How to make a picture from a CAD drawing?
February 7, 2008 7:24 AM   Subscribe

A non-technical friend has some CAD drawings of a widget he's making. He wants to make pretty pictures (renderings?) of the widget, with a background, texture, that kind of thing.

Is there some kind of extremely friendly software (app or plugin) to do this, or is it something best outsourced to a 3D wonk? Disclaimer: I know nothing about 3D, CAD, rendering, or any of that jazz.
posted by everichon to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Best answer: Hardly anything CAD-related is cheap. Deep Creator, for instance, does this kind of stuff with pretty much any CAD format, but it's $2K for a license. Depending on the volume of files he/she has, they might be able to spend a quarter of that amount just farming it out.
posted by fusinski at 7:47 AM on February 7, 2008

Do you know what CAD app he is using? AutoCAD has limited built in rendering abilities that are usually sufficient for a few static views. If he needs more 3ds Max is the Autodesk option. They have a 30 day free trial however the learning curve is pretty steep.
posted by Mitheral at 8:11 AM on February 7, 2008

I don't have extensive 3D modeling experience, but I know Solidworks is lauded as the best all around due to price and ease of use. A glance at the Solidworks webpage tells me you can get the student edition for retail $99 US. Though, ease of use is relative and any 3D modeling takes some technical know-how.

The alternative is a CAD Modeler might charge as little as 50 dollars for a small job, and probably get it down quicker.
posted by strangememes at 8:12 AM on February 7, 2008

If you can get more information, Mitheral's question about what app he is currently using would be helpful, also where did he get the drawings he has?
posted by strangememes at 8:23 AM on February 7, 2008

What format are the files in? If its something Blender can read, that maybe worth a download. I've not used it in years, so I've no idea how easy its to use nowdays.
posted by Z303 at 8:23 AM on February 7, 2008

He may want to check out Alibre Design Xpress, its free-as-in-beer, imports many common CAD formats, and has some rendering capabilities.
posted by Reverend John at 8:55 AM on February 7, 2008

Response by poster: So, further to the "farm it out" train of thought, is there a MeFite "yellow pages", where I could see who among us does this kind of thing professionally? It seems almost too small to post on Jobs.
posted by everichon at 9:10 AM on February 7, 2008

Best answer: I would have a CAD or 3D student do this for you. Small renderings are a pretty simple job, but only if you know what you're doing and have the necessary software. Why not post an offer on some college forums?
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 9:25 AM on February 7, 2008

what's this widget? If he's just looking for some diagrammatic views of a simple part, sketchup is really not a bad way to go. It's like 734 times as powerful and flexible as people give it credit for. I bet he could spend a few hours learning and then do the whole thing himself.

If the widget is super-complex and he's going from 2D drawings to some photo-real 3D parts, he'd best hire a pro or at least a student. There's tons of people who can do this; I was an architecture major and never had to do product design or anything like that, but I wouldn't hesitate to tackle a project like this with the modeling skills I picked up.
posted by Chris4d at 9:59 AM on February 7, 2008

Response by poster: It's actually a portable demonstration kitchen that he manufactures. And I think he's going to have to find someone to do it; I will get with our local Uni and see if anyone might be interested. Thanks, all!
posted by everichon at 10:13 AM on February 7, 2008

Everichon, I'd be interested in helping if you haven't found someone locally to do it. I've been meaning to improve my portfolio of interior renderings in order to get some local jobs, and would be able to make a pretty reasonable offer, I think.
posted by wzcx at 12:44 PM on February 7, 2008

Response by poster: wzcx, I just MeMailed you.
posted by everichon at 1:28 PM on February 7, 2008

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