Posts in category: ‘Tips of the Trade’

The end of part numbers

A new year is a time for renewal, opportunity, and new beginnings. For engineers, however, it's a chance to argue about part numbers some more. I love the smell of part numbers in the morning. Whether your allegiance lies with the Generic Numbering Coalition (GNC) or the Confederacy of Intelligent Numbers (CIN), valid arguments worth defending exist on both sides. We've covered both factions and spaces in-between. The pursuit of part number perfection, however, may lie in mutually assured destruction. The part number is a lie. For one day, perhaps sooner than you think, part numbers will be no more.

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Unsolicited advice for the new engineer: GD&T & design software

Learning GD&T is just as important as learning trigonometry.
After spending 20 years designing advanced hardware, I have some unsolicited advice for new engineers. Although you may be a most innovative thinker and may be able to create fantastic widgets, understanding how your part will be manufactured is just as important (perhaps moreso) than that new idea. Even if 2D drawings go away, you will still need to communicate key dimensions for inspection and allowable tolerances for manufacturing.

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Some of our favorite free engineering apps

Open and free sharing seems to be getting into the engineering field more and more, which is still quite late compared to other practices like programming, gaming and photo editing. When will the next free, sugary app for mechanical designers come out? We wouldn’t mind spending hours on it and level-up (if it was a freebie) – a treat to our minds and pockets.

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Igniting the 3D documentation revolution – 3D PDF for the model based enterprise

Revolution? What revolution?

In 2005, Adobe® made a bold move by adding support for interactive 3D graphics within PDF files, including Acrobat® Reader®, which continues to this day. More importantly, Adobe acquired a file format that enabled 3D PDF to be adopted throughout the manufacturing industry. How that format has ignited a revolution in 3D documentation is the topic of this post.

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How optimal is your CAD model?

I don’t know a designer or a CAD modeler who hasn’t been through a phase where he/she was speaking about his/her work in artistic terms rather than technical ones. I also don’t know anyone who hasn’t had to face someone criticising a design through an artsy tirade leaving them clueless as to what is exactly wrong with their model or how to improve it. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just keep two things in mind: 1) you have had this attitude at some point and 2) therefore should be understanding and patient. And in order to assess your CAD model, you should quantify or ask for it!

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CAD workstation performance tip: chuck those hard drives in the trash

The age of hard drives has come and gone; the time of solid-state drives (SSD) is upon us. We made this point with our kick-ass workstation recommendations a few months back, but a few of you were understandably skeptical. As engineers we have a special affinity for reliable technology, but such respect is not so easily earned. So are SSDs reliable? Let’s end that debate and understand that it’s well past time to chuck those hard drives. Yep. In the trash. See you in hell, magnetic platter.

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Stop whining about MBD and accurately model your products

Why is it so important for 3D data to be exact? After all, drawings on a drafting board weren't a mathematically accurate representation of designs and they got the job done just fine. Right? Well sort of. We’ve all heard the stories of someone faking in a dimension to show the right value, causing the 2D drawing to become a less accurate representation of the final product and out of sync with the 3D model (if there was one). The results of these out of sync documents usually amount to an unhappy boss.

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Stop laughing at 2D CAD

It’s amazing to see where computational mechanics is heading and how different modeling techniques are constantly evolving. Not even twenty years ago, mechanical systems were drafted as plane sketches with an endless array of symbols and norms to convey as much as possible about an accurate and common three dimensional shape. Now however, we have the full 3D CAD experience ready and easy to manipulate.

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