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Author: Subject: CAD Software for juniors
John G

posted on 17/12/17 at 04:17 PM Reply With Quote
CAD Software for juniors

My 9 year old is very keen on Robot Wars and is keen to develop his skills in designing shapes in 3d. Are there any CAD software packages suitable for budding engineers.
Regards, Jon

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Sam_68

posted on 17/12/17 at 04:25 PM Reply With Quote
You can get student licenses for most of the popular packages, but something like Autodesk Inventor (which would otherwise be ideal) would probably be a bit much for a 9-year old.

Standard response, therefore, would be SketchUp Make. It's not particularly well suited to mechanical engineering, but it's a very easy-to-use introduction to 3D CAD if it's mainly shapes he's interested in.

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AntonUK

posted on 17/12/17 at 07:25 PM Reply With Quote
I found Fusion 360 very easy to use





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tegwin

posted on 17/12/17 at 08:06 PM Reply With Quote
Is google sketch up a thing still? That used to be a really powerful 3d program and was free.





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loggyboy

posted on 17/12/17 at 08:51 PM Reply With Quote
Its trimble sketchup now, google sold it. But still free and still a superb bit of software. Very intuitive UI and a great intro to cad.






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DanP

posted on 17/12/17 at 09:18 PM Reply With Quote
Fusion 360 is outstanding, free for hobbyists, and loads on guides on YouTube on how to use it. Free license includes up to 4 axis CAM too.
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coyoteboy

posted on 17/12/17 at 09:31 PM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by loggyboy
Its trimble sketchup now, google sold it. But still free and still a superb bit of software. Very intuitive UI and a great intro to cad.


I'd have to disagree respectfully. As a CAD user daily I tried to do an introduction to sketchup for a family member who needed it. I/we ended up so infuriated by it that I fired up fusion 360 expecting it might overwhelm them, but they picked it up instantly. F360 is free, amazing and when you end up using other proper CAD systems the crossover is instantaneous.





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DanP

posted on 17/12/17 at 09:42 PM Reply With Quote
I tried sketchup but I just couldn’t achieve anything with it, maybe because the first CAD tools I used were autocad and solidworks at uni but it was just so unintuitive to me, I know a lot of people do use it though.
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loggyboy

posted on 18/12/17 at 01:06 AM Reply With Quote
It is very different to autocad that i use everyday, albeit in 2D. I started using it with a limited introduction from a colleague and picked up the basics in an afternoon. With a few months of only occasional use i was producing pretty complex stuff to assist my 2d cad. (Complex stacked stairs, steel arrangements, roof intersections etc.)






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Sam_68

posted on 18/12/17 at 08:43 AM Reply With Quote
I was brought up on AutoCAD (from the relatively early days of Release 11) and Solidworks, too, but I didn't have any problem with Sketchup, so I'm finding it a bit odd to hear from those who did. I always say I reckon I could teach a reasonably bright chimp to use it (I've managed with teenage work experience kids, which amounts to the same thing). AutoCAD, on the other hand, takes years to learn to a truly fluent level - it's an absolute monster of a program.

As Loggyboy says, there are some things (complex roof intersections being a prime example) that would really hurt my head to do in 3D AutoCAD, but are a piece of cake in Sketchup. I use the 'Pro' version, and import/export between it and other programs in some cases to take advantage of their various strengths and weaknesses. I say again that I don't consider it a tool for engineering design, though - it's more suited to architectural design.

As with all CAD programs, Sketchup needs basic discipline to maintain the quality of the model. Once even the slightest errors start to creep in, the whole thing becomes flaky very quickly on a complex design. Make components out of everything, to stop geometry merging, and get used to using layers. If you think you have glitchy geometry on part of the model, fix it before moving on... it will come back to bite you at a later stage.

If you do decide to try SketchUp, I found this guide useful. It includes a lot of tricks and tips that maybe aren't completely intuitive.

With any of the main CAD programs, there are almost always YouTube tutorials to show you how to do specific things, though, if you get stuck.

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David Jenkins

posted on 18/12/17 at 09:01 AM Reply With Quote
There is also FreeCAD, which will work on most platforms. As its name suggests, it's also free. I used it for a while in its early days, but found it too flaky at that time - I believe it has improved massively.

Nowadays I use OpenSCAD, but I wouldn't like to teach that to a youngster unless they've already had some experience in programming. It's very powerful, but there's a steep learning curve.

Whatever you do, stay away from Blender. It would probably do everything that a child would want to do, but the learning curve is horrendous; even managing the user interface can scare new users right off when you first open the software!

[Edited on 18/12/17 by David Jenkins]





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trextr7monkey

posted on 18/12/17 at 10:52 PM Reply With Quote
Young kids at school are using Tinkercad to make stuff through a 3D printer seems ok





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coyoteboy

posted on 19/12/17 at 01:53 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Sam_68
I was brought up on AutoCAD (from the relatively early days of Release 11) and Solidworks, too, but I didn't have any problem with Sketchup, so I'm finding it a bit odd to hear from those who did. I always say I reckon I could teach a reasonably bright chimp to use it (I've managed with teenage work experience kids, which amounts to the same thing). AutoCAD, on the other hand, takes years to learn to a truly fluent level - it's an absolute monster of a program.


Yeah I started with Autocad R13, have used SW2008+, IDEAS, NX6+, Sketchup, Fusion 360 and On-shape. But primarily SW and NX6. I'd still rather scoop my eyeballs out with a frozen spoon than teach someone how to do anything with Sketchup. Nowt as funny as folk!





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nick205

posted on 19/12/17 at 09:47 AM Reply With Quote
10+ years ago I used AutoCAD 2D and Solid Edge 3D, both self taught and both worked well.

I've recently tried Trimble Sketchup (twice) and don't get on with it as well as I'd hoped. I guess my mind may have been harking back to yesteryear and expecting something different. I tried it a second time on the basis of not wanting to be beaten and hearing others say it was good. Sadly I still didn't gel with it at all. On balance it's free though so if you can get on with it then nothing much to lose!

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