Archive for the ‘ViaCAD’ 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!

Online Tools To Learn The Fundamentals, Applications, And Theories Of CAD

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

If you’re approaching CAD for the first time, perhaps you’re a self-starter who simply digs right into the software, starts playing around, and a few iterations later, you’ve designed something.

There are also people who feel overwhelmed by the power of CAD. Designing something from scratch can feel frustrating or overwhelming, no matter how simple or complicated it is. For those who feel that way – you’re not alone!

Design and computer-aided design are skills that professionals spend years mastering, and if you’re an at-home hobbyist, you may think ‘Why bother?’

No matter which camp you fall into to, the good news is that many CAD software programs are designed to be easy to use and intuitive. We really believe that the only overwhelming part of computer-aided design is simply the sheer number of things you can do with it. Once you understand how all those tools relate, CAD makes a lot more sense.

We believe it is important for everyone to have some theoretical foundation of design before jumping into any CAD software. With you in mind, we’ve put together our favorite online spots for getting a good understanding of the concepts that are at work in CAD software.

Getting started

Let’s start with the basics.

Remember that computer-aided design is based on a cross-section of real world disciplines, including drafting, engineering, architecture, and more. You certainly don’t need to be an expert in any of these fields, but knowing just a tiny bit about them can really help wrap your head around all the options your CAD software provides – we promise.

While you could simply google “learning CAD”, you’ll most likely wind up with software-specific directions on how to build a shape.

For this article, however, we’re recommending resources from world-class research and learning institutions so you can understand the concepts that computer-aided design is based on.

Whether you’re designing a large-scale architecture project or a simple mechanical game to 3D print, you’ll want to have a basic understanding of the following fields:

Engineering. Taking the long view, engineering is applying math and science (and sometimes economical or practical knowledge) to build or innovate structures, tools, processes, and more. In design, engineering is often broken down into sub-sections, such as civil engineering, materials or chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and more. As the purpose of engineering is to find a solution to a problem, you can apply engineering theories to anything you’re building – in CAD or otherwise.

Architecture. While architecture is technically a subset of engineering, it is often treated as a separate field that focuses on structure and materials. Whatever you’re designing in CAD, understanding architectural theories will smooth out your learning curve.

Drafting. When you hear drafting in terms of CAD, it’s not about a football draft or a first draft. Design drafting refers to the process of creating a technical drawing (blueprints, instructions for a 3D printer, etc.)

While we strive to recommend free and affordable resources, some do require a payment or a free “audit” version of the material. Do what makes sense for your skills and wallet.

Once you’re experimenting in your CAD software, take advantage of YouTube tutorials from CAD enthusiasts to learn specific tricks and tools. We also offer our very own video tutorials.

Without further ado, here are our favorite places to get a crash course in each field or deep-dive into more advanced topics. Browse for just the right amount of information you need – no need to take the full class to understand any basics.

Coursera

Coursera offers courses from world-class learning institutions, especially on topics related to 21st century learning. For CAD beginners, we love the following classes:

Coursera provides a variety of free and full-paying classes, so check with each class. Often, classes that do require a subscription offer an option to simply ‘audit’, or view for free, a portion of the class content. We think this is the way to go to get your feet wet.

MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is basically the world-leader in engineering, so expect heavier topics. The school offers a lot of free content that will provide anything from basics to graduate-level topics in the following fields: Architecture, Materials Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mathematics, and more.

Lynda.com

Lynda is a learning resource from LinkedIn, everyone’s favorite professional network, so you can expert high-quality courses from industry-leading professionals. The breadth of this collection is incredible, so simply search for a term and browse the videos – some are a few minutes long, and others up to hours.

Lynda offers a free 10-day trial before requiring a paid subscription, but check with your local library – many provide free access to Lynda for any library-card holders.

Udemy

This is a good place to start applying your knowledge to your CAD designs. We like Udemy because you only pay for the class that you want, and with prices that average $20-30, we think it’s a steal. Our favorites include Architectural Drafting Simplified and Mechanical Engineering & Drafting: Sketch to Success, which focuses on 2D CAD drawings.

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!