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Design News, March 2013

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Design Hardware & Software The Mach3 interface with G-code for a wolf shape loaded. Upper left shows the G-code for the current operation. Literally moving a tool from one exact location to another — it's not complicated at all. like a bolt or a box, has a 3D model that can be downloaded and added to any drawing. In other words, assemble a 3D model of a complete enclosure, to use the example again, without drawing a thing. Let's say an enclosure is drawn, what next? Having it drawn means nothing if it cannot be fabricated. Most 3D CAD packages can output a handful of file formats. The easiest way to see these parts made is to simply load those files onto a 3D printer and let the system start building. Most printers will handle the common output 3D files. If not tasked with prepping the system, proper maintenance of the 3D printer is important, but that one is easily handled by read- ing the manual for it. Printing is not the only option. These CAD packages can output G-code, the reduced instruction programming language used for numerically controlled (NC) machine-tools, also known as CNC machinery. SolidWorks, for example, has a third-party plug-in (Solidcam) that when run can output the G-code needed to run on any type of machine, be it a mill, router, lathe, etc. A less expensive competitor for the SolidWorks platform, Alibre Design, has a number of similar product add-ons that can do the same.The outcome will look like a throwback to BASIC programming, where each line is a simple tool path command. Although nothing is perfect, just relying on the CAD soft- Multisim showing an inductor (L) and capacitor (C) based oscillator. The circuit loaded is also known as a "Colpitts Oscillator," invented in 1918 by Edwin H. Colpitts. Multisim does not just allow for a circuit to be drawn, but it can also simulate the Colpitts Oscillator. (Source: National Instruments) Design News | march 2013 | www.d esign n ews.com –58–

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