How to Build Almost Anything

MAS 863 @ MIT

Solid Modeling via Software Application, Blender Recommended.



1. CAD design

2. Press Fit

3. Circuits

4. Programming Cables

5. MicroControl.

6. The Future.

(SolidWorks workspace)
(A DragonFly)
(A Sketch)
(MidSection )
(Whole Thing)
(View 2)
(View 3)

The story in text:

The purpose of this first assignment is to learn to use CAD tools to expedite the design process, and also develop a sense of when intuition or some other first approximation may be more readily useful. Appreciating that CAD is a language many large machine tools use, it clearly has its place among relevant and important skills, but it also tightly constrained by a person's fluency with it and its host environment. My goal was to learn to use the program well, so I selected a natural shape that seemed to present the opportunity for all kinds of failure and success. I picked dragonfly because it si segmented naturally, which gave the advantage of assembly and also wings for animation. But for now, onwards:

1. Because CAD can be tedious, I chose SolidWorks, a package I have seen used regularly but never tried myself. I began with a copy of SolidWorks for Dummies and a copy of their training manual tied to an only help source, and dug in. I also recruited a friend with more CAD experience to weigh in and provide guidance as might be needed.

Making the Shell Shape:

1. The most difficult aspect of this assignment proved to be laying out the cross sections, and before that making a shell shape that actually fit the car's chassis. This took many days in fact, involving a steep learning curve required to take a form to its solid phase, subtractive modeling, and then using introduced planes to remove geometries in 2D. Here are some examples, including some of the cross sections:

Cross Sections in SolidWorks Drawing

2. With cross sections in place, I moved on to cutting them out. This meant saving the files as .DXF and .DWG as I did not remember which worked where, and then trying to learn to use the plasma cutter, but even before that the router! I chose the router because I wanted large sections of material that were thick, and the plasma cutter is too small to manage such a task. With this in mind, I aimed for the Router in the Architecture Lab. I learned quickly that while a simple machine, it has its quirks and needs careful consideration.

The Router:

The router is happiest with .IGS files. It has a vaccum table and pneumatic systems that require another vacuum to operate. It runs following a procedure that is as follows:

First, I met with (Jeff Anderson) and he provided a set of tutorials on the machine, during which I learned that the running process begins with a flip of the large red switch on the grey control box under the table. Once on, the machine must be asked to pick up the appropriate tool, a step that comes once the file is brought from its CAD origins through EZCam, and on to the



     was written after file import. just before clicking send.

3. Before sending your file, you must prep the machine. First, pick up the copper plated sheet, and apply double sided tape to half of the back. Place the corner of the plate at 2,2