Any aspiring inventor should put serious consideration into learning how to use CAD software. The ability to generate some basic 3D models and drawings without outside help is a perfect way start prototyping quickly and efficiently.
Why Should I?
Designers and engineers are great but they’re also expensive. They have their place in product development when it’s time to manufacture, or when the ergonomics/aesthetics/stress calculations/and so on need to be formally addressed.
However, when it’s just you, your idea, and a small budget – you need to be frugal.
Doing your own CAD work in the beginning is a great way to save a TON of money.
When you are able to create your own preliminary models & drawings, you’re forced to look at, and think about the product from different angles. Mistakes cost absolutely nothing at this stage.. Unless you’re paying someone $100/hr to do it for you.
But The Software Is So Expensive!
A big hurdle in your mind might be the price of the software. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Yeah genius. If only I had $6,000 to buy the software to save $5,000.”
Well there is this thing called the maker movement and it’s been shaking things up. There really is quality CAD software available now, which will cost you nothing. This DIY / maker movement is becoming quite mainstream.
One which I find extraordinary is called Onshape. A team of former SolidWorks executives started Onshape and O-M-G are they headed in the right direction.
First off, access to the software is completely free. With a free account, you’re able to have 5 active projects. If you need more than that, it’s only $100/month. If you’re reading this, I’m sure that the free account is adequate.
Second, Onshape is cloud based. This means that you don’t need a state-of-the-art computer with an expensive graphics card because Onshape runs through your browser. They even have an app so you can access it through your mobile device.
NOTE:Onshape is in BETA right now. Nevertheless, this is professional level software and they update it regularly.
I’m realizing that this sounds like I’m an affiliate for Onshape but I’m not. I just absolutely love what they’re doing.
So get over to Onshape.com and start playing around!
Then the world is your oyster my friend because you now have the ability to generate .stl files and 3D print anything (more on that later). You’ll be able to save and send .stp files to manufacturers for quotes. The 3D geometry can be saved and shared as 3D PDFs when your trying to win over investors. You’ll be able to make that physical prototype you need for your kickstarter campaign. I can go on-and-on.