Engineering Tools in the 21st Century Part 2: CAD explored

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CAD Software Programs used in Engineering

Computer Modeling with 3D CAD was one type of the tools used in engineering that was discussed in the last blog. We discussed how mechanical engineers are only one of the disciplines that utilize CAD while engaged in many aspects of a project. While there are many different 3D CAD Modeling software packages to choose from, I have chosen to utilize Autodesk™ and Solidworks™ for the discussion in this blog series. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be going through both programs using the tutorials provided with the software, as well as any online help, to create some simple designs to demonstrate the abilities of each version.

First up is Autodesk Inventor™. The first thing you notice when loading the software is that it is big. 20+ gig big. While at first it may seem overwhelming, it is somewhat easy to understand. The tabs are self-identifying and set up clearly within the menu bars that you can customize to your preference. Once you have the screen arranged to your liking, you click on the tutorial button to start up.

The first installed tutorial on Autodesk Inventor™ is a simple rendition of a basic water bottle and takes you from a 2D sketch to a 3D model in a few simple steps.

tutorial_1.0-resized-600Starting on the sketch screen you can easily set your lines and arcs to define the basic shape profile of the bottle. After setting you lines, the tutorial explains how to go back and re-define the dimensions. This will allow you to quickly set your lines without having to be exact with your measurements as you draw them. The next step transforms the sketch into a 3D model. A simple click on the revolve tab, after establishing the center axis of the drawing, transforms the 2D drawing into a 3D Model.

tutorial_1.4-resized-600You then have options that will allow you to chamfer the edges, hollow out the bottle using the shell tab, and add threads to the mouth of the bottle. All three of these steps are quick and simple to perform. What you have at this point is a complete bottle shell ready for some personal touches.

CAD Modeling made easier with new software

tutorial_1.5-resized-600The final steps will take you through the procedure to display, wrap and emboss text onto the bottle face. This has a few more steps involved as you work with the plane faces, text boxes and centering buttons, but all are straight forward and easy to understand once you get through the tutorial.

Having finished the tutorial, the next blog will continue on CAD design software and their features as well as many of the uses in the field of engineering. We will also discuss the Solidworks™ line of softwares and the features that they provide.


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