How does your CAD team work?

Hi Chief Delphi!

My team finally got a CAD team going, a group of 3 kids (including myself) this past season. We have at least 6 more kids interested in learning CAD, and we have a few laptops available for this purpose. Last season, we basically had one student do most of the CAD work because we only had one laptop. Now that we have access to more computers, how do other students divide up the work? I’d be very interested in hearing from other teams about the division of tasks and how students communicate.

We don’t have an official CAD team, but we have different “mechanical subteams” that each split into those who CAD and those who build. We generally have one subteam for each robot system (shooter, scaler, drives, etc.).

Anyway, there is generally one person we have on each subteam who manages all of the CAD for the subsystem. The other CAD members of the subteam work with this person and are generally given smaller jobs like parts to make and idw files for the shop kids, but the one person is in charge of the overall sub-assembly. (Given that it sounds like you have less computers/students, these extra students to help the subteam lead may not be available, but I would recommend at least having one student in charge of each sub-assembly.)

These sub-assemblies are then put together in a big file by the “integration lead.” He meshes the different systems together, putting together the full finished robot, and then tells the other subteams where they collide with each other.

To help with communication, we have weekly or bi-weekly “integration meetings” where each subteam gives a powerpoint explaining where they are so far and what their plans are going forward. These are very useful for us and help the CAD teams stay in touch with each other.

Hm. The truth is, they don’t work. Kinda lazy, in fact :stuck_out_tongue:

Almost all the designers use CAD to make their designs. It is a small team, so if I said 4 people can do CAD, that’s almost everyone…

On a different team with which I am familiar, the small CAD team follows the designers around with rulers, and CAD things after they are built :ahh: . I know this is bass-ackwards, and I am sure they know it too (I have told them enough!), but for some reason they use CAD to document what’s already fabricated.

In fact, that’s a major reason they do not yet have any CNC machinery: Can’t fab what ain’t designed.

we have three computers upstairs in our shop with what we call the CADic. one of the computers has two monitors, which is good for productivity. we usually have two students working up there with inventor 2014 or 2016, but other students have expressed interest there as well.
i was not an active member on my CAD team, but we had one student designing intake mechanisms, another designing the drive frame; and it’d switch off to sometimes building individual parts and then assembling them. we use a site called grabCAD, which allows our team to sync our CAD files to a pool which can be downloaded onto another computer. it’s a great file sharing community - there’s tons of other cool files on there too.

We have 3 main CADers (myself included), we essentially split up the work. All three of us know each other well enough, that we know how each other think, so working together and making a part to fit into a bigger design is easy.

The main idea formation process is just whoever comes up with the idea. For example, while we were working on the shooter this year, the main overview idea was made by a parent (we are a small team only 8 students and 3 mentors), than the parent built a prototype out of wood, and showed it to one of the CADers. It was up to the CADer to create that basic design in CAD, but it was also up to him to figure out how to make everything work (of course, getting advice every step of the way). Everything else was essentially done the same way.

Speaking about workflow, again we 3 just split up the work. This year, one person started on the shooter, than we came up for the idea for the drivetrain, so I started on the drivetrain, than we came up with the idea for the intake, so the third guy started on the intake. We just kept cycling like this.

Now once each various piece was created (for example when the shooter was created), than the file was handed off to me, to incorporate it into the main bot. It was easier this way, because one person would have the main overview, and know what needs to be done, without any confusion created by miscommunication.

So for your team, I suggest you have one “lead” CADer, who maintains the main project, while everyone else works on individual parts. And most importantly, make sure all three members on the CAD team get along, it will be real hard to get work done, if there is continuous argument of how something should be done.

Let me know if you have any other questions or need advice/help! Good luck with your CADing! :smiley:

Hi, we have “three” designers, meaning me, myself, and I, cause our other two people don’t know much about CAD and I’m the only one with my own laptop where I can work from anywhere. Of course, we are a rookie team so we’ll probably get more people who will want to design but so far it’s mainly me. We have a shared OneDrive folder where we have our large assembly, and then a folder for “PARTS” which is further split into folders so we can keep things organized. I’d say our (my) CADing was pretty good though, we entered into Michigan Industrial Education Society MD-17 with diagrams of our robot in early May and got 2nd at Regionals and 3rd at State :slight_smile:

I will suggest you guys look into grabcad in the future… or now :stuck_out_tongue:

This year we had 3 students as CAD leads and about 5 more students helping here in there. Of the student leads, one was trained by taking a community college class and the other two learned from tutorials, peers and mentors. Two of them had their own cad computers. We had two cad mentors including me. We have 2 workstations and 3 CAD laptops. So when I bring my own laptop, we have about 8 computers in total. We have a server and use Solidworks PDM to manage our files. We also use GrabCAD and would use it more if we had a better internet connection at our build area. We mostly use GrabCAD to share ideas and side projects.

The 3 leads manage their own main assemblies and designs, the remaining students floated around. So we started with drive, turret and intake; we later added the tower, and scaler. The mentors review their design and help spring board the student ideas. We help teach students who are struggling or found a particularly difficult challenge. For example this year, I taught a student how to design a sprocket using the machinery handbook for reference.

CAD remains our bottle neck, and I would like all the CAD students to stick to their own projects rather then being chaotically move around. We improved this year by giving our students the necessary skills to take initiative but there is still improvement to be made. We are improving our CAD training and using CAM training to also give students a chance to build their own ideas before the build season. 2 of the lead CAD students are returning next year. I hope to have 6 lead CAD students by next year.

We have one person, usually the most skilled in CAD, handle the final assembly of the robot, and making complicated parts. Everyone else makes the CAD for their respective subteam (Drivetrain, shooter, scaler, Etc.) and shares it through a file sharing program (We use Vault) for the main assembly person to add on to the robot. Also, in our system ONLY one person is allowed to touch the main assembly at a time.

Our CAD team is basically just three guys. Generally, our Mechanics subteam will prototype mechanisms and figure out the required geometry. We have weekly integration meetings to keep everyone on the same page as to how everything fits together, which was especially important this year. This year, we were in constant communication with CAD to figure out size constraints and work out how to integrate everything, and keep the robot CAD up to date.

Our CAD team has about 5 people at a time, and I wouldn’t suggest going much bigger than that size. Beyond that point, productivity really decreases, especially with relatively untrained members. We have one leader who leads camps and teaches CAD in the offseason. That way, the other members can do most of the actual work during the season, and the CAD leader can spearhead the overall design while delegating tasks.

In terms of keeping everything organized, we used GrabCAD, which I’ve seen other people on this thread mention. It’s a great way to keep files organized and on record from season to season, while also being able to view and recover file editing history (in case of mistakes).

One suggestion I’d make for training CAD students is to make sure everyone understands machining capabilities before actually working on CAD design. In other words, get everyone trained on all the machines you have access to, so that you don’t design beyond your resources.

Thanks to everyone who’s shared so far! I will for sure look into better organization and structuring for the design to build process for next season. Also, thank you all for suggesting Grabcad, we will definitely be using it soon. Additionally, I love the idea of integration meetings:

I suggested this to my team, and we will definitely be doing this.

Our CAD team is comprised of 5 members that design and print out drawings for the build division of our team to fabricate. Everything that is designed is documented and held in folders in our workshop.

Also, as far as CAM goes, we’re probably going to have the design team pass the part to be machined to fabrication and then they make and generate the CAM. We’re also having all of our fabrication team become moderately proficient in SolidWorks as well.

This is the method we use. One thing we did this season was to have the student that was going to machine the part sit down with the designer and check the part for machinabilty and fix stuff before they send over the model. They caught a lot of small issues which in the end saved time.

319 uses OnShapeto CAD.

  • It’s cloud based and doesn’t need to be installed anywhere to be sued
  • It’s free
  • Multiple people can work on a model at a time (like Google Docs)
  • The tutorials are incredibly helpful.
  • You can load the models on your phone for quick glances or measurements.
  • It’s fully version control capable with a full history of changes.
  • Its Part Studio method of CADing is amazingly efficient and intuitive.

We absolutely love OnShape. It’s opened up more opportunities for our team to CAD than we could have ever expected. If you have any questions about OnShape, feel free to send me a PM.

2090 uses it too! And we teach it in our class curriculum too.

All our CAD team consists of is one person working on a computer while having the other members of design team draw what they want to see in CAD on a whiteboard. This year we used it more as a method of visualizing the robot in 3D space. We’re probably going to improve the setup we have for next year as we’re only a second year team and we still have much to learn. The one thing that helped us out a lot this year was GrabCad having almost every single 3D model under the sun for individual pieces.

It’s definitely pretty difficult to divide up CAD work in such a way that it saves you time versus one talented person being the primary CAD user. Lots of teams have one primary detailed designer that the rest of the team works with through discussions, concept drawings, prototypes, etc.

One way to divide up CAD in a way that is a total cop-out, is to have one person as the dedicated drafter who makes all the drawings. This person will rarely have any conflicts with anyone else on the CAD team since they aren’t usually modeling anything new, but they take important work and remove that workload from other members of the CAD team. The downside is that this job is both kind of boring and requires a degree of expertise in manufacturing.

You can also make a newer student responsible for mass-producing the more “boring” CAD stuff after the major design work is done. Things like gussets, drive shafts, assembling bearings / gearboxes and crap, etc.

If you are deliberate about how you structure your assemblies, and you keep derived features to a bare minimum, you can work on the CAD in different assemblies at the same time without interference.

No matter what you do, have one person, your best CAD person, be responsible for subsystem integration. This is a very difficult task sometimes, and can often involve changing a lot of things in different systems, so this should be done when nobody else is messing with the CAD. Really this integration should be an active effort planned out in advance - make sure everyone understands what their system will interface to and how it will connect before they go off and design their own stuff.

For non cloud based solutions, you can use something like Dropbox, Google Drive, or GitHub as a method of sharing files. These are not really built for CAD and if you work at the same time you can get those dread conflicted copies or broken stuff, so this is really only good for small teams. I know less about purpose built CAD collaboration tools like GrabCAD, or even cloud based CAD like OnShape, but they are probably better!

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This is the first year we’ve used CAD to drive our design process, and using GrabCAD was definitely one of the things that made it successful. It let our three primary CAD users work together and stay organized. The software is very easy to use and functions seamlessly with Creo 3.0. I would highly recommend trying it out.