(Updated November 2018)
(This continues my series of Frequently Asked Questions. See the rest of the FAQ pages.)
Today I’d like to take a moment to talk about the commonly practised but controversial subject of combining software packages together.
The Limitations of One CAD Software Package
It seems, among pretty much all the CAD users I’ve met who have reached a sufficiently high level of skill in their particular speciality, nearly every single one has at least dabbled in using other software packages alongside their main software of choice. Often, they discover that the advantages found in the design philosophies of one particular program can compliment their main software package, or sometimes even offset the weakness of the other completely.
The trouble is, no self-respecting CAD software salesman will ever admit out loud that their software makes a good second choice to another program. Who can blame them? It’s not in their interest to start toting their main flagship as secondary to anything.
However, it makes sense that a good craftsman will always look for new and more efficient ways of getting your job done, and sometimes this can come from finding unorthodox combinations using existing tools.
What Works Well Together?
In this spirit, I have compiled a list of some combinations of software mentioned by colleagues and from my own experiences. These have been grouped below by suitability for specific complex tasks which come up frequently in a professional CAD technician’s role. If you know of a combination which has consistently worked for you, then let me know and I’ll add it.
Please note that this is only meant as a list of tools to help make your existing work practices easier. I’m not holding any of these combinations superior to the others, nor am I suggesting by any means that you should go out and buy them all (even though I reckon that would please the software developers greatly). But if you find yourself working with any of the following processes all the time, and you’re already using one of the programs I’m listing, perhaps it might be worth giving that particular combination a look.
A Couple Notes Before We Begin
- All combinations listed below have been confirmed to be effective as of the most recently released versions of the specified software.
- While I’ve tried most of these combinations, there are a few recommendations mixed in here from forums like 3dCADJewelry.com. (Cheers, guys!)
- I’m not endorsing any of these combinations over any others. These are just solutions to complex design problems.
- Once again, If I’ve missed a useful combination, please let me know.
List of Efficient Jewellery CAD Software Combinations
Best Combinations for 3D Sculpture and Texturing:
- 3Design (with 3Shaper), combined with ZBrush
- Matrix or Rhino (with Clayoo or T-Splines), combined with Geomagics Sculpt
- Matrix or Rhino (with Clayoo or T-Splines), combined with ZBrush
- Firestorm CAD, combined with ZBrush
Best Combinations for Rendering Post-Production/Compositing:
- Any CAD software with Maxwell and Photoshop
- Any CAD software with Keyshot and Photoshop
- Rhino/Matrix with V-Ray and Photoshop
- Rhino/RhinoGold with Brazil and Photoshop
Best Combinations For Rapidly Building up an .Stl File Library of size ranges/variations
- 3Design/Firestorm with Magics