I’ve just discovered Shapr3D, and after the first “wow, somebody finally nailed it!”, I thought I’d share my initial thoughts. Please do not take these as judgments, but rather as my impressions and statements about my particular usage patterns.
First, the positives:
First, I think it’s fantastic that the app is being developed specifically for the iPad. The latest iPad Pro is an unbelievable computer: the CPU and GPU power close to a MacBook Pro, but in a package that is 6mm thin and can be held. It lacks good applications, and this is where Shapr3D shines. I also think the decision to require a pencil is a very good one, as it doesn’t compromise and dumb down the UI.
I’m very glad that Shapr3D is being offered as a subscription, I believe that is the only way to sustainably develop an app.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of features present (draft angles! project!).
Now for the negatives, or rather things that are missing:
The big one: without feature history and editable features I am unable to make practical use of the program. The pre-planned demos look fantastic and impressive, but my workflow doesn’t look like that: I try things, and then come back to change them when I find out that something doesn’t work well. When doing product design, I need to be able to change things after getting comments on the initial design, and this should not require recreating a large part of the design from scratch.
This is, unfortunately, a complete deal-breaker for me. I can see how the product is being marketed as a “concept” or “drafting” tool, with the idea of more mature tools taking over later, but I can’t justify spending time making 3D designs which I know will need to be re-created later on. And for concepts, well, I just use Concepts (the 2D sketching app).
I suspect that editable feature history is on the roadmap and that Shapr3D will get there some day, but until it does, it isn’t for me.
The second big thing is fully parametric modeling, e.g. a table of parameters which can be used in formulas everywhere. In some applications this is crucial: an example is designs built from laser-cut plywood, where you really want to have a “thickness” parameter in a single place that you can change at any time. I’ve also worked on enclosures for electronics which needed to be quickly adapted to changing requirements or changed to accomodate several variants of electronics inside. For injection-molded designs, one or two draft angles as parameters really help when choosing prototyping manufacturers.
I think both of those are within the reach of Shapr3D and I hope the authors are moving in that direction.
The other shortcomings were relatively minor and I’m sure they will be addressed with time. Things like extrude to face, or extrude in both directions would be quite useful. But these are less significant and would not influence my decision to subscribe.
[Background: I have experience with Solidworks, Fusion 360 and OnShape].