3d modelling software

steven at malikoff.com steven at malikoff.com
Tue Aug 24 03:29:41 CDT 2021

Rob asked
> I think I may need to get a small part 3d printed (some plastic board
> mounting guide rails from a PDP 11/24 H7140 PSU). What software is best for
> a novice? Preferably free!

I've found OpenSCAD to be perfect for things like brackets, machine parts and so on. It's no good for figurines and other
complex curved objects, perhaps use Blender for those. It also has its quirks and limitations such as being notoriously crappy
at fillets, but even passable versions of those can be achieved now (see https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4932117).

I like being able to model solids from first principles, where the model's source is literally just that, a piece of source
code. Easy to email or print. And I know that my model is always going to be around and not beholden to the cloud.
You can get the program at http://openscad.org/

Being code I think anyone here on cctalk could pick up the gist of it in only one or two clock cycles. Some public models of mine
at https://www.thingiverse.com/1944gpw/designs  feel free to look at the source which I provide with all my public designs.
An STL file is not a source file, but a .scad file is, and is naturally parametric. And only three consecutive keypresses
required to generate an STL file ready for slicing: F5 (preview) then F6 (render) and then F7 (save STL). That's fantastically

Other free CAD apps I've used include FreeCAD but I found it crashed when trying to import machine-generated DXF files of
involute gears with line segments that weren't properly closed. OpenSCAD imported them no problem.

Why not give it a try, I'm sure it would be ideal for your guide rails.


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