Page 1 of 2

3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 20 Apr 2016, 17:10
by Virtio
I looked at a bunch of electrical CAD programs before I found DipTrace. It was a pain to download each one and play with it for a while and see if I liked it. In the end DipTrace was intuitive and easy to use yet powerful. Now I'm searching for a 3D CAD program and hate the thought of downloading a bunch of programs and playing with each one to see if they are easy to use. I'm hoping that someone from the DipTrace community could recommend a 3D CAD program that is either free or low cost (similar in cost to DipTrace) that is as intuitive as DipTrace. I'm scared of the learning curve of programs like Blender. I would like to be able to quickly model parts for DipTrace but also have the power to do basic plastic enclosures as well. Thanks!

Re: 3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 21 Apr 2016, 04:36
by Jiisuki
I personally use Autodesk Fusion 360 for parametric CAD. I believe it's free for start-up companies and they have a free education license. Otherwise it's subscription based.. They have an own Youtube channel with a lot of tutorials (mostly for beginners) that's nice.

Another alternative may be Onshape https://www.onshape.com/, which is free and works directly in the browser. It's quite similar to Fusion, and parametric.

Both programs can import/export STEP-files, so no problem using together with Diptrace.

Re: 3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 21 Apr 2016, 06:25
by Tomg
A few things to consider in a CAD program as it relates to DipTrace...
1) Make sure it can import and export STEP AP214 files (AP214 = color support).
2) Make sure it can import and export DXF files with native origin (0,0) data.
3) Test how DipTrace imports a 2D DXF drawing from the CAD program being evaluated by creating a board outline with a defined native origin (0,0). If DipTrace doesn't place the drawing into the PCB editor in the same location (identical native origin), then I would suggest avoiding that CAD program. DipTrace didn't use the native origin data from DXF drawings in past versions, necessitating a manual relocation of the imported figure every time. Fortunately, that problem seems to have been fixed in version 3.0.0.1 and the 2D board outline drawings I have created in my CAD program (Geomagic Design) have thus far imported to the correct location.
4) See if the CAD program can also export older DXF formats (R11? or earlier). If your 2D drawing contains splines, earlier DXF formats automatically convert splines to polylines during export, which makes it easier for the typical PCB software package to interpret.

If other things come to mind, I'll add them to this list.

In the meantime, here's a "lower/mid-price" package that looks promising (I haven't tried it)...
* VariCAD 2016 (Windows/Linux): $690 - http://www.varicad.com/en/home/products/description/

For the truly budget-minded (I haven't tried it)...
* FreeCAD (all platforms): free - http://www.freecadweb.org/ with some discussion about it on another site here - http://www.eevblog.com/forum/eda/thoughts-on-freecad/

Re: 3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 21 Apr 2016, 17:10
by Virtio
Thanks for the recommendations. I watched the video on VariCAD and it looks really interesting. I'll probably look at the free ones first though just in case they can do what I need.

Re: 3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 22 Apr 2016, 19:32
by Kajetan86
Jiisuki wrote: Another alternative may be Onshape https://www.onshape.com/, which is free and works directly in the browser. It's quite similar to Fusion, and parametric.
Hi, I have tested Onshape this evening trying to make an RM6 transformer model. It requires a bit of practice, but is still quite easy to work with.

Export to STEP files is trouble-free. More importantly - DipTrace reads STEP generated in this program without losing colours.

A significant drawback might be that you are required to publish all your work (besides up to 10 documents, which you can hide for yourself). But I don't think that component drawings are confidential :D

Best regards
Kajetan

Re: 3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 18 Jun 2016, 23:40
by KevinA
I snagged a copy of TurboCAD Pro years ago and have upgraded it over the years. It is minutes to do a PCB outline and export it, Diptrace found 0,0 without a problem. The STEP export works perfectly. I did a Raspberry PI Zero HAT PCB in three minutes and then I had to redo it since they didn't allow for surface mount connectors...

Re: 3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 20 Jun 2016, 17:15
by gen3eng
I have been using this as a viewer, it seems to be pretty good and the price is right...

http://www.freecadweb.org/

Re: 3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 26 Jun 2016, 10:33
by mbelectronicdesign
I've got a 3D printer and started learning FreeCAD. It's very powerful and I decided to use it to design a 3D model for a barrel power connector which I did - it was much easier in FreeCAD than in Wings 3D. However, when I exported it, the .wrl file was all messed up in Diptrace. I got better results after I used Part>Convert to Solid and then exported to .wrl but it's still got problems.

Are there some steps I should be following to get from my part design in FreeCAD to the .wrl that is imported by the Diptrace Pattern Editor?

Here's the part in FreeCAD (before I colored it)
Barrel1.png
Here is what I got after I converted to a solid and exported to .wrl
Barrel3.png

Re: 3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 26 Jun 2016, 10:50
by farley
If FreeCAD will export to STEP format use that. DipTrace works very well with STEP files.

Re: 3D CAD software recommendations?

Posted: 26 Jun 2016, 10:59
by mbelectronicdesign
Actually I figured it out. All I had to do was export from FreeCAD in a .step file, there's an option that is .step file with colors, and it comes out perfectly :D

-- 26 Jun 2016, 10:59 --

LOL, it looks like we cross-posted but thanks anyway farley :D