Rapid assembly: Prototyping a camera mount in SOLIDWORKS

It wasn’t that long ago when developing a new product was a time-consuming matter. Designers would need to sketch out the initial idea, model the product using clay and then send it for manufacturing. Times have changed with CAD software.

SOLIDWORKS is one of these powerful CAD systems, and it enables anyone to use an array of tools to take basic ideas and develop them into 3D models. These models can be given a high level of polish ready for presentation or even printing.

With SOLIDWORKS 2016, there are a number of new features that make it even easier to design complicated geometric shapes, which in turn means there’s little difficulty when it comes to creating custom models. What’s more, a comprehensive set of visualisation and stress-testing tools help to ensure the finished model will be ready for real-world use.

One of the best things about this new age of modelling is that anyone can design models for niche purposes. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how a designer would create a new tripod mount for a camera.

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Starting out with the basics

To get an idea of how the new mount will fit in with the camera, a designer will first have to obtain the camera data or a model of the camera. Then, this data can be brought into SOLIDWORKS and used as the basis for the new component. It’s important to pay attention to material usage here, as the tripod mount will have to stand up to a significant amount of pressure from the camera.

Once a designer has created the initial component, he or she can spend time refining it and trimming off parts that aren’t actually needed. This is also a good opportunity to design and implement any moving components, whether they’re latches, gears or clips.

Testing the mount for the real world

While many objects designed using CAD software will only ever remain in the digital realm, a number of them will be subjected to the pressures of real-world use. To ensure that this camera mount won’t fall apart when the camera is locked onto it, it’s a good idea to use SOLIDWORKS Simulation to analyse the performance of the design. Designers can see how the object will react to different weights and even factors such as heat.

There’s also the benefit here of quickly being able to identify areas of improvement. For example, a designer may notice a flaw that could lead to the model failing when it’s manufactured. It’s certainly worth thinking about, as having to come across this issue when the model is already in use could be a real source of annoyance.

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Ensuring it fits the bill

With the model finalised and stress-tested, a designer can use SOLIDWORKS Visualisation to create a photo-realistic render of the tripod mount. Then, he or she can take this model to stakeholders for feedback and approval.

SOLIDWORKS 2016 is certainly the most powerful iteration of the CAD software yet, and the native functionality, along with the numerous plugins, means there’s really no limit to what can be designed. It should certainly be the first choice for industry professionals or enthusiasts creating models for side projects.