Cloud-based CAD Tools Make Design Easy for College Students

This article is authored by student intern Isabel Thelen who worked in the 3DEXPERIENCE® lab in the summer of 2019 under the guidance of Mark Rushton, Product Portfolio Manager at Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS.

When I was little, one of my favorite things to build were 3D wood puzzles of dinosaurs, animals, and vehicles. So, I figured: Why not design my own 3D puzzle and make it using the laser cutter? I opened 3D Creator’s xDesign app from my internet browser and started designing parts.

It isn’t easy to draw a dinosaur without a reference, so I downloaded an image of the pieces I needed for the puzzle and used the Insert Picture tool to bring it into 3D Creator. I then traced the image mostly using the Spline tool (due to the complex shape of the dinosaur bones). Luckily, I was able to make all my pieces in the same file, which saved me so much time!

After I had traced all my pieces, I wanted to make it an assembly within 3D Creator, so I would know how it fit together after I cut it out on the laser machine. Since I was able to make all my parts in one file, it was easy. I used the Lifecycle capabilities, built-in to 3D Creator, to add a revision before forming the assembly so I could toggle between the flat pieces and the assembly.

Making all my parts in the same file also made creating the drawing easier. Instead of many individual parts to make my drawings, I was able to create one drawing with all the pieces. To do this, I went to the 3DEXPERIENCE Compass and clicked on Drawings, part of the Drafter Role.  Once the drawing was complete, I exported it to a file that could be fed into the laser cutter.

The next step was cutting out the pieces so I could put my dinosaur together. First, I had to make a choice: Did I want my dinosaur to be of wood, like the classic puzzles, or different colors of acrylic? I decided to go with white acrylic to mimic bones. The laser cutting took around 15 minutes on the Trotec laser machine.

I popped all the pieces out with ease and started to make my dinosaur. That’s when I ran into an issue. I made the slits too big, so the pieces weren’t fitting together. I went back to 3D Creator and changed the dimensions on my sketches to a smaller measurement closer to the thickness of the acrylic. Everything updated when I switched back into Drafter, allowing a new file to be exported for the laser cutter.

This time I used black acrylic for a slick look. I broke a couple of pieces as I assembled the dinosaur because acrylic is very brittle. Luckily, some of the white pieces fit where I had broken some parts, so I had a dinosaur skeleton model for my desk.

I was very happy with how my dinosaur turned out, so I shared it in one of my communities on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Everyone enjoyed seeing what I had created and some people asked if I could make one for them. Please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below.

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. offers complete 3D software tools that let you create, simulate, publish, and manage your data. SolidWorks products are easy to learn and use, and work together to help you design products better, faster, and more cost-effectively. The SolidWorks focus on ease-of-use allows more engineers, designers and other technology professionals than ever before to take advantage of 3D in bringing their designs to life.