Learn what 3D modeling software is and why Autodesk Fusion 360 is an ideal 3D modeling software for beginners and experts alike.
As with building any new skill, there’s typically a learning curve. This is especially true when it comes to 3D modeling. Engineering students, industrial designers, and three-dimensional (3D) modeling experts can benefit from a refresher course on 3D modeling. This beginners guide seeks to familiarize the basic process of 3D modeling and explain where to find additional resources to help designers go from dream to done in no time.
What is 3D modeling?
3D modeling is the process of using computer-aided design (CAD) software to develop a virtual mathematical representation or design of a desired object or part. Not to be confused with 3D printing (or additive manufacturing), which is the process of printing a physical object out of filament or another applicable material. There is a relationship between the two processes, though. Designers and engineers can export 3D models from 3D modeling software to a 3D printer to create 3D printed prototypes or final products.
3D modeling can either result in a digital or physical end product. The digital animation and film industries both use 3D modeling to bring storytelling to life on your screen. Industrial designers and engineers, however, use 3D modeling to create a digital representation of products they intend to manufacture in real life.
3D modeling advantages
3D modeling offers significant advantages over 2D drawings when using the right design software. Within CAD software, designers can create 3D models by manipulating virtual space. Modern CAD software like Autodesk Fusion 360 provides additional aides like generative design — an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven predictive method that calculates thousands of feasible 3D models.
3D models live in a digital environment. With the proper CAD software, designers and engineers can manipulate, test, and revise their designs to find the ideal balance between form, function, durability, and aesthetic appeal.
Who uses 3D modeling?
As mentioned before, 3D modeling has several different applications. Applications include video game development, testing the aerodynamics of the next space shuttle, workshopping the next successor to the Eames chair, and more.
Types of 3D modeling
There are two general types of 3D modeling: organic and hard-surface. Organic modeling is generally the digital recreation of organic or living things like trees, animals, and people. Often, organic modeling also incorporates animation. Hard-surface modeling deals with inorganic materials and static objects, such as machine parts, automobiles, or furniture. This is the type of modeling most pertinent to industrial engineers.
To learn more about 3D modeling and its applications, visit Autodesk’s 3D Modeling Software webpage.
Tools of the trade
Animators and industrial designers use similar tools when they create 3D models, such as:
- Spline: A smooth line that curves and adapts to intercept multiple defined points.
- Trim: Cuts a line to the nearest endpoint.
- Fillet: Rounds off corners within a specified radius.
- Circular pattern: Repeats selected designs around a center point.
Get started with Fusion 360: 3D modeling software for beginners
Fusion 360 is an integrated Cloud CAD solution that also provides computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), computer-aided engineering (CAE), and printed circuit board (PCB) solutions. Fusion 360 is user-friendly and provides some of the most comprehensive training materials on the internet for beginners. Below is a list of helpful links to Autodesk’s comprehensive library of tutorials and training material, such as:
In addition to training materials, Fusion 360 has an in-product chat feature where you can chat with experts or ask questions as you design your next product.
With all of these features in mind, streamline your design workflow and consider Fusion 360 for your next 3D modeling project!