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    Discussion in 'The main mechanical design forum' started by xmechanic, Jan 18, 2011.

    1. xmechanic

      xmechanic Active Member

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      I am 46 and am in a desperate need of a career change. My first career was auto mechanic, mid twenties I switched to construction. I was somewhat hampered in choice of what I did because of being a lone wolf type that didn't function well in highly structured large organizations and leaving home at 16 with a 9th grade education. A+ in algebra

      Currently I am a self employed home remodeler, I have hated the sheer boredom of it for years but stayed with it for a variety of reasons including the ability to make a decent living. The great recession destroyed construction and now I have no choice but to find a new career.

      So I have spent a considerable amount of time looking at my options and it seems if I learned CAD I might find some work in spite of no formal education. My long term goal is self employed low volume some sort of manufacturing. I just figured out I could download a free trial version of it, I have 30 days to see if I can make some sense of it. Where do I start? Any good free online tutorials? What the learning curve on this like? Are there other things I need to learn first? Keep in mind I bought my first computer less then 3 years ago. You laughing yet? Yeah me too.

      Any words of wisdom, ideas or help would be greatly appreciated .
       
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    3. maniacal_engineer

      maniacal_engineer Well-Known Member

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      More important than the details of a particular CAD package is your ability to think spatially. Your mechanics and contractor's background is actually a great help. So I would try to find someplace that might let you bootstrap yourself in, find out what CAD package they use, and learn it. Someone will probably have to take a leap of faith to hire you, either that or you will have to go to a lot of school (i.e. take a lot of time). So if you can sell them on your practical knowledge and innate smarts then you have a shot.
       
    4. xmechanic

      xmechanic Active Member

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      Thanks for the reply. The spatial thing is probably my greatest strength, secondary being mechanically inclined. For example I rebuilt my first automatic car transmission when I was 17 without help or instructions. I did have to go through it 3 times before I got it right.

      One of my huge weaknesses is I cant do classroom style learning very well. Most of my 9th grade education was self-taught at home. I'm wondering if programs like CAD are something that you "get" or don't get or how I might go about wrapping my head around it. My son actually is an ME, we have very different learning styles and abilities though. He plowed through 6 years of working and going to school, got his masters. If I lived a thousand years I couldn't do 2 years of school.

      That makes sense on how you say to get in, I got on as a GM mechanic like that sort of. A little nerve and luck and I was up and running. The problem was jealousy from the older more experienced mechanics, I actually had to quit and go to another shop and then quit that one and start my own mobile mechanic service. Same thing happened in construction, man it was rough with the jealousy in construction. I wasn't too hot with the social graces back then.
       
    5. maniacal_engineer

      maniacal_engineer Well-Known Member

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      I think of solidworks as being almost like "MS solids". Its very easy to poke around and figure things out, the help system is good, and once you have a very basic knowledge you can pretty easily expand it on your own.
       
    6. guy

      guy Member

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      Yes, SolidWorks would be a good start – it has a very good set of tutorials. I worked with Pro/E, Inventor, Alibre and some others but this one is my favorite. If you can't manage with the tutorials, there are a lot of videos in youtube.
      Although it's not available as a demo version, there are plenty of other sources on the Internet.
       
    7. cwarner7_11

      cwarner7_11 Well-Known Member

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      There are a number of different free CAD software packages you can download from the Internet that can give you a good start- for instance DoubleCAD-XT (http://www.doublecad.com/), or CADstd (http://www.cadstd.com/). These provide the basics, which can give you a good foundation for whatever package your future employer might use...
       
    8. xmechanic

      xmechanic Active Member

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      I didn't find any way to get a free version of Solidworks I could play around with. The trial AutoCAD I had downloaded froze up the computer (older PC) on install so I ditched that. I did download the free DoubleCad XT and have played around with it a few hours. Wildly intimidating at first glance but I think I'll be able to figure it out. It must be overwhelming for young engineering students to learn everything else in parallel with CAD.
       
    9. guy

      guy Member

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      First thing, you should replace your PC.
      Then you can try Alibre Design - you can get a free trial on their website. I used to work with this program some 6 years ago and it was OK for small assemblies. I think they are much better now. Another thing I remember is that they had an excellent technical support.
      Alibre is also much cheaper than SolidWorks. If you finally decide to purchase it, you will save a few thousands of dollars.
       
    10. xmechanic

      xmechanic Active Member

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      Even if I could afford to buy a program at this time I wouldn't. My ever-suffering-from-me-buying-tools wife might blow a gasket. She's a great wife so I don't want to do that, yet... Maybe a year from now when I've warmed her up to the idea. So for now I'm stuck with free and free trials. I am going to upgrade to a better computer at some point, with that it seems smarter to buy components and put it together yourself? 2 1/2 years computer literate. learning as fast as I can.
       
    11. maniacal_engineer

      maniacal_engineer Well-Known Member

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      I too have heard good things about Alibre. No first hand experience though. I would try to find something 3D and solid, since that is how most CAD is going. So I have turbocad10, but it is 2 or 2.5D and is very limiting.
       

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