AAA Drafting Blog

A SolidWorks designer talks about stuff related to CAD and mechanical design

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Structural steel supports using Solidworks 2005

I often have to create structural steel supports for dust collectors or baghouses and at first I spent a lot of time making repetitive structural steel details of the supports.

The shape of the gussets and bracing would basically remain the same, but the sizes of the support columns, the height, width and depth of the support would vary.

Over time I developed a structural steel support model which was driven by a design table. This allowed me to vary the height and depth and column size and other variables, and have solidworks create a complete set of structural steel details for the support. It is certainly a big timesaver. It also reduces the possibility of error.

There are limitations. As the support gets larger, the geometry of the bracing and gussets may need to change and so for that you really need a seperate model. Of course, If you have one working model, you just need to add to it and save as a new model for the larger style of structural support.

If anyone else is attempting to automate repetitive structural steel detailing with CAD software, I'd be glad to share my experiences. See my webpage below to keep updated on my work with steel detailing automation.

Structural Steel Information Page

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Laser distance measuring

I have used a Hilti PD-30 laser distance measure for about 6 months now and at first the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a fancy electronic measuring tape seemed crazy. But I have come to depend on this little electronic wonder.

For some of my drafting assignments, I often have to take measurements in the field. Before, If I wanted to measure something high, I would have to climb up and have a helper hold the end of the tape. The laser measurer lets you do almost all your measuring from the ground. It often eliminates the expense of the helper. This is doubly important because often shop personnel have to be assigned to help me reach high areas. The laser measuring device means I dont have to bother my customers maintenance department and more importantly keeps me safe on the ground rather than climbing around on ladders and catwalks.

The Hilti was the least expensive model in Canada but it is of high quality. It is extremely rugged and dependable. There are more expensive models like the Leica Disto, which have many more features but I dont think the features would get used due to the inconvenience of fiddling with buttons and features in a dirty industrial environment. I think the more expensive units would be more prone to damage.

One feature that is useful is the ability to store dimensions. The PD-30 only stores the last 3 measurements. I think the ability to store 10 measurements or more would be better. Its not a huge isse though. Even if the unit remembers the dimension, you still have to note down where the dimension was taken, and note taking can be a big pain in the field in a dirty environment.

If you are considering a laser distance measuring device purchase I would reccomend the hilti PD-30. Now there are more models to choose from, and from other manufacturers. I have shown some of them on my website link below. Please check them out if this interests you.

Using a laser distance meter

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Billet Wheel Ideas

Today I received a call from a hot rod car builder, looking for some custom billet wheels to be designed. The price proved to be an obstacle for a "one-of " production run as this would of been.

Billet wheels are extremely expensive to manufacture because for one thing, there is a huge amount of material that just gets turned into scrap metal, ie the chips from the machining process. There is also a cost in the wear and tear the CNC tooling gets subjected to in machining the enourmous amount of metal involved.

I was thinking it might be beneficial to supply premade cast aluminum billet wheel blanks to the wheel manufacturing industry. It would certainly cut down on the machining time and wear on tooling. It could also reduce the cost of custom billet wheels and hopefully the price to the consumer.

3D Modelling in solidworks for billet wheels

Periodic Table page added to site

I have added the periodic table page to