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3D Drafting Software

3d Drafting Software comes in many programs and price levels nowadays. All the way from free packages, such as the basic version of Google Sketchup to high priced seats of Catia and a hundred titles in between. The worst thing with 3D is, everyone promotes their own file formats. Quite often you cant open 3D work done on one system so that you can modify it on your own system. It's a bit like the days of the industrial revolution in the mid 1800's when on factory made a nut and another made a bolt and you had no guarantee that they would ever fit together.

Fortunately there is some degree of standardization to allow at least completed 3d models to be imported into various other software programs. Most 3D drafting software will export to IGES and SAT formats which can be read with a variety of drafting and CNC machining packages. The only problems is, IGES and SAT formats are just "dumb solids". Anyone opening those files cant modify them in the same way they were created. They are pretty much only useful for the presentation and manufacturing of the finished product.

While many drafting softare packages have their own proprietary file formats, the way that they put their 3D models together is very similiar. Once you know how use one 3D package, its a safe bet that it wont take you long to get used to using another. The names of the functions might be different, but the functions of the icons you press you be pretty much the same. All 3D drafting packages require you to select planes and sketch on them. They all extrude or revolve models from those sketches and have features that allow you to add fillets and holes among other things.

One of the most important features that 3D software can have is not even in the software itself. As a new user, you need good support from the software. Not all of us can pick up a new drafting package and be able to use it overnight. The benefit of having a helpful expert you can turn to, whether its in person or on a forum, is invaluable. Expert help is what you are paying for when you pay the yearly subscription costs for programs like Inventor, Solidworks and Solidedge. If your income depends on making the software work, its worth paying for help. Similiarly with if you are using packages such as Turbocad or Cadian, you need good forums and telephone support to tackle the inevitable problems.

TurboCAD Deluxe 14 Anniversary Edition

> Drafting and design

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AAA Drafting Blog
A SolidWorks designer talks about stuff related to CAD and mechanical design
  • Sketching on a SolidWorks drawing

    If you are new to SolidWorks, there can be times when things are a little frustrating. One of those simple things is adding notes or sketching lines on an exisiting drawing with several views.

    You add your note or centerline and then move one of the views but the note you added stays where it is and you end up having to move it seperately.

    Or you have a note that belongs somewhere else in the drawing that gets moved when you are rearranging views when you dont want it to.

    The solution to these problems is found in these excerpts from the SolidWorks help section.
    Lock View Focus.
    Allows you to add sketch entities to views, even when the pointer is close to another view. You can be sure that the items you are adding belong to the views you want. You can also double-click views to lock the focus.
    So if you want to add a note or a line to views and have them move when you move the view, click in the views, right click and lock the view focus, then add the items you want.

    Once you are finished just click the views and unselect the lock view focus. Now your items should move in lock step with the views.

    What about notes that you want to be part of the sheet. Say you have some general material or heat treatment notes that you dont want to have moved when views are manipulated. You need to use lock sheet focus.

    Lock Sheet Focus.
    Allows you to add sketch entities to the sheet. Otherwise, the sketch entities belong to the view that is closest to where you begin sketching. You can also double-click a sheet to lock the focus. Lock Sheet Focus is available when at least one drawing view is present. When Lock Sheet Focus is enabled, the drawing sheet border is pink.

    Finally if you are in a situation where you want to lock certain projections in postion use lock view position. I find this useful when I want to use a single projection to show an open or closed position by superimposing views on top of each other:

    Create two views of the same part or assembly. Align them horizontally or vertically as required. Right-click anywhere in the desired view and select Lock View Position. Then you can line up the copied views right over top of the original, making it look as if both are the same.
    Following these directions should help so that notes and sketched lines dont end up where they are not supposed to be!