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Six Guidelines for CAD Modeling

When developing a product, you are never designing just one part; it is (almost) always an assembly of mechanical and electrical components. I recommend creating a better CAD design now to help yourself in the long run. The following is a set of guidelines that have helped me during my career as a designer.

  1. Use two hands! Early in my career I was told “a two handed designer is an efficient one” and it is completely true. The use of your keyboard to create shortcuts or mapkeys to perform automated tasks saves countless clicks of the mouse. Anything from hiding and un-hiding a part in an assembly, to pulling up the measuring tool will create small efficiencies while designing.
  2. Use Master Models! Whether you are designing in CreoSolidWorks or Onshape, a master model or skeleton (if you are using Creo) is the key to creating great assemblies. It guarantees that parts will align and make creating the assembly even easier. A “master model” is a part file that contains references and geometry, which will be shared between two or more parts. For instance, creating the entire outer shape of the product that, in the end, will be made of multiple parts. You can also use this shared information for things such as, locations of screws, heights of screw bosses, and snaps between parts. The basic rule of thumb is if at least two parts use the same reference, it should be in the master model.
  3. Name your features! It only takes a few added seconds to rename the feature, so just do it. By simply naming features you will save time in the long run when it comes to changing anything or if someone else two years later has to change something. This quick tip will help, I promise.
  4. Don’t skip around! When it comes to designing a part you create features as they become needed. This does not your model tree should reflect this. If you need to add a rib to the screw boss twenty features up, roll back your model and add in the rib after the boss. By grouping features that are dependent to each other it makes editing later on much easier.
  5. Annotate! Make featureless annotations in your model tree to break up sections of your design. This really helps if the part has hundreds of features, having sections for “alignment pins” or “PCBA mounting holes” is really helpful when having to edit the model in the future.
  6. Model in order! I cannot stress this last point enough. The model tree should almost always follow this order; references (datums, axis, cys), shared data (master models / skeletons), copied geometry, surfaces, solid features, drafts, rounds / chamfers. Draft, rounds and chamfers are always the last features because they are finishing details. Don’t add these to your initial designs because you will waste more time in the end redefining these over and over. Once you believe the design is stable, it is time to add draft, rounds and chamfers.

Image from wikipedia.org

8 Comments

  • Jamal commented on February 21, 2015 Reply

    I recommend Binfer for sending many models since you can send entire folders with a simple drag and drop. The link is http://www.binfer.com.

  • ANSI commented on March 2, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this post with us. It will help us more.

  • Carsten Hochmuth commented on September 10, 2015 Reply

    Good tips! I’ve also found it very important to carefully consider tolerancing. As much as possible tolerancing should be done on the 3D model, not as annotations in the drawing. Be careful not to overtolerance and to pick the correct reference planes and toleranced surfaces. It is too easy in many CAD systems to pick any ‘random’ surface as the reference, which defeats the purpose of leveraging the tolerance information downstream.

  • CADDCENTRE commented on May 5, 2016 Reply

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  • CADDCENTRE commented on May 24, 2016 Reply

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  • Shehbaz Mulla commented on September 30, 2016 Reply

    Nice post Keep Posting

  • Ramakrishnan commented on March 20, 2018 Reply

    Thanks for sharingthese CAD guidelines. These are very useful. Plz share more information about CAD-CAM.

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