I use Sketchup and would love Shapeways to support it better. It is very easy to start using and as a free, Google, product, it's in wide use. My 13 year old daughter learnt to use it in very little time.
hi, I'm using McNeel's Rhino 4 and I am very happy with it. I never encountered any problems to export printable STL files to Shapeways.
Rhino has very good functionality to show and repair polysurfaces and meshes with naked edges. The price of a Rhino license is quite fair regarding the enormous functionality and all the special commands which make modeller's life easier. Rhino is different in it's approach. Did you ever try the the Curve2Views command, UDT or Record History ? This is what I mean.
My second choice would be TrueSpace.
I can not imagine home user's having purchased Solidworks or Catia V.5 due to the high license cost and the obligatory yearly maintenance cost for the software installation.
Kind regards and happy modelling,
Surprised to see I'm the first person to say this. If you're looking to do any sort of sculptural work, it can't be beat for the toolset. Some of the new features in Version 4 R2 seem specifically tailored for 3d printing: Dynamesh converts the model to a single shell using voxels, and can use a Shell modifier with the same technology to generate a hollow model with hand user controlled drain holes and wall thickness.
Their new "Claypolish" feature is designed to give the look of hand sculpted media, which is awesome for busts, jewelry, or other artifacts that are meant to look handmade.
It even decimates (with very little loss of detail) scales and exports STLs natively via some official Pixologic plugins, and generates top notch preview renders at high speed.
I've just used it to create a new line of jewelry that is being 3d printed then mass reproduced via more traditional casting techniques. Check my site to see what they look like.
KeyCreator. No problem with STL export. Would like an IGES, STEP, and/or SAT option . I've used it for the last 5 years at 2 separate jobs so it's what I know. Used AutoCAD in school and prefer KC over it. Wouldn't be able to afford it myself though.
All of my models on shape ways were made in good old SolidWorks. It might not be the best for sculptural/ organic forms, but I can accurately model the tolerances I want. I started laying with SketchUp but it doesn't seem to be well suited for my style of modeling. I've also started using NetFab for STL checking and repairing.