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Showing posts from 2007

Free ProgeCAD SMART!

CADDIT has released a free CAD application, based on ProgeCAD (which in itself uses IntelliCAD). It can be downloaded at and has to be registered. Beware that only non-commercial use is allowed. Some features of the commercial (but cheap) ProgrCAD are not available in the SMART version. As always, Windows-only.

Free and Cheap versions of Houdini

Houdini Apprentice has been available for some time, providing a free but non-commercial version of Houdini procedural animation without cost (but with limitations). Recently, SideFX added the "Starving Artist Edition" to the apprentice program , providing HD-capability for animations (1920x1080 pixels) and watermark-free rendering. It will cost $99, which is cheap compared to the full commercial prices. It uses the same non-commercial file format as the free apprentice edition and is not usable for commercial purposes. Available for Windows and Linux.

Rhino is coming to OSX

The highly popular NURBS modeller Rhino is being ported to run on Mac OSX. You can currently apply for the free beta-test and see if it works for you. The Windows version of Rhino is available as a free but fully functional trial which allows you to save (or export) 25 times.

Free STL viewer from Materialise

The Belgian firm Materialise , specializing in consultancy, services and development for rapid prototyping has released a free tool for inspection and conversion of STL files, based on their flagship Magics software. It's called Minimagics and is available for Windows. You can use it to inspect STL files and to optimize their format. The actual tools to correct errors and optimize the geometry are only available in their (expensive) commercial tools.

Free student version of Virtual Construction software (soon?)

Vico Software creates a suite of applications for Virtual Construction, which are based on Graphisoft ArchiCAD, combined with Estimator and Constructor software. Instead of describing a virtual building, they present this approach as virtual construction. Each element contains information about all required materials and manipulations, a recipe to construct the element, rather than visualize it. This is augmented with time planning facilities. They are planning to provide students with a free version of their software "soon". More information on . The software suite is only available on Windows and includes ArchiCAD.

Free beta of Cosmic Blobs Model Pro

At you can download a free beta version of CB Model Pro, the "Pro" version of Cosmic Blobs, a cheap freeform modeling application from Dassault Systèmes, who are the developer of high-end design software applications, such as CATIA and SolidWorks. Fully functional for fifteen days, after which registration is required (free). Works on PC and Mac. No sign of Linux support.

Free beta for SpecifiCAD

SpecifiCAD (found at ) is a plugin for AutoCAD Architecture (ADT), Revit, Bentley Architecture and SketchUp to retrieve "generic" building products and to be able to swap them with vendor-specific parts when required. I assume it is US-oriented. It is currently available as a free beta-version and an ArchiCAD version is in the pipeline as well. It is not mentioned, but I assume it is only for Windows. The CAD-versions use the iDrop technology from Autodesk, while the SketchUp version uses the 3D Warehouse. But most current CAD software is (or will be) compatible with the 3D Warehouse as well.

Free HyperCosm exporter for SketchUp

On you can download a free (Windows-only) exporter for SketchUp 5 or 6 to export models for the Hypercosm player. With this plug-in for web browsers, people can interactively view your model from SketchUp, without the need to open a file or have SketchUp installed. Not for Linux or Mac. Also available for 3ds max. Also available as a non-free Pro-version.

Free procedural Animation: K-3D

At you can download the Open Source K-3D application. While not as extensive as Houdini, it mimics the approach and workflow of the procedural animation toolkit for modeling, rendering and animation. And the best part: available for Windows, Linux and OSX (when all additional problems are solved). Everything is set up very flexible: you can use different rendering engines, such as Aqsis and YafRay, you can make networks of interconnected parameters, you get a flexible interface and you can extend it at will. Not bad.

Free ArchiCAD 11 Educational Version

With the new release of ArchiCAD 11, the student version is still freely available. Register at for a temporary serial number. After about a month, you should be contacted by the local reseller for a final serial number for the rest of the year. The software is available for Windows and Mac (Intel and PPC) and is fully compatible with the commercial release (libraries, updates, add-ons). It displays a watermark on the viewport, plotted files and exported PDFs, but is fully functional. Commercial users might want to look at the BIM Experience Kit , which contains a 30-day fully functional trial version and tutorials and examples. Don't Use Cracks, Download ArchiCAD!

Free Real Architect for AutoCAD LT

At you can download a fully functional architectural Add-on for AutoCAD LT, which adds toolbars, libraries and parametric building objects. The version for full AutoCAD is not free. AutoCAD LT is required and that only runs on Windows and is not free.

Free version of Bryce 5.5

On the website, you can download free versions of Bryce 5.5 for Windows and Macintosh. A well-known landscape modeling and rendering application. You can also model and use Poser characters. Maybe the success of Vue has pushed DAZ to lower the price of the full version 6?

Free learning edition of Vue

The free Personal Learning Edition of Vue is available on . It can be used for the modeling and visualization of landscapes, including foliage. Available on Windows and Macintosh platforms, but limitations apply: For personal, non-commercial use only You cannot exchange files with other PLE users PLE files are not compatible with other versions of Vue Render at any resolution (renders are watermarked and carry a logo) Render up to 800x600 without watermark for 30 days

Free Technology Preview of Autodesk Impression

While Impression (aka Vespa) has been available for quite some time on the Autodesk Labs, it was timebombed. After all, it is a commercial application ($495). Since it has not been released worldwide, it is currently still available as a technology preview. The version on the Autodesk Labs expired on may 1st, but you can receive a sustained version from local sites. The overview is given on where you can find the correct place to download Impression Preview. Be sure to check the system requirements, as you will need a fairly heavy graphics adapter and up to date system. Windows only, as usual.

Free version of Inventor LT

On you can register and download a free version of Autodesk Inventor. This is a time-limited offer (the license expires on 1 may 2008) and is only available for the Windows platform. Inventor LT is a light version of Inventor, including full 3D part modeling, but no assemblies of parts, no analysis and collaboration tools and no AutoCAD included. The offer is currently only available for US and Canada and even though you can fill in the form with bogus data, your internet connection can not be faked...

Free Indigo Renderer

The free Indigo renderer at is an "unbiased render engine", meaning that it works purely based on physical properties. Similar in concept to the more famous and commercial Maxwell renderer. Free but not open-source (at the moment). Commercial use is allowed with some minor limitations. There is support for Blender, 3ds max/VIZ, Cinema4D, SketchUp, Maya and XSI. Windows only.

Kerkythea Free Rendering

Based on Physical properties for materials and light, the Kerkythea rendering engine seems a promising development, in the small market sector where Maxwell is getting so much attention. Give it a try. Linux and Windows version are available and there is already integration with 3ds max, Blender and SketchUp. Edited: see comment... the renderer is not Open Source, but currently free I have tried the Linux version, but the download did not work on Ubuntu 64-bit -- maybe on 32-bit?

Free version of Realsoft 3D

On you can download a free windows-version of this Finnish modeling, rendering and animation application. This is an older version of the current 5.x version, which is a commercial product trying to compete with 3ds max, Cinema4D and others. The site is in German, but the links are clearly marked. The software is the English version.

DraftIT free 2D CAD system

When you visit you can download a free 2D CAD system for Windows. It seems to be fairly helpful while drawing, although, since it's a free basic version, expect to find limitations.

Autodesk Design Review is free now

While Autodesk is promoting DWF Composer/Design Review since quite some time, they changed tactics and recently decided to make the application freely available. You can create and markup DWF documents, including printing, measuring and browsing. This was previously sold for about $200, but the price in most practical circumstances was about $100 or even free. Windows only. To view DWF files on a Macintosh, you can use Project Freewheel or McDwiff (which connects to Project Freewheel in the back).

Deep Paint Freeware version

As mentioned on , the old 2D version of Deep Paint has been discontinued. However, it was turned into a freeware application, which is a kind gesture. You can use it for painting, using a mouse or (even better) a Wacom Tablet. It has support for layers, has a direct link with Photoshop (but not the latest versions) and has some tools to introduce a bump-map effect (for which you can alter the lighting afterwards). Give it a try. It can be found on . [Autodesk should have done this with the old LightScape]

Visit Falling Water in realtime

On you can download a Half-Life 2 level of the famous Kaufmann House by F.L. Wright. This is currently one of the best uses of realtime technology for architectural design. The whole house, including the environment is explorable in realtime, including sound, light and texturing. There is even one of the (sci-fi) Half-Life 2 cars parked outside, should you want to take a ride.

Codeblend: real-time plugin for 3ds max

On you can download a free trial version of "Codeblend", which is a 3D real-time plugin for 3ds max to export the scene into a realtime model, using current gaming techniques: advanced shaders, realtime collision detection, dynamic lighting and shadows and even effects. You can include interactivity, such as video, audio, triggers (open a door, turn on a light). PC only and requires 3ds max. Not tried with VIZ, but could work.

Free version of CoCreate CAD Software

On you can register for a free version of the CoCreate CAD Modeling software (Windows XP or 2000 only). This is a limited version of the commercial software, but almost fully functional. It has a limited amount of parts (60 unique ones per assembly -- is that too little in regular use?) and a non-compatible file format. In contrast with applications such as SolidWorks or Inventor, it uses a non-history based modeling approach, which makes it conceptually quite different to use. It might work for you or not...

RTSquare GPU-rendering, free edition

On you can register to download the free RTSquare plugin for Autodesk 3ds max or VIZ (any recent version), provided you have a recent graphics card with Pixel Shader support (most ATI and nVidia models would be allright). This allows you to render using your graphics adapter instead of your processor, promising to speed up the renderings dramatically. The free edition is only licensed for non-commercial use, so would be perfect for students. Windows only, since it works inside 3ds max and VIZ.