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Here's the place for discussions about those 3D creations for Tguage...and lets not forget the trials and tribulations of designing and printing.

Which 3d software?

Postby Nutter » Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:33 am

Started this thread to discuss the pro's, and con's of the different packages out there that people are using.
I want to start designing stuff for my Zm layout but don't know where to start.
I used to be a pen and ink draughtsman back in the seventies and experimented with AutoCAD 13 but never got very far
Obviously output suitable for printing by Shapeways or other means would be nice.
Blender and Sketchup are two programs I know about but being unemployed free software is my initial interest. Operating system is Windows 8.1 on a laptop (my only computer)

Please feel free to discuss what you use and how easy they were to learn.
DON'T knock it at least I am trying to do something, with only one good hand.
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Re: Which 3d software?

Postby dkightley » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:49 am

I started designing in 3D at home something like ten years ago, and there were very few 3D packages that were within the price range of the hobbyist. I was wanting to design rolling stock and scenery for Microsoft Train Simulator and was introduced to a package that at that time was called 3DCanvas. This package was produced by a gentleman in Canada, trading through his website

3DCanvas was available in three versions, a freeware feature restricted version, and two payware versions, Plus and Pro priced at around $35 and $70 respectively. The payware versions had plugins to import and export from and to a range of file formats, and a member of the train simulator community created plugins to easily create steam loco motions, etc.

During the life of the program, the program author has continually developed and improved the software, and it is currently available under a new name of 3DCrafter. The name had to be changed due to a trade name dispute.

3DCrafter, despite being an inexpensive package, has quite a lot of features and I find it extremely easy to use. I've tried Sketchup in is evolving guises over the years and don't like it's "mickey mouse" feel. I've also tried Blender.....but I find it awful....and found that I needed to memorise loads of key combinations...or have a sheet of paper with them written be able to do anything. 3DCrafter's gui has all tools and commands available to use by mouse clicks.

There is a but...there has to be!!....with 3DCrafter. It does have a few issues. Boolean operations don't work all that well, and you need to do a bit of cleaning up of the merged shape after some operations. And for 3d printing, the standard exporter for .stl files does not work properly......but there is an alternate .stl file exporter that is freely available that does the job. And the final part of the that due to the Boolean operators being iffy, finished models can end up as multiple meshes - which can cause issues with slicing software....but having said that, I never had a model refused by Shapeways due to multiple meshes.

And for a final point, to get a flavour of what 3DC looks like, take a look at my build thread for a Pobjoy engine I created for a plane for FSX.

And you could even try 3DC out for free by downloading the freeware version. You can create models but save in any other form than 3DCs own format.
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Re: Which 3d software?

Postby Nutter » Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:21 pm

My first project I want is a simple block with 2 sets of grooves - 1 pair at T gauge spacing and the other at Z gauge to enable me to set all my home made catenary masts the same height above the rail.
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Re: Which 3d software?

Postby mattd10 » Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:47 pm

I use sketchup (sketchup make to be exact...the latest free version) and I like it. It's very easy to use, lots of internet support but it does have it's limitations. One of which is the it's tendency to flatten off corners at small scale, but there is a work around to this which had been discussed on the forum elsewhere.
I'm at the point now where I can do what I want to with the software and am reluctant to change/buy a different bit of kit. I'm sure there are better alternatives, but I won't be changing anytime soon. You can now actually export in a shapeways-friendly format which you couldn't before, which is another plus.
I am biased though because I don't have experience with any other software.
Hope that helps!
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Re: Which 3d software?

Postby Ozrail » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:23 am

I'm fortunate enough to have 3Ds Max as my modeling software. :-)
Check out my Shapeways store for T-gauge stuff.
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Re: Which 3d software?

Postby ivanf » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:59 pm

I use blender... it's free, bit tricky to get into but once you've figured out how to switch all the irrelevant bits off it's pretty good.

I've recently been messing with the solidify modifier - once you've got a body shell it allows you to resize it but keep the wall thickness the same which is very handy when resizing things for different scales.

Latest version has pretty good boolean operations which makes things like windows easy to come out.

There's a pretty good tutorial on rmweb in the 3d printing forum that gives quite a good overview of using it to make loco bodies etc.

It also has some tools designed for 3d printing - wall thickness and such but I haven't used them much.
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