3D software for watchmaking...

I’m now checking a bit the various 3D software that’s available and choose one to use for watchmaking (3D model, render for ultra realist imaging).
Shall I get 3D studio max, or Cinema 4D? Or something else?
I recently saw an ad for “3Design” that’s supposed to be made for jewelry and watches, but thought the interface looks a bit old-school, not sure it’s any good.
Any help much wanted, thanks.

Are you looking to make “pretty pictures” of your watches, or actually be able to manufacture the models afterwards?

If you are looking to manufacture the watches, neither 3DS Max nor Cinema 4D will do the job.

Look at Rhino if you are new to 3D. Best bang for buck. If you can afford them, try either Pro/e, Solidworks, Catia, or Alias…its a long list and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

Thank you so much for your input. I was a bit confused.
I see things more clearly now.

You are right, there’s a big difference between making pretty pictures and actual production sketch/design/render.

First I thought 3DS shall be a good solution, as I’m a bit scared about the technical side of production software such as Rhino Solidworks (etc.).

I’ve just checked a few of the software you mentioned. For example, Autodesk Alias seems to be quite a good solution, isn’t it?
Pro/e and Solidworks frightened be a bit when I saw the interface and “engineer-style” menus…

My goal is to sketch and design watches (and a couple other objects) in 3D so that the factories can use these files for production.

The question is, is it possible to render the designs in good quality as well? For like, ads etc.

I’ve tried to find some books/tutorials on watch design but failed as I’ve only found books on watchmaking which is not really my part of the job…

Rhino would probably be a good choice, as it can export to programs like SolidWorks (SolidWorks can directly open Rhino files). That would a allow an Engineer too manipulate the design into something that was possible to manufacture.

Maxwell Render, one of the best IMHO, has plugins for Rhino, SolidWorks and many other 3D packages.

Link to Maxwell http://www.maxwellrender.com

A couple of Watch renders in Maxwell - linked to their gallery.

Hearing a bit more about what you are wanting to do Rhino sounds like the best bet. You can get Rhino for $895 Euro cheaper if you are a student. You can also download Blender 3D for a decent 3D rendering engine for free(!).

Alias would definitely do what you want, but it is significantly more expensive.

wooow, the maxwell render images are awesome!

maybe not the first (Boss), but the Rolex is hyper real.

As you both stated this in your posts, the important thing is
that the files should be compatible with a production software
such as Solidworks.

Let’s just see what software would be the best, the easiest
interface and so on. Let’s not talk about the price, but
the overall pros and cons of each software.

As far as I can see, Maxwell works on Rhino, but not Alias?
Rhino can export to Solidworks, but so does Alias?

Hectic night I must confess. 2:23am, off to bed.

Thanks alot, good night and see u tomorrow.

There are far too many variables to decide for you…do you have experience working with 3D programs?

I personally would go for Rhino based on what it sounds like you are looking for.

If you are going higher end, I prefer Pro/e over Solidworks and I can’t comment directly on Alias b/c I have never used it.

The parametric modelling you get from pro/e or solidworks is great once you have the idea nailed and you are working on the fine details of the product.

Rhino’s strength is in its 3D surfacing and how quickly you can generate those surfaces.

thanks. you could say I’m a 2D senior and 3D newbie.
that’s why interface easyness would be nice.

Rhino: seems to be quite good. Plus various samples of watch design on their website. Your comment about Rhino’s quick 3D surface seems positive as well.

Alias Studio: After watching the official flash movies, I can say it looks quite intuitive as well. Plus they have tons of watch sketching/design on their website, looks like a weapon of choice.

Render: I think Maxwell Render is simply awesome…

Is there any watch designer down here who could say what software they use?

I’ve checked Rhino’s website and links today. It seems like it’s a pretty solid piece of software with a nice community of users and plug-in makers. I’m thinking about it… any watchmakers here using Rhino?

about maxwell render… i agree it’s probably one of the best out there… but if you don’t have a monster of a machine it’s darn impossible to use. it grinds my workstation to a halt… granted i was going for glass, but watches have glass… 3ds is probably the best in terms of being able to build and render… though at work i use solidworks and render with photoworks with some pretty good results…

Yes, 3DS seems quite good.
I just called a friend who uses 3DS, but not for industrial design.
He said 3DS and Rhino uses almost the same engine.
Then, what’s the difference between the two of them?

I think, it’s important for me that I use a piece of software that’s
not too complicated, focusing on

  1. quick and easy sketching of the watch
  2. being able to export the files for production (solidworks etc.)
  3. render hyper real images (with or without a plugin such as maxwell or else)
  4. price is not a problem. if the software works well, has a future and has a good community, I’ll buy it.

I hate to say it, but your friend doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does.

Rhino and 3D Studio MAX are two completely differnt products.

Rhino is a NURBS modeller. MAX works primarily with polygons/meshes. MAX is a tool for the entertainment and gaming industries where precise mathematical representations of complex surfaces is not even a requirement.

Rhino cannot produce photorealistic renderings on its own. At minimum, you need to use the Flamingo plug-in. MAX on the other hand excells at photorealistic renderings with its built in raytrace and Mentral Ray rendering engines.

My workflow process for the last 8 years has been to model objects in Rhino and then import those models in to 3D Studio MAX/Autodesk Viz for rendering and animation.

Autodesk VIZ is the exact same thing as 3D Studio MAX as far as features designers would use and costs $2000 instead of $3500.

argh I’m getting all confused now.
But ok, I knew Rhino/Alias would be the best choices for
object design.
So, Rhino & Maxwell render should do.
Or Alias and some other render software (I don’t recall Maxwell being available for Alias, am I right?)
Now, about Alias, can it export to something that the industry (watch factory) could use? Rhino does Solidworks, but can’t remember if Alias does. thank you nydesignguy, your help is much appreciated!

most factories (in china) will accept IGES files… those files can be imported in most 3D programs for editing… you’ll just get a solid to modify which can be a challenge in it of itself… so yes alias can export a 3D IGES file that can be imported into many different programs.

Good thing then.
I’m glad you answered this.

It’s important that such a software can communicate with production software. The factories I’m working with are both in Switzerland and China. And I think if both Alias and Rhino exports in Solidworks (etc) that’ll save me time and money.

I’ve seen the Alias Studio website with flash movies. It seems that they focus alot on household products, design objects and watches. I’m happy about that.
On the other hand, Rhino is cheaper, but also looks good and easy to use compared to one of the giant monsters.

3DS seems like a different world to me, as it’s more related to animation and cinema. is that correct?

I think it’s difficult for an artist that’s used to 2D and creative sketchs, to work on a piece of software that’s been made for engineers. And Rhino/Alias seems less complicated than say, Solidworks. Correct me if I’m wrong.

i think alias and rhino have more of an organic creative experience then solidworks/pro-e do. with those you want to have a fairly clear idea of what or how oyu want to build something, whereas alias rhino you can easy modify surfaces. a lot mor like sculpting in clay…

If price is not an issue I would consider AliasStudio. It has a steeper price and (probbably) learning curve but it provides a more interactive set of functionality for editing and evaluating curves and surfaces (think “sculpting” your model). AliasStudio also provides a unique set of 2D sketching tools which include fast and hight quality brushes and markers. This is the only application offering a tight integration of 2D and 3D tools. AliasStudio also offers some pretty advanced realtime visualization (check the watch demo on their website) which is not good enough for adds and such, but good enough for desing reviews with the spare of software rendering time (and hassle).

Both Rhino and AliasStudio offer pretty good file format support with neutral file formats, or native such as PTC Granite (Alias), or SolidWorks (both I believe). BTW they are a some watch part manufactures that are on Pro/ENGINEER, some on Autodesk Invetor, and a few on SolidWorks.

Maxwell is top in terms of render quality but it comes with the cost of long rendering times. There is indeed a plugin available for Rhino, but it also runs as a standalone which can import polygonal data from any source (hence AliasStudio as well).

Or if you are looking at some other rendering (and animation) alternatives you might like to aslo consider Autodesk Maya which is also developed by the ex-Alias company. Basically on top of it’s native rendering engine, it offers the same rendering technology than 3DS Max (mental ray).

Hope this helps.

Just 2 cents here…

Take a step back and think about the design process of creating a watch. Think about how far you want to go. and always remember that in the end you have to get it made/manufactured.

With that in mind, your 3D programs start to look a lot different. 3D is 3D is 3D. and extrude in one program is the same in the other program. So then the question begs, how does one go about figuring which one to use?

I think if you draw a line down the middle then you have two camps. Parametric and non parametric. The key difference between the two is that parametric programs will update and change your geometry through the parameters that you implemented. Your design intent is kept intact because you put it there. Either through geometric relationships (making two lines parallel, or making an arc and a line tangent) couple that with dimensional values and you have a very robust model.

Looking at the line drawn, programs that fall into Non-parametric are Alias, Rhino, Maya, and 3Ds. (can you work in some type of parametric way, I wouldn’t say no, but its not the way most people use the program.)

Parametric programs are Catia, UG, IDEAS, Pro/E, Solidworks, and Inventor. These programs all give you a history tree that can always allow you to “roll back” your model in time and branch out and create a new history tree. Throw in the fact that generating the 2D drawing for manufacturing is ALWAYS associated with the 3D. (change a dimension in either location and it changes across the board)

I have been kicking around this industry for the better part of 15 years, and everyone has their own personal likes and dislikes. It all comes down to what works for you. Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of the 3D playing field.

PS… also do a job search for at least the top 3 programs. Alias, Solidworks, Rhino. If only for the simple fact that you are not going to design watches for the rest of your life and starting over in a new 3D program when you do, kind of blows. As well as take a look at what industries use what. Go into the transportation field and if it is car exteriors or interiors, then Alias is used there. Want to do entire 747 planes, then they use UG or Catia.

Madhero, you are right, for creativity’s sake it’s important to use a software that can transcribe your creativity into the computer, and model ideas rather than technical data.
Solidworks or Pro/E, they are totally “factory oriented” software made for engineers etc.
I’ve pretty much choosed Alias Studio over Rhino. But after I installed Alias’s demo on the computer, I discovered it doesn’t work. All icons are replaced by small squares which makes the software unusable… weird thing.
I’ve posted on another thread about it too.