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3D Modeling & CAD for Motorsport: Output Files For Manufacturing

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Output Files For Manufacturing


00:00 - After finishing our design, we next need to prepare the part to be manufactured and regardless of whether we need a technical drawing or not, we'll need to export some kind of file to be used in the manufacturing process.
00:12 If you've done a little bit of research online around different CAD file formats, you've probably noticed that there's a seemingly endless number of options and the long list of file extensions can be a little overwhelming and unintuitive.
00:25 As we discussed in the CAD basics section of this course, when it comes to software, there's a large range of options out there and although there's definitely a few select programs that the majority of designers utilise, like Fusion 360, Solidworks or AutoCAD, there are also plenty more out there that you've probably never heard of but still get used every day, especially in smaller businesses.
00:49 Each CAD software has its own native file formats, these are the default file formats the software is designed to work with.
00:57 In some cases, the native file formats from one program may be able to be opened in another program but this isn't always the case and it's even less likely that when we have the file open, we have the needed functionality to work with it.
01:11 That means we need to convert the file format and derive the features from the model which has its own set of limitations and consideration such as losing the original design intent.
01:23 For reference, Fusion 360 can open a wide range of file types from most other common CAD software.
01:29 However the .F3D design files and .F3Z drawing files produced by Fusion 360 don't enjoy the same universality, making the use of these in other CAD software very limited.
01:41 So when we finish our design, we really need to export the file in a different format.
01:47 Luckily, there are a set of more generic file formats that can be opened in most CAD programs and some other non CAD programs as well, and we'll be covering some of these in just a moment.
01:58 If we don't know what file format to use, the best place to start is to ask the manufacturer what they require to get the job done.
02:06 More specifically, asking what is going to make the job easiest and allow for the best finished product.
02:12 After a while, you'll get familiar with what file types are ideal for each manufacturing process.
02:17 Before we cover some of these file formats in more detail, I do want to mention that this is one of the key areas where the free version of Fusion 360 for personal use presents some limitations when compared to the full paid version.
02:32 in the import side of things we can simply open and work with a much wider range of file types with the paid version, particularly native files from other CAD programs.
02:41 Likewise, when it comes to exporting files, there are a few key options missing from the free version.
02:48 The good news is that if you're set on working with the free version, there are always ways to export your files and then use other conversion services to convert to a file type you require.
02:57 A quick Google search should give you plenty of options.
03:01 So with that in mind, I'm working with the full paid version of Fusion 360 here so some of the coming examples may not be possible for you.
03:11 With that out of the way, let's look at some common export file types for our work.
03:15 If the only requirement for manufacturing is a technical drawing then the process is fairly simple.
03:21 The technical drawings that we've already covered in this section of the course can be exported as PDF drawings by using the output PDF icon at the far right of our drawing toolbar.
03:32 Any manufacturer we're working with should be able to open a PDF and use it.
03:37 When it comes to exporting models, there are some options depending on the nature of the part and the manufacturing method, depending on if the part is 2D or 3D.
03:46 Starting with 2D parts, a DXF file is a good choice for sharing 2D drawing files.
03:52 It's ideal for providing an outline for 2D processes like laser, water jet or plasma cutting.
03:58 I find it's best to place a view on a drawing looking directly at the cut profile on a blank sheet with no template.
04:06 Our three bolt flange is a perfect example of this, so let's pull that up now.
04:10 First we select new drawing from design, with the template set to "from scratch".
04:16 Next we place a top view on the sheet, making sure the scale of the view is 1:1 so the output is the correct dimensions.
04:25 We may need to change he size of our sheet in some cases to make sure it's big enough for a 1:1 scale view of the part.
04:32 We can just click on the borders and the title block to delete them.
04:36 Now from the output dropdown on the right of the toolbar, we can select output sheet as DXF and then save it somewhere on our computer.
04:44 This file can then be sent straight to a water jet cutter for example and used to cut our part from whatever material and thickness we ask for.
04:52 We may also want to send a basic PDF drawing to specify the thickness and material, along with a few key dimensions that they can check.
05:01 To clarify, DXF files can be opened in the free version of Fusion 360 however you'll need the paid version to easily export a DXF through the normal methods.
05:11 With that said, there's actually a little work around here.
05:14 As you can right click on the sketch in the browser and save it as a DXF that way.
05:19 Moving onto models with 3D features, we have a few options for sharing our design.
05:25 Such as STL, 3MF, OBJ, IGES and STEP files.
05:32 I won't go too deep into the technical differences here, the main thing that sets them apart is the accuracy and detail that they can represent 3D objects.
05:41 Starting with the lowest level of detail, an STL file is a mesh which consists of vertices and edges forming lots of small triangular faces to represent the model.
05:53 This is the current go to for 3D printing however 3MF which stands for 3D manufacturing format, is becoming a more popular option and will likely become the standard for 3D printing in the future as printer hardware develops.
06:07 The big thing here is that the inaccuracies in these files don't cause any issues as long as the mesh is fine enough so the areas between it and the intended geometry are smaller than the resolution of the printer.
06:20 We'll be covering 3D printing in more detail in an upcoming module so we'll discuss this more soon.
06:26 An OBJ file is also a mesh however the faces of the mesh can be polygons which allows for a closer representation of the model.
06:35 It also includes the object colour and texture information and is also useful for 3D printing as well as 3D scanning.
06:43 An IGES file, again is another step up in detail.
06:46 Very similar to the OBJ but able to use curved surfaces rather than just flat surfaces.
06:53 These are useful for CNC machining.
06:55 Finally we have STEP files which are the most accurate and detailed file types on the list.
07:02 These aren't mesh files, rather data saved in a text format that can represent the 3D model inside of CAD software.
07:10 These are best used for the exchange of files between CAD software and tools and are also ideal for the use with CNC machining and injection moulding as well as other processes.
07:21 All of these file types and more can be exported from a design, simply by selecting the export function in the file tab.
07:29 The result is a 3D file that we can share with the manufacturer that won't include any of our design history and individual features which is helpful for protecting our work and preventing the model from being modified.
07:42 A quick note before we finish up, going through this process, you might see the term cam or C.A.M which stands for computer aided manufacturing.
07:50 This refers to the use of software and computer controlled machinery to automate the manufacturing process.
07:57 Computer aided manufacturing allows us to export files such as g-code that define the tool path for CNC machines.
08:05 We'll be covering CAM in more detail soon but I just wanted to give you a heads up in case you run into it.
08:11 In this module we discuss that after completing our design, we'll need to export files to be used for manufacturing.
08:18 There is an endless list of different file types that are suitable for different manufacturing processes, with a fair amount of overlap, some of which will only be useful in certain software and others that are more widely used.
08:31 In general, DXFs are suitable for 2D cutting processes like laser and water jet cutting.
08:38 STL files are the current standard for most 3D printing applications but 3MF files are becoming more popular for advanced 3D printing with colour and texture considerations.
08:50 OBJ files can also be useful here as well as for 3D scanning.
08:55 IGES file are another step up in accuracy and detail and become more useful with CNC machining.
09:01 However STEP files are really the most accurate of them all and the best method of sharing and transferring 3D CAD models.
09:09 In the end, it's best to ask the manufacturer what's going to work best for them in order to produce our design accurately.

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