How important is CAD?

#1

We have a small after school program that’s growing, and I see a lot of discussion about doing the design in CAD. We don’t do any CAD work now, and our school doesn’t have a ton of CAD in general, so our teams would largely be coming into CAD cold. My CAD skills are adequate, and I can teach it when necessary, but we don’t have a class which uses CAD significantly. Given that, I’m wondering if it’s worth it to us to make CAD design part of our process. Does design in CAD make a big difference, or is it something we do because it’s teaching good professional skills? Is everyone using CAD design and we’re missing the boat, or is it something that the high level teams do but smaller programs skip?

Thanks–

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#2

If you have the time - it’s well worth it. When I’m not able to be at school building, I work at home using CAD to plan what I do the next day. Use Autodesk Inventor - if you do enough digging to find it students can get a 3 year license for free.

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#3

This should help.

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#4

Inventor is very easy to get, I was able to get it with no problems on my own. (I’m a student)

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#5

Me personally, I use Fusion, the Mac version. (Our school is blessed enough to give every student Mac Airs) It works well, though I haven’t used it much for robotics.

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#6

I would suggest CAD to build the major structural pieces of your robot, and not worry too much about screws and stuff unless you need to find a specific length screw.
My team had a competition on Saturday, which qualified us for regionals, and within 3 days, we had most of the robot cadded and it only took us 4-5 days to build the entire thing. Obviously we had to tweak some things and figure out smaller bits along the way but it is VERY worth it since you save a lot of time and materials.

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#7

Here is a white paper about CAD for VEX Robotics. CAD for VEX Robotics.pdf (126.3 KB)

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#8

Personally, I’ve never been a good candidate for judged awards, but I use CAD over the summer to design a robot almost completely when I don’t have parts to make it. That way I can build my robot in like a week once school starts

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#9

I don’t find CAD very useful. Designing a robot in CAD is slow and takes too long.

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#10

Not really, if it takes teams an average of 2-3 weeks to build a bot, but 1 week to cad, it sounds worth to me. If it takes longer than 1 week to cad then you either need to plan out the bot a bit better, or you should practice with cad a bit more. Honestly took me a while until I got the swing of things but idk give it some more tries.

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#11

Thanks everyone for your input. Students, this makes me wonder if you learned CAD elsewhere (like in another class or activity?), or was it as part of your VEX team, or was it just on your own? Does everyone in your team CAD, or only a couple of people?

We use a combination of TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 in our Engineering 1 course, and the Engineering 2 teacher is debating between Fusion and another couple of products.

Thanks!

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#12

I learned CAD in my Engineering 1 course, we used inventor.

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#13

I found a few tutorials on youtube (theres one pretty good tutorial playlist that is in spanish, but offers a good amount of tips) and I also asked a lot on the vex discord about simple techniques like cutting material. It all comes down to experience, the more you try on your own the more you become more fluid and comfortable with the controls etc.

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