Before I start posting about what I created, I thought it would be nice to make a short overview of software tools that I use for creating stuff.

inkscapeMy favorite 2D software tool is Inkscape. It is a vector drawing program and completely free (unlike Adobe Illustrator). To me it is the go-to program for everything that I need to lasercut. It automatically contours bitmap images, can do boolean operations on shapes, imports a lot of formats and exports to almost any file format.

sketchupFor most of my 3D design, I use Google Sketchup. I really love the simplicity of the 3D drawing, which is completely different from any other CAD program I’ve used. I can sketch things like houses or furniture very quickly to get an idea of how an interior will look like. But also basic parts can be created for 3D printing with a proper STL export plugin.

OpenSCAD-logoSome 3D models are better to create as parametric designs. OpenSCAD is a program for creating 2D and 3D shapes in a kind of programming language. For a software developer like me, it makes sense to use this tool. But I can imagine that this program has a very steep learning curve for the ‘normal’ people.

cura-logoTo 3D print your designs, you will need to slice your 3D objects (STL file) into layers and calculate the machine code for the 3D printer (gcode). Cura is such a free slicer, which is created by the same guys of the Ultimaker. I love this software for its simplicity and it gives me very good 3D prints.

python

I use several programming languages, but my go-to language for making stuff will always be Python. This language is open source and comes pre-installed on OSX. The language has a peculiar syntax that will scare any Java or C++ programmer at first. But once you embrace the simplicity of this language and its millions of free external libraries, you see how powerful Python really is. Python works for a simple 10-line script up to an application with a full GUI with 3D interaction possibilities.

I believe that these 5 programs should be installed on the computer of every real maker. If you don’t agree, let me know in the comments ;-).