After my review of Meshcam, it was suggested that OpenSCAD (available on various OS versions, or here’s the Ubuntu install instructions) could be used to turn 2D DXF files into solid parts for cutting on my CNC router. After trying it out, this solid modelling package is really like nothing I’ve ever seen. Instead of the mouse-driven interface that you see on ProE or Solidworks, you instead have a text editor where you can enter commands that are used to form a solid part.
Oddly, it felt very intuitive to me to use it, and the fact that you can copy-and-paste text into a drawing makes an example extremely easy to follow along with. With professional 3D CAD packages, you may have to poke through 5 menus to get what you need, in OpenSCAD you just type the needed command in.
AutoCAD (or Draftsight – my review) has a text interface that can optionally be used, but it’s interesting to think about what would have happened if other professional CAD packages evolved this way. My feeling is that it might have made things harder to use initially, but once the interface is learned it would have been incredibly fast. Fixing a poorly-programmed design or initially visualizing what you wanted might be harder, however.
Hypothetical thoughts aside, OpenSCAD is really a lot of fun to play with. To draw a sphere, for example, all you have to do is type in “sphere(30);” and press F5. A 3D sphere pops up on your screen. As shown in the video after the “read more” thing,