Posts in category: ‘Tips of the Trade’

Engineering Graphics for Your Project Presentation 101

It’s easy to get excited about a project that you are working on – in fact, it happens to me all the time.

I start working on something and as I find out more about the technical issues, or the work’s relevance in the overall scheme of things, I get more and more excited about the work that I am doing. And when I get an opportunity to present out the status of the project or brief the experts on a particular issue being worked on, I want to make sure I present as full of a picture of the project as possible. That just makes sense: good data in = good results out.

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The model-based definition ski challenge

It’s the “high noon” of ski season, and I find myself comparing my challenges learning to ski with my work in model-based definition (MBD). Odd as it may sem, this confluence brings me to the conclusion that learning MBD is comparable to becoming a pretty good skier. It took me 20 years, two ski patrol sled trips, one knee surgery, and lots of strength training to become a proficient, confident skier. Similarly, adopting MBD has its challenges, but sticking with it for the long haul will prove fruitful. MBD is on its way to your organization whether you like it or not. Please give yourself some space to absorb the concepts, stay focused, and eventually you will become a master.

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CAD workstation build tips from the trenches

The sun rises; the small mountain of indistinct cardboard packages is illuminated by the morning sun as a glorious monument to technology and engineering. The deliveries have arrived in a steady procession over the last several days, solemnly and reverently brought to your doorstep by sentinels of commerce each demanding firmly that you sign here. With each new box containing carefully selected parts of your future DIY CAD workstation, the means to execute on your plan now lies before you. You've made some important decisions. Maybe you've followed some of our advice, or maybe you're rolled an infallible plan of your own. You're in the pipe, five by five. But now comes the moment of truth, and this machine's not going to assemble itself.

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Metal powder bed design guide

Recently I’ve gotten a notable uptick in emails from engineers asking whether it’ll be cost effective to use metal powder bed fusion to make an existing (but conventionally manufactured) part. The answer is that it’s complicated, and depends largely on whether or not the part fits into the design requirements for powder bed fusion. Nine times out of ten it doesn’t, but in some cases it’s possible to adapt a design to fit - or redesign from the ground up with additive in mind. In order to help other engineers begin this process, let’s review some of the part characteristics and design guidelines for powder bed fusion.

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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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