An Exploration of Sketching, Modeling, Designing & Machining

Ben Clifford, Digital Modeling & Fabrication Student Ambassador

You wouldn’t expect that a program called “Digital Modeling and Fabrication” would have drawing and sketching practice as the first assignments, but that’s exactly what my fellow students and I were doing the first 2 weeks of our CAD class. We reviewed the basics of traditional perspective drawing, and then worked on sketching items at different levels of detail. We finished with a more complex exploded view of an object of our choice.

image

 

image

 

image

We moved onto SOLIDWORKS and the basics of Parametric modeling. We began with simple exercises recreating parts from engineering drawings, and then modeled an object or our choice to explore the features of the program. We finished up with a book-guided project to create several parts that fit together into a virtual assembly of a flashlight. We are now beginning a study track to prepare to take (and hopefully pass) the Associated level certification exam.

image
image

In addition to our CAD class, we also started Basic Machine Shop Practices and Design Principles 1. In Machine Shop, we learned the basics of turning on and operating a Bridgeport manual Mill and a Southbend manual Lathe. We also read through an old dusty tome labeled “Machine Shop Practice” (volumes 1 & 2). This book contains decades of condensed machining experience, knowledge, and techniques for shaping metal and measuring precise cuts on machining equipment. We watched many videos by a retired shop teacher who goes by the YouTube handle “tubalcain”. These were an immense help familiarizing ourselves with the vast amount of information that comes with learning machining.

image

We first learned to run the Bridgeport and use various drill bits and end mill attachments to precisely cut metal stock to shape. Then, we moved onto the lathe. We completed various projects which gave us basic skills that we could take with us when we moved onto the CNC mills and lathes.

image

 

image

We also visited our instructor’s shop to get some first-hand experience at what a small machine shop looks like. There was also a waterjet cutter there, which can cut various thicknesses of metal using high pressure sand and water.

image

 

image

 

image

We are currently learning G-code and M-code, the programing languages used by all CNC machines.

image

In the third class, Design Principles 1, we began to work though assignments and projects to familiarize ourselves with the design process. We did an exploratory design project to combine shapes from a scene we sketched.

image

 

image

We then moved onto a project that would produce a display altar for a small personal item. These early assignments forced us to do many sketches and design iterations, and throw out early ideas in favor of more thought out and polished concepts.

image

 

image

 

image

We watched several design documentaries to explore the different approaches by working designers to create products and systems of design, some of which were focused more of futurism and designs for the next stage of mankind’s evolution.

 

Our last large project was very simple in concept, but more difficult in execution: an Enlarged Object. I chose a simple clothespin, which I was tasked with creating an enlarged model of at 15x scale. I started with small Bristol paper models, and moved up to a 2:1 scale model made out of cardboard.

image

 

image

This model was semi-functional, which provided useful ideas and techniques for the full-scale foam model. I cut and layered insulation foam together with “Super 77” spay adhesive (which will eat your foam like alien acid if you get too much on), and then used a bandsaw and a rotary tool to cut and shape the foam based on scaled up templates I created at the beginning of the project.

image

I got sick the last weekend before it was due, so I was not able to prime and paint the model. But I believe you will agree that a 42” pink clothespin with a functional foam spring is quite impressive.

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

As of today, we are heading further into the mysterious waters of the DM&F program. I am told that we will meet our new instructor for the 3D modeling program Rhino soon. I am also told that we will begin learning MasterCAM and begin to use the CNC machines more. Thanksgiving is just around the bend, and many things still have to be done. I have a 3D Printer sitting in a box in my room, waiting to be assembled. I have new plans for my DOOM SUIT build, but more on that later. For now, I will sleep the sleep of a student who’s homework is (almost always) done.

TUNE IN NEXT TIME: SAME IYRS TIME, SAME IYRS CHANNEL!

image

SOON…