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Design News, March 2013

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Design Hardware & Software Top Design Applications Create a Versatile Engineer If you are an engineer of any discipline, you are a professional practitioner of engineering — become the master of your craft. By cabe atwell, contributing Editor A n engineer is a tool; once looked at by an employing company as a Swiss Army knife of talents to be wielded at every whim. Through my years as a contract engineer I have noticed a few trends. Trends and fads demand that engineers expand their knowledge. It never stops, it never slows down — a momentary lapse and the engineer in obsolete. The following is a collection of applications that can make anyone adept at engineering. These programs are available to anyone, and can take them from no experience to proficient in a short amount of time. Computer-Aided Drafting The versatile engineer can design it themselves. Of course, the part in question can be drawn on paper, even in a 2D computer-aided drafting (CAD) package like AutoCAD or Draftsight. Those are old, tried, and true standards. It is 3D Solid Modeling that will be the expected standard in the near future. Keep in mind almost every project requires a shape. If a circle can be drawn on a piece of paper, it can be drawn to an exact size in a 2D CAD program and it can be as easily drawn in 3D CAD and extruded to a desired length. Despite the multitudes of features, options, and methods, CAD programs can be broken down to just a handful of base operations. The first tutorial on whatever program chosen is all that is needed to start drawing 3D, in most cases. Everything learned past that just adds to how well the tool is put to use. Once familiar with this system, picking it up on any other 3D CAD platform should be easy. For example, AutoCAD Inventor draws parts in almost the same fashion as SolidWorks. Alibre Design, another application, was designed to be a direct competitor to the ease of SolidWorks. It too draws in the same way. In certain situations, the engineer wouldn't even have to draw the part. A lot of companies like to design using offthe-shelf components. Almost every component out there, I drew a simple pocketed box in SolidWorks 2013. This could act as an enclosure, tray, etc. This particular part could be 3D printed with ease. The second view is the isometric view selection, simply press the spacebar to select the view. (Source: SolidWorks) Design News | march 2013 | www.d esign n ews.com –56–

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