I’ve been using 2D computer-aided design (CAD) programs for more than 20 years, and have designed dozens of model aircraft with it. I have always wanted to try 3D CAD, but previous programs have had a steep learning curve, and I didn’t think I could really master 3D at the same level that I had with 2D. Enter Alibre Atom3D from Alibre, LLC, an easy-to-use, affordable program that I could jump right into and not quickly become discouraged.
Alibre Atom3D really makes digital modeling projects easy—and fast. It’s built with the same parametric technology used in the Alibre Professional design, but the toolset is simplified to make it more userfriendly. Marketed as the perfect 3D modeling program for enthusiasts, Atom3D allows you to create, edit, and refine your projects, so you can send them to your 3D printer, CNC machine, laser cutter, or ink printer. It works with any CAD file. You can import: STEP, SAT, DWG, DXF and Solidworks, and you can export: STEP, SAT, STL, DWG, DXF, 3D PDF, 2D PDF. And the best part is the price. This modeler-friendly program costs only $199! I have been getting to know this program for a while now, and I must say that it really is a great product. I was able to successfully produce 3D objects on my very first try.
Yes, you do have to rethink the way you design things (just as you did when you first began using 2D CAD), but the overall learning curve is not steep. Let’s take a closer look.
My first step was to go to the Alibre website (alibre.com) and check out the links on their “Tutorial” pages. There, you’ll find videos explaining just about every aspect and feature of Alibre Atom3D. Also, you can download a free 30-day trial version of the program, as well as a downloadable “Exercise Manual.” I found these very informative, and with the help of the videos and manual, you’ll be making 3D parts in no time.
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