Archive for the ‘3D Printing’ Category

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.