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DesignSpark Mechanical: QA with Kristoffer Engdahl, Arduino

titleIn this week’s guest blog, Kristoffer Engdahl (Arduino) offers some essential tips to help you get the most out of DesignSpark Mechanical. Plus, he tells us about how he taught the software to a seventy-year-old.

How are you finding using DesignSpark Mechanical? What projects have you used the software for so far?

If you’ve never used any modelling software, it’s quite a steep learning curve. But compared to other design programs which are code-based, it’s easier to learn. Once I got my head around certain tricks and shortcuts, things started to fall into place and I started to use it for real projects.


So far I’ve created two fan housings for a 3D printer. (see photos) I also imported an STL file of a nuts trap for the 3D printer into DesignSpark Mechanical 
(DSM), and recreated it parametrically for future additions. Parametric changes mean you can simply change one parameter – say the width – and the other dimensions will adjust automatically. This helps with not having to redraw the whole object, which is what you have to do with most CAD software.


Can you tell us about your favourite feature of the software? How does it help your design process? 

The parametric changes make it very useful. Especially when working with 3D printers, because things are not always exact when printed and may need slight tweaking. Having to re-draw an object over and over would be very time-consuming.

Why is it important for DesignSpark to be making tools like DSM available to all engineers?

It’s a good transition into using CAD software for novices and, coupled with the fact that it’s free, there is little reason not to use it. DSM is a good, solid modeller.

Finally, why should people get involved in the new DesignSpark Mechanical Challenge?

I think engineers should enter the challenge because the software really is easy to use. I’ve been working with a retired engineer in his seventies and he’s picked up DSM pretty quickly. So if a mature engineer can get to grips with it, younger generations should definitely have a go!

Kristoffer’s essential tips

  • Get used to Sketch Mode. Play around with placing your sketch planes on the sides of your models, so you can easily adjust them.
  • Learn the shortcuts. Click the ‘X’,‘Y’ and ‘Z’ buttons in the bottom corner to navigate and use Ctrl-1,2,3, etc. to quickly get different views. 
  • Use the Pull tool. Try the Pull tool to pull on planes and edges.



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12 Nov 2013, 11:21