Software suggestions please

ok so im a graphic artist who works for a fashion embelishment factory...i primarily do vector based graphics for  laser cutting/engraving  / photo shop for printing and embroidery design digitizing..

we recently added a 3d milling machine and a zortrax 3d printer to create custom embelishments  and fashion hardware but im struggling a bit with making the files in a timely manner due to my lack of experience in 3d illustration.

since most of our 3d needs are rather basic, i have been using 123d design and to be honest, and like i said, i dont have a ton of 3d modeling experience, but its a great tool and aside from some obvious limitations, i find that for free software its extremely easy to create just about everything i need in terms of geometric shapes.

im coming across some jobs in the near future that will require a more organic feel that will require sculpting software but im just way too busy to learn anything crazy...most of what we do are relief style that are only 3d on one side and flat on the back because they are sewn onto garments

can someone perhaps suggest a low cost or even free sculpting application where i can import the general shapes i create in 123d design to sculpt more organic shapes??

since 123d design is autodesk, i would like to eventually upgrade to something more advanced like autodesk inventor perhaps, my logic is that it might be an easier transition since its been called 123d designs bigger brother rather than try to learn something like blender....does anyone think that if im familiar with 123d design already that inventor would be easier to learn than say blender?

that leads me to the need for sculpting software, i might as well stick with autodesk and go with mudbox but im just worried it might be too much for me to take super busy with vector based designing and just dont have the time for complex learning curve ,especially since the models i will be making are mostly fairly basic.

id love to hear suggestions...thanks:)

I haven't used it yet, but Moi3D is supposed to be pretty good and fairly inexpensive (UD$300):

Rhinoceros has a good rep too, but is pretty expensive (~US$1,000).


I use Moi3D and Rhino. Files are interchangeable. 

Moi have much better interface. It's one of the most clever, simple and powerful 3D software I know.

Kind of a "Sketchup" Nurbs program, no offense intended.

My workflow is Moi whatever it fits, Rhino only when I need some special feature or access to Grasshopper.

Sculptris is the free little brother of Zbrush, very powerful sculpting software. I don't know how the learning curve compares to other 3D scullpting programs, but it seems to have a simple and uncluttered UI well-suited to people who are into sculpting more than CAD.

meshmixer , also from autodesk and free(similar to sculptris which Julia already mentioned). It's still in beta (but works just fine) and continuosly updated with more and more features for 3d printing (make your own support structure, support for different printers, organize the prints, submit jobs etc)

Has anyone tried the automatic support generation of Meshmixer ? Is it usable on Zortrax ?

Has anyone tried the automatic support generation of Meshmixer ? Is it usable on Zortrax ?

I tried a couple of times on some larger prints and it crashed Zsuite everytime so I can't speak on it but you have to make sure you turn support off.

like i said, im currently using 123d design and i like it but i would like something a little more powerful/ professional but without having to learn an entirely new program because like i said, im already swamped with a ton of vector based digitizing on a daily basis for my job and i just dont have time to spend learning new, complex software.

since im already very comfortable with 123d design, i have decided to purchase (through my work) autodesk fusion 360...based on what im reading its an easy transition from 123d design but its more powerful, hopefully this will satisfy any future needs for modeling and that only leaves sculpting.

julia, i appreciate your suggestion for assuming that would work like 123d design, i would become familiar with that for free, and if the need presented itself in the future for something more professional, i could purchase zbrush without a huge learning curve.

this is the likely direction i will go except i just with i could keep everything it there a free little brother  to mudbox?? something like sculptris"" i could learn that for free and then upgrade to mudbox??

im only asking because this way i could keep my whole workflow in autodesk(not sure if there would be an actual advantage to that.

in all honesty there probably isnt and in that case i guess i guess fusion 360 and sculptris/zbrush is probably a good a workflow as any..thats likely what i will do, fusion 360 with sculptris for a few months and then i might upgrade eventually to zbrush...anyone see any problems with this plan?