The last few years have seen a revolution in the world of 3D Design. What was once the preserve of specialist aerospace manufacturers has become available to everyone. To give you an idea of the scale of this revolution, over 70% of all design currently being done in Europe is performed in 3D. Everything from the humble light bulb to the most complex space vehicles are being designed in 3D, and here at DesignSpark we think that’s exciting!
We can help you get involved in the fascinating world of 3D design. The first thing you'll need is a 3D design software package. The good news is that there are a wide array of tools available to help you start designing. The bad news is the cost - many of these software tools are aimed at the professional user, and the license can cost the same as a new car! But there is help at hand!
At DesignSpark we love helping engineers create world-changing products. It's why we've made our new 3D Design Tool available to all engineers and designers as a FREE download.
DesignSpark Mechanical is packed with time-saving features to help you design more easily, quickly and creatively than ever before.
- Produce highly detailed dimensioned worksheets
- Remove bottlenecks by making amendments and additions to your design in seconds, rather than waiting for the CAD department to rework in history-based CAD tools
- Combine your creation with off-the-shelf components from RS Components and the Allied Electronics 3D library
- Create geometry easily with powerful and intuitive gesture-based modelling, no need to be a CAD expert
- And best of all, it's completely free! This is not a cut down version of an expensive product or software with a time-limited license.
Library of 3D Models
Even with the best tools, 3D design can be time consuming. To help you create the designs you need, many manufacturers publish pre-prepared 3D models of their products that can be inserted directly into your software. DesignSpark has its own library where you can search amongst tens of thousands of products to download for free.
3D Design tools are not limited simply to creating new designs. Many allow the importing of files from other tools to allow you as an engineer to integrate all of the elements of your next creation. A perfect example of this comes to us from the award winning DesignSpark PCB, our very own free to download printed circuit board software. Have you ever wondered what your PCB will look like once it has been made? Not only does DesignSpark PCB offer a 3D viewer, but using our PCB Converter, you can export your circuit board into SketchUp and build it into your design.
Hardware - 3D Printing
Hand in hand with 3D design has been the development of 3D printing. Its proper name is “additive manufacturing”, which describes the process quite accurately – a 3D device is created by adding a very thin layer of material on top of previous layers. In this way, very complex shapes can be created relatively quickly and cheaply – in fact, some products can be made in no other way.
3D printing is the perfect way to add that extra dimension to your prototypes and proof of concepts. It can also great for creating spare parts. Until recently, the cost and size of 3D printers meant that it was out of reach for many. However, open source designs such as those created by RepRap have inspired designs for low cost desk top 3D printers, making it a much more accessible technology for Makers and small-medium sized companies.
The lowest cost entry to the world of 3D printing is to build one yourself, the easiest of which is to by a kit like the one produced by RepRap Pro.
The RepRapPro Ormerod is one of the most versatile 3D printers available. Its primary design goal is to offer a printer which is easy to expand in functionality, fast to replicate, and fast to assemble and commission. This new model builds on the already established RepRapPro product portfolio which has undergone brisk development and heavy testing since inception in 2004.
Creater Adrian Bowyer introduces the RepRap Ormerod 3D Printer.
Here's a video of the RepRap Pro Ormerod in Action.
Companies such as 3D systems offer desktop 3D printers that require minimal setup and you can be up and running out of the box relatively quickly. Printers are available in mono, dual or tri colour.
3D scanning technology also alows you to capture and import an object into a 3D model.
3D Design is more accessible now than it has ever been, and free powerful tools like DesignSpark Mechanical allows users of all skill levels to get involved. Check back with DesignSpark regularly to keep up to date with the latest news and gossip from the 3D world.Like this 3D Design in the Forum