3D Printing - "It's all about design and quality output. Not how fast the printer can run."
The Product History
I have ordered a resin type 3D printer. I have posted information elsewhere in this website. Now I need suitable computer software for preparing the three-dimensional item for support on the printer bed and proper slicing into layers.
I have run simulations with a number of available software packages, so I can legitimately make some comparisons between products. I admit the best testing will occur when I can run a real printer and compare actual print qualities.
The situation with CreationW3D is a bit different. Every supplier or maker of 3D printers, supply a no additional cost printer control software package for the machine or machines they sell. Either a propiatary or freeware package. It is when a machine owner wants additional control features that they seek other software options, either freeware or commercial for purchase. CreationW3D has switched from freeware to a commercial product.
CreationW3D was originally called Creation Workshop, a freeware printer control program. Some start-up and low-cost 3D printer manufacturers recommended and supplied Creation Workshop (at no cost to them) for their machines. This seems to me this could be a very good reason why CreationWorkshop has became the commercial product CreationW3D. No more "free ride." Probably no donations forthcomming from this commercial use.
Higher end (high cost) and savvy printer manufactures, funded and developed their own propriatary brand name printer control software, and many will supply it to anyone at no cost. Most will save out an .stl graphic file but only control their own hardware.
Creation Workshop is now the intellectual property of DataTree3D when the name changed to CreationW3D. Version numbers have also changed. It is now offered in various bulk licensing forms to 3D printer makers and/or their vendors. No longer freeware, it is positioned as a revenue source for DataTree3D. Vendors may continue to supply it no cost to customers, but must pay DataTree3D a license free. This revenue stream is perhaps their way to fund further development. (?)
However, the price for an individual license purchase from DataTree3D is (for me) an unaffordable $99.00 a year for five years or $495.00 outright full purchase. A big step from freeware and free software provided by 3D printer makers. I was able to procure a 30 day free trial for evaluation which in no moral way, fulfills their printed statement that the software is free for hobby and academic use. DataTRee3D statement to me in writing was, "It's free for 30 days..."
On the box, under the product name CreationW3D, is the statement, “Advanced 3D Modeling Software.” CreationW3D is not a Modeling Software in the style of real creative modeling software such as freeware “Blender” or the commercial product “ZBrush” from Pixologic. CreationW3D is a positioning, support structure generator, slicing, and printer control software package. It does say that at the bottom of their box.
It took a little communication effort, my first download was expired and unuseable. But I was eventually able to convince DataTree3D of the problem and obtain a working copy of CreationW3D. It’s file version name is CW3D_18.104.22.168_Beta. The execute file is still named, “CreationWorkshop.exe” It is an executable binary file. The pretty, professional looking, plug-in start-up “flash Screen” is where it calls itself CreationW3D. The window name uses CreationWorkshop at the top left. This Beta Version seems to be having a brand name identity crisis.
The display is definitely old CreationWorkshop. I have the old freeware version with which I compared. It’s nearly the same. There is a "Hollow Model" feature that's new in CreationW3D. Not as spectacular as some other high-end software of this type, but it is functional. It has none of the polished professional art look I would expect form a $500 commercial software. (It shows its low end freeware roots.)
The operation of all the features within CreationW3D appeared to me to be quite acceptable. The print item support creator works, but I have seen better support implementation in other software. It is not a single click and perfect layout for printing. Most other programs are not there either. Supports and structure are editable, so I was able to build what looked like a functional support structure. Not as nice as produced by B9Creator or formlabs PreForm 2.14.0
All the other features and set-up were no problem for me to configure. I have not been able to actually use the program to drive a printer. With a 30 day license I probably wont be able to do so.
I would use this software for operating my new resin 3D printer if it was freeware or low cost (under three figures) for licensed hobbyist use. Maybe pay more for a truely great product with free updates. Simplify3D is $150 with that license.
I think CreationW3D is quite capable of doing its job. The commercial based pricing makes it a no-go for me as a hobbyist.
The previous CreationWorkshop hobby user-base has fallen away from CreationW3D as there are many suitable freeware control software programs on the market. Two of the original Freeware versions of Creative Workshop remain available if you look hard enough. I have two versions. However, they are no longer being developed except for adding resin configurations.
I placed links to other active freeware I have tested, above. I already have one for my arriving resin printer named NanoDLP
It is apparent that the DataTree3D target market is far above individual customers and aimed at previously non-paying manufacturers and suppliers. That’s their business. It's a free market. The hobbyist and enthusiast can go elsewhere. I understand.
A trend? Smart software companies like the big-name CAD producer, Autodesk are now supplying full featured professional 3D CAD (Fusion360) to hobbyist, educational, and small business at no cost. They are building a loyal amateur user base that will push their product upwards to the paying commercial user. Same as Apple Computer did years ago to build a customer base. Intersting strategy, in which I am a happy participant.
Oh yeah… Fusion 360 is also a bona fide, “Advanced 3D Modeling Software.”
No, I will not pay $500 for "Beta edition" control software. I do pay my way for good functional software like Simplify3D. But it doesn't run a resin printer... :(