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Thread: CAD Program for Pattern Making

  1. #1
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    CAD Program for Pattern Making

    In my youthful exuberance I've bought a 3D printer. I'm hoping to make patterns and core boxes with it. It should arrive within a few weeks so I started looking for CAD software. I have limited CAD experience, although I'm a degreed engineer I got my degree before CAD existed and have always had designers to do the CAD work.

    I did a little research and found a decision tree which seemed to point to DesignSpark. It is free so I downloaded it. It will work, as I'm sure lots of programs would work, but one shortcoming I see no alphabet. I can create an alphabet for both raised and depressed letters but if there is a program already available with the letters created it would make things easier.

    What are your thoughts on CAD software?

    And slicing software?

    I'm only doing sand casting in aluminum now but want to go to aluminum bronze, bronze, brass, and maybe cast iron and would like to try investment casting.

  2. #2
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    oldironfarmer, I was in a similar situation except I wasn't an engineer. About 50 years ago, I was a manual draftsman. Left that endeavor for a career in the USAF. After retiring from the AF, my second major career was in IT. Never got back to drafting, let alone CAD, even though I supported CAD/CAM labs in the local school system. Now totally retired, and enjoying a hobby machine shop, and 3d printer, I decided it was time to learn CAD. I tried all the free programs I could find. None made sense to me. Then I found Fusion 360. The light came on with the help of Youtube tutorials from Lars Christensen and Paul McWhorter.
    I also play at casting aluminum. Fusion has the ability to add draft for casting to designs, though I haven't mastered putting leters on my pattern designs.
    Fusion is free for students and hobbyists and startups that make less than $11k a year.
    I can now design pretty much anything I need, and print it.

    Chuck

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    I have been using onshape for 3D modelling, as it is also free for hobbiest, and a purely cloud software so you don't have to install anything, so I can use it on my work laptop when on the road. It also has the native ablity to add draft. I've been slicing with 3licer, and the combination has worked perfectly for me.
    Mark

  4. #4
    I learned AutoCad in school So Fusion 360 was the best fit for me. I still think I draw stuff the hard way, but I blame that on learning how to draw on paper
    for slicing I have used 3licer, and cura both seem to work pretty well. I have a buddy that runs a small business 3d Printing swears by simplify 3D. I just can't justify the cash for it, not when I just tinker with it.

    CBB

  5. #5
    I was taught autocad in school also, as a prerequisite for another class I was taking, but anymore, I mainly use one called FreeCAD. I find it's pretty easy to use and once you get the hang of it, there's very little that you cant do in it.

  6. #6
    Senior Member r4z0r7o3's Avatar
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    +1 on FreeCAD, it's very capable system. Being open-source and multi-platform, it's super easy to collaborate on projects with other people. For fast/quick stuff, and for kids, there's also tinkerCAD (web based, free, from Autodesk). It's quite limited, but it's fast and super-duper easy to use.

    Personally I use VariCAD, because I needed Linux support and wanted parametric 3d-constraints. Though in the meantime, FreeCAD now has those features.

    In all cases, expect to spend quite a bit of time playing/learning and watching tutorial videos. Esp. if you failed geometry class
    "Things that are complex are not useful, things that are useful are simple."
    - Mikhail Kalashnikov

  7. #7
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    As someone just stepping into the 3D environment it's pretty overwhelming. I've watched several beginner videos on several of the mentioned programs and will probably proceed with Onshape. It's really a coin flip with FreeCad, but I just need to pick one and get going. Being able to import 2D from other formats is important. I can save to DXF from some of my Adobe software and Onshape allows import of those files, so I've got somewhere to start from. Slicing and gcode will be the next topic.

    Pete

  8. #8
    Pete,

    be mindful that DXF import on any CAD software isn't a 100% guarantee. You may have to learn to touch somethings up. But it will kick start the process very well.

    CBB

  9. #9
    Moderator DavidF's Avatar
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    Im still enjoying my alibre, it handles just about everything and is quick and easy to learn. Unfortunately the cost to purchase has really escalated the past few years. There is another version of the software that is less expensive but will only allow you to export in stl format for 3d printing. https://www.stemfinity.com/Cubify-De...Single-License If you look on e bay you can find the license for less then $100.00
    Its very very easy to learn, you can just about look at the icons and know what to do. It also has a bunch of fonts loaded in. They have been of little use to me though as I am usually trying replicate an emblem and have not had much luck matching up the font. Soooo I have to model my own from dimensions taken from the original. No big deal just a bit time consuming....
    A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor...
    http://thehomefoundry.org

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the replies, guys. I've been reading along and have tried several of the free software options. I realize that whatever I chose would work and that there is no "wrong" choice. I have settled on Fusion 360 and have started studying it. The more I use it the more I like it.

    Thanks again to everyone for giving me some direction. I was unaware of any of the CAD programs proposed. I've got a model of half of an end wrench made, draft and fillets included with two lineup holes on the bottom.

    IMG_2972.JPG

    That's a real screen shot. I couldn't figure out how to make a .pdf so I took a picture of my computer.

    At least I'll have something to print when the printer gets here

    The other advantage of Fusion 360 is I can make files for my CNC router that I've never used much.

    Thanks again.

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