Which 3D drawing software do you use?

May i know which CAD software do you use? I use Autodesk 123D since my first 3d printer. It was recommended by the shop. I use it, it is simple to use, just so simple for noobs. But i hate the speed of it, it is very badly optimise. My PC is an state of the art turbo charging monster, but running 123D is like using a PC 10 years ago,using 80486. It is not consistent too, Sometime i click on an object, it show the options, something nothing happen.
Recently i am playing with SVG files import as drawing, Running 123D feel like using my first PC, 80286 with 20MB harddisk. It is ridculous.
I downloaded Autocad 2016 for testing, it is so fast! But i am unable to figure the software, it is very unfriendly for noobs like me. I am looking now at freecad, Fast and free, but also a bit harder to use than 123D.

Anyone know a simple to use CAD and not so expensive. Autocad price is so high. I am just making 3d model for printing for fun. I do not want to pay so much.

Also in the near future, i want to make a figurine, like characters from anime etc. The software use by pro are zbrush. Again the price is too high for me, i am making one or two figurine per year for fun. Maybe i gave up after 1 figurine. I do not want to shell out so much for it. Again, please anyone know a cheap simple to use alternative to zbrush.

If you want something free to use you should look into Autodesk Fusion360. I’ve been using Inventor (free for students) for a long time now and have never run into anything it can’t do in terms of mechanical engineering.
I wouldn’t use either of them for sculpting though…


I also tried Fusion 360, but it does not look friendly to beginner. I will look into Inventor. If Autodesk only optimise 123D a bit, that will be perfect.

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I would strongly recommend MOI (Moment Of Inspiration), it was created by Michael Gibson, the one who developed Rhino. It is something in the middle of a parametric CAD and Organic modeling tool. This is an interview where he explains his ideas for the product: http://blog.novedge.com/2008/07/an-interview-wi.html

It is not expensive ($295 for 2 seats), runs in Windows and Mac, and it is very easy to use (and very powerfull as well).

They offer a 30-day trial period, and Michael answer questions very quickly. Also, the community is very active (at least the last time I checked, like 1 year ago).

And NO, I am not MOI sales representative or Michael Gibson’s Familiy (not even a friend), just a Happy Customer.

I use 3ds Max, which isn’t necessarily designed for 3D printing, but works just fine if you know how to model with 3ds Max already. The issue with something like 3ds Max is that it works best as a polygonal modeler which means that most of the time your models have a certain amount of polygons and when you send to a 3D printer it will look faceted due to the lack of smoothing that you get in a 3D program (which is only a render effect).
All 3D files will be converted to polygons when it’s time to print, but programs like Rhino have a quality setting when you export so that it can increase the number of polygons on curves so that you don’t see faceting in the 3D print. In 3ds Max, it’s something you have to manage more specifically so that you have enough segments on curves, sometimes you can just drop a Turbosmooth modifier on your mesh and set it to smooth by smoothing groups, but a lot of times you have to go through and fix errors that come up after that.

I consider proprietary software immoral, so I avoid using them and although I cannot avoid using NVIDIA’s proprietary drivers I use three excellent open-source 3D modellers on my Ubuntu 16.04: OpenSCAD (for programable 3D modelling, also compulsory for making customizable designs for thingiverse), Blender (for generic 3D modelling with meshes, also has a great sculpting mode) and FreeCAD (for mechanical/solid 3D modelling, it also includes a competent mesh fixer, a gcode workbench and even Finite Element Analysis Modelling so I can check my parts for structural problems).

So far I have not yet really needed proprietary software, and I do it professionally. I don’t get why people abide to some draconian contracts and EULAs which comes with some of the mainstream applications when they really do not have a previous, fixed need for that application or format.

Well … with the risk of start a flame war … :slight_smile:

I really like OS (+25 yrs Software Professional, I was part of the early adopters of Linux). Also, I love Electronics OpenSource (I had built several 3D Printers from scratch, 4 FDMs and 1 SLA and had my fair share of play time with arduino and raspberrypi), But also, I certainly do not consider “Immoral” proprietary software or hardware. At the end, It is just another option for consumers to decide.

Formslabs printers are proprietary hardware AND run over proprietary software, but I still love this printer. Sure, I would love it even more if it were an open Software/Hardware, but well, it is my choice to try to build something similar or just pay for it and abide to their terms.

And, In this very post, sloh is asking for a software easy to use (friendly) and cheap. As much as I like OS 3D Modeling software, they are not simple to use.

Just my 2 cents

Oh, btw, you could avoid NVIDIA proprietary drivers by avoiding using that proprietary GPU, and use AMD’s GPUOpen chipset instead :wink:

Moment Of Inspiration, never heard of it. Let me see on youtube, it does look like Rhino. My 3d shop used Rhino, the price does not work on me. But MOI $295 is reasonable if it is easy to use. I will check the youtube tutorial and try it. Thank you very much.

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No, i do not know 3ds max and 3ds max look like a very difficult software to use.

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Yup, Moment Of Inspiration is not well known piece of software, I think it deserves more credit. IMHO, it is a better iteration than Rhino, the author incorporated what he learned while developing Rhino and this version is simpler and cleaner, without unneeded/confusing features, and also, it is fast!

Here are two demos, a simple cookie cutter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWE8LXru6u8
and, a more complex one, a Car model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2l7Uxwxzfik

If you’re interested in open-source CAD, I’ve got a pair of tools that emerged from my work in grad school:

  • Antimony is a graph-based design tool, where nodes in the graph are Python scripts
  • Ao is a tool that uses Scheme and implicit surfaces to do solid modeling

If you’re coming from a traditional CAD background, these tools will feel weird – they’re not based on the sketch –> solid workflow, but they’ve got a unique set of advantages for parametric / functional / programmatic designs.


I still do the bulk of my work in 123D Design, although I keep promising to learn Fusion360 or even 3DS Max (I was a whiz in DOS version 2.0 back in the early '90s!) But no, when I need to get something done, it’s 123D Design, with the occasional trip into Meshmixer to do a boolean or shell or etc. that 123D decides it just won’t do. 123D is very picky about Booleans with imported STLs or OBJs but so far there hasn’t been a problem I couldn’t fake my way through.

That is amazing. Thank you for the reference. I will study these programs to understand them better.

I’m just saying what I use, if you are looking for something just for 3D printing then it’s not worth the price since it comes with so many other things there, but for people that use something like Maya, 3ds Max, or Blender I just wanted to let people know that they can definitely be used for 3D printing

That one actually works pretty well too, does a better mesh job than Rhino also

Oh, I forgot the brand new Microsoft 3D Builder, it is very simple and fast, and free with Windows. Easy to use (yet limited), but hey, it is good enough for simple modeling tasks.

Fusion 360. If you plan on doing any modeling, no matter what software you choose you’re going to have to put in some work.

I use Geomagic Design and MOI. I have Fusion 360 installed. I just haven’t started using it.

I’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone list ZBrush yet. That’s what I use for work 95% of the time. The other 5% would be Geomagic Freeform. But I only use that when I absolutely have to cuz I hate using it’s haptic device.