My Quest for the Perfect 3D Modeling Software for Makers - Part 6 - 3dtin

This is post 6 in my 3d modeling software series that outlines my experience as I search for the perfect 3d modeling software for makers. I’m looking for something that is inexpensive, precise, feature rich and inspiring. Here’s what we’ve looked at so far:

In this post we’ll take a quick look at 3dtin.com. Overall 3dtin looks like a good solution for simple projects for beginners – a lot like Tinkercad – but shouldn’t be considered for detailed modeling. Looking at their gallery, people have built some amazing models with it, but I found it difficult to go deep on.

ProgramPriceProsCons


3dtin.com


Free


Beautiful interface.

Web-based so you always have the latest version.

Great for beginners



Web-based so you always need an internet connection to use.

Limited functionality.

I quickly discovered some limitations by building out my simple ring:

I was able to drop a pipe and rotate it without any problem:

But I couldn’t find an option to do rounded corners on it.

I then attempted to build a funnel shape by dropping a cone and then chopping off one end, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that. I don’t think you can select sides or points. I think it’s only “whole object selection”

This is a short one, but given that I couldn’t figure out how to do those simple operations and I don’t see “loft”, “combine”, “sweep”, etc I decided to move onto the next option.

3D Modeling Software Comparison

Two WordsInexpensiveUser-FriendlyPreciseInspiringFeature Rich


3dtin


Beautiful. Beginners.




Free


Just ok, but not good enough


I couldn’t figure out a way to make fine adjustments to edges.


Lack of features and finicky UX left me frustrated and wanting more.


Not the right tool beyond the basics.


DesignSpark Mechanical



GoodAttempt. MissingKeyFeatures.




Free


Better, but I wasn’t able to figure out how to do some basic operations on my own.


Units are in mm, but I can’t make fine adjustments, especially to circles


Close, but I found the lack of loft frustrating.


Lots of good features, but without loft it’s a no go.


FreeCad



Promising. Complex.




Free


Lots of icons, but not intuitive like 123D Design





Maybe after mastered, but not without training.





Blender



Powerful. Overwhelming.




Free, you just need to pay for tutorials


Lots of menus and keyboard shortcuts




Only meters, not millimeters. Conversion is difficult


Maybe after mastered, but not without training.





Tinkercad



Potential. Limited.




Free to start, not sure if they have paid option.













Lacks loft and advanced features


123D Design


Beautiful. Frustrating


Free for non-commercial. $10/month for commercial.





Can only set exact measurements when placing objects.








SketchUp



Exact. Dated.


Free for non-commercial. $590 for commercial.









Lack of smooth lines and buggy extensions.




Lacks loft, rounded corner.
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