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3D modeling software can be really useful for many different applications, especially when you need to use 3D printing. If you are looking for a method to design technical products, you will certainly have to use a parametric modeling software. In this article, we are going to see what parametric modeling is and what the specificities of this process are. We will also talk about the differences between parametric modeling and direct modeling. Then, we will see what are the best parametric modeling software available on the market to create your projects.
Parametric modeling can also be called parametric solid modeling. It is used to define a dimension’s ability to change the shape of model’s geometry immediately when the dimension value is modified. This modeling process is great for projects with a lot of manufacturing requirement and that need a high accuracy such as mechanical projects. This modeling process is built from mathematical equations.
It is a practical process if you need to produce products with little variations. Indeed, it is good to create designs that need to be modified on a regular basis. It will totally be adapted to your design intent.
All the models created with this process have what we call features. These are attributes that include length, width, depth, orientation, geometry, material, density functions, etc. Parametric modeling is actually focusing on relationships between features, and between parts, assemblies and drawings.
These 3D programs are really great to see how the model directly changes when something is modified, and you can easily reuse the data of a 3D model to create a new design. Parametric modeling software is a really good tool for manufacturing. Indeed, it can reduce your production time as it can easily be integrated inside of your manufacturing process.
Be careful, you will have to be a little bit experienced if you want to use a parametric software. If you need some help, we have a blog post that will help you to deal with design guidelines while working with a parametric modeling software.
This tool can be useful for many different industries, but parametric modeling is especially used in mechanical engineering. It is great to have parametric software if you have an automotive project for example. It is also used for architecture projects, aircraft design, or even machinery. These CAD programs might be perfect for your rapid prototyping process.
Parametric and direct modeling are two different modeling techniques. Direct modeling doesn’t create model features such as parametric solutions. Indeed, direct modeling is used frequently to make geometries, you can’t work on the relationships between features, you can only modify the selected surface of your model. Direct modeling allows to manipulate your design more quickly, so it can be convenient at the beginning of the conception of a project. For more accuracy, technical specificities and better visualization of the project, parametric modeling software is a better solution.
Some direct modeling software are also really useful for your geometric models, thanks to their various powerful tools, such as Blender.
If you are just starting to get to know the 3D world, Parametric Modeling can be very difficult. It takes many years to properly work with parametric modeling. However, direct modeling is easier to understand and learn.
Parametric modeling is more complex as it is a mathematical and systematic approach to designing a 3D model. Direct modeling is in comparison more straightforward and it is easier to explore design variations and switch between different designs.
Here is a selection of the best free CAD software and paid ones to create your 3D models using parametric modeling. Most of the time these software tools are not really addressed to home users, but more to professional 3D modeling designers or programmers. Let’s see what are the 3D CAD tools that you could use for your project.
Solidworks is certainly one of the best software to work on mechanical parts. This parametric software is a professional tool, great for engineers and 3D designers. This modeling tool will help you to create efficient models, work on mechanical projects and advanced product designs.
If you are planning to use additive manufacturing, don’t forget to check our tutorial to prepare your 3D model for 3D printing with Solidworks.
CATIA is a software developed by Dassault Systèmes. It is not an easy software to use if you are not really experienced with 3D modeling. This CAD tool will allow you to work on parametric models and will be perfect for complex designs and projects. This program is addressed to professionals as it is a really complete software, with a wide range of advanced tools.
If you are interested in using this parametric CAD software, you can check our CATIA tutorial series.
FreeCAD is a free parametric software. It is an open-source 3D program, with an intuitive interface, it can really suit beginners. This feature-based software can also be used by professionals for architecture or mechanical engineering projects for example.
If you need to work on industrial designs, you can use Creo Parametric. This is a software developed by PTC (Parametric Technology Corporation) allowing you to create complex 3D models and work on 2D or 3D complex surfaces, designs or even model assembly. It will provide you a lot of efficient tools, adapted to a manufacturing environment. Industries such as the automotive industry are using this CAD software.
Siemens NX, formerly known as Unigrahics, is a software that will allow you to work on parametric and nonparametric models, and is able to provide your great engineering analysis. Siemens NX will be perfect for you to work on your product designs. It is made to create complex models that will be manufactured.
If you want to know all the basics about this modeling software, watch the video below:
If you are a 3D designer, you may know this one. Rhino is a professional and really complete 3D CAD software used in many different industries, if you have no previous experience with 3D modeling it will be difficult for you to use this solution. This 3D program allows you to work on parametric or nonparametric modeling for your engineering projects.
If you need parametric tools, you will need to add the plugin Grasshopper. It is a visual programming language. It will allow you to work on advanced parametric modeling for structural engineering
Fusion 360 is developed by AutoDesk, it is not a fully parametric modeling software. It is quite a polyvalent CAD program, as you can use it to make both direct modeling or parametric modeling. It has some good simulation and modeling tools that will surely help you to improve all your 3D parts.
We have a tutorial available on our website to help you with Fusion 360, check it out!
Inventor is a software developed by Autodesk. This 3D program is well used in mechanical engineering, and as most of the efficient software used for technical projects, it is offering a parametric solution. Inventor offers great parametric possibilities that will help you make good 3D models and especially great mechanical designs.
If you are interested in using Inventor, check out our tutorial.
We hope that this blogpost helped you and that you found the perfect parametric modeling software for your projects. If you want to get more information about the best 3D CAD software to use regarding the specificities of your industry, check out our previous blog posts about 3D software for the medical or automotive industry, aircraft projects, or even architecture.
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