In wanting to start to working with the 3D printing, I first had to create a model to print. Choosing a model to crate was an interesting challenge. The obvious models to start with are ones related to my Radio Controlled hobby. This is the most currently relevant project I am working on. Accessories are a popular item to add to any RC build whether it is a truck, car, boat, or garage. I decided to pick a NATO 1/10th scale Jerry Can. The 20 liter version.
Now that the model was chosen I had to create it. Did I mention that I have no 3D experience? What program do I use? I don’t even HAVE a program! I did some research and found that there are many free programs out there that offer beginner to moderate levels of capability. The more complicated you get, then the more skills it requries.
I used a trial version of Solid Works and Solid Edge. Both programs offer more features than I know anything about. They also offer a decent learning curve. I just needed to create a model and print it. I didn’t need to work with sheet metal, welding, or any other type of manufacturing. This left both of those programs as over-the-top for my needs. I tried to use Sketchup but it didn’t seem to really work well for me.
I tried the Autodesk free program called 123D. This seemed to work well but then I began to run into basic issues with manipulating the models. The features that made things easier in Solid Edge were completely absent in 123D. I had to find something else!
Here is a picture of the 123D model I stopped with:
I found a web-based 3D CAD website that would let you work online. I thought it would be something to try. It would be portable, and cost me nothing except time, which is what I need to spend right now to be able to create models. https://tinkercad.com/ was a great place to start for learning how to work with 3D modeling. I did have the existing model I started with in 123D which was exported to the STL file format. This seems to be a good, universal format to work with.
I began working on the model in Tinkercad. Tinkercad basically works in series of object subtractions and joining. It works well but later I found out that it saves ALL of the shapes that you are working with and have subtracted and it begins to slow things down as it has to load all of the bits and pieces to make your current model display correctly. Another aspect to this software was the fact that you never really had your files. I don’t even know if there are files to have. They announced that the site will be taken down around June 2013! This turned out to be another dead end for the modeling.