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I'm an enthusiast with friends that can manufacture single pieces of CNC cut and milled metal, and I cannot find a perfect computer case for my needs. My friends can't find ones for them, either, and it's time for hardware upgrade for quite few of us. So we decided to try and make what we need.

I have all pieces modelled: Motherboard with CPU and RAM, HDD, DVD drive, drive baskets, PSU and so on. Now, I need a software that would make it easy to rotate them 90 degrees in all axis, move them around and snap them to a 3d grid and to each other. And at the end export it to some universal format, so my engineer friend could import it to CAD and produce layouts for cutting machines and so on. Part of the task I'm asking pretty much ends on deciding how do I want them arranged, so ease of move, snap and 90 degree rotation is pretty much all I need. Oh, and I would rather not pay much for such a simple task. We are not going to earn on it, and if we succeed we probably will share designs under open licence, so free software would be desirable. If that's impossible, I may consider commercial software, but I'll be reluctant about anything over $100, unless we'll find that one of my friends has access to it on employer-issued laptop and is allowed by his bosses to use it for private modelling like this.

I tried FreeCAD, but while I found it great to model a piece I can measure (that's how I get some models mentioned above), I can't find a way to easily use it as a freehand "layout prototyping tool".

We all are using Windows, mostly, but have access to Linux stations too. You know the type of people, more computers than humans in a house? So while Windows is highly preferable, it's not a really "must have".

  • Welcome to Software Recommendations! I see you have tagged the question [windows], but unfortunately not everybody reads the tags, could you add that to your question text? Also please do tell us how much "too much" is? What may seem horribly expensive to you might be cheap to someone else. A range in € or $ is usually best. And maybe add an abstract line at the beginning like "I create computer hardware, specifically casings for that I need a software to ease the production process" – Angelo Fuchs Mar 14 '14 at 10:03
  • @AngeloNeuschitzer better now? – Mołot Mar 14 '14 at 11:39
  • So out of curiosity what are you trying to do or integrate that one of the thousands of cases out there can't help with. (A self designed case is a cool idea...) – James Mar 14 '14 at 14:13
  • @Mołot Yes. Much better. Now I can get an idea on what you are looking for and why. I hope you get splendid answers. – Angelo Fuchs Mar 14 '14 at 19:20
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    Welcome to Software Recommendations! What file format are you using? What features do you need? Please take a look at What is required for a question to contain "enough information"? Then please edit your question and see if you can incorporate some of these improvements. – DanteTheEgregore Mar 14 '14 at 19:35
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You didn't say in what file-format you modelled your pieces or in which you need your CAD data.

You could try blender, its free and supports many different formats for import- and exporting. Its more a 3d modelling software but it should serve your purpose.

If it doesn't support your prevered format(s) you can activate even more importers/exporters under the user-preferences/addons (e.g. DXF).

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    Welcome to Software Recommendations! We want our answers to be full fledged recommendations rather than "this tool could do it". Tell us about the tool. What makes it great? What are the drawbacks? Did you use it? What are your experiences? – Angelo Fuchs Mar 14 '14 at 19:18

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