CAD Software

EdZ

Virtual Realist
Gold Supporter
May 11, 2015
1,578
2,107
I haven't seen anything online that combines a 3D modeling web app with more realistic rendering.
There's Onshape - though that's for CSG rather than polygonal modelling - which can export models for rendering to a few online services. There's also Otoy who have a web-based rendering system for more traditional scenes.
Most of these rely on having a remote server do the actual rendering though, rather than local hardware.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Bronze Supporter
Nov 1, 2015
2,109
2,335
There's Onshape - though that's for CSG rather than polygonal modelling - which can export models for rendering to a few online services. There's also Otoy who have a web-based rendering system for more traditional scenes.
Most of these rely on having a remote server do the actual rendering though, rather than local hardware.

Those are pretty interesting to say the least. OnShape has a good free subscription model that lets you save a limited amount of private projects. Also, about them stating that they use "documents" instead of files to store cloud-native information- I think I know what they're referring to, and I have worked on a web application at a previous job that stores arbitrary product configurations for clients in the same manner. Otoy seems more out of reach for the average hobbyist or budget-minded creator, but the tech looks cool.

I'll probably give it a shot to make my own online renderer/product maker just to see if I'm capable of it. It won't be anything complex like a real pro CAD application but using document-based storage for saving models online gave me a good idea.
 

EdZ

Virtual Realist
Gold Supporter
May 11, 2015
1,578
2,107
OnShape and Otoy are both very firmly in the 'professional' end of tools. Having a web-hosted equivalent of Sketchup could be really useful for 'sketching' and sharing/collaborating on basic designs where a full complex featureset is not required.
 

Davila

Trash Compacter
May 28, 2017
48
35
Hello!

I've recently been wanting to make an SFF Case for my build, but I don't know what program(s) I should use. I'm not looking to spend any money but I am a student so I do have access to student versions.

Could you guys help me out and show me what programs I should use and what their pros/cons are?
 

Edward78

Airflow Optimizer
Jun 16, 2015
233
11
If Protocase could import/export common formats it would be great, but it has its own format,,, It is free, but the file types are very few...
 

darksidecookie

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Feb 1, 2016
115
141
Hello!

I've recently been wanting to make an SFF Case for my build, but I don't know what program(s) I should use. I'm not looking to spend any money but I am a student so I do have access to student versions.

Could you guys help me out and show me what programs I should use and what their pros/cons are?

i'd say whatever you already know, and can export in a commonly used format (.stp for example)

i use solidworks, pro: sheet metal module and is widely used, con: crashes quite often
 

Edward78

Airflow Optimizer
Jun 16, 2015
233
11
i'd say whatever you already know, and can export in a commonly used format (.stp for example)

i use solidworks, pro: sheet metal module and is widely used, con: crashes quite often

Can anything change a commonly used format to and from a protocase format?

I don't know any programs though. I'm a complete beginner XD

Protocase is fairly easy, just being stuck with it's format sucks, I think they will add other formats, but no idea when...
 
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darksidecookie

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Feb 1, 2016
115
141
Can anything change a commonly used format to and from a protocase format?

i don't thinks @Davila mentioned wanting to use protocase? but as i have never used their program i really can't say.
but on their site they do mention that you can send your design in, and .stp is among the accepted formants (as are the solidworks parts and assembly formats)

I don't know any programs though. I'm a complete beginner XD

then i would first look at what programs you could get your hands on, as you mentioned you could get student versions of certain programs.
You could also use sketchup but it is very, very time consuming compared to more professional programs.
There is also blender but i have yet to see someone model a case using it, but they are both free and have many youtube tutorials.
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Original poster
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
4,956
4,727
Is this for a personal project only? Some student licenses don't allow commercial use.

What manufacturing method are you aiming for? 2D CAD like AutoCAD or Draftsight would be fine for an acrylic case for example, while sheet metal is in a whole different league.
 

Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
Jun 12, 2015
1,868
4,452
www.nfc-systems.com
Hello, Davila!

Welcome to the forum and thanks for posting! First up I would search for Aibohphobia's STX 160 thread for some great help here.

I would say designing a case and engineering a case are two completely different things.

You can design a case with a notepad and a pencil. You can use simple programs like Sketchup or Protocase's designer and just take screenshots and put together a power point. You just need to convey your ideas to an engineer or manufacturer. Even if you were to learn a complex CAD program you wouldn't necessarily know the best way to manufacture your chassis, so my recommendation is figure out what you are trying to accomplish first.

- Are you doing this because you want to learn about production? If so it is best to plot out the steps needed and get help along they way.
- Are you doing this because you want to learn sheet metal CAD? Then a program like Inventor might be where you want to start.
- Are you doing this because you want to learn 2D CAM? Then using Autocad or Illustrator and working with a shop might be the best way.
- Are you doing this because you want to learn 3D CAM? I would recommend Fusion 360.
- Do you simply want a custom chassis based on your ideas? Then bring sketches to Protocase.

This list doesn't really end anytime soon. But I can say learning any drawing software is going to be a huge time investment, and any manufacturing CAD/CAM will be a ginormous time investment. So if you _just_ want a unique case based on your ideas--use Sketchup/Pen and Paper/Photoshop and bring it to people who do this full time.

I am a case designer. Not an engineer. I actually have designed several chassis or worked on chassis with some teams for some companies (some are case companies). I bring this up because I know my place--I am not an engineer hehe. Here are the programs I use now:

Sketchup - For quickly mocking up ideas in 3D. Sometimes the idea in my head doesn't look the same once it is in 3D and this helps.
Fusion 360 - For solid CAD work and 3D CAM. I used to use Inventor (for sheet metal) but am anticipating Fusion 360's update for this.
Indigo Renderer - For 3D rendering...although I use Fusion 360 more and more for convenience.
Illustrator/CorelDraw - I mostly use Illustrator for very simple drawings because I own it and clean up DXF files in CD for 2D CAM.
Photoshop - I use this to annotate mockups and drawings to convey ideas to teams/engineers.
Power Point (actually Google's version...w/e they call it) to organize ideas in a presentable fashion.





....tldr


Download Sketchup.
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Original poster
Gold Supporter
Feb 22, 2015
4,956
4,727
SketchUp is great for preliminary design work, and could be used to export to CAM for 2D stuff but I wouldn't recommend trying to use it for complex designs if you're trying to do most of the CAD work yourself. For 2D designs it's hard to beat AutoCAD.

For sheet metal SolidWorks isn't the easiest to learn but it's by far the closest to an industry standard for small to medium-size sheet metal shops. So that'd be a good choice if you want to learn more of the engineering side of things.

Autodesk Inventor and Fusion 360 would be good choices, as would Solid Edge. Onshape may be worth taking a look at but it's cloud-based and the free version has limits on private files.

Personally I use SpaceClaim if you want something with a good sheet metal module but more familiar learning curve if you're coming from something like SketchUp or Blender.
 
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Davila

Trash Compacter
May 28, 2017
48
35
Hello, Davila!

Welcome to the forum and thanks for posting! First up I would search for Aibohphobia's STX 160 thread for some great help here.

I would say designing a case and engineering a case are two completely different things.

You can design a case with a notepad and a pencil. You can use simple programs like Sketchup or Protocase's designer and just take screenshots and put together a power point. You just need to convey your ideas to an engineer or manufacturer. Even if you were to learn a complex CAD program you wouldn't necessarily know the best way to manufacture your chassis, so my recommendation is figure out what you are trying to accomplish first.

- Are you doing this because you want to learn about production? If so it is best to plot out the steps needed and get help along they way.
- Are you doing this because you want to learn sheet metal CAD? Then a program like Inventor might be where you want to start.
- Are you doing this because you want to learn 2D CAM? Then using Autocad or Illustrator and working with a shop might be the best way.
- Are you doing this because you want to learn 3D CAM? I would recommend Fusion 360.
- Do you simply want a custom chassis based on your ideas? Then bring sketches to Protocase.

This list doesn't really end anytime soon. But I can say learning any drawing software is going to be a huge time investment, and any manufacturing CAD/CAM will be a ginormous time investment. So if you _just_ want a unique case based on your ideas--use Sketchup/Pen and Paper/Photoshop and bring it to people who do this full time.

I am a case designer. Not an engineer. I actually have designed several chassis or worked on chassis with some teams for some companies (some are case companies). I bring this up because I know my place--I am not an engineer hehe. Here are the programs I use now:

Sketchup - For quickly mocking up ideas in 3D. Sometimes the idea in my head doesn't look the same once it is in 3D and this helps.
Fusion 360 - For solid CAD work and 3D CAM. I used to use Inventor (for sheet metal) but am anticipating Fusion 360's update for this.
Indigo Renderer - For 3D rendering...although I use Fusion 360 more and more for convenience.
Illustrator/CorelDraw - I mostly use Illustrator for very simple drawings because I own it and clean up DXF files in CD for 2D CAM.
Photoshop - I use this to annotate mockups and drawings to convey ideas to teams/engineers.
Power Point (actually Google's version...w/e they call it) to organize ideas in a presentable fashion.





....tldr


Download Sketchup.

Thanks Josh! I'm trying to make my son a case for his build because I sadly wont be able to get one of your S4 Mini's in time for his birthday so I saw this as an opportunity to make something completely original and unique.

This list doesn't really end anytime soon. But I can say learning any drawing software is going to be a huge time investment, and any manufacturing CAD/CAM will be a ginormous time investment. So if you _just_ want a unique case based on your ideas--use Sketchup/Pen and Paper/Photoshop and bring it to people who do this full time.

I don't even know what CAD/CAM is yet so I'll definitely be looking at Aibohphobia's guide and watching some youtube videos. I'm only doing this to make a custom chassis for him but I would love to learn some 3D design basics!
 
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allison_Protocase

Chassis Packer
Protocase
Jul 2, 2015
16
26
www.protocase.com
Can anything change a commonly used format to and from a protocase format?



Protocase is fairly easy, just being stuck with it's format sucks, I think they will add other formats, but no idea when...

Allison from Protocase here, just wanted to add that we definitely understand your feedback re: being able to export your design in a format other than a .pda (Protocase Designer Assembly). Our software team is working on that functionality.

In the meantime, our engineering & design services can provide a STEP file from your Protocase Designer project, for a small fee - you just need to request that from your account manager once your design is finalized.
 
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CircleTect

SFF Lingo Aficionado
Circle Studio
May 1, 2017
119
506
circlestudio.co
Wow, very detailed. How long did it take and what CAD program did you use?

Thanks man! I think it fits nicely next to your NF-P12 model. It would be really cool to do a render of the entire range of Noctua 3D models someday..

It took me a few hours using Siemens NX which we have licenses of at work. Not many people are familiar with NX, but it's one of the biggest players in the CAD world, up there with CATIA. Used a lot in automative and aerospace. My background before NX was in SolidWorks which now feels like a toy. Still very capable, I modelled some cool things in SW, but it's almost embarrassing that SW lacks powerful direct editing tools these days (like Spaceclaim has). The couple of tools it does have (move face, delete face), they actually bought the code off Siemens. Not to mention SolidWorks' terrible surfacing.

NX has the most diverse, powerful and robust toolset I've ever seen in a CAD package, which probably explains the insane $20,000USD seat cost, and that's for the entry level configuration with only the basic modelling capabilities.