On his blog my plastic future, Gregg Wygonik lays out why Bonzai 3D (B3D) is a good tool for modeling for your MakerBot, and maybe better than SketchUp Pro. Gregg says he wanted to find an alternative, in case SketchUp goes through some changes after Trimble takes it over from Google.
Sketch Up Pro and B3D run about the same in terms of price (just under $500 for both). However, he says his files from SketchUp occasionally have some problems when you try to slice them in ReplicatorG. No such problems in B3D:
Half the time I would have to rework parts I made in SketchUp that had holes or other simple design bits due to errors with slicing in RepG; no such issue with the many things I threw at it from B3D. Interestingly B3D has the ability to “diagnose” various potential problems when you export a STL file, but even with it reporting issues with a few of my objects, I had no problems with slicing/printing.
Here’s Gregg’s Pro/Con list for Bonzai 3D.
Things I liked:
- ability to draw lines and primitives as walls (think: no need to draw an extruded hexagon followed by another one a little smaller and push/pull to remove the middle, just draw an extruded hexagon with a set wall size and done!);
- some pretty sweet additions to regular booleans (slicing, object and surface splitting);
- NURBS with some really cool blending tools, in a much more approachable interface than Blender;
- 4-up “old school” view (top, left, right, perspective all at once);
- helix creation (screw tops!!);
- rounded or faceted edges with myriad settings;
- right-click on any tool and set a keyboard shortcut;
- and my new favorite: thicken, which takes any non-solid and turns it into a solid of a specified width
Things I didn’t like:
- some features require the setting of custom workplanes while some don’t and you don’t know until it throws an error dialog (workplanes are all new to me, but I like overall);
- inconsistent workplane handling (“lock workplane” sometimes doesn’t lock, and you have to use “save custom workplane”);
- adding dimensions to a part is hit-or-miss whether or not it will measure between the points you click or the entire edge you’re touching, while “measure distance” works perfect but doesn’t leave the dimensions on screen;
- too much reliance on hovering to open up tool groups and additional options (small gripe)
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