway that you want. The workflows can be clunky to setup, but fine once things are moving. The "modifier stack" essentially becomes the history you'd find in CAD. I just work in standard Blender units, as imperial is already "metricized" in thousandths of an inch. Models can be scaled later to suit.

Blender.jpg


Some more of my projects using ref planes...steam yarder and loco.
SteamDonkey.jpg
GS4.jpg
 

Zeb

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Some thoughts going into next year...
I've been learning Rhino 3D in the last few weeks and have been very impressed. I can drop clean Subdiv meshes from Blender, convert them to bsurfaces (complex topology, but CNC-able), and constrain dimensions (in a hacky way).
FCU.PNG

Rhino also has a ton of control for surfaces (if you're nerdy enough). I was able to solve 2 fillets that Fusion 360 couldn't handle (in example below). You can also rebuild crummy auto-F360 topology with new custom topology. You do lose a lot of model history functions, but for the model below it is complex enough that large changes often require a rebuild anyway.
Rhino3D.PNG

What I like the most is being able to support a company that allows me to "own" my tools. I cringe at dropping $1K for Rhino or Zbrush, but I get to keep them for my hobbies and one-off commissions stress free. I was one of those guys that frantically backed up all my F360 models only to get the "Psyche! we changed our mind and won't delete your models." If I had a business and was making revenue then I'd definitely go Solidworks/F360, so not dissing on them (I use NX at work). Mid-level options work for casting/3D printing I do. I'm also not keen to like CNC'd engines lacking that delicious casting grain we're coming to miss. hehe To each their own.
 

lee webster

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Very impressive work. I suppose if we are going to spend many thousands of £ or $ on machinery to make our models, then $1K for the software to help do it is reasonable. I wouldn't spend that much on software I didn't own. No matter how good it was.
 

SmithDoor

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I still use Autocad I purchased new in 2000.
It works great on Windows 10 64bit today.

Dave

Very impressive work. I suppose if we are going to spend many thousands of £ or $ on machinery to make our models, then $1K for the software to help do it is reasonable. I wouldn't spend that much on software I didn't own. No matter how good it was.
 

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