How to design a new mechanical part in 3D CAD

  • Maintain a detailed report from your initial idea to the actual production of your new part for reference purposes.
  • The pursuit of perfectionism is a futile aspiration and can, in some cases, become all-consuming and actually lead to imperfections in the design of a new mechanical part.
  • Automate as much of the design process as possible to help incorporate broader options in the future.
  • The layered design process should ensure that simply modifying your existing design in the future is far easier than creating a new one from scratch.
New Mechanical Part in 3D CAD

Creating a part in 3D software from scratch will need work, a lot of work.

In many situations mechanical designers will rely on their library of parts and case studies to work on a new mechanical part – this saves time, money and brain power. But what about the drastically new ones? What about the entry-level designers? Most importantly, what if one is working in a different industry that doesn’t necessarily have an internal library or an open source one? In this situation a new part will need to be designed from scratch. Here are few pointers to a task which is often underestimated.

Lose the perfectionism

Perfectionism is a paradoxal concept as the actual quest can be all consuming and often leads to a lack of perfection. One of the main issues is laziness as the need to redo things over and over, and go through different versions, can lead to boredom. In mechanical design engineering, this is a trait you have to drop altogether. Come to terms with the fact that you will not achieve the final version from the first try, or in many cases even the second and third. Come to terms with the fact that creating a part in 3D software from scratch will need work, a lot of work, and that it will require you to seek new improved ways and other insights. So before even hitting the software button, be conscious about the fact that it will not be perfect. You may strive to achieve what you have in your mind through several iterations but it will not happen overnight, especially if you lack the experience one gathers after working efficiently on different and challenging projects. Never underestimate the power of experience!

Parameter as needed

Nowadays, few new mechanical parts go from 3D modeling straight into production. Making sure the features of a component can be removed by an easy click, rather than the modification of the initial sketch, has become mandatory behavior and a good habit to get into. Depending on the manufacturing processes, and the line of work, many of the added shapes on the initial manufactured log will have to be removable from your 3D design to ensure analysis later. Make sure to check beforehand and all in all, don’t make a part that solely relies on sketches or primitive options: modifying them will be a pain.

Make sure modifying your part is easier than creating a new one

This is another key point to pay attention to while designing a 3D part from scratch: make sure you, or any other colleague, can modify the part quickly without triggering a whole series of error messages and other unnecessary modifications. If your part has to be recreated at every iteration, for a few updated dimensions, this is one of many things will not cut it in the workplace and won’t be efficient.

Keep a detailed report

It may be a file containing numbered drafts or written reports displaying the initial ideas, it may be the ongoing recommendations and issues faced as well as the solutions, but whatever the format it will be easier and definitely more efficient in the future to keep a record of the case study as you go along. After all, you are expanding on your personal library and committing the process for future reference and inspiration. Make sure to keep the specific bothering steps and to record a detailed overview and solution. It takes time to design a new mechanical part – once done there is no need to replicate the process!

Automate it

If the new mechanical part is set to be used again, or if it involves a hectic process that may be called upon, set some time afterwards to automate it. Whether by rebuilding the initial code used to contain broader options, or by building a 3D modeling application that can generate your part from a set of specified variables, automation saves time.

About: Khadija Ouajjani

Since 2012. Mechanical Design Engineer in the aeronautics industry. Mainly dealing with CAD, FEA, simulation and analysis for turbo-engines. Writing for EC since 2014. Garlic, Color Pencils, Open Systems, Coffee, Herbert, Final Fantasy VII, Writing, Tolkien, Mechanics, Deutsch, Nihongo, Herbs, Aïkido, Tea, Cinnamon, Motion, Friends.

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