Blender as a CAD tool?

Hey everyone. Its been quite some time since I’ve been on the forums. I’ve been stuck up in a hospital for the last few months. But now that I’m out, I’m back on! Woo! Anyhoo, I was wondering what people’s thoughts are on using blender as a CAD tool, with the intention of doing some CNC work from those files. I know blender has DXF export, and I can run another piece of software to convert that to G-Code. Has anyone else done anything like this before? Any tips?

Thanks muchly,
Mike Alex

I recommend exporting 3D stuff to STL, which most CAM apps can import. A free 3-axis example is freemill. Scan over the tutes at rab3d.com for blender-as-cad tips. Or use one of the free 3D options out there such as Alibre or CoCreate (much easier for 3D CAD stuff.)

There have been many attempts at using Blender as a CAD program. Unfortunately, Blender does not have the numeric range nor the tools required to do CAD.

There’s a wealth of information on using Blender for CAD and Architecture. Just do a search to get started. Check out Blendernation and Bart’s work on his new company’s venture to make 3D renderings real (based on STL format, I believe).

Also, I would suggest a peek at the oldest free and open source project in the world, BRL-CAD. I can’t recall anyone on this forum ever mentioning it (I’m sure someone has; I’m just not wanting to search for it). A very different animal compared to Blender.

Anywho, here’s the link.

Get well and get blendering.

I have been using Blender as a modeling tool for my CNC mill for quite a while. Currently, I only use it for 2.5D cutouts but the methodology is sound enough for 3D. Although blender is not a CAD program, getting precise measurements is still very easily accomplished. I have written an article on the subject that that is soon to be published. (Blender art magazine). I think in the next issue. (Issue 18).

For the most part, if you are looking for 3D objects, then .STL files are the way to go.
The folks over at http://www.becausewecan.org/ have covered this methodology.

Using DXF can be done, but Blender exports Polyfaces as opposed to Polylines. Most CAM programs do not use Polyfaces. (This is covered in my article.)

An example of what I have made
http://www.wikkidwidgets.com/images/ThumbRudder.jpg

Alibre express is much better as a CAD tool.

Alibre express is much better as a CAD tool.

I got a free CD from them a long time ago but never installed it because of its size. Their professional version is hugely expensive, as I recall, and I couldn’t (and can’t) afford to be tempted. But I’d really be interested in hearing more about what you think of it.

Very sharp website, by the way.