Latest features in Blender for CAD users

Submitted by Nicola Rainiero on 2013-08-26 (last updated on 2015-04-12)

Recently it was released the 2.68 version of Blender, but already from the previous one there are an interesting feature and two useful addons for architectural measuring and modelling in 2D: Ruler/Protractor, Edge Tools VTX, Edge Tools, ArchimeshNEW and Window Generator 2NEW. Let me introduce them using some screencasts.

First of all, I suggest you to install the last Blender version via PPA on your Ubuntu (or Debian derivates), you have to type the following text in the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:irie/blender
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install blender

The reasons to maintain in your system the last stable version could be summarized in two word: bug fixes and new features. Like those described in this article.

Ruler/Protractor

This feature helps in architectural visualization, giving more control over precision modelling. The ruler can be accessed from the toolshelf ("T" key), once activated you can use the ruler to measure lengths and angles in the scene1.

Ruler/Protractor: new feature in Blender

Shortcuts:

  • Ctrl+LMB - Adds new ruler;
  • LMB + Drag end-points - to place them, Hold Ctrl - to snap, Hold Shift - to measure thickness;
  • LMB + Drag center-point - to measure angles, drag out of the view to convert back to a ruler;
  • Delete - Deletes the ruler;
  • Ctrl + C - Copies the rulers value to the clipboard;
  • Esc - Exits;
  • Return - Saves the rulers for the next time the tool is activated.
Here is my short screencast about Ruler/Protractor in action:

Edge Tools VTX

Citing the BlenderWiki, this script is: "Specifically coded to behave like the CAD functions 'Extend Towards', 'Trim' and 'Weld'. With the difference that at present you can do this operation only on 2 edges at a time."

After enabling, you have to select two edges, in edge mode, and press W -> (options V, T, or X).

Edge Tools VTX in action:

Edge Tools

Always from BlenderWiki: "Edge Tools is designed to bring some CAD-style edge-based modeling tools to Blender. These tools are predominately inspired from several tools found in CATIA's "Geometric Design" workbench."

Edge Tools in action:

Archimesh: Architecture elements

A fantastic addon created by Antonioya for creating architectural elements similar to the parametric modelling:

  • rooms;
  • house structure (walls);
  • doors (one and two leafs);
  • columns;
  • stairs (strait and curved);
  • tile roofs.

You can download this addon here: Archimesh addon and for more information check this playlist.

Window Generator 2

An useful addon to create windows. More information on Blender Artists: Window Generator 2Installation: after downloading the .zip or .py file, you have to go into the Blender User Preferences (CTRL+ALT+U), select the Addons tab and finally click on the Install from file button in the bottom of the window.

Summing up

The last addons and features introduced in Blender help a lot in the visualization and modelling, above all for people that usually do in a CAD like workspace. However if you have to draw in 2D, the best solution still remains to use a traditional CAD software and after you have finished exporting it in Blender. In any case the working out of Blender has reduced much this gap and maybe in the future it will be possible make all by using it.




Related Content:

Nicola Rainiero

A civil geotechnical engineer with the ambition to facilitate own work with free software for a knowledge and collective sharing. Also, I deal with green energy and in particular shallow geothermal energy. I have always been involved in web design and 3D modelling.

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