3D Slash is a unique CAD program that is more gamified and fun as compared to other CAD software. It may be more for the beginners and starters in CAD than the more advanced users. It does have some useful tools, like their wood pastes and cursors. It has a free version that has some limitations as to what you get access to, and it has a few types of paid versions.
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CAD Software 3D Slash Review
Today I’m going to be talking about another CAD software, a review of a new one that came to our attention recently, called 3D Slash. This is a different CAD program for sure. I’ve been thinking about how to really try to describe it. I guess what I’ve come to the conclusion of is, it’s a beginner CAD program. For sure, it’s a beginner CAD program. What they say is, “3D Slash, a piece of cake.” It may be a piece of cake to learn how to use it and to use it. Then, it really is pretty limiting as well. I really feel it’s somewhere between a CAD program and maybe something like Minecraft, that’s a game. It’s trying to be fun, like a gamified 3D CAD program.
What it’s done is reduced most things that you can do into the form of small cubes, even a big cube. You can of course choose primitives that you want to use in making a model and a lot of basic tools. When you add to them, cut away from them using their various tools, then what you’re doing is you’re adding and subtracting small cubes from it. It’s not like you can create any geometry you want. It’s like it’s pixilated. You have to deal with the realities of those limitations.
In some ways, that’s going to be less pleasing to your eyes and maybe to what you see in your mind that you want to try to create in this CAD program. The reality is when you reduce a 3D model to something that can be printed in layers, at least in the Z axis or the Z direction, going layer by layer, you are limited by those steps that take place when you lay down a layer, depending how thick or thin those layers are. This program even oversimplifies that.
It was quite surprising to me, quite honestly, to see that a new CAD program would be made with such limitations. Then, as I thought about the popularity of programs like Minecraft and thinking about really the young people that would be most interested in that game, and then maybe to go and start using a CAD program, it maybe made sense to me a bit more.
Just imagine, you have a cube and you’ve made it at a certain size and you want to carve into that cube, you then choose a smaller cube size with which to subtract from that big cube. You click on it and then a piece of the larger cube breaks away. Actually, the way the program displays that, it doesn’t just disappear. Any normal CAD program, if you’re going to do a Boolean operation or any kind of a cut away operation, you’re just going to go and click and the part of it is going to disappear. That doesn’t happen in 3D Slash. When you click it, it’s like it explodes into many smaller pieces and leaves the screen in every direction.
It’s a surprising but fun little thing. I can imagine if I were a youth and new to CAD and this is what happens, like, “That’s cool.” Once it happens a little bit, then you’ve seen it, you know what it’s going to do. It probably becomes as an eventful eventually, just as if you click on part of the model and it disappeared. There was no graphic event. That’s what I would call it.
They have different tools called a chisel and a drill. It’s more for the description of what it does than what it actually does. The drill doesn’t actually drill a hole per se. The drill ends up just exploding away an entire object or a portion of an object. A chisel does the same thing. Again, the chisel is going to remove parts, again, cube by cube. Think of it as pixel by pixel.
Even when you’re going to go and add in a material, let’s say you were constructing a table form and it’s just a flat top and four legs and four corners. You wanted to create a rail in between each of those legs for stability or for looks, whatever. There are tools that allow you to add parts. They have one called wooden pastes. It rebuilds portions of a model that weren’t there. Again, you choose a size of a pixel size or a dimension size in millimeters really of how thick you want that to be. When you use this tool, it actually senses, as you mouse over part of the other geometry, it senses between other portions of geometry and then highlights a ghosted view of what it’s going to look like if you add material there. Then, you would drag it.
It’s being smart for you in adding material and not just in one place, but being able to drag and make the material you’re adding larger or smaller. It’s hard to describe. They have a tutorial series on the 3D Slash website. What they say is, “Master 3D modeling within ten short tutorials.” I don’t know about mastering, but they do have ten short tutorials. You certainly are going to learn how to use their program.
Another quick note, you can import 3D files, STL and OBJ files you have either downloaded or created elsewhere, and then modified them in 3D Slash. I was trying to think of conditions that you might want to do that. I don’t know that I would want to input something I created somewhere else, but it certainly might want to import something that was already created, like you might download on Thingiverse. It lets you modify those models. It’s interesting when it imports and model, it ends up interpreting it in those pixelated steps of small cubes that this program really works within.
On the one hand, there’s a certain honesty in those pixels in the reality of how 3D objects are made and interpreted in a computer. In another sense, I think it maybe changes the user experience and their idea of what they’re creating and how nice or smooth it can be. I actually think, in many cases, a lot of the examples that they give on 3D Slash and some of the playing around that I did with it and trying to experience it myself, the steps that it’s making are actually larger than the steps would be in layer height, and of course, in an XY plane. Most 3D printers, actually pretty much every 3D printer, can make a perfect circle. It has no steps in it. In a horizontal XY sense, in this program, you’re building models that almost always have steps in them in that XY direction.
I think that for the aspect that relates this to a gamified process that is reminiscent of Minecraft, I think that’s fine. For most people who want to learn CAD and do I guess I would call more serious CAD work. I don’t know that it would be acceptable to a user or satisfying to have to live with those steps.
Every CAD program has some things that are really unique and impressive even if other things may not be. I always say there’s never really a good or a bad CAD program, just like there’s never really a good or a bad 3D printer. Which 3D printer should I buy? It really depends on what you want to build. What CAD program do you want to use? It really depends on who you are, where you are in your CAD learning process or journey, and what type of things do you want to make.
There’s a really interesting feature that they have in 3D Slash that they call cursors. I don’t know that I would really call it that. If you have an object you’ve created, let’s say you’ve created an object that has a lot going on it. It’s got outside walls and it’s got interior walls and spaces. You build this and you want to then work on some of the inside portions of a model. You can’t really see inside of it. What most of us would do in a lot of CAD programs is select portions of a model and hide it, so you could get in there and do some work.
They use these cursors, which really what they are, are sliders. They’re X, Y and Z sliders that affect the display. You can move a Z slider up or down. You can even move one down from the top and one up from the bottom. What it does is then it ghosts that part of the model you’re working on. It’s still there, you can see it, so you can reference it and understand how what you’re doing on the inside will affect it. But the tools will not affect any of the ghosted areas. You just do this live interactively. It’s a pretty clever feature. Any of the tools are only going to affect the areas that are opaque and solid, clearly not ghosted. If you do that in X, Y or Z, you can pretty much get at everything. It’s a unique way to do it. I think it’s pretty intuitive.
In some programs, I would even just highlight certain geometry and move it out of the way by a hundred millimeters or a meter, depending on how big you’re doing things. Just get it out the way and then do some work and then move those parts back. This feature is unique and takes care of that so you don’t have to move anything and risk how to move it back into the same routed position when I’m done. That was very impressive and very clever.
Certainly, the user interface is very clear, easy to understand. They’ve really tried to simplify it. They’re not using conventional terms for the different tools and functions. They are creating their own different terms, and it’s well done. They have a lot of different functions. They also have some apps that they have specifically built in to work with the program and also for social media sharing or putting things on Google Drive. There are a lot of apps that you can go and check out.
I also want to let you know about the program in terms of its cost. They have a free version that is a web version, and they have online storage. They limit the amount of colors. They limit your ability to use all the apps. They don’t allow you to have any team managements, for sharing of files. They don’t allow it to be used for commercial use, although I question why you might want to use it for commercial use, but that’s just me as design professional, in my experience. They limit their resolution. Remember, I was talking about those cubes. There is a free version. Certainly, you can try it for free.
Then they have a premium version which has more functions, has a higher resolution. You can use as many colors as you want. You can use the different apps. The premium version is $2 per month, billed annually at $24. You’ve got to buy $24 for a year. Then they have education pricing starting at $8 a month, for schools. Then they have what they call professional, starting at $20 a month. That’s the pricing and how it works.
If any of you out there are using 3D Slash, we’d love to hear from you. I’d love to see some of the projects you’ve done with it. This is new, so I don’t know how many of you there are that are using it. Still, I’d love to see it. Those of you that are still looking for that starter CAD program, not sure what to use, considering some of the others that we’ve talked about on WTFFF and in our other blog posts, this is one to consider. To go and view any of our reviews or blog post reviews or listen to the podcasts of any of our 3D CAD software reviews, please go under the Reviews tab, which is a top level menu item right on the Home page, go right down to Software and Apps. You can check out all of our reviews on CAD software, slicing software, 3D printers and scanners, accessories, other things like that, and materials, of course. Go, check that out.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this additional installment in our series of CAD software reviews. Here are more and more CAD software out there. We’re going to continue to review them, continue to put those reviews up on 3DStartPoint.com. Go to that blog post, leave me a comment or share your work or share it on social media anywhere, @3DStartPoint. Thanks so much for listening, everybody. We will be back tomorrow with another episode. This has been Tom, on the WTFFF 3D Printing podcast.
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