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  • SOT: Learning CAD

    Somewhat Off Topic

    Yes, I'll admit I'm an old fart.

    Yes, I'll admit I'm somewhat of a Luddite.

    To start with some history: long ago and far away I took 4 years of drafting in high school. My first real job after getting married was as a draftsman for a store fixture manufacturer (yes, back then, we were called draftsmen). Even after a couple of career changes, I keep up my interest in drafting and have had a drafting table since high school. I still have a 4' x 6' table with a Vemco V-Track in the basement. So I really, really, resisted moving to CAD.

    Then I got interested in the idea of 3D printing. And with CAD being an integral part of the process, I broke down and purchased an entry level CAD program. Absolutely hated it -- total piece of counter intuitive c**p. So I bought a different entry level program. Better, but limited in both features and interchangeability. Played with it for a while, then finally bit the bullet and invested in a "real" CAD program.

    Okay, I'll admit it took about six months to become comfortable with it. BUT, it has turned out to worth every minute of all the time invested in the learning curve. Now that I'm able to work with most of its features (and, yes, there are still lots of features I haven't explored), I'm having a blast using it for all sorts of things. Plans for metal shop projects, plans for wood shop projects, I even used it to map out the electrical plan of the house. I put a copy in an envelope next to the breaker panel so I know exactly which breaker controls which circuit.

    So I want to strongly encourage any of you who are on the fence about jumping into CAD -- DO IT!!! Yes, you'll be in for some frustration, but its absolutely, positively, totally worth it!
    Kevin

    More tools than sense.

  • #2
    Originally posted by KJ1I View Post
    Somewhat Off Topic

    Yes, I'll admit I'm an old fart.

    Yes, I'll admit I'm somewhat of a Luddite.

    To start with some history: long ago and far away I took 4 years of drafting in high school. My first real job after getting married was as a draftsman for a store fixture manufacturer (yes, back then, we were called draftsmen). Even after a couple of career changes, I keep up my interest in drafting and have had a drafting table since high school. I still have a 4' x 6' table with a Vemco V-Track in the basement. So I really, really, resisted moving to CAD.

    Then I got interested in the idea of 3D printing. And with CAD being an integral part of the process, I broke down and purchased an entry level CAD program. Absolutely hated it -- total piece of counter intuitive c**p. So I bought a different entry level program. Better, but limited in both features and interchangeability. Played with it for a while, then finally bit the bullet and invested in a "real" CAD program.

    Okay, I'll admit it took about six months to become comfortable with it. BUT, it has turned out to worth every minute of all the time invested in the learning curve. Now that I'm able to work with most of its features (and, yes, there are still lots of features I haven't explored), I'm having a blast using it for all sorts of things. Plans for metal shop projects, plans for wood shop projects, I even used it to map out the electrical plan of the house. I put a copy in an envelope next to the breaker panel so I know exactly which breaker controls which circuit.

    So I want to strongly encourage any of you who are on the fence about jumping into CAD -- DO IT!!! Yes, you'll be in for some frustration, but its absolutely, positively, totally worth it!
    To get up and running in CAD and start really using it as the powerful tool it is:

    -get a parametric modeller like Solidworks, Alibrecad, etc.. avoid the stuff that is just a glorified notepad where you draw things but they arent connected to each other with relationships
    -get some kind of CNC machine so your cad designs can be translated into the real world and you gain confidence
    -make a sincere effort to draw your designs parametrically and fully defined..dont use cad as sketch paper, its much more powerful than that..draw things with more relationships than numbers
    Hobbyist: someone who makes something sound harder than it is.
    Professional: someone who cant afford to be a hobbyist.

    Comment


    • #3
      Kev, what CAD program did you end up running with?
      "...do you not think you have enough machines?"

      Comment


      • #4
        Congrats learning the CAD on your own. I took a class in Solidworks then had co-workers to coach me. There was a learning curve but a wonderful thing to have. The text book used in the class has
        been very helpful.

        I convert Solidworks CAD drawings to .DXF then use that file to program my CNC machines. Yes, CAD does more than make pretty drawings and CAD drawing can
        be emailed.

        Some day I would like to learn to weld.
        Jim
        Last edited by outback; 09-21-2014, 12:51 PM.
        So much to learn, so little time

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by doctordoctor View Post
          T
          --get some kind of CNC machine so your cad designs can be translated into the real world and you gain confidence
          For some CAD packages that don't include it, you will also need a CAM package to convert tool paths etc from CAD to CAM, they usually include a post processor for converting to G/M/S/T codes for a particular type and make of machine.
          If you want to see your results, you can get away without an actual CNC machine by downloading the free version of Mach3 and run the part program to see it graphically cut the part.
          Programs such as AutoCad do not include a CAM program.
          Max.

          Comment


          • #6
            I am a mechanical engineer and I use Solidworks every day.
            It is what a ton of people in the industry use.
            I think it is easy to pick up and start using it.
            That being said, Solidworks is alot like machining, there is
            so much of it to know, you will never stop learning more on
            how to use it better.

            --Doozer
            DZER

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MaxHeadRoom View Post
              For some CAD packages that don't include it, you will also need a CAM package to convert tool paths etc from CAD to CAM, they usually include a post processor for converting to G/M/S/T codes for a particular type and make of machine.
              If you want to see your results, you can get away without an actual CNC machine by downloading the free version of Mach3 and run the part program to see it graphically cut the part.
              Programs such as AutoCad do not include a CAM program.
              Max.
              On this topic, there are more than one professional CAM packages for solidworks that have a free 2.5 axis edition..I think HSMworks, and Alibre both offer something along those lines.
              Hobbyist: someone who makes something sound harder than it is.
              Professional: someone who cant afford to be a hobbyist.

              Comment


              • #8
                I also started out as a draftsman, learning "mechanical drawing" in high school, but then I was accepted in the EE program at JHU and electronic design was (and still is) my main interest. But I've also enjoyed designing and making mechanical contraptions, and thus my rekindled interest in machining. I have also done a lot with computers, from Fortran and BASIC in 1966 through CP/M and MSDOS and Windows, and programming in C and Pascal. My first experience with CAD was a schematic capture program called Futurenet, and I still use it occasionally for maintenance of old schematics, and then I learned PCB routing with PADS (now part of Mentor Graphics). I found an inexpensive mechanical CAD package called Generic CAD but it was discontinued and became part of Autodesk and AutoCAD, and I tried several less expensive competitors until I tried TurboCAD, which I still use today. It does everything I need and it seems in some ways easier and better than AutoCAD, but that may be a matter of familiarity and experience (and maybe brand loyalty).

                I know that some packages have much greater capabilities, particularly the ability to run simulations of mechanical contrivances such as levers and gears, but such software would require a major investment of money and time, and I'm satisfied with what I have now.

                I would suggest getting the Professional version with the mechanical package, which can be purchased for $300.
                http://www.ebay.com/itm/TurboCAD-Pro...-/331325139346

                But if you just want to try it I think you can download a 30 day trial, or you can purchase an earlier version or the "deluxe" editions for less than $40.
                http://www.ebay.com/itm/TurboCAD-Del...-/331324333304

                I have purchased from this company several times and they have excellent products and support. The best price I found for Solidworks is $600:
                http://www.ebay.com/itm/Solidworks-2...-/321529239983
                http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                USA Maryland 21030

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Davidhcnc View Post
                  Kev, what CAD program did you end up running with?
                  I purchased Alibre just before the 3D Systems buy-out and their re-naming fiasco. It's now called GeoMagic, but what they are calling my version seems to change with each new release.
                  Kevin

                  More tools than sense.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PStechPaul View Post

                    I have purchased from this company several times and they have excellent products and support. The best price I found for Solidworks is $600:
                    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Solidworks-2...-/321529239983
                    Are these legit copies? Can you buy maintenance for them moving forward?

                    bob

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      For me CAD meant Cardboard Aided Design. Most stuff I did was simple enough that a quick sketch was enough and I never found the time to sit down and get comfortable with any one piece of software. Then RS Components brought out their free DesignSpark Mechanical, which is a cut down version of Spaceclaim. Now I can create something faster that way and produce a dimensioned drawing from it if I want. We've recently bought a cheap 3D printer at work to play with and I've been using DSM to create the STL files for it. My boss popped his head round my door this morning wanting a 'foot' to stand a network switch up on end (he has at least three different virtual LANs mapped to different ports) in his office. It took me all of about 3 minutes to draw up a design. Of course, the rest of the day is spent on the slow process of printing, but that's mostly a babysitting operation.
                      Paul Compton
                      www.morini-mania.co.uk
                      http://www.youtube.com/user/EVguru

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rowbare View Post
                        Are these legit copies? Can you buy maintenance for them moving forward?

                        bob
                        I don't know about the Solidworks software. The TurboCAD dealer seems to be an authorized reseller and I've had no major problems registering them, but I think I had to contact the reseller "CadAndGraphics" rather than IMSI for installation support.
                        http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
                        Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
                        USA Maryland 21030

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rowbare View Post
                          Are these legit copies? Can you buy maintenance for them moving forward?

                          bob
                          The SolidWorks auction was for the 2007 version. It would be smart to verify that you can legally transfer an old version from one owner to another. If you can buy maintenance for a 2007 version it will probably cost you nearly the price of the current version.

                          Mike
                          Mike Henry near Chicago

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