CAD Design Process
When designing something complex in CAD you will find there is a bit of a process. First you design parts. Then you build the parts into Sub-Assemblies. Next you build sub-assemblies into Groups. T...
When designing something complex in CAD you will find there is a bit of a process. First you design parts. Then you build the parts into Sub-Assemblies. Next you build sub-assemblies into Groups. Then you build the groups into the machine. It is a logical pyramid process. You can also think of it like a file structure inside of a computer.
Designing PartsParts are your building blocks. Without this level, nothing could be produced. The part level breaks the entire “thing” down to its simplest form. You also manufacture at the part level. You make parts, and then assemble them into other things.Parts are generally made out of raw materials. Think of a differential on the rear axel of a car. The differential is made up of gears and a housing. Each of these are parts of the differential and the differential is the assembly of these parts.
Designing Sub AssembliesSub Assemblies are the next level up and I am guessing you are getting the idea. You first design parts, then put them together into sub assemblies. In the car example above the differential is a sub assembly in the axel “Group” of the car. Sub Assemblies are put together to form groups.
Designing GroupsMoving up the design chain, groups are usually things you can identify with. It could be a door, engine, transmission, or cooling package on a car. Above we used the example of an Axle as a Group. Groups are put together into machines. Our example is a car, which is at the machine level.
Designing the MachineFinally, the top level of all your designing, the machine. The machine could be built for the end user or be sold to another manufacturer. That manufacturer could use your “machine” as a sub assembly or group. You can see all this is just a matter of viewpoint. You can consider just about anything a sub assembly, group or final machine. It is all just semantics and what you are using the item for.
CAD Software Price PointsI consider there to be a few different price points in the CAD Software Market. These can be categorized as hobby or professional price points. This is usually a good break as well in the features a program offers. Here is a quick run down.
Hobby CAD SoftwareCould possibly be free $0-$500 price point Could be 2D, 2.5D or 3D capable, usually 2D or 2.5DStand alone licensesMeant for ease of user interface Probably missing some advanced tools
Professional CAD Software$500-$10,000 price point2D, 2.5D and 3D capableNetwork version that let multiple designers interactDifferent modules or plug-ins like FMEAFull featured, most every type of tool is available
Examples of Commercial CAD Software ProgramsAutoCADTurbo CADIntelliCADPro/EngineerCAD ProAlibrisSolidworksQuickCADRhino3D
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