We’ve been testing 3D Boat Design – a simple-to-use CAD package for hull design and drawing. It’s ideal for hobby sailors and boatbuilders who want to extend their skills into the area of boat design.
What is 3D Boat Design?
A successful boat design is a fusion of shape, structure, practicality, seaworthiness and pure aesthetic appeal. And, although boat designers have managed for centuries without computer software, in the 21st Century you really need some decent CAD software to put your ideas into practice. We’ve been testing 3D Boat Design Software to see how easy it is to achieve these ideals.
The program itself is not brand new, it’s been around a little while. But it is subject to continuous upgrades (we used version 2.6.0), so there might well be a later version by the time you read this. Never having used any sort of CAD software before, we were a little apprehensive and unsure just how much we were going to be able to achieve. But we were pleasantly surprised and we have to admit, it’s pretty good. We’ve given it a five point rating for some criteria which we think are important. It scored pretty well.
3D Boat Design is designed for all versions of Windows, including 98/2000/ME/XP/Vista/Windows 7. It installed painlessly on our Windows XP test machine. For such a sophisticated piece of software we were surprised at the small size of the installation. The exe file is just 2.1MB, smaller in fact, than the manual! We were a little confused by the number of views that it’s possible to have of your hull as you develop it, but fortunately you can switch off the ones you don’t want. There are a number of sample hulls included with the package and it makes sense to experiment with them first, as we did, to get used to the interface.
Is it intuitive?
It’s not quite as intuitive as we expected and it did take us a little while to produce something useful. This is our first attempt. Somehow we managed to duplicate everything and we ended up with this rather straightforward-looking dinghy. The duplicate facility is there for a reason though – it enables you to develop one side of your hull then reproduce an exact mirror image for the other half. But it’s like most software, once you’ve played around with it for a few minutes then it all begins to fall into place. It’s a standard Windows interface so you should have no problems finding your way around.
This is the type of design you can produce after a couple of hours practise. Once you have learned the basic principles, you’ll be able to produce much more sophisticated designs.
What about the training manual? Is it helpful? Read what we say on the next page….
and get to work on the boat you always wanted!