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Hynes Blog

4 CAD Software Tips To Keep Engineers Efficient

Posted by Ryan Jarvis on September 29, 2014

In today’s world of rapidly evolving technologies and shorter product lifecycles, it’s important engineers to be able to make the most of every minute—that includes staying efficient and productive while utilizing CAD software.

There are a number of CAD software systems available. For our specific needs and capabilities, we use AutoDesk Inventor and AutoCAD Mechanical.  

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.12.13 AM

Image Credit: AutoDesk

We have compiled a few tips and highlighted some tools we find useful when working in CAD software.  

1. Enter Standard Parts into Drawings

Content libraries allow you to enter standard steel shapes, fasteners, screw connections, chains, belts, cams, sprints and various other mechanical assemblies into drawings. Being able to quickly and easily access these standard shapes saves us design time and the hassle of looking through our system to find them.

You also have the option to work within AutoDesk’s Content Center as a stand-alone user (libraries are saved in the Desktop Content location on your computer) or as a member of a workgroup (libraries are shared on a Vault server). If you choose to share libraries on the Vault server, you’ll have to log into the server to access the Content Center.

Vault protects the lifecycle of a design (i.e. draft, engineering, release to production, obsolete). It allows team members to check in and out of a drawing one at a time to maintain control and revision management.  

2. Customize Tabs for Efficiency

By using AutoCAD Inventor consistently, you’ll notice what features and buttons you tend to use more often than others. Once you’ve identified these, you can make sure they are prominent in your interface.

For example, if you want to quickly gain access to the “Distance” tool, you can show panels and turn on the “Measure” tool. Within the Assembly tab, you can gain access to the Distance tool without having to switch between panels.  

3. Incorporate Large 3D Files into Drawings

If you have large files of 3D models that need to be incorporated into your drawings, you can do so in AutoCAD without long load times or errors.

Use a FLATSHOT representation of the 3D model as a substitute for the actual 3D model. The FLATSHOT command can be used at the command line or the tool can be found on the ribbon under the3D Modelingworkspace under the “Home” tab >Sectionpanel (dropdown) >FLATSHOT"

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.19.37 AM

Image Credit: IMAGINiT Technologies

Tip: For efficient conceptual engineering, consider both 2D and 3D design. Make sure your CAD software can easily generate 2D prints and flat pattern layouts of 3D models, and that 3D models can be modified easily.  

4. Utilize Specialized Commands and Features

Within Autodesk Inventor 2014, the hole generation feature allows you to apply any type of machined hole to user-defined positions. The need to establish thread size, pitch and depth is automatically handled by the software.

Within AutoCAD Mechanical 2014, The “List” command displays list useful information; specifically in determining the length of a complex polyline.

As far as CAD goes, this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. In order to know what works best for you, spend time becoming comfortable with the various tabs and features.

To learn more strategies, tips and tools that increase productivity, download The Modern Engineer’s Guide to Getting It Done.
 

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Topics: engineering