DesignSpark Mechanical – 3D Solid Modeling CAD Software

DesignSpark Mechanical is a free 3D CAD (computer-aided design) solid modeling software

DesignSpark Mechanical enables users to solid model in a 3D environment and create files for use with 3D printers. Using the direct modelling approach, it allows for unlimited and frequent design changes using an intuitive set of tools. This free 3D CAD software is offered as a payment free download, but requires a one-time registration with DesignSpark.com to receive the latest community news and product promotions.

In addition, DesignSpark Mechanical Version 4.0 is the first free software tool to seamlessly integrate the open-source Ultimaker Cura slicing software. This feature is the result of close collaboration between RS and Ultimaker, a 3D printing company, and enables users to optimise their designs using expert-tested profiles for 3D printers and materials, and to streamline workflow for maximum efficiency.

Other key features of Version 4.0 include: support for 4K and ultra-HD monitors, switching between multiple graphics-rendering drivers and modes; the ability to export 3D geometry into the DreamWorks open-source OpenVDB file format; and various fixes of minor software bugs. Additionally, the tool now supports 14 new languages.

Add-on modules
Paid add-on modules are available and provide functionality for the free 3D CAD DesignSpark Mechanical software, such as full support of two popular 3D file formats (Export and import file type: STEP & IGES) and an associative drawing environment, adding many functions such as cosmetic Threading, GD&T, Annotations and more

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Rapid prototyping

DesignSpark Mechanical supports the idea of Rapid Prototyping through SpaceClaim’s 3D direct modelling methodology using the Pull, Move, Fill and Combine tools that allow a user to interact with digital 3D objects like modelling with clay, all available in the free 3D CAD version.

DesignSpark Mechanical is a direct modeling tool as opposed to a parametric one. Basically direct modeling means that you work directly with the geometry you see and each edit direct impacts the underlying objects. It is useful for quick prototyping, but likely won’t be used for the final product. Parametric modeling means that your design maintains the original geometry of each object even after you apply rounding and smoothing. You can define constraints, relations and dependencies to objects so that if you change something it will relatively impact other things. Parametric systems are usually history based, meaning you can go back into your model and adjust something (say the width of a line) and the software will automatically adjust everything that is related to it by constraints that you define. The downside to parametric modeling is that it is generally more complex. Take Blender, a parametric modeler, for example. I would argue that a lot of Blender’s complexity comes from it being a parametric modeling system. FreeCad is also a parametric modeler. It comes close to being a good combination of parametric with a direct modeler’s ease of use…but they aren’t there yet. For example, the design surface isn’t as rich as say 123D Design.

Pros: It is the first and maybe the only software which imports SketchUp (*.skp) files. If you’re a maker person then this software enables a wide array of electronics components via its “RS Components” connection. Actually, the software is launched by them.

Cons: Its user interface is a little bit unfamiliar comparing to other well-known CAD softwares.

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