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Which Software Will Be Suitable?

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I've been looking at various 3D software products for quite some time now yet my mind is not made up; perhaps I need a nudge or two in the right direction by those more experienced.

 

The purpose of my using the software is fairly simple, I aim to create geometrically accurate digital representations of objects from the size of a pen to not exceeding the size of a work/study desk.

 

My needs are likewise simple (I hope):

These objects will have to be accurate though I have no intentions nor plans currently to export them for prototyping or CNC machining - this software purely serves to solidify my ideas and concepts in the form of 3D models that are as accurate as real world objects.

Although I will not need the software to be able to tell me whether the entire object is CNC machinable nor will I need it to be machined at all, I will need its constituent parts to be machinable either by lathe or mill (like threading the components).

Because some of these objects I wish to model may have quite complicated internals, the software should be able to de-construct or reconstruct the object and components respectively if there is such a need for it.

Sometimes I also need (if possible at all) to know which portion of the objects is structurally weak and strong and whether it can be operated under water such that its electrical internals are not compromised in any way, basically water and atmospheric tight.

 

This particular one I don't really need but will also be good to have. I'd like to be able to animate the object for its moving parts such that it gives me a confirmation that it is indeed mechanically feasible.

 

This is a special requirement:

One of the objects I plan to model is a reflector (with different materials - if you know some reflectors are smooth, some are not which has an effect on its beam pattern and diffusal) for lighting solutions. I'll need to know the specific beam pattern of that particular reflector depending on its surface and shape.

 

Other requirements:

Price is an issue unless it has an education discount since I'm about to enroll in a university thus my purpose has no commercial backing whatsoever, purely personal and for hobbyist pursuits though I should hope that it not be a reason to not recommend me a quality software. I'm willing to pay top dollar for a software that might last me at least 10 years.

Online community is required for their wealth of knowledge and tutorials to kick start me.

 

I truly hope that there is such a software for me, hope some can help me out here and that I'm not asking too much of a software.

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You've described several software solutions, but not one. What you are really looking for is an engineering package. Some elements of what you listed however are not really software issues, they are design issues. For example - I do not know of any software that will tell you your design is water tight. Even if it does, there is no guarantee that a real world manufactured part would be water tight. Most water tight designs require specially engineered seals which operate on compression or some other method. You can design the parts in 3D but until the physical part is made, you will usually have interference in your digital part.

 

As far as the optical engineering goes, there are also specialized tools for that, but I do not know of any off hand.

 

All of the software you've mentioned is in general very expensive, because they are professional tools. Some may offer student licenses, but they will more than likely not have all the features you mentioned.

 

You may be better off contacting a software reseller who deals in Pro Engineer or Solidworks. They could probably assist you better.

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Thanks for your reply Cyberdemon. Then it seems like I'll have just have to stick to a plain 3D CAD which allows me to create photorealistic models then without the frills and such as you've pointed out that they are generally expensive. I've heard plenty of good things about SolidWorks, but nothing of Pro Engineer. What do you think of Rhino 3D and Autodesk Inventor?

 

One feature that I would really like to have above all that I've mentioned is: "the software should be able to de-construct or reconstruct the object and components respectively"

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Solidworks is excellent software, Pro E in my experience is used a lot more, especially when dealing with Asian manufacturers. I use Pro E though frankly I wish I didn't have to, the user interface is terribly inconsistent and extremely frustrating.

 

Inventor is still crap IMO.

 

Rhino is very good, easy to learn and very affordable, as well as having a good offering for rendering plugins (Vray, Maxwell). But it is a surface modeler and not a solid modeler, and does not offer any ability to handle multiple parts in an assembly.

 

I believe thats what you mean by "Deconstruct and reconstruct the parts respectively". An assembly lets you have multiple parts all grouped together in one file, but each part is it's own component that can be edited without effecting the others. This is how parametric (paramter based) modelling software like Solidworks and Pro E work.

 

Solidworks should have a trial you can test out.

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Seems like Rhino can very well complement Solidworks and since they are both relatively dirt cheap at student prices I might get both, though the only drawback for a student license for Solidworks as I've found out is a 12-month license period.

 

Thanks Cyberdemon, looks like a parametric modelling software is what I need then. I'll probably take a look at Pro E as well to see if it's cheaper and has a perpetual student license unlike Solidworks.

 

JDMather: Thanks for the info, sounds good. But are there any restrictions to the software?

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JDMather: Thanks for the info, sounds good. But are there any restrictions to the software?

 

The license is a student license (not for commercial use) for a period of 3-yrs (but I simply download each new release each year).

The software is fully functional - same as commercial release.

 

 

JD

Autodesk Inventor Certified Expert

Certified SolidWorks Professional

 

http://home.pct.edu/~jmather/content/DSG322/inventor_surface_tutorials.htm

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