Design Software for CAD
First we are going to talk about the initial element of CNC. That element is design. Before you begin a CNC project, you need to have a plan of action. The design is like a blueprint, you know what...
First we are going to talk about the initial element of CNC. That element is design. Before you begin a CNC project, you need to have a plan of action. The design is like a blueprint, you know what you are going to build before you ever build it.
Here are some important elements of design that need to be answered:What size will it be?What material will it be made of?Who is the customer?What will it be used for?
Your design can be anything. It could be an industrial part or a work of art. This is only really limited by your imagination. Many people use CNC every day to manufacture parts. Many hobbyists use CNC every day to create art and various home projects.Before I design I like to sketch a few ideas out on paper. I like to toy with different ideas to spark my creativity. This is the equivalent of brainstorming. When I really get my juices flowing, that is when my best designs rise to the top. I generally carry around a notebook with me to note designs that I think of during the day.
After I have a few likely suspects, I try to look through each of the ideas to see if I can merge them somehow. Some designs have different parts or components to them. Some of these components are better than others. Can I take some of these parts and add them to another design to make it better? Just like writing, editing your designs is a critical step in the process.When you are designing, you are really trying to describe what you are going to build. The more accurately you can do that, the better the whole process will go. Just like a house, if you have a strong foundation, you will have a good house. If you have a solid design, the rest of the process is easy.
CADCAD stands for Computer Aided Design or Drafting. CAD was developed in the early 60s. Today it is the premier way to design, develop and optimized products. People use CAD every day to design virtually every product you see. Generally, designers use CAD to design a product, and then produce prints to manufacture that product. A print is a picture of a part or assembly that is very exact. It includes the dimensions and a parts list used to manufacture a product.Computer Aided Drafting software packages can generally be broken into two groups. The groups are 2-D drafting packages or 3-D drafting packages. Most all software packages are moving to 3-D design. 3-D design is really the next generation of CAD. Utilizing 3-D design, engineers can make a model of their product. They can then look over this model for any apparent defects before it is ever made.
3-D DesignUtilizing 3-D design, engineers can cut down on the number of manufacturing mistakes that occur due to fit up and tolerance issues. This translates into a more efficient operation with less waste for the manufacturer.
Here are some examples of 3-D drafting/design software:InventorTopSolidSolidWorksAlibre DesignRhino3D
2-D Design2-D design can be very efficient if you need to make a quick part that is not very complex. You could quickly sketch out a silhouette of an object and convert it into a CAM tool path. This is an operation where 2-D will really shine.
Here are some examples of 2-D drafting/design software:AutoCAD MicroStation
At some point you will need to use CAD. You will need to take your design and translated it into a print. The best way to do that is to use CAD. You will need to purchase a CAD program of some sort if you are serious about CNC. Many CAD programs have a free or trial period that you can use to evaluate the program. My suggestion is to try a few and then select one that fits the way you design.
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