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