Blender books for fabrication?

Hello everyone!

I’m designing some bicycle widgets. I want to to create 3D models of the widgets and have them made at a local metal fabrication shop. In order for this to work, I need to be able to create precise models of the bikes I’m working with, so that the parts I design are correct in terms of where the nuts, bolts and bends end up. After I design a part, I need to be able to print out views of the parts with correct measurements for the fabricators. That’s the critical part of what I’m doing. In addition, if it’s possible, it would sure be nice to know how much weight or torque the widgets I design can handle. For example, if I design a bike rack, it would be nice to know how much weight it can handle with the thinnest lightest components. I don’t know if that’s something I can do with Blender or not.

I’m halfway through the book “Blender 3D Basics” by Gordon C Fisher, and I’ve read the first chapter in “Blender Master class” by Ben Simonds. These books really seem geared towards building animation for games or movies, which would be fun but doesn’t really help a whole lot with what I’m currently trying to do.

All of that was so that I could ask this question:
Are there any books or detailed tutorials available (for Blender 2.6+) that can help me with the nitty gritty of modeling for fabrication in Blender?

If there are tutorials for this on this forum, what keywords should I be using to find them?

Alternatively, if Blender is a poor choice for what I’m doing I’m open to trying something else. I’m using blender because all the other applications I’ve looked at are either out of my price range (I can’t spend more than a few hundred on software), require a subscription, or are cloud based. I need software that runs standalone on windows and doesn’t need a network connection. I’m getting comfortable with the Blender interface so it would be nice if I can do this in Blender.

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You have chosen the wrong modeling paradigm for (technical) precision modeling. Blender is mainly a polygonal modeler and polygonal modeling was originally designed for on-screen purposes (stills, animation, games). The keyword is approximation, which is what polygonal modeling is.
Sure you can increase the polygon density to the point your hardware drowns in bits and have very precisely defined shapes. You could make your model well within required tolerances (3D printing is popular nowadays), but the point is that the modeling paradigm and the tools to do it are for approximation, so it can be hard.

In CAD/CAM/CAE modeling paradigms are: solid modeling (like in Solidworks) and NURBS (Rhino for example). There are others but those are the main ones.

Thanks for the response.

I worked (professionally) with 3D Studio max for a while to do architectural renderings and walkthroughs. While I’m sure it’s not on par with Solidworks for this kind of project, it seemed to have enough tools to get me where I want to go. I just don’t have access to a license anymore.

I thought Blender was powerful enough to go toe to toe with 3D Studio but I guess the two applications have different roots, so while 3DS might have been bent to my purpose, from what you’re saying it sounds like learning Blender may not be a good use of my time. I should probably find something else.

I looked up Solidworks, which sounds perfect until I saw the price tag ($4000)! Then I looked up Rhino, which is much more reasonable at $1000, but still out of my price range. I also found something called BRL-CAD, but it seems really complex. I’ll keep looking. Are there any other suggestions?

ViaCAD Pro ($ 250, V9 soon to come)
MoI3D ($ 295, V3 soon to come)

ViaCAD has one of the best surfacing/fillet libraries around, but is a bit clumsy in handling (imho). MoI is brilliant and easy to use, but possibly rather a rapid sketching software than a construction tool. Check the demos to see which one fits your needs!

This is an oldie but a goodie. If you were happy with 3DSMax, you’ll be just as happy with Blender.

Welcome to BlenderArtists :smiley:


This may be exactly what I needed.

I didn’t see the comment about VIaCAD and Mol until I had already hunted around and downloaded FreeCAD. It looks like it would excel as far as accuracy and handing a blueprint to someone, but I would have a steep learning curve to get my models built. The documentation is pretty thin.

The link you gave me seems to cover the kind of modeling I want to do. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to directly print something out from Blender that I can give to a shop, but based on that tutorial I’m confident that I can at least model the components I want with some accuracy. I’m going to continue with Blender for a while and see if I can make it work.