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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Maybe my search terms failed me but I'm looking to see what is out there for free or somewhat inexpensive software to create 3D models. Nothing crazy detailed but I have had a few people asking me about some signs and other ideas that I have made but if I had the capability of doing part of it in a 3D design they would have looked MUCH better and I could have made more money on the sales.
I would rather create my own designs then to search and buy someones that are not really what I want.

Is FreeCAD something i can use? Or what about Fusion360? I'm guessing I need CAD/CAM in one for best results.

I'm open to any suggestions and new to this part of the CNC world now.
 

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Any pictures of exactly what you want to do. Different software does different things better than others.
Something like Fusion 360 may be very good for one thing, and very difficult for other things.
Never used FreeCAD, but most 3D parametric modelers are very similar. So Fusion 360 should be very similar. but Fusion 360 does a lot of other things that FreeCAD likely doesn't do.


It sounds, though, that what you want to do is relief models. Fusion 360 is probably not a good choice.
There are a handful of programs designed specifically for relief modeling, like Aspire, CarveCo (ArtCAM), and Enroute. All are expensive (to very expensive). I'm not aware of any free programs that have the same features.

But you can do 3D reliefs with something like Blender. You just need to use different tools, and possibly use different modeling methods.

A lot of the really good 3D models you see for sale are actually scans of hand carvings, or, are the results of incredibly skilled artists. Really high quality relief models are not easy to do.

While you may think you can make more money offering 3D models, keep in mind that they can take an incredibly long time to actually create, and then a LOT of time to actually machine them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Gerry,
Like I said at least right now I'm not looking at complex models. Just simple. For example I have a guy that wants me to make a drink flight that holds 6 shot glasses. He wants it to resemble a top view (looking down) of an airplane. The body I want to make look like the plane and then the wings will be flat with pockets to hold the glasses. If that is what you refer to as a Relief Model then yes that is what I am looking for.
Simpler stuff like that is what I am looking at right now.

I was watching a tutorial of Fusion 360 and it looks like what I think I can use. Just not sure.
 

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It's getting that darn creating thing down to a reasonable amount of time. You can do other things while the cutting is going on.
 
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I use Fusion 360 and Vectric Aspire. I started with Fusion in hopes of being able to do what you want to do, and more. I hoped to avoid dropping a couple of grand on Aspire. Yes, Fusion will do some types of 3D okay, but I found it too limited, or just plain too hard to do in the 3D arena. I ultimately bit the bullet and bought Aspire.

Since Fusion 360 is FREE for the hobbyist and very small business, try it and see if it will give you what you want. Just know that Fusion has a very steep learning curve, and you can't just figure it out as you go along. You are going to have to spend some hours watching tutorial videos and working through exercises.

Here's a link to Lars Christensen's YouTube channel. He has many tutorials on Fusion 360 and I found them to be very good. I'm not alone. He has 117K subscribers. https://www.youtube.com/user/cadcamstuff/videos

Anyway, try it out and see if it suits you. Nothing to lose but some learning time - which you are going to have no matter what program you use.

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Gary! That is what I was wondering. I can't bite that bullet like you did yet but I do want to dip my toes into the 3D stuff. I hate to buy models that just have what I'm looking for. LOL
 

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Also remember if you get already made models -- they can be enlarged, shrunk, elongated, or altered in many ways to suit your needs, as well as combined in part or whole with other models. You are not limited to that exact model. And once you have a basic file that suits your needs you can make many projects changing just the text or flourish design. You also only have to use the part that you want. Or........if you want a particular file custom made right now to get started have someone like MEBCWD make it for you. Saves a lot of teeth gnashing. Many ways to do it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Also remember if you get already made models -- they can be enlarged, shrunk, elongated, or altered in many ways to suit your needs, as well as combined in part or whole with other models. You are not limited to that exact model. And once you have a basic file that suits your needs you can make many projects changing just the text or flourish design. You also only have to use the part that you want. Or........if you want a particular file custom made right now to get started have someone like MEBCWD make it for you. Saves a lot of teeth gnashing. Many ways to do it.
Thanks John!
I have done some of this already. I'm messing with stacking different models also and adding one to existing 2D items. I would still like more control over the 3D part to make items more specific to what some people have asked for.
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Just know that Fusion has a very steep learning curve, and you can't just figure it out as you go along. You are going to have to spend some hours watching tutorial videos and working through exercises.
Gary
It depends on the individual. Math to some people is extremely difficult and a walk in the park to others. Fusion 360 'fits' the way I think and makes perfect sense to me. Vectric products, Carveco (that I bought), etc. makes no sense. I'll get there, though.

I drove 7 Series BMW's for 20+ years (had 4 of them) and MINI Coopers for 5 years (had 2 of them) and all the ergonomics made sense. Everything is where I would think it should be in a car. About 5 years ago I bought a Tacoma pickup and nothing is where I think it should be! It took me a year before driving the truck was comfortable and second nature as to where the controls are, which way to turn things, etc. But my wife is just the opposite - everything in the Toyota's make sense and nothing in the BMW's and MINI Coopers.

My $0.02 :grin:

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It depends on the individual. Math to some people is extremely difficult and a walk in the park to others. Fusion 360 'fits' the way I think and makes perfect sense to me. Vectric products, Carveco (that I bought), etc. makes no sense. I'll get there, though.

My $0.02 :grin:

David
I think I'm pretty good at math. I watched several tutorials on the Vcarve and it made perfect sense to me. I started machining my first part pretty quick. I watched a tutorial on Fusion 360 today and it seems pretty easy to follow. But they always make it look easy! :grin:
Does Fusion let you design? CAD Or is it just taking a picture (per say) and manipulating it to then create the G Code? I'm sure another tutorial or 2 will get me these answers but thought i would ask here first.

I think I'll try it and worst case is it doesn't do what I want it to! I'm no worse off.

I'm still open to other suggestions if anyone wants to add.
 

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For example I have a guy that wants me to make a drink flight that holds 6 shot glasses. He wants it to resemble a top view (looking down) of an airplane. The body I want to make look like the plane and then the wings will be flat with pockets to hold the glasses.
Yes, something like that could be done in Fusion 360 rather easily.
 

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You can use programs like Blender to make 3D models then export in a usable format you can use in your CAM software. You do need to design in Blender with the end-use in mind.

I do have Vectric Aspire and VCarve Pro but also use programs like Blender at times, really depends on the model I'm trying to make.

That being said Fusion 360 is a powerful, free to use software that is worth learning. You should be able to do your plane fuselage with Fusion 360 and it would probably be a good learning session.
 
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Blender can be a monster to learn but once you get a little passed the basics you can become the monster.

I use blender for most of my modeling and it takes me little to no time to make basic models. Detailed models can take many hours to days but once done they go into your library for future use. I have over a thousand of my personal models in my library for my carving needs.

The main starting selling point for the software is its free. The on-going selling point to stick with it is its very powerful. It did take 3 separate attempts at learning the software before it finally stuck.

You will need a CAM package to convert the STL/FDX/OBJ model to something your machine can use.

It can also render depth map versions of the 3d models which can be useful at times, though STL format is 99% far superior.

As a bonus you can render nifty 2d images of your 3d models when you learn virtual texturing and material development for your render engine and then 3d animation to make your intro videos for your Youtube channel. The calendar is a pattern in my library. :)

I am trying to learn zbrush now but haven't made much headway into that software.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I was on vacation for a few days and back at it now.

THANKS for all the replies! This is what I was hoping to learn and now I have a better idea of what to do and try. I really appreciate all the help.
 

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Although Vectric's Aspire is pricey for an initial purchase, they do have a free trial version you can try out to see how compatible you are with it. You can use it to make toolpath files, but you can use it to follow along with their free tutorial videos. The purchase price also includes a considerable number of 3D objects (clipart) which as John said can be used alone or with other components, rotated, scaled, cut apart, etc., to use however you want. You can also map any 2D toolpath onto 3D surfaces, such as V-carved text onto the flowing pages of an open book model. Simple pockets for shot glasses cut into an airplane model shouldn't be a big challenge. The 3D modelling tools almost always have provided me a way to make complex 3D shapes starting with 2D vectors.

4D
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Although Vectric's Aspire is pricey for an initial purchase, they do have a free trial version you can try out to see how compatible you are with it. You can use it to make toolpath files, but you can use it to follow along with their free tutorial videos. The purchase price also includes a considerable number of 3D objects (clipart) which as John said can be used alone or with other components, rotated, scaled, cut apart, etc., to use however you want. You can also map any 2D toolpath onto 3D surfaces, such as V-carved text onto the flowing pages of an open book model. Simple pockets for shot glasses cut into an airplane model shouldn't be a big challenge. The 3D modelling tools almost always have provided me a way to make complex 3D shapes starting with 2D vectors.

4D
I definitely want to go to Aspire. I have VCarve pro and love it. This is kind of why I wanted to try the 3D stuff in Fusion360 to see if it's something I will be able to do and use and if so I'll bit the bullet and upgrade.
 
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