3D Modelling

3D Modelling is now easier than ever, and 3D printers are becoming more aff ordable for the home user. My favourite software tool for 3D modelling is DesignSpark Mechanical. It has a free tier, with the other tiers being very affordable.

I started 3D modelling with a product called SketchUp, which was owned by Google at the time, and has since been acquired by Trimble. There is still a free version called SketchUp Make. SketchUp has a short learning curve and is very easy to use to create detailed 3D models. I created a model of the flat I was living in at the time.

However, SketchUp did not appeal to me for engineering models, and I looked for some more advanced soft ware.

I found Blender, which is free open source software. It is extremely powerful and can do 3D modelling, sculpting, animation, simulation and has a whole lot of other features. It also has one of the best user interfaces I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

Blender is very powerful and lets you manipulate individual (or grouped) vertices, edges and faces. In fact you work at that level. It has some tools that allow you to manipulate these in groups, but you are still working at a very low level. Because of this, Blender has a long learning curve. I initially chose Blender to do all my 3D modelling, so I watched and practised most of the free tutorials at BlendTuts (this guy is really good).

I started using Blender for my Stationary Steam Engine project, and created the flywheel and a few other parts.

Then I discovered DesignSpark Mechanical! It was completely free at the time, and is provided by RS Components. DSMechanical is similar to SketchUp, but more powerful and more suited to engineering models. With DSMechanical you are working with and manipulating solids, and creating models (especially for engineering purposes) is much faster than with Blender, and the software has a shorter learning curve. I was really impressed at how easy it is to create complex shapes to exact dimensions.

Here is an introductory video:

↻ Last Updated: 25 June 2024