Converting natural resources to uses of humankind, development of structures, tools, forecast of behavior, and many more are part of an engineer’s job. Applying science, mathematics, physics, and chemistry to create processes and machines to make our lives easier, engineers find solutions to actual problems. As the technology evolved, new tools were designed with the help of engineering, directly or not. 3D engineering is a great example. It is a new way of creating and studying everything about engineering more quickly and practically.
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An engineering history tidbit
Meaning “cleverness” and “to contrive,” engineering is a term that comes from Latin. Engineering exists since humankind started to develop tools for their advantage, like the wheel. However, it began to become closer to what we know today way back to ancient civilizations. The first engineer known by name by historians was Imhotep. He was presumably responsible for the planning, coordination, and construction of the Pyramid of Djoser (the Step Pyramid), the pharaoh of the third dynasty during the Old Kingdom. The Step Pyramid was the first pyramid built by the Egyptians. It is said that Imhotep was also responsible for the first use of stone columns to support a building in humankind. His wisdom and habilities were so well-known that Imhotep gradually became glorified to the point of becoming a demi-god. Even though Imhotep was the first engineer known by name, engineering was being developed worldwide.
Ancient civilizations were each developing similar tools for similar problems. Aztec, Mayan, and Inca empires had their ways of constructing buildings that still exist today. It was through engineering that those Latin American ancient civilizations had built their very known pyramids. Those pyramids were not only used as graves, but they were commonly used for spiritual practices, deity worships, and sacrifices – either human or animal. Even though they did not have many tools for constructing those structures, they are architectural monuments. For instance, Incans did not have many accessories on their hands, such as wheels and iron. However, it did not stop them from creating amazing architecture and ways of surviving with much less.
Engineering has been cleary essential to humankind’s history and progress. Persians had developed efficient water-powered engines – watermill and water-wheel. In ancient Greece, Archimedes created the Antikythera mechanism, a machine analog to computers that were used for astrological purposes. The Antikythera required very advanced knowledge of science and influenced the design of gear trains. The Roman Empire had its participation in engineering history likewise. They applied engineering concepts to create military engines. Like the Chinese Empire, they developed complex military machines like the Ballista and catapults. The Romans had additionally constructed and upgraded an aqueduct system.
The concept of the profession of engineering, which is closer to what we know nowadays, started in the Middle Age. During those centuries, many scientists developed tools, engines, mechanisms, and so on. In Asia and Africa, civilizations had developed devices and concepts that were improved to tools we utilize today. The cotton gin was created in India around the 6th century AD. At the same time, Muslims invented the spinning wheel. Both were essential to the creation of spinning jenny, which played a necessary part in the Industrial Revolution. Around 1206, Al-Jazari invented the crankshaft and camshaft in Northern Mesopotamia, located in the Northern Middle East. The crankshaft and camshaft were revolutionary inventions that became central to modern engines, like automatic controls or internal combustion machines. Al-Jazari was actually an outstanding Mesopotamian engineer in history. He created devices and concepts which were fundamental to many mechanisms – he is credited for inventing flushing toilets, for example.
By the European Renaissance, engineering was considered a profession of applied mathematics and science to their creations. Around 1500, engineers were more likely to develop the machines’ ideas and less likely to build them per se, leaving the construction to craftsmen. With the advancement of engineering, the profession’s concept started to be more specialized, and terms such as civil engineering and mechanical engineering began. In the 18th century, civil engineering started to be more dedicated to building structures, water supplies, sanitation systems, railroad and highroad networks, and city planning. Meanwhile, mechanical engineering focused on building machines, gears, and engines.
The creation of steam machines in the 17th century was a game-changer for engineering in Europe. Among other inventions, it was a pivotal development leading to the Industrial Revolution, which was the transition to a brand new way of manufacturing, adding machines to facilitate mass production. That transition was not immediate but happened from around 1760 to 1840, starting on Great Britain. One of the first manufacturing fields to start changing was the textile industry. Remember the cotton grin and spinning wheel?
With an advance on our knowledge of electricity and its use, a new era in engineering starts. Through the 19th century, many experiments and discoveries led engineers to create new technology and machines, from Alessandro Volta’s electric cell to the invention of the electric telegraph and electric motors. Important to say that chemical engineering started to grow, as well. As industries demanded more chemical supplies, engineers had to develop new solutions, creating a completely new industry.
Significant advances in engineering – in particular, electrical engineering – made in the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century led to revolutionary inventions. From mechanical automation to initial prototypes of computers, engineering made substantial changes in our society. Charles Babbage introduced the idea of programmable machines, a component of gears and levers for calculus. From that concept, Ada Lovelace recognized its potential for more generable use of those machines, publishing the first algorithm that could be executed by them. It was the start of a new form of engineering.
Computers started to be a subject of study and development by the Army and universities, from then on. Military machines were used during wars, and the American Navy had developed a computer small enough to be aboard a submarine. By the end of the 40s, the first general-purpose digital computer was released, and in 1953, IBM launched 650 and 700 computer series. That release was considered the second generation in computer history. Our current technology phase is regarded as the third generation, even though some specialists consider we are engaging in the fourth computer generation.
What is 3D engineering?
Even though they were in their huge primary forms, computers already had a potential most scientists could already see. In Massachusetts, Douglas T. Ross was one of them. The kind of interactive display used in radars inspired him and his team. They claimed they were using those computers for their personal workstation, finding out that they could generate symbols and geometric figures to create circuits and flowcharts. Other functions that program could do were change their orientation, linkage, or scale, and be reproduced at will. That was when Ross came up with the term “computer-aided design,” or simply CAD.
Back in the 60s’, the French engineer Pierre Bézier invented the 3D CAD/CAM, creating a pioneer surface CAD system designed to assist in the car designing for Renault, called UNISURF. That CAD program became, then, base to following CAD software generations.
The turning point in 3D engineering was when Ivan Sutherland created Sketchpad, a pioneer program that helped create the first 3D objects. Sketchpad allowed the designer to directly interact with the computer graphically: using a light pen on a CTR monitor, the designer could feed the computer with their drawing. At first, due to its expensive cost, only large industries from automotive, aeronautics, and electronics could afford that type of technology. Patrick J. Hanratty created the Manufacturing and Consulting Sevices (MCS) in 1971. That was crucial to the development of CAD software, as Hanratty was responsible for writing the system Automated Drafting and Machining (ADAM). He also supplied the code to companies such as Unigraphics and CADDS, which invested in that kind of technology.
In the 70s, CAD Softwares were able to create 3D engineering; however, they were very similar to hand-drafted ones. Only by the 80s, it started to change. In the 80s, important players launched their own software, each with a new aspect of CAD software. In that decade, in 1987, one particular CAD software was launched, which had feature-based modeling, introducing parametric modeling.
From the 70s to our actual days, CAD Softwares developed bit by bit. Their main companies launched new versions of their products with new features to facilitate engineers’ and architects’ job.
In conclusion, 3D engineering is drawing models, objects, processes, and machines in more than two dimensions, accessing another plane for the drawing to be more accurate to our world. CAD is, then, the tool that allows engineers to achieve that dimension for their projects.
Why using CAD for 3D engineering?
As mentioned, CAD software is a tool to facilitate an engineer and architect job. Its tools help them create solid objects and surfaces, with a technology that even can simulate collisions involving your project. You can easily manipulate your drawing, add or remove parts without causing damaging to the whole process, and so much more. But let us see what advantages of using CAD software bring to you and/or your company.
CAD software increases productivity
Facts are facts. This type of software allows the engineer to easily access and modify their projects, which reduces time spent and costs. CAD Softwares for 3D engineering provide great tools for the engineer to develop parts, pieces, and whole projects by a click of their mouse. Its precision in measurements, shapes, and tools at hand to correct casual mistakes allows a better drawing.
We must remember that, before CAD, everything was manual. It means that it was more prone to error, considering that humans are not flawless; with the assistance of a machine that operates mathematically, the chances of error decrease. Not to mention that, if the engineer made any mistake, the odds for them to have to redraw everything was very high. Using CAD software for 3D engineering, the engineer can correct mistakes instantly without the need to erase the whole project. They can decide whether they want to correct, erase, or start it all over quickly and at a low cost.
Therefore, considering that CAD Softwares allows an engineer to access, alter, save, and share their designs quickly, it is undeniable to say that CAD Softwares raise productivity a lot. Less time, less mistakes, less corrections.
It makes the project easier to read
Each designer has their own drawing style, and paper and pencil make designs a bit harder for a universal understanding, as everyone has their own background. CAD drawings, on the other hand, have standards in general, making the drawing easier to be read and understood.
CAD can be used not only by the engineering team. Marketing, sales, and even sourcing departments can use it as a powerful tool. It can demonstrate bit a bit what are the projects’ parts, their function, details on its design, and so much more. You can impress investors, clients, or explain to your supplier exactly what you need. Legibility is key to a successful project.
Best designs, high quality
Back when hand-drawed designs were the main way of creating a project, it was easier for it to have flaws, as mentioned before. However, consequently, it was harder to identify them before testing the design. Mostly, errors were perceived on the making, forcing the team to get back to the drawing and understand what was wrong with it, which took a lot of time.
CAD Softwares allows the team to virtually test their designs. You can rotate it, test for how it would behave in case of collision. The sky is the limit. It is easier not only to identify the error but also to track it and correct it without the need to redo the project. The design team can better control the quality of the final product with the tools provided by CAD Software for 3D engineering.
Another interesting tool is the possibility of determining your scale beforehand; in a way you can start your drawing comparing it to the actual size of your object. Nevertheless, CAD software also allows the designer to create layers as needed. For example, while drawing a house, it is possible to create layers for plumbing, electricity, and structure in a drawing. You can visualize each individually, also.
Considering the power over quality and the possibility of quickly identifying errors on the design, it makes it more prone to get it right on the first try. There is no need to build the project to see that somehow, there was a mistake. Hence, it saves time and money.
Document, track, audit.
CAD Softwares for 3D engineering will allow you to document anything you need for you to have a successful project. It will store what has been done to the design, and the engineer can access it simply. As it is documented, each engineer can pinpoint exactly the modification that caused the design to fail.
CAD Software can store angles, measurements, and dimensions of your design for future use. Assemblies, subassemblies, and components can also be subject to storage, and from that can generate bills of materials to your manufacturer, keeping it simple.
Share it, Sharon
If you have ever participated in a common project, you know how things can get complicated and messy. Parts get lost, others are delayed. Using CAD software can be a very good decision to keep it simple, direct, and traceable. As it is a digital document, it is easier to divide, unite, and share projects with your teammates – even if you are far away from them.
Cloud computing has not only become a trend, but it is taking over other kinds of storage and sharing. Within seconds, your projects are secure in cloud storage that you can decide to share documents. CAD software is moving towards that trend, and it is actually becoming the norm. That tool makes it possible for many people to work on a project together and share instantaneously any advances or difficulties with their team. During COVID-19 times, it has become an essential tool.
What is SolidFace, and how can it help?
SolidFace is CAD software that allows you to create, edit, document, share, and much more for 3D engineering. It is a tool for 3D engineering that has many benefits for its users. It is user-friendly, intuitive, and has many built-in tools to give the user the best experience.
Our software improves how you develop and manufacture your projects dramatically. It is a big deal to those who need a powerful tool at the lowest cost. We offer design, cost estimation, simulation, checks, manufacturability, and much more. Explore new scenarios without impacting your team’s work, cooperate in real-time, track any changes. We aim for the best quality in the market, and we actually deliver it.
Take a look at some of our features.
Data management: it is a built-in feature that allows you to control and manage your designs without a separate PDM system. It reduces costs for your team, and you will always have access to the latest data. If any teammate makes a change on the project, it will be recorded and tracked. It will be available for auditing and modification. Do or redo changes to your sketch without losing tracking of it, and you can always merge many ideas to be developed.
Collab: if you want or need, you can allow others to jump in your project. You can decide whether someone can only see it or edit, change, or erase any part of the project. It appears to everyone in real-time, and you can share it with your teammates, users, clients, or even friends. Assign tasks to anyone using our tools, and keep everyone on track.
3D part library: SolidFace gives you access to an online part library with more than a hundred million part numbers from many manufacturers. It also features standards such as ISO, ANSI, GB, ASME, and NF. All of that by a click of your mouse.
3D parts: we deliver very robust features. You can design from simple to complex surface models with great methodologies, like top-down or bottom-up. Add multiple parts to your project, and feel the design intent. We also offer very strong parametric capabilities to enable you to create your project fastly and easily.
3D assemblies: you can create assemblies with built-in standards with no worries. Link parts and hardware, use many libraries. You can even simulate and test the collision. You can update parts in-context and update them efficiently.
Drawings: create your designs in interactive and very simple ways with parametric references for modeling. That is an in-house developed module, and you can fully integrate it with 3D. Showcase your drawing of parts, and assemble them with dimensions, geometric tolerances, datums, balloons. Showcase it with surface finish and weld symbols, tables, notes, callouts, sheets, tables, and fully configurable properties. Our software supports DSF, DWG, and DWT formats.
Parametrization 2.0: as our most significant advantages, it is present in every design step. You can simulate its motion, and it will be updated simultaneously with the movement. We allow you to even simulate in 2D mechanisms, which can be performed in 2D or 3D sketch.
Support: We will never leave you with any doubts. Reach out to our team for free entry-level requests via e-mail, tickets, or website chat. We offer self-paced tutorials with instructor-led training available on our YouTube channel.
Do you need anything more? Don’t worry, SolidFace got your back.
We offer full 3D printing compatibility, creating files via OBJ® and STL®. Nevertheless, we offer a history construction tree, with automatic and parametric associative geometric construction references, such as midpoint, the center of circles and arcs, direct command editing, and endpoint. With our 3D Exploded View, you can create 3D model diagrams, which shows the order of assembly of various parts or its relationship. You can visualize components such as parts and subassemblies with defined displacements. You can enable or enable it at any time.
Nevertheless, you can create real 3D simulations with clash and collision tests. It is updated simultaneously with the movement. You can also simulate 2D mechanisms, either in the 2D drawing or 3D sketch module. With Windows app communication, you can create 3D family parts using CVS formats or TXT table files. Last but not least, you can customize your software interface. Themes, colors, toolbars, positions. You can divide your graphic screen up to 16 view windows to work with multiple parts!
SolidFace is the greatest answer to your needs when it comes to CAD software. You can create anything with our technology, and we want to help you with advanced technology tools.