What would the most suitable modeling software for a beginner on Mac and why?

I have done 3D modeling in the past on 3D Studio R4 (when Max came out, it seemed really complicated and I kind of lost interest).

I’m kind of tinkering with the idea to try some modern stuff, but would like to get some hints, what would be the “best for a beginner” these days?

One problem being, that I’m now tied to Mac and cannot in any way possible even think about going back to Windows.

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11 Answers

For native Mac apps you have following possibilities:

1) Google Sketchup (http://sketchup.google.com/) - really easy to use, ideal tool for beginners
2) AutoCAD for MAC (http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/pc/index?siteID=123112&id=17326753) - AutoDesk just launched a product for Apple. I haven't use it so I don't no how good it is.
3) Siemens NX is for MAC as well (http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/nx/index.shtml) . I have played around with it while ago and it was pretty good. But this is very powerful tool and are ment for hard-core engineers.

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For Mac, you have a few options, some free:

Google SketchUp - http://sketchup.google.com
SolidThinking - http://www.solidthinking.com
Blender - http://www.blender.org
Cheetah3D - http://www.cheetah3d.com
Cinema4D - http://www.maxon.net
modo - http://www.luxology.com/modo
Cobalt - http://www.ashlar.com/products/product-overview.html

For prismatic modeling, the Ashlar products would be a good choice. For free and quick Google SketchUp is a fine way to start off.

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Are you open to running boot-camp on your mac? You could load windows 7 on your machine and run just about anything. What kind of modeling are you looking to do?

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Would Google Sketchup be too amateurish and limiting? At least that's what I've been recommended most of the time and it should run on Mac, too.

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There are two ways to do it:
1) there are native MAC apps that you can run
2) you can use Parallel, VmWare or other software to emulate Windows.

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since you have used autocad then it will be easy for you to use inventor.

Inventor is nice and easy to learn

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I have seen Solidworks on a Mac, via PC emulator software (?).

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Rhino 3D is coming to the mac as well, currently in Beta - you could apply to become a beta tester

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Platform agnostic, perfect for a beginner, great for 3D print prep so you’ll get to experience your stuff IRL thus giving positive feedback loop = keeps your learning going.

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"One problem being, that I’m now tied to Mac and cannot in any way possible even think about going back to Windows."


It depends what you want to lean toward, a designer or an engineer.

If a designer you can get away with a Mac because the programs that run on it are good for the design and not necessarily production.

If an engineer then you need to deal with windows because these are the real manufacturing programs.

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I'm a member of the Rhino beta program. They are doing a good job, but still a long way to catch up to the Windows version. Then again the Mac development team is very small in comparison.

For me the convergence of OSX and iOS are a compelling combination for on the move CAD and shop floor prototype design.

The new iPad, if it can be integrated with machine control is going to be a desktop killer.

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