Cad cam alternatives

Discussion in 'Software and Programming' started by Naiveambition, Jun 13, 2018.

Help Support HMEM by donating:

  1. Jun 13, 2018 #1

    Naiveambition

    Naiveambition

    Naiveambition

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2012
    Messages:
    305
    Likes Received:
    64
    looking for an alternate cad program besides fusion360. I've tried and tried to get someone to explain their design intent and no one really seems to know how to explain it. Even the vids for mine and others issues start off explaining then move on to whatever part they are working on. Totally missing the explanation in the process. I can't tell you how mad I am at fusion since I was greatly impressed with it seemingly easy platform, but am now finding it greatly difficult to even get it to do anything I want. Very session ends in utter madness. I'm sick of trying to learn the first step out of the gate when the whole program revolves around your first step.

    So moving on
    Any cad programs favored here that are not exspensive and easier to grasp. If I could I would get solidworks since just watching the vid for solidworks to fusion I understand more about solidworks.
     
  2. Jun 13, 2018 #2

    Charles Lamont

    Charles Lamont

    Charles Lamont

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2011
    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    133
    Onshape is free, if you don't mind your work being in the public domain, and is a cloud based service that works in your browser. It has been developed by a crowd of former Solidworks employees.

    There are loads of good training videos, context sensitive help, and a forum. Start with www.onshape.com/videos/lets-make-a-part and then the series at www.onshape.com/topic/intro-to-cad.

    There is also loads of stuff in the public domain. Last week I did a very random search and found, yes indeed, someone has done a 3-D CAD model of a piece of cheese!

    ISTR there is a video on design intent. A rough idea is that it means doing a bit of thinking ahead to decide how best to build the CAD model, but you can make a good start without bothering too much about it.
     
    miglincit likes this.
  3. Jun 13, 2018 #3

    gbritnell

    gbritnell

    gbritnell

    Project of the Month Winner!!! Project of the Month Winner

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Messages:
    2,571
    Likes Received:
    497
    Lets start off with what I feel is one of the most important questions, what are you going to use it for? There are a lot of fellows who have learned one system or another and use it just for making 3d models. That's fine if you, like me, like to learn new things all the time but the question is what exactly are you going to use it for. Some use modeling to actually create a CAM program for their CNC tooling.
    For anyone to say that there is an easy way to learn a comprehensive icon based modeling program they are misleading you. Most of the people that respond that way have been doing CAD work for quite some time whether for work or their own use and have forgotten how they got to where they are.
    I for one started off with a program called AutoCad. This was a 2d program used for making 'mechanical drawings." This program can use command inputs, which are even harder to learn and use, or the industry standard of icons. I became pretty adept at using this program and through my work was introduced to several different types of 'modeling programs'.
    Just so you know you aren't the first person to ask this question.
    To learn any of these CAD programs one has to start with small steps and as is the case when I taught myself Solidworks, buy a book. I bought a book and walked through the exercises doing the projects at the end of each chapter. At this point I have to clarify that I already knew how to use two or three major CAD programs so this was more learning the intricacies of Soldiworks. I find that almost anything on Youtube takes for granted that you know how to navigate the home screen and know what the icons do. As you have leaned you get two steps into a learning video and you're already lost.
    I'm not even going to get into a step one, step two explanation, that's not my intent, but rather to say if you really want to learn electronic drafting and modeling start off with a simple icon based 2d program and get the basics of how to use it. I have found over the years that all the programs out there are pretty much the same. There is only one way to draw a line. The icons might be a little different (proprietary program) but they all do the same thing. If you really want to jump into solid modeling then pick a program, no matter how simple, and work at it until you become proficient enough to create a reasonably complex model without having to go to the help page to complete it.
    Then ask yourself, what am I going to do use it for?
    Attached is a Solidworks model of my flathead engine. It's pretty but I only do it to keep my knowledge of the program up to date.
    gbritnell
     

    Attached Files:

    camm-1 and Henry like this.
  4. Jun 13, 2018 #4

    lohring

    lohring

    lohring

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2011
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    97
    I'm not sure where you got the idea that Fusion 360 or any program with similar capabilities would be easy to learn. I've been working with it for over 6 months and have questions every time I start a new project. I used Albre before Fusion 360 and it was less capable and at least as difficult. Great help is available on the internet, but you need a background in 2D design. Mine started in 8th grade and continued into college. This was in a long lost era where all boys took shop, even large companies didn't have computers, slide rules were used for engineering calculations, and paper was used for design drawings. These days community colleges in my state offer 2D drafting courses as the introduction to 3D modeling. I would consider taking courses in drafting and design to learn any of the 3D modeling programs.

    Lohring Miller
     
  5. Jun 20, 2018 #5

    Naiveambition

    Naiveambition

    Naiveambition

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2012
    Messages:
    305
    Likes Received:
    64
    Thanks for all the replys guys, much appreciated. After being so mad I thought my head would pop off I managed to settle down enough to keep pushing the fusion cad cam. I don't want to give up since I will need a program for cnc.
    I want to venture into cnc machining starting with a taig mill so I don't bust overly expensive items while learning (I hope).
    With that said, yes I was expecting a steep learning curve with cad programs. My only real issue is the overly simple or scholar level explanations, coupled with no one place to locate info easily and the design intent, eg., the body's and components saga. That one still in the air.
    But after first posting, I was able to locate a book called the fusion 360 black book. After first glancing it may fit my needs. The language is definitely more receptive. And a table of contents with all commands for easy lookup.
    I will still need to follow videos and other educational tools to grasp certain issues or items but at least now I have a plan that seems to be feasible.
     
  6. Jun 20, 2018 #6

    ddmckee54

    ddmckee54

    ddmckee54

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2009
    Messages:
    162
    Likes Received:
    18
    Naiveambition:

    When I started getting interested in 3D modeling there were only a few options available and really none that were affordable for us mere hobbyists. Then a couple of years ago I got into 3D printing and wanted to design my own stuff. I tried many of the available 3D packages, trial licenses are your friend. I felt the same way you did about most of the software that I tried - and I have been doing 2D CAD for over 30 years.

    There is one thing that pretty much all software packages have in common - the more powerful they are the less user friendly that they are. A couple of the packages, Designspark3D and Fusion 360, stood out from the pack as they felt a little more like the 2D AutoCAD that I was used to and they would allow an easier transition. I don't think there is an "easy" 3D package, at least not one that is very useful to us. But, there are guys that can make it LOOK easy.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that you need to decide how much you really want to do this. If you decide to forge ahead, then pick your software and keep at it. Watch every tutorial you can and research as much as you can about it. Google is your friend and so are the "3D for Dummies" type books. The initial learning curve will be very steep, but eventually you'll get there and then you'll be one of the guys that makes it look "easy".

    Don
     
  7. Jun 20, 2018 #7

    vederstein

    vederstein

    vederstein

    Must do dumb things....

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    530
    Likes Received:
    339
    FreeCAD is an open source 3D modeler. I've used many commercial packages over the years and FreeCAD is considerably more difficult. It is another option though.

    ...Ved.
     
  8. Jun 21, 2018 #8

    lohring

    lohring

    lohring

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2011
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    97
    If you want simple, how about a straight edge and triangles or a K&E drafting machine on a drafting table? That's the way 3D parts were designed until quite recently. It requires that you visualize a 3D part from 2D views, but I believe you still need to be able to do this with a 3D modeling program. They often start to build a model from a 2D sketch.

    I've had my solid core door drafting table for over 50 years. It started with a straight edge and now has a drafting machine. Only last year did I decide I needed to finally dive into computer based design. If you are building things on manual machines, 3D modeling is overkill. Only when you get into CNC or 3D printing does computer based design begin to make sense.

    Lohring Miller
     
  9. Jun 21, 2018 #9

    RodRico

    RodRico

    RodRico

    HCCI Engine Devloper

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    I've been using Solidworks since 2013 and still find it frustrating at times. I learn something new on every project. I haven't branched out to look at other CAD packages because, as a US military veteran, I get the whole package including simulation (FEA, thermal, CFD) for only $20 per year. I'm just about ready to start prototype build for my engine (https://contest.techbriefs.com/2017/entries/aerospace-and-defense/8090), and will need CAM to drive the 3D printers and CNC tools, so I'll have to learn yet another tool that looks easy but will probably be frustrating at times as well! There's just no way to make complex easy. The best they can do is make it easier.
     
  10. Jun 21, 2018 #10

    lemelman

    lemelman

    lemelman

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2012
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    5
    Since SolidWorks uses the same CAM processor as Fusion 360 (it's actually licensed from Autodesk who make Fusion) then I don't really think that switching to SolidWorks will achieve anything.
     
  11. Jun 21, 2018 #11

    ozzie34231

    ozzie34231

    ozzie34231

    Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    1
    I don't think I agree with those saying you should learn a 2D cad program first. That's like learning vacuum tubes to go to transistor, no need. Pick a sophisticated 3D program that you can afford and just be determined to learn it. My money right now is on Fusion 360. I read today that there are over 1800 videos on youtube about Fusion 360, some are just what you need.
    Cheers,
    Ozzie
     
  12. Jun 21, 2018 #12

    editor123

    editor123

    editor123

    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2016
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    10
    If you are a U.S. or Canadian armed forces veteran, you can get SolidWorks Student Edition for $20 a year. Both Fusion 360 and OnShape are using those using the product for free as their Beta Test force. Both products are undergoing rapid development and some day they will be considered complete. I bet then they start charging everyone. I use Alibre Design because it is easy to learn and use but it does cost a bit to get going although they have a 30 day free trial period. Were I starting out now, and know what I know now, I'd still choose Alibre Design. I use it to document model engines and publish the drawings in my magazine. 10X faster than a 2D program like AutoCAD that I started with.
     
  13. Jun 21, 2018 #13

    Phnug

    Phnug

    Phnug

    Just tight enough

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2014
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've just gone through the same business of evaluating a few CAD packages. I tried DesignSpark, Sketchup and Fusion360. Fusion360 is my overall choice although I may use DesignSpark sometimes because it is integrated with RSOnline whereby you can import "parts" directly into your project (useful in South Africa). Fusion360 is similarly useful having the entire McMaster-Carr inventry built in so I could pull in components for standard retaining rings and bearings without having to create the special shapes myself.

    For me it is important that Fusion360 includes everything, full CAD/CAM and good version control. And free for home/hobby. I had to persist but it did not take unbearably long to gain enough knowledge to move ahead satisfactorily. I was helped greatly by Lars Christensen's Channel on YouTube who took me from beginner to confident in a day or two, although I'm not a software newbie. I suggest that if you work through his lessons you will be very pleased. He particularly explains the Components vs Bodies question that you mentioned very clearly.

    I encourage you to stick with Fusion360, search Lars Christensen on YouTube and give his turorials a shot. That and a good dose of persistence and you'll be a winner.

    I hope these comments are useful.
     
  14. Jun 21, 2018 #14

    --colin--

    --colin--

    --colin--

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am an experienced drawing board mechanical designer and an engineer by profession. I tried learning 3D cad on my own for several years with much frustration. I highly recommend taking a cad class at a local community college. That's what I did and that's when I stared learning things like design intent and better ways to approach a design.

    I took a Solidworks class and after purchased a license and did 3D mechanical design work for 15 years using it. Even with that knowledge and experience, I find it difficult to learn other 3D cad programs on my own. As others have mentioned, Alibre is very much like SW and I can use it, but since I have SW, why bother. Onshape was created by the team that created SW but it's different and perhaps even better. Several SW professionals have recommended Fusion 360 for those just beginning.

    There is no easy 3D cad package that is powerful and the powerful ones take time to learn. I am a Certified SW Professional CSWP, but still learn new techniques and often, after starting a complex design, wish I'd approached it differently from the start.

    Try find a class if you can and follow the class exercises in order, avoid working ahead and experimenting with all the interesting options until you've mastered the basics.
     
  15. Jun 22, 2018 #15

    lemelman

    lemelman

    lemelman

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2012
    Messages:
    49
    Likes Received:
    5
    Although its not really a number of tutorials, the Autodesk Community Philippines runs a series of monthly "Challenges" designed to increase the skills of using F360. The basic premise is that people who register and complete all the challenges in year will get a diploma stating they are a qualified F360 user. But it's not necessary to register to view the challenges and the truly excellent solutions. Each challenge involves making a small model specially designed to exercise one or more particular aspects of F360. It's the solutions that are really worth viewing because the teacher shows how and why each tool is used in the construction of the model, and gives a running commentary of each step. They are all "bite-sized", seldom longer than 10-15 minutes, and never give you the indigestion often associated with normal tutorials. I think it's one of the very best ways of learning to use F360.
    This is the first time I've tried to insert a link, so if the one above doesn't work, here is the actual URL -- https://tinyurl.com/y94vcjog
     
    cox24711 likes this.
  16. Jun 22, 2018 #16

    abby

    abby

    abby

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Messages:
    374
    Likes Received:
    91
    Have a look at 2D/3DViaCad from Punch Software . I came across it several years ago whilst searching for a Mac 3D cad application.
    It is amazing value for money , a lifelong license is about $100 but you can try it free for 30 days.
    It is very easy to use for 2D or 3D design and you don't need to be a genius , especially if someone shows you how to start.
    After a couple of hours watching the tutorials I was able to draw stuff well enough to get it 3D printed.
    Like any software you will carry on learning for years after starting , but this is more in the nature of shortcuts to achieve the results quicker rather than more complexity.
    I think that using any software relies on the state of your mind . If you open the application with no serious object then you will learn nothing , but if you have an object firmly in mind , start with something straight forward , a threaded nut and bolt is a good exercise , stick with it until you can draw it and you will be away.
    I design all of my castings in ViaCad and I have taught several of my clients with simple lessons using skype.
    Dan.
     
  17. Jun 23, 2018 #17

    Henry

    Henry

    Henry

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2012
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    11
    I used Inventor and it is very good but not cheap, Rhinoceros is not a real 3D design for mechanical but it is "easy" to learn and to use it for 3d printing. I have the Formlabs Form2 and I am very happy with it, It is not expensive for the quality and it is easy to use, It can use different resins , the last one that they put in the market is ceramic. They have transparent, elastic, ABS, castable... etc
     
  18. Jun 23, 2018 #18

    johnwm

    johnwm

    johnwm

    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2018
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Unless you need all your stuff to be secret you could try Onshape. It is fairly easy to use, has lots of tutorials, a very helpful forum. It can output to DXF for sheetmetal cutting or to STL for 3D printing or machining. Oh, and did I mention that it's FREE for home use if you don't mind yur drawings being publicly accessible.
     
  19. Jun 23, 2018 #19

    Giovanni

    Giovanni

    Giovanni

    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2017
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    I designed and built my CNC router. The whole process for milling was completely new to me. I went the newbie course of trying to use Visio or Inkscape to do the CAD portion and MakerCam to create the Gcode. A decent toolchain for simple milling. I searched for better cad/cam solutions. I found Fusion 360 to be free to use ( I am not a professional) and incredibly powerful. There is a fairly high learning curve to overcome to start really start using the sophisticated tools it provides. The issue is this; if you want a package that provides sophisticated features, you have to invest the time to learn the package. Yes you can do all of the features in lots of other packages; but what is the effort? Take a round straight counter bored hold: 10 mm diameter for a depth of 3mm followed by 5 mm diameter for a depth of 25mm. Fusion lets you easily do this in one operation and created the necessary GCODE. That is just an example of slickness. There are an exhaustive number of videos and live streams to learn fusion. I am a 65 year old guy from New Jersey who has spent the past two years learning how to mill and how to use by 9 X 20 lathe. Good luck and I would be happy to help anyone I can.
     
  20. Jun 23, 2018 #20

    compressorguy

    compressorguy

    compressorguy

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2017
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I started using Fusion 360 while working as a mentor with the middle school robotics group last year. I figured if 13-year-olds could "get it" so could I! What really helped me was a YouTube channel by Lars Christensen https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo29kn3d9ziFUZGZ50VKvWA. He does a kind of "Fusion360 for dummies" where he takes you through the steps of modeling an object. I have found the program easy to use once you get the basics of laying out your workspace down. Don't give up on it. It is a powerful and useful program that will let you design and then generate the code to make the part in CNC.
    Don't give up!
     

Share This Page