If you know me or follow TrainTalk.TV, you know that I really like the idea of the Makerbot 3D printer for modelling. You have probably also heard me say that after working with it, you really need a good 3D design software to make what you want to make.
The problem was, I couldn’t find an easy to use, easy to learn and hopefully inexpensive piece of software to fill the need. Google Sketchup falls well short and though the Pro version seems to have the features I wanted, I was put off by the $495 cost. AutoCAD would probably do the job, but there was a big price tag and an even bigger learning curve. Lastly, my Makerbot partner, Edward had been working with been working with the open source OpenSCAD and I gave that a go, but it seemed just too complex.
Enter ViaCAD 2D/3D version 8. I saw it on the Mac App store for $99.99, (it is available for Windows as well), and decided that I would give it a look.
As I explored the website, I was blown away by the feature set. It seemed to be a fully featured 2D and 3D program, and they had recently added extrusion and some of the other cool 3D features, to make using it even easier.
Now, the thing I liked the best – it said that it imports and exports AutoCAD, Sketchup, STL , Adobe Illustrator and lots of other programs.
That was about 8:00 last night. Needless to say I bought it right away and began putting it through its paces. Everything I have mentioned above worked perfectly. I was able to import existing STL files, and OpenSCAD file and even a 2D Adobe Illustrator file. I fiddled with them and output STL files, and ran them on the Makerbot – without problems of any kind.
Now I know it has only been about 12 hours, a few of which I actually slept through, but ViaCAD has removed a huge roadblock for me in getting my 3D project(s) going. It is pretty nice to once again be as excited about the 3D printer as I was when it first came in, so I wanted to share.
If you try ViaCAD 2D/3D, please let me know what you think! Watch TrainTalk.TV for an Makerbot Update podcast episode real soon!