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Best program for creating 3D models Answered

Ok I want to make a 3D model for printing, what is the best program to use.  I have Maya 2013 (DEMO) , and 3DSMax 2013 (DEMO), and sculptris 6.  What program is the best to create and convert for 3D printing.  I want to enter in the new 3D Printing contest and if I make something 3D I want it to work on someones printer for them to print.  Plus if the software can make it fool proof, I don't want to make a model that won't print, and don't really know what is possible and what is not.

Any help would be great.  Biggest concern it converting it over to 3D printing format, and making a model that would be able to be printed (with lets say makerbot, or the most common 3D Printer able to be printed by anyone).

Thank you in advance.


Thank you all for the help, I did make some 3d models with maya and converted it to STL and loaded it into netfabb. How do I make sure I have made the size I want. Have some text that has a bevel on it, so how do I determine what size the bevel is so I make it the right size. Or if I want to make parts, how do I know they are printed out in the correct size? Is there a way to check that?

What platform are you on?

I don't think you'll have to much problem as long as the app you use can export to stl. One thing to watch is that certain programs like zbrush can produce very large meshes very easily. I use makerware to print the software and but (on my hardware) it still starts bogging down on models that are bigger than 300-400 Meg's. This is a trial and error number based entirely on your slicer and computer.

The model you produce will work better if it is watertight, meaning you have a model that has a solid skin around it with no holes and no interior geometry. (Though the latest versions of makerware seem to be much more forgiving of this). Also, when you are using deforming tools, check visually periodically that you are not 'tearing', or putting holes in the mesh.

If you are worried that the program is not producing a 'watertight' mesh, grab a demo of netfabb
add the part
add an analysis
Click on update - this will give you some detail on problems it sees
Click on apply
Select export to stl

Every model I have produced from many different apps has had problems found in netfabb, so don't give up on your app b/c netfabb found errors. Exporting the part from netfabb will help with the 'printability' of the part as well as generally generating a smaller file.

It's a lot of fun. In my experience, the modeling app is kind of like clay tools. I reach for whichever one is best for the job I'm working on.

Platform?.. if you mean OS, I am using Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit, if you are asking in regards to a 3d printer platform "I don't have a 3d printer yet" that is why I am thinking about entering this contest :) .

I will limit the polygon count, as stated it could bog down the printer, and I will also make sure it is watertight as possible. I will model it with Maya as I know a lot about that more than anything, then will try to convert it to STL and run the STL with netfabb see what errors it comes up with. I will also check out MeshLab and TickerCad as well.

Thank you all for the info and help this helps me out. Just when I post an entry to the contest I want to make sure no one would have to make any modifications to it so they can print it.

Good catch. I meant computer OS. Just check early to make sure that th demo versions of maya export to stl, or into a format something else (that you have) can get into stl.

Don't sweat the polygon count too much. My own personal demon is spending way to much time putting in detail that's far to fine to be printed.

I've just started playing with Tinkercad.com

Nothing printed yet, but it's intuitive to work with, even for an old codger like me.

Ive had good success converting sculptris drawings to STL with a free program called meshlab. prints fine on an UP! 3d printer