I’m looking at a new online 3D CAD service, SelfCAD.
The startup company, based in Brooklyn, offers an entirely online CAD experience and their target market is a bit unusual.
But let’s look at the service itself first.
It’s accessible from a web browser, meaning there is little need for extra-powerful PCs or graphics cards. Once you’ve signed up, you gain access to a build volume in which you can use a wide variety of 3D tools.
SelfCAD employs multiple building paradigms, including solids, sketching & extrusion as well as sculpting.
There are many different functions available, including:
- Move / Scale / Rotate
- Freehand or Spline Drawings
- Selection of all object component types
- Skewing / Tapering / Twisting / Bending
- Extrusions / Booleans
- Rounding and Beveling
SelfCAD appears to include a very good set of basic 3D CAD functions, and I found it very easy to operate within the environment, as it is very easy to find functions and establish appropriate 3D views for your work.
Another interesting aspect is that most functions have both a freehand “push or pull to alter object” or a numerical equivalent. In other words, you can do both artistic and engineering approaches.
There are a number of advanced features included, putting SelfCAD above several other low-cost online 3D CAD options.
One is the history file, which is quite reminiscent of much more expensive tools. You can scroll through previous operations and go back as far as you like.
Another advanced feature is the “Object Generator”, which is a rather comprehensive tool for creating vase-like objects.
As you can see here, there are a great deal of parameters available, and you can even add additional segments to create more complex objects.
I quickly built an awkward looking wonky vase shown at top using the Object Generator. SelfCAD allows you to export the designs as STL files, which I viewed in another tool here:
It looks pretty good and could actually be 3D printed.
After using SelfCAD, it seems a step up from introductory tools such as Tinkercad, but at the same is a bit less functional than Fusion 360 or Onshape.
The pricing of SelfCAD matches its functionality:
How much does it cost for a year of SelfCAD vs, say, Fusion 360? Let’s compare SelfCAD’s “Premium” level, which offers all functions but constrains online storage to 1GB. (They offer a “Professional” package with 5GB storage at USD$180 per year).
- SelfCAD Premium annual USD$144
- Fusion 360 annual USD$275
That’s almost a reasonable compromise if you’re short on budget, but want something well beyond free tools. As an online tool, SelfCAD would be automatically always at the current release level, as well.
My question is whether the market wants a 3D CAD tool of intermediate capability and pricing. Autodesk, Solidworks, Onshape and others have the high-end market pretty much locked up, while numerous free tools offer limited capabilities. Could SelfCAD be a popular choice among semi-professional 3D workers? We’ll soon see.
If you want to try SelfCAD, it does offer a 30 day free trial in which you can check out all the features.
But just for you, dear Fabbaloo readers, SelfCAD has offered a significant discount: If you sign up with this code: fabbaloo-30, you will receive a 50% discount for 12 months after the 30-day trial expires. A great deal!