Archive for the ‘3D Printing’ Category

7 Practical Uses for Computer Aided Design Software

Monday, August 28th, 2017

CAD software is often associated with technical disciplines like engineering and architecture. These days, however, CAD software programs are available for affordable, consumer friendly pricing – so you don’t have to be building a commercial skyscraper or engineering an aircraft carrier to make use of the software.

With the explosion of information surrounding computer aided design, we are outlining a handful of uses for CAD software – some are trusty standbys and others may surprise you!

1. Building furniture. Maybe your home is perfect, but you’ve always wanted to build your own coffee table or rocking chair. Woodworking is a popular activity that’s getting a revival thanks to technologies, including CAD, that takes a lot of the risk out of it. Take advantage of hundreds of online platforms that offer design inspiration, so you can build exactly the piece you’re imagining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: popularwoodworking.com

2. 3D printing. Woodworking isn’t the only arena for DIY builders. If you’ve already got an at-home printer, you can get creative with what you need. Think about automotive pieces, replacements for broken knobs and bits, or truly creative pieces like jewelry, custom-made storage, and more. There are also numerous online printers  that can take your files and send you a finished piece!

Take a look at this awesome and functional 3D printed wrench – designed entirely with ViaCAD 2D/3D.

Created with ViaCAD 2D/3D

3. Architecture. For many of us, architecture and engineering are the things we immediately think of when we think about CAD. But architecture can mean something smaller scale – think along the lines of making changes to or building an addition on your home. CAD clearly shows what you can fit in your existing home, and whether you have the space to add that outdoor pool or master suite addition. It will also help you lay it out exactly how you want, without forgetting technical pieces like the electrical and plumbing.

4. Interior design. Whether you’re going big and building an addition or simply want to revamp your living room, CAD software can make you feel like you’re playing the Sims in real life. Playing with CAD software makes clear exactly where you should install a fireplace, or add overhead fans. Looking to buy a new, larger couch? Make sure it fits in the room – and with all your other furniture.

5. Outdoor design. Interior spaces aren’t the only areas worthy of designing ahead of time. Use your CAD software to help layout your garden, yard, patio, or other outdoor space.

6. Fashion. Want to take your wardrobe into your own hands? Just like woodworking, fashion is at a major renaissance for DIYers. Perhaps you have an idea for a brand-new design, or you’re looking to be a little more environmentally friendly by reusing old cloths and fabrics. Whatever you’re sewing, be sure to prototype your designs in CAD. If you need some inspiration, plenty websites offer free patterns from beginner to advanced difficulty.

7. Mapping. With a bevy of map apps available to anyone with a smartphone, you probably think you never need a real map again. Think again! We’ve all been stuck in a cell service dead zone, rendering our useful maps totally worthless when navigating a new terrain. Custom maps can help you avoid this – if you’re heading off to Paris or the mountains or somewhere that you just want to build a custom map for, fill it with places of interest, your hotel, the roads you take to get there. CAD can help you keep it digital, saving it on a smart device, or you can even print it out if you prefer something tangible. You can use a service like mapacad to download maps that you can alter in your CAD software. Custom maps are also a great way to help promote. Maybe you’re holding an event for your business or a party for your family – make it something special by creating your map by hand. Get creative! While Google Maps always looks the same, your map can look hand-drawn or incorporate special places that are unique to you.

Whatever you’re inspired to create or build, try it out in CAD to make sure your design is viable. If you’re new to CAD software, check out these resources that will help you get familiar with it. Happy designing!

5 Questions with Tim Olson, Founder

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Tim Olson is the founder and developer of the ViaCAD and Shark line of CAD design products. Tim founded CADSoft Solutions in 1994 and created the first version of ViaCAD. Tim’s company, Evolution Software, currently supports and develops the ViaCAD and Shark products in partnership with Encore Software.

1. What was your inspiration for creating ViaCAD and Shark?

We wanted to create a system that was powerful enough for a CAD expert but usable and affordable to a CAD beginner.

2.  What were your goals with the most recent release?

Our goal was to improve productivity, quality, and user experience. This was accomplished by addressing issues in the areas of usability, 2D design & drafting, 3D design, interoperability, visualization, and performance.

3. What’s the biggest surprise or reward from creating the software?

Growing up I was inspired by the Apollo missions and wanted to work for NASA. I ultimately turned down a job at NASA to work for Lockheed’s Advanced Design team responsible for developing a CAD system for next generation air vehicles. I was thrilled when an early version of PunchCAD was used for the conceptual design of SpaceShipOne, the first private space vehicle in history. I find great reward in seeing how others use the software.

4.  Where do you see CAD software and 3D design going in the future?

Usability, performance, and reliability are continued evolutionary areas of CAD.  Revolutionary areas in CAD could involve merging CAD with AI and VR.  My daughter recently interned with IBM, working on the Watson AI project. It stunned me with how far “assisted” technology has come. Likewise, my grade school son was introduced to VR at a local university and bubbled with excitement on how intuitive 3D becomes within a virtual environment. Imagine having an expert engineer assisting our ideas, tested within a virtual environment. The next generation of CAD could break down existing barriers and serve as a catalyst for innovation.

5. What is a piece of advice you’d like to impart on an aspiring designer?

Many of the old barriers to CAD are gone. Download a trial of a low-cost 3D CAD system and start exploring. Join a user forum for help and advice. I find people in forums extremely helpful and knowledgeable especially for beginners.  Once you get up to speed, create a simple part and have a physical part made from a 3D printer bureau. There is nothing more rewarding than going from a concept to holding a physical model!

 

Project of the Month – Print Your 3D Designs

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

So, you’ve spent some time in ViaCAD Pro or Shark modeling the perfect 3D project. You’ve subdivided your objects, given them a finished look, and now are using our 3D printing tools to make your design come to life. The video below takes you from the construction of a 3D spoon, which you can read about here, to exporting it and getting it 3D printed using a great online 3D printing service called Shapeways.

Before getting your project printed there are a couple really cool PunchCAD features that will help you visualize your 3D models.

First, let’s talk about the ‘model to sheet’ tool. If you watch the video at the 4:50 mark, you’ll see the finished 3D model of a spoon as well as the ‘model to sheet’ tool being used to get exact dimensions of the spoon to be shared via a printable PDF. This useful tool can create sheets to be emailed for review as well, which is seen in the video.

Quick Tip: PunchCAD files are interoperable, so if you need to edit the file further you can use software, like the video does with Adobe Illustrator, that interacts with PDF files to make the changes you need.

Second, the video then shows how you can go one step further with rendering your 3D object. Using the ‘photo render’ tool  that can be found in the window tab at the top of the program, the spoon’s color and material can be altered (you can visualize the spoon as metal, mirror, plastic, glass, and wood).

Once you’ve finished creating your model using our CAD software and want to create physical prototype or finished object it’s easy to use Shapeways to get it 3D printed. As you can see in the video, you can export your model as an STL file (what’s an STL file?) and upload that file onto the Shapeways website. After a short period, Shapeways will analyze your model and give you pricing options for various materials. Once you’ve chosen your material, Shapeways will do the rest.

Pro Tip: When 3D printing using an expensive material, we recommend giving yourself the time to first print out a cheaper prototype to further refine your design. The ability to reference a physical object while making last minute adjustments will save you a lot of trouble (and money) moving forward.