I have a team of individuals using AutoCAD 2D, no one of uses or knows how to use the 3D portion of the software. The 2D works great but I would like to introduce 3D to some of the team members. I'm very familiar, with Inventor, Solid Works, & TopSolid but not AutoCAD 3D. I hate reinventing the wheel so if AutoCAD 3D is robust I'd like to stick with it, but if it's not robust I would rather they learn a designated 3D program. Anyone with a perspective on AutoCAD 3D, is it worth using?
If you have AutoCad the software will do 3d. (AutoCAD Lt does not have 3d features).
Autodesk 3d Studio is an additional software and is not needed to create 3d drawings in AutoCAD.
We went to 3d about 10 years ago. I rarely draw anything in 2d anymore. A drawing done in 3d gives me so much more than a 2d drawing. In 3d I can pull everything I need for the drawing from the 3d model. (Isometric views, elevations, sections and details.). If I change the 3d model, the drawing view is updated. In 2d if a change is made the sections, elevations and details all need to be updated separately. Thus I find 3d to be more accurate and take less time.
There are some downfalls to 3d. Such as stretching a model. Stretching a 3d model is not something AutoCad can do. Yet there are add-on which can stretch basic 3d models. There is a bit of a learning curve to learn 3d drawing, yet it is vastly shorter than learning a new software like inventor or a cabinet software.
I also use Smartlister to extract part information for cutlists and create layered drawings for CNC from 3d drawings. This add-on also has a feature to stretch 3d solids.
For rendering I import the AutoCAD 3d model into Autodesk Showcase Software.
If you have TopSolid and are familiar with it, why not use that? I use Autocad 2D/3D and we are trying to make the transition over to TopSolid. Autocad 3D is nice, but all you have are "dumb" solids. If you don't have any 3rd party software to send the info to cnc's it takes alot to do it in autocad.
I will probably introduce TopSolid to the Design Team, I own TS and use it personally and I think it is a great program. I was recently hired to manage the design department and they have the full suite of AutoCAD with all current updates, but I think it is not sufficient for all design aspects and needs for the department.
It will probably end up being a 4 legged stool, AutoCAD doing the heavy lifting, TopSolid with a seed libraries of parametric casegoods models, and upholstery frames, Adobe Illustrator for Fabric design, and Modo for conceptualizing.
The company I work for is a home decor direct to consumer retailer. They introduce over a thousand items a year, from casegood, upholstery, new fabric patterns, accessories, and lighting. I just do not feel AutoCAD can handle all product development in all categories.
Here is an example of when AutoCAD may not be sufficient for product design. I had to get a few lighting designs to our factory in the Philippines, No one in design team could create a chandelier I designed in AutoCAD so I outsourced it to some freelance Russian's I've done business with and they returned 3D models designed in Solid Works within one day. Even for a cynical person like you Pat must admit it would be hard to draw these organic lights in 2D AutoCAD.
To the original question: AutoCAD is a robust 3d modeling platform and has been for a long time. Here's an exercise using sweeps, lofts and basic shapes that would be sufficient to create a model like the one shown. Anyone with the chops to do that in Solidworks would likely know that there are sculpting applications much better suited to the task. And since it's unlikely that a product like this would be machined, the model seems destined to serve as a visual reference. BTW, you'll need a lot more veining for that to look like a globe from more than 1 or 2 viewing angles. IMO.
For molds, extrusions, machined parts, etc. I usually send out STEP ... not directly from AutoCAD as you can see. I prefer other software for STL, too. But ACIS out is a nice clean translation.
For production casework, TopSolidWood will be hard to beat, but it's really pick-your-flavor from a number of good options. Everything I do is custom, so parametric doesn't matter to me. Editing is easy enough in ACAD.
Using Autocad 3D is to rigid and difficult to use in a 3D environment, we are using Inventor and is great and easy to use, you can look up for tutorials in youtube, this program is great, because you can modify very easily any part something you can't do in autocad, is a different environment but once you get use to it you think how you could work all this years with out it, you can get you part list from the program export it to excel or any other program, even you can create a manual or render of the product.
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