Thankfully, you’re already taking the first step which is planning and preparing. But I’ll go through your points and add my advice.
Here are different ideas I had come up with that might be beneficial to finishing a model faster. We plan on / already have implemented all of these ideas.
1: Keep the design simple
Simple, easy to CAD, and easy to manufacture. It’s easier said than done, but it’s a great start.
2: Use COTS with a downloadable CAD file as often as possible
Go ahead and download part files of stuff you’ll want to or think you’ll want to use now. Download the KOP when it comes out. Download fasteners from McMaster Carr if you plan on including fasteners in your CAD. Download these finals before Kick-Off so you are just a little more prepared when it comes to that time. One thing I also did was, after converting the STEP files to SolidWorks files, I went back and added the weight, material, and any mates or constraints to assemblies. It’s an oft overlooked step (Get it, STEP?), but it can save you a ton of time and headache later down the road.
3: Increase the size and knowledge of your design team during the offseason
Yup. I can say from experience that one student cannot do all of the CAD and design work and be fully successful. And practicing CAD is far more important than people realize. Your familiarity and skill with CAD determines your speed more than anything else, so use it well and use it often.
4: Spend a lot of time at home making the CAD model, even if it means staying up all night
Will you have to spend time at home to polish and clean up your CAD models? Quite possibly. But should you be doing heavy CAD at home? No. For one, it’s always good to do heavy design and CAD work in communication with the rest of your team. But you should NOT be sacrificing sleep, your social life, or your grades for robotics. On top of that, you’ll quickly find your productivity plummet as your hours stack up. Sleepy CAD is sloppy CAD and sloppy CAD is a waste of time.
- Make it easy to share files between members
- Take advantage of R14 by using parts and assemblies from previous designs
Yep. Similar to downloading COTS files, any work you can do before Kick-Off just makes your life during Build Season that much easier.
One of the best ways to speed up your CAD work is to mitigate and reduce mistakes. At some point if not many points in the season, you will change something you had not planned on changing. Whether this is because of mistake or because designs changed, it doesn’t matter. But an extra 15 minutes of work when you first create a part can end up saving an hour when you have to go back and change it.
When I do CAD, I almost never leave sketches undefined. It doesn’t matter how insignificant a line might be, I’m gonna define it just so I know it won’t do funny things when I start doing funny things with parts in an assembly.
Some people swear by keyboard shortcuts and specific optimization techniques. I agree that they can help, but I found myself using computers other than my own so often that I’ve grown pretty accustomed to just using the defaults mostly.
Develop naming and storing standards within your team. Do it. Agree on it. Adhere to it. Make sure everyone knows how to upload or transfer parts and assemblies correctly. There’s nothing more frustrating and more common than opening an assembly and not being able to view all of it or the mates not working because some parts are in some other folder that you don’t have.
Good luck, and happy CADding!