Monday, October 7, 2013

3d printing meet-up: cad package demo

On Saturday I attended the Milwaukee 3D Printing Meet-up that was happening during the Barcamp event. I haven't been to a 3D printing meet-up since we hosted the first one at Kenilworth in the DCRL. HaveBlue had asked if I would demo Rhino during a session on CAD packages and I figured this would be a good time to reconnect with some of the people that came to the first get together.  I decided to prepare a drawing that I could demo. Each presenter got 10 minutes, so I had to make something that I could demo workflow with. I had just come across some orthographic drawing scans that I used to have my 3D Design students do, so decided to start with a drawing that one of my former students, David Villa, had made of a toy that he had brought for the in-class exercises. I figured that it would be good to show how to go from a scanned sketch to Rhino interface, as getting over the intimidation of a blank modeling screen is sometimes a tough obstacle to navigate. The toy figure was modeled with simple curves and then the sections of the body were revolved or extruded and then united into one form. I fired up the Makerbot and printed a quick model using quick settings so I could take it along with me to the meet-up. We had a really good line-up of CAD packages on the agenda and everyone had the chance to show some of the features of their chosen software. I was the last person to demo, so I felt like a lot of people were ready for the demos to be over, so I rushed through quite a bit, but it was still a good event. It was cool to see each program demoed back to back. I often hear people talk about one piece of software being better than another and I always want to get sick listening to people brag about what they use and how "it's the best thing since sliced bread". After seeing all of the CAD programs demoed, you start to see that they're all the same in a basic sense. I also see that if you're proficient at a skill that you could probably use any of these and get a decent result. It reminds me of my sister's hand me down coronet that she played in band when we were young or about the machinist who uses a worn out lathe to make precision parts. Quality has more to do with the ability of the operator than the tool. Did I mention that I love engineers who like to talk about precision and all of the high quality Yoda's they've printed; that's just one of the great things about going to these events.

That said, It WAS REALLY GOOD to have a chance to talk to Pete, Ed, and Michael as it had been a while since I had seen them. Michael and I had a chance to compare notes on the Stratasys FDM2000 and discover that we arrived at the same techniques for rethreading filament (out of desperation it seems). Funny how two different people can be faced with a problem and can respond to it in exactly the same way without being aware of each other's trials. He also gave me some much needed info on foam build platforms and filaments. Every time I talk to Michael, I am astonished at his knowledge. I swear he knows everything, but he never comes across "like he knows everything". You'll never meet a more humble and intelligent person. Anyway, it was a good day.

If you want a copy of the "Gatcha" figure head over to Thingiverse.

1 comment:

Have Blue said...

Oddly enough, I found far more differentiation in the CAD/design programs than I expected - the greatest similarity was in Chris's Creo (Pro/E) presentation and the one I did on SolidWorks (which was totally redundant in retrospect - Chris hit all of the points of what makes a parametric, history-based modeler that I wanted to present). I just wish there were more people to watch your Rhino demo, which was the one I was most looking forward to!

In some respect, yes, a lot of CAD/design packages are very similar when dealing with simple boolean based solid models. However, it seems like the difference really comes in when you have an actual solid modeling kernel driving your software. The ability to select the edge of a part and tell the software to fillet or chamfer it for me is something I now take for granted, but for someone using a simple CSG (constructive solid geometry) based system, that capability simply doesn't exist in general. Still, there's a lot of creative ways to sidestep that limitation, and the 'hull' capability of OpenSCAD looked like a great feature!

Eh, perhaps I've made your point for you - it's the skill of the operator rather than the tool that makes the difference. Thinking back to the IRTC contests of nearly 2 decades ago, people were able to construct incredibly impressive scenes with nothing more than graph paper and a text editor...

Anyhow, I am likewise floored by your own knowledge and humility whenever I get to talk to you. When I got my first Stratasys machine, I had 10 minutes of instruction on how to use it - when you got your FDM 2000, you got _zero_ instruction on running it (when I should have given you some quick tips on what I had discovered). Now I don't feel like a complete fool, knowing that you found the very same FDM head loading technique that I did! I'm thrilled to now have someone local that I can compare notes with on the FDM series machines!