I have a 3D Sketchup model of a simple boat (it is a solid, if that matters) that I would like to test to see if it floats when given a certain density and load. I will eventually print the model, but first I'd like to simulate it to see if it floats and possible how well it steers. Basically, I want to put the model in a simulated bathtub.

If it has other features such as seing how it behaves under propulsion, that would be a bonus but it is not necessary.

I have access to nearly every AutoDesk product through a student license, but don't know how to use any of them, so I would prefer a simple free program. If there is an AutoDesk program for this, I would like to know, however.

Image of the model: a catamaran boat with hollow pontoons and a flat deck.

1 Answer 1


I would suggest taking a look at the blender physics engine - specifically look for convex hull simulations. It is free and should allow you to do the sort of visualisations that you are looking for, The only down side is the steep learning curve but it is well worth the effort.

  • I just looked into that and I think it would definitely satisfy my needs, but I need something that I can learn quickly, and having never used Blender before, I don't think I could get to that point within the next few days. Thank you for the recommendation, however. I will definitely learn that program eventually.
    – Ian
    May 28, 2014 at 20:59
  • I am not sure that you will find much that is low cost, accurate and can be learnt in just a few days from scratch. May 28, 2014 at 21:03
  • A link to Blender documentation talking about convex hull simulations would be great :-)
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Jun 6, 2014 at 8:28
  • blenderartists.org/forum/… has a lot of good information as does youtube.com/watch?v=q23WFVrQ7GI Jun 6, 2014 at 12:59
  • 1
    Note that the Blender physics engine has lots of troubles if you need to simulate concave objects (which obviously includes any objects with holes). If convex hull approximation (or a collection of multiple hulls) is enough, you should be fine with Blender as long you don't need to simulate accurate friction. Jun 23, 2021 at 13:20

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