Just a CAD Person

Moving right along with the three dimensional printing activities. Seems like it is the only thing I do these days. The important detail is that I am still “doing”. 

It’s not just the printing I enjoy. It is the creative design from scratch that I truly enjoy. I call the printed item created as the “reward”. 

I doubt I would still be printing if were entirely free drawings purloined from the internet. 

The most current activity is deciding what “brand” of CAD software I want to use. There are a great number of choices. 

The professional CAD packages (as they are termed) are priced in the many thousands of dollars and must be updated at these rates on a regular (usually yearly) basis. 

For the hobbyist, there are several good “free” packages available. Ones usually gets what one pays for, so the free ones are usually slightly limited in features.

One good paid CAD I like to use is made by Autodesk and is called Fusion360. (F360) I have a professional license for it. It needs an internet connection to be fully operational as all drawing files are automatically stored in the cloud. I have created over 2,000 drawing files using F360 the last 3 to 4 years. Archived files (.f3d) can manually be saved to a local storage.

F360 is a subscription service and is constantly upgraded and improved in real time. No need to buy the next version, but one does have to renew the subscription monthly, yearly or every 3 years depending on the purchase plan.

One great feature, with F360 is Autodesk now provides a “personal use” version I call PUF360.  It’s free for 3 years and only limits the number of open files (10) that are active. Autodesk is not clear what happens after three years. Possibly free renewable but they are not saying. I think Autodesk enjoys being vague. 🙂 

Autodesk is raising the F360 subscription price to what they call a “more profession cost level” but I am not willing to pay more as a pure hobbyist user. I have switched to the PUF360 version.  I can easily live with ten open files. And thousands of closed files. 

I am also looking back into a CAD program I own called Rhinoceros. Rhino for short. Produced by Robert McNeel & Associates.  It’s a buy and own forever CAD and does not require the internet. There are new versions released every few years but old versions do not expire. No requirement to upgrade. Just if the new features tempt you. 

Rhino is a full professional CAD and actually is much harder to learn than Fusion 360. But I do enjoy the pain using Rhino. It’s fun in a twisted way. I just upgraded from version 7 to 8 and the cost was less than $400. So life cost is less than $0.50/day. But then, I may never need (or live) to reach version 9.

I have also used another free CAD called “Onshape” that is internet based and runs within a normal browser window. It works great in the Linux computer operating system and that is the reason I have it in my “bag of tricks”. They have both a professional and a hobbyist version. I use the free hobby version.

You see, I take CAD very seriously. I couldn’t be creative with 3D printing without the CAD skills. No CAD, no 3D printing. Yes, really.

I have my idea sketch pad in hand and Rhino open on the NUC screen. So going back to designing and making something NEW!