Which 3D package???


I want to 3D model a pair of ski goggles that I’m designing with an integrated digital camera.

I was wondering what would be the best 3D package to easily create natural shapes and advanced curves. I have access to Solidworks, Rhino, I-deas, 3D Max, ProE but could probably get access to most things. I’ll also have to learn the program pretty quick specificaly for this project.

Also in the long run what programs should I be learning?

Any advice?

I think most of the programs you listed are fairly common in the industry, although I’m not sure of I-deas. Jumping into complex shapes in Solidworks & Pro may be a bit daunting for a first timer. I would probably say Rhino would be your best bet. Fairly easy to learn, and common in the industry.

I think I’m going to go with Rhino. I’m going to get stuck into the tutorials tonight.

I’ll need to output the file to be rapid prototyped and I’ll also need technical drawings. Is this possible in rhino?


Yes for the first part and maybe for the second. 2D detailing/dimensioning is still limited in Rhino.

I just took a free class as an intern (because I am an ID intern) at design engine education in Chicago. There was an older Industrial designer who was learning Wildfire next to me and after just 2 weeks in the program he turned out a pair of sun glasses in about 3 hours. I think Pro/ENGINEER is better the Rhino for a number of reasons. I was taught some Rhino in school but I like Pro/E much more because of Wildfire’s ability to prove out form by parametric modifications. In Rhino you have to remodel most of the effort. I find it hard to believe (even though the DE|E training team teaches Rhino) that major corporations opt for Rhino for anything.

if you have a good graphic card use solidworks.

with sw you’ll get the better fast results for rendering since you don’t have to export to max or other 3d apps. because you need to render your ski goggles with some transparency for the visor part. just make sure you leave some tolerancing in the groove where the visor is fitted because when rendering transparent material in photoworks if there isn’t a gap between solid and see through material you’ll get unwanted shades.

How much is Rhino? How much is Pro/E? I guess as an intern you don’t have to worry about buying software yourself…

Pro/E, Solidworks, et all are engineering tools, not ID tools. They are not condusive nor work well with the up front design aspect of3D modelling.

IMO companies that insist Industrial Designers learn and use Pro/E or Solidworks are companies I have no interest working for. Basically, they are saying they are too cheap to pay for engineers and would rather designers do engineering work at a IDer’s salary.

competition is tough.

peoples perceptions are tougher!

on my opinion ,each software have their own advantages which attract people use .so which you use easily ang which you will appreciate

I use Rhino on a daily basis, I also use Solidworks, and have used both Studio Tools 9.7, and 3ds MAX in the past.

From a design perspective, I would use no other tool than Rhino. You would be challenged, even if you were an experienced user, to create expressive, organic shapes in a solids- modeling package.

Besides, you will need solid NURBS experience to successfully design products using Alias, Rhino, or even with PRO-E that has these features integrated now.



I totally disagree with you when you say that they are not condusive to “up front design”. The only reason someone would have that kind of perception is because they are not fluent enough in using these packages in a fast paced environment.

interestingly, with Pro/Concept, it looks like PTC have decided that they needed something to complement Pro/Engineer (note the engineer bit) at the concept design end of product development.

I would have to disagree with inspires…

besides, this discussion isn’t about “who’s got the skillz”, it’s about providing some useful info for the individual that started this post.

With that in mind, I would again recommend putting some time in on Rhino or Alias. As a beginner, particularly for the project you have in mind, there will be no more powerful tool.


My previous statement was my opinion to the comment made by nydesignguy, where as I mentioned I disagreed with his argument regarding ‘front end design phases’.

However, while we are on the subject. I do actually think this does have something to do with “whos got the skillz”. In the end this guy needs to pick up the skill set that it will allow him to generate a form that he wants rather than developing a shaped defined by the limitations of his skills. For many years I have witnessed designers sketching one shape on a sketch pad then creating another in CAD, all because they cannot achieve there desired aesthetic.

In the end though, ed mate if you do need to turn this around very quickly. I would go with which ever package you have had the most experience with, and also take a look around you, who can you call on when you are struggling to generate that surface and you cannot quite figure it out. It is not always advisable to begin learing brand new software if deadlines are approaching fast. I would also consider the next phase what are your intentions with this data i.e. do you need to create tooling data etc, also where do you want to take your career in the long term. I have seen numerous guys that have at some point in there career made the step up to either ProE, Catia, or NX. leaving Rhino, MAX, and Alias behind. Me included…

What about SolidThinking? Any versus for it? It has a unique upgradability, and priced well against Rhino. Although it seems more strong in Europe.

This perception is interesting to me as i learned 3d modelling on Solidworks and was quite proficient at it when i felt that i should ‘step up’ to Alias Studiotools. This was because it allowed me to go deeper in to those aspects of design which i was most interested in.

This is not to say that i doubt that you have found the opposite to be true, merely that to state that one is ‘stepping up’ by using certain software presumes that you know where someone is ‘stepping’ to. i was not stepping in the same direction as you. In my possibly not so humble opinion there aren’t any ‘best’ tools just more or less appropriate tools to the job and the user’s inclinations.

Some may legitimately tell you to step up from CAD to a pencil.


tele what do you mean when you say ‘deeper into those aspects of design which I am interested in’. I presume this means ‘advanced’ surface generation and concept exploration.

I have used all of the packages that have been discussed so far on this topic to varying degrees within quite a few different environments, this includes Alias and SW.

Alias does have some benefits, but with all due respect the step from SW to Alias in my humble opinion is neither up or down. SW is limited in it’s modelling capabilities due to the Kernel on which it is based. However, the method of surface generation used within Alias makes it no different to MAX in that it is very good for animation and visualisation purposes.

The argument of ‘stepping up’ could simply be derived upon based on your final goal. However, if you consider the entire product development cycle then you are limited incomparrison to Pro/E, NX, or any other high end CAD package, and on a personnal note I have never as yet seen a shape generated in Alias, Rhino, or MAX that could not be replicated in ProE. In fact I have recieved Alias files in the passed that I have had to repair within ProE in order to make then acceptable for tooling etc.

I’ve lost count of the number of occasions that I’ve had to step-in with Alias surfacing when Pro/E modellers have reached a point where they claim it would take so long to achieve the same result that it would be uneconomical.
After evaluating Pro, SW, and UG, my company has recently decided to ‘step up’ to UG-NX3. Having had training on all 3 packages in the past, I’m optimistic I won’t have to step-in with Alias surfacing with NX, the trade-off is the learning curve of a complex product that means that it will be the design engineers(albeit ones that really appreciate aesthetics) that will create the models. You get to a point where creative designers don’t want to spend their careers learning which buttons to press to achieve their designs. My point is that Alias(or Rhino for that matter) remains a good way for creatives to get their ideas down in 3D. This is precisely the reason why PTC decided to launch a concept modelling package to complement Pro.

BTW : For surfacing at least, Alias bears as much resemblance to Max as Pro/E has to Home Garden Designer Express :wink:

Prentice please enlighten me to what exactley is your point. You like Alias better than ProE but the gap between parametric modellers and nurb modellers is getting smaller?

Regarding having to ‘step-in’ with Alias over Pro/E I feel may have more to do with a designers level of experience with surfacing, but everyone’s experience is different.

I actually like NX3, I prefer WF3 though. PTC launched ProConcept a long time and they do continue to refine it but with all CAD packages there is a stereotype. Pro/E scares a lot of people of because they are frigthened at the idea of having to ‘learn which buttons to press to achieve their designs’ this I feel has something to do with older versions of ProE when the interface was quite bad.

The ‘higher end CAD packages are catching up with the likes of Alias and MAX’ this is why Alias and MAX are to some extent stepping into different markets i.e. animation etc. I myself started of learning MAX and Alias so as far as I’m concered the two packages are similar, not in interface but in CV points and curves you pull around, nurbs modelling, basically nice ‘fluffy’ shapes. The reason I learned UG, Catia, and ProE, apart from different clients is because I wanted to make sure I could get the final product to look like what I always envisaged it to be after manufacturing, instead of handing a 3D model or sketch pad over to a design engineer.