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Shapeways for Prototyping? Which CAD is best?

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Shapeways for Prototyping? Which CAD is best? [message #4091] Mon, 27 April 2009 15:11 UTC Go to next message
avatar ChaplainSunshine  is currently offline ChaplainSunshine
Messages: 0
Registered: April 2009
Go to all my models
Junior Member
Hello all:

I'm looking to get a prototype made, but I need to have a high degree of precision. (VERY small space) Most US prototyping (3D printing) companies don't have such capabilities or charge quite a bit for them. Five parts were $200 at eMachineShop.com and didn't have the precision I needed. So I like shapeways since they can handle 2mm walls and pretty reasonable prices!

Here's my problem: I was good with Solidworks as an engineering student, but my student version license has expired. I did my Patent Drawings in Google Sketch Up and then traced them using InkScape with pretty darned good results. Sketch Up, however is not for the "real" world (or is it?)

Should I

1. Try to learn Blender to export to Shapeways?
2. Bite the bullet and get Solidworks Pro?
3. Split the difference and get the midrange CAD even though it would also make me learn a new CAD interface?


But to all you artists on shapeways, your work is beautiful and you have my eternal envy!

Chaplain Sunshine
Re: Shapeways for Prototyping? Which CAD is best? [message #4093 is a reply to message #4091 ] Mon, 27 April 2009 15:25 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar frankbuss  is currently offline frankbuss
Messages: 0
Registered: March 2009
Go to my shop
Junior Member
Try ViaCAD 2D/3D. It has an easy to use interface, so you don't need to learn much and it works with Shapeways when exporting as STL. I've designed this scale with it:


and this case:


The entry version for 99$ has all features I need. Except when extruding text for 3D text there is a bug with holes in letters, but I've submitted a bug report.

[Updated on: Mon, 27 April 2009 15:28 UTC]

Re: Shapeways for Prototyping? Which CAD is best? [message #4133 is a reply to message #4091 ] Tue, 28 April 2009 17:20 UTC Go to previous message
avatar bvicarious  is currently offline bvicarious
Messages: 0
Registered: July 2008
Go to my shop
Junior Member
I can't comment on CAD apps, but emachineshop.com is ridiculously expensive! Even something like a small metal plate with some tapped holes drilled into it was in the hundreds of dollars, to say nothing of their 3d printing. I know their mission is different from shapeways, but I imagine anyone looking for that kind of service could find it elsewhere at more reasonable prices. What I like about them is the app they've built, which lets you design, model, and get price estimates all in one.

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