Day 72 – Design with Onshape

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Engineering Physics – The class enthusiastically continued with designing mounts for the lasers and sensors for the cart timers. Some kids are really flying with using Onshape, it’s incredible what engagement can draw out from students.

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Day 70 – Onshape

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Engineering Physics – I had students sign up for onshape.com as this is the program that I would prefer that they use this year. Today is our last class for the year but once kids got started on onshape, they were very engaged.

Why choose onshape?

A little bit of history on me… I was a mechanical engineer for 15 years and did a lot of 3D modeling. I was first introduced to Pro Engineer in 1994. Pro/E ran on $15,000 unix stations and the software was $11,000. We also used AutoCAD on our desktop PC. A few years later I was using Solidworks on the PC. Solidworks had a typical windows UI and a $4000 license, and was a huge improvement for users imo.

Years later I wanted to do some 3D modeling at home. Solidworks was selling a $100 educator license but the license expires after 1 year, so that was too expensive. Pro/E had its educator software for $100 with no expiry date, so I purchased. It worked ok, but I was shocked at how “unix like” it still was. I think this was around 2010.

In 2014 I took another look at 3D modeling software and found out that Autodesk was giving free licenses to educators for its Inventor Pro software. I installed it and was blown away. It seemed like it was pretty much a copy of Solidworks and it was free. Fantastique! The only downside was its huge hard drive space needed – something like 30 GB. I guess I could get it down by uninstalling certain features. But HD space is a bit of an issue these days now that my notebooks have smaller SSD drives.

This past year I started reading about AutoDesk Fusion 360, which is a cloud based solid modeling package. It is based off of Inventor, it’s free, and it has pretty much all of the features I need without taking up HD space. Doing some searches then led me to Onshape. Onshape is similar to Fusion 360, and it was created by the folks who made Solidworks. I checked it out and liked it even more. So Onshape it is!

There a many other 3D modeling programs out there, some are surface modelers (Sketch Up) and some are solid modelers. I would stay away from surface modelers especially if you are going to do 3D printing. Some of these packages are a lot simpler than Onshape but I’m not sure they are any easier to use. At the end of the day, you have to: sketch on a plane, extrude your sketch, do more sketches and do more extrusions and cuts. So I’m only going to explicitly teach Onshape but of course I will help students if they want to try some other software (at their own peril).

Day 57 – Working on the 3D Printer

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Math 8 – I kept working in the Printrbot Simple 3D printers today. It’s been hard finding the time to get them working. I had to replace one y-axis that was bent. Once I had done this, I realized that the extruder fan on the other printer had also been broken. It is difficult to find time to work on them, with all of the other tasks I have to do.

In the meantime, I have modeled a Greenland paddle in Onshape. The model has 4 variables that the students will have to measure and scale, in order to have a scaled model of a paddle. From there, the students will print out their paddle.

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