Computer Aided Design, or CAD for short, typically refers to the use of a computer to generate two or three dimensional representations of components and assemblies. CAD isn’t so much a service that we offer, but rather a key ingredient in our product development services. Aside from initial brainstorming and sketching, nearly every part of the product development process leverages CAD in one way or another. Rough 3D models are often utilized in conveying concepts, while detailed 3D models are created throughout the design process. These models can be used to create photorealistic renderings for marketing purposes, preform computer aided engineering (CAE) analysis runs, or program manufacturing operations. Two dimensional CAD drawings are typically created for manufacturing specifications and documentation.
Luxon’s team of experts typically utilizes SolidWorks for all CAD related processes, but other programs such as Fusion 360 and AutoCAD are available upon client request. In any case, generic CAD formats such as PDF, STEP, IGES, and ParaSolid are easily exported for collaboration with outside vendors. A free CAD viewer (eDrawings) is available so our clients do not have to purchase expensive CAD software to view our work. Our engineers are highly trained with 1000’s of hours of CAD modeling experience. This results in robust models with design intent clearly maintained throughout the model. Luxon Engineering’s staff includes multiple SolidWorks Certified Experts and Professionals. Not only can we model complex prismatic structures, but we are also experts at complex surfacing and maintaining continuous curvature typically required for aesthetic and consumer products.
Three dimensional modeling is the backbone of most engineering designs. Creating accurate component CAD models allows us to virtually assemble your product, ensuring it all fits together and achieves the required design goals. We can pull various parameters from the CAD model before any prototypes are built including weight, center of mass location, moments of inertia, and more.
Most 3D CAD is feature based, parametric, and associative. Feature based modeling refers to a method of building the geometry using “blocks” of geometry. For example, a simple model may start with an extruded shape, have a hole added, and finally rounded edges (fillets) added to the corners. Each one of those items, the extruded shape, the hole, and the fillets, exist as distinct features in the model’s history tree. Each one can be edited independently or even removed entirely while keeping the other features intact.
Parametric modeling refers to the features being based on parameters like dimensions for size, equations to drive a geometric shape, material density to drive mass, and much more. These parameters are easily adjusted at any time to update the design as it matures.
Finally, associativity refers to features and models that depend on one another. An assembly is associated with the parts it is made up of. A drawing is associated with the part that is being represented. Any changes made to the part model will automatically show up in the assembly model and drawing.
Leveraging the power of feature based, parametric, associative modeling allows for creating advanced designs in far less time and cost than what could be done in the past, however, it does not come without its perils. It is easy for an inexperienced designer or engineer to create a mess of the feature history, references, and files. At Luxon, our engineers are highly trained to eliminate these issues. All of our models are created using a clean and efficient style; notes and comments are added where necessary to a neatly organized feature tree. If applicable, skeletons and/or equations are added to facilitate design and configuration changes. Assemblies receive the same treatment with the addition of exploded views where applicable. With 1000’s of hour’s experience creating 3D models, we always deliver high quality and error free CAD models.
For a many designs, particularly industrial products, a simple prismatic model is adequate. For more consumer-targeted and aesthetic products, though, or products that require human interaction, a smooth continuous surface is required. For example, a cell phone’s internal structure should be a basic prismatic design as very few people will ever see it and it results in a more cost effective design for manufacturing. Contrary to that, the exterior surfaces of a cell phone should be complex surfaces with continuous curvature. These surfaces result in a smooth, coherent aesthetic for the product while also resulting in a pleasant feel to the product. Non-continuous surfaces are clunky and not smooth to the touch while also reveling their transitions from one surface to another. Modeling an appealing and continuous surface is far more complicated than a prismatic model resulting in a tradeoff for time and cost. Our engineers are well versed in the benefits of both design approaches and will utilize the appropriate approach to meet your product goals.
SolidWorks takes the 3D part and assembly models and links them to 2D dimensional drawings and documentation. Any future changes in the 3D model are updated to the 2D drawing as they are linked. Drawings are available to the customer in various formats (SolidWorks, DXF, DWG, PDF, JPG, etc.) for ease of communication with outside vendors. All dimensions and tolerances conform to the ANSI Y14.5 standard with proper GD&T used throughout as requested/needed. Similarly, documentation and work instructions can be generated with CAD data to ensure manufacturing and assembly meets the specifications required.
Leveraging the power of 3D models and advanced computational capabilities, our rendering software can transform your concept into a realistic looking image or animation. Many different materials and scenes are available to showcase your design. Renderings are very useful for visualizing different aesthetic options (colors, materials, textures, etc.) for marketing feedback or to convey an idea to investors without the time and expense involved in producing a production-like prototype.