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Feature ‘Ask the Expert’

ecently launched, DesignSpark Mechanical is a new 3D solid modelling and assembly tool from RS Components that is available totally free of charge and offers new possibilities from design concepts to manufacturing. The tool allows the creation of 3D models quickly and easily without needing previous CAD expertise. Quick and easy to use, the following tips and techniques will help users get the most from the software.

Resizing Solids

Creating a new solid in DesignSpark Mechanical is quick and easy using the Sketch and Pull tools. Once a shape has been created, it can be resized with reference to the original dimension: for example, a cylinder can be reduced by clicking on the Pull tool and dragging down the top surface and the tool indicates how much the surface has been moved. At any time during this action, the keyboard can also be used to provide the required dimension. The Pull tool can also be used to resize with reference to the overall height; when selecting the top surface, a small menu appears, see figure 1 (below).

DesignSpark Mechanical – helpful hints R

David Pike, mechanical applications manager at RS Components, describes a few useful techniques to help users get the most from DesignSpark Mechanical software

conventional way by dragging into position with the Move anchor is diffi- cult because the sides of the enclosure will obscure the view of the parts, even if the design view is revolved. To use Move – up to, the Move anchor is placed so its hub is located on the intended mating face of the object to be moved, as in figure 2. This can be achieved either by selecting and drag- ging the hub of the Move anchor, or using the Anchor placement tool, which is in the design frame to the left hand side while the Move function is selected.

Figure 4 (above): Moving dynamically within a plane

pressed and held to generate ‘webs’ between the axial arrows of the anchor (figure 4). By selecting and dragging on a web, the object can be moved freely in two axes but will be restrained to move within the plane as indicated by the web.

Zoom - extents

The axial arrow should be selected in the direction the object is to be moved (although sometimes the arrow will be pointing in the opposite direc- tion, it will still work as long as the correct axis is selected). A command menu will appear following selection of the anchor arrow. Selecting the up to icon and then selecting the target surface enables the components to be mated, as shown in figure 3.

Figure 1: Pull tool menu when reducing the height of a cylinder

Selecting the Ruler tool allows the pull action to be performed, but with reference to any chosen point. For example, if the ruler is anchored to the bottom surface it will show the overall height of the cylinder; the required height can also be entered to complete the action.

Move – up to The Move - up to tool is very useful in placing one part or feature accurately against another surface. A typical example could be populating devices on a DIN rail at the back of an enclo- sure. Trying to place the part in the


Moving dynamically within a plane The Alt key can be used to move an object dynamically within a plane. When in Move mode, and the Move anchor is visible, the Alt key can be

Figure 3: Mating components using ‘Move – up to’

Figure 2: Move anchor placed on the mating face

This is a tool that is accessible from the Zoom drop down menu on the Ribbon bar and from the Zoom select menu at the bottom right of the design frame (shortcut is key z). It is espe- cially helpful when working on small details within a larger model as it will zoom in and centre on the selected portion of the model (if nothing is selected it will centre on the whole model). It is doubly useful because it zooms without changing the orienta- tion of the model, whereas using the Home tool to centre the model will return it to its original orientation when it was opened.

Tumbling Models Finally, tumbling the model (or multi- ple selected models) can be difficult, especially when trying to reset the view in an orderly fashion, for exam- ple with axes aligned with the design frame. Attempting to manoeuvre the model in all three dimensions at once is very tricky and confusing. A useful technique is to revolve the model in only one axis at a time until step-by- step the model moves to its desired orientation.

For further help with DesignSpark Mechanical, tutorials are available at page/mechanical.

RS Components T: 08457 201201

Enter 215 NOVEMBER 2013 Process & Control

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