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Introduction to Mechanical CAD

A comprehensive guide to designing 3D objects using DesignSpark Mechanical

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Introduction to mechanical CAD is a course that will teach you how to create real-life objects that perfectly match your projects.

Imagine that you have finished an awesome Arduino or Raspberry Pi gadget. It works great, but it sits on your desk, with wires exposed, buttons and other components poking of a breadboard.

Wouldn't it be great to be able to design a custom enclosure of your gadget? An enclosure that perfectly matches the physical characteristics of your gadget, with its buttons, screen, switches, and openings for cables?

This course will show you exactly how to do this.

Using DesignSparck Mechanical from RS Components, the largest high-service distributor for engineers across Europe and Asia Pacific, this course will teach you basic mechanical design and CAD skills. With these skills, you will be able to create things that you can bring to life with your 3D printer, or through many online printing services like Shapeways and 3D Hubs.

In this course we assume that you are a complete beginner, with zero prior experience in mechanical design.

Step by step, we will teach you the terminology, design skills and CAD software know-how so that by the end of the course you will be able to create and bring to life your own designs.

The course starts by introducing you to the 3D workspace, looking at the basic DesignSpark Mechanical design features, and explaining how to use the calliper.

Then, we show you how to use 2-dimensional primitive shapes, like lines, circles and polygons, to create more complex shapes.

After that, we get into 3-dimensional space and start to create solids based on the 2-dimensional shapes we created earlier.

We help you consolidate this knowledge by walking you through a realistic design project. In this project, you learn how to create a typical Arduino gadget enclosure with all the expected typical features (like openings for cables, switches, and internal mounts for the board and its shields). We also show you how to properly export your design for printing, and even how to order a high-quality print from popular online services (so you don't even need a printer).

As with all the Tech Explorations courses, we are here to help you in this exciting learning journey. As a student of this course, you will have access to the Questions and Answers board and interact with the instructors. You can ask questions, and make comments or suggestions. We are love to talk CAD!


Class Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.
What is the purpose of this course?
This course was created with the goal of teaching students how to use mechanical CAD software in order to create their own designs and parts from scratch.
What type of CAD is taught?
The software used in this course features direct modelling combined with parametric modelling. Direct modelling allows designers to easily create shapes and surfaces in the quickest manner possible, while parametric modelling allows the designer to modify dimensions, shapes, and other features while keeping them connected to surrounding shapes.
Is the software free?
Yes, it's free to use and allows the saving of your designs in .STL and .RSDOC formats. .STL stands for Stereolithography and .RSDOC is the native DesignSpark Mechanical file format.
Will this course teach how to cut our designs on a CNC machine?
No, CNC machining of parts is an advanced set of topics requiring CAM software and usually involving the use of expensive machinery.
Will design of threaded rods or screws be taught?
No, as this is an introductory course.
Will there be a course project / will we learn how to apply our knowledge?
Yes. We teach you how to make a project box for your Arduino, a battery with charger, and a multi-relay board. Through this course, you'll acquire the knowledge necessary to create boxes for all of your projects, storage, etc.
How does the project box fit together?
You'll be taught how to make precise stepped surfaces that will allow the box top and bottom to fit in a snug manner.
Is the content of this course difficult to learn?
Not at all. The course assumes no prior experience in CAD systems / software and the instructor shows how to use the software in a step by step fashion.
How will we make our designs reality?
We show students how to use 3D printing services to have their designs made into real life, physical objects. Students can also use their own 3D printers to realize their designs. Being able to handle and put to use something you created will prove to be rather fulfilling.
What material will our designs be made of?
Mostly different types of plastic. I recommend the use of ABS plastic or Carbon Fiber PLA, as both are very strong yet have enough flexibility not to be brittle. One can even use wood PLA hybrid filament to make very interesting boxes! Metal printed boxes aren't recommended for the project box in this course as the two halves might have trouble staying shut.
Does the instructor show how to make threaded holes for machine screws?
No, as this is course is introductory. It's meant to give beginners the required foundation to start from, as well as enough knowledge and the skill set necessary to design simple to moderately complex shapes and projects.
Will the course show us how to make 3D objects?
Yes. The course begins with basic shapes and evolves into 3D objects. It also teaches how to edit and move those objects along the way.
How much content is available?
There is a little under 7 hours of total content, presented in easily digestible segments ranging from 3 to 15 minutes on average.

Your Instructor


Nick Christodoulou
Nick Christodoulou

Meet Nick Christodoulou, our director of operations. He has experience across an array of disciplines including CAD and CAM systems, CFD and FEA Simulation Software, Object Scanning and Reverse Engineering, 3D Printing / Rapid Prototyping, and CNC Machining. Octane Motorsports, L.L.C. is a Midwestern U.S. based company that was conceived with the goal of providing the collector and exotic car markets with quick turnaround services for one-off, hard to find parts.

Nick has been an avid explorer and maker since childhood. He would take apart radios, telephones, TVs, tape decks, and toys to study them and see how they worked. A large part of his personal inspiration stems from reading books about the life and many inventions of Nikola Tesla. He wishes to instill a similar drive and spirit of invention / making into others.

Nick is an expert in the field of Additive Manufacturing technology and has always found inspiration in the world of engineers, inventors, makers, manufacturers, and their products. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and experiences with others in the maker and engineering communities.

His hobbies include Amateur (Ham) Radio, configuring and tuning Engine Management Systems, designing and producing Forced Induction systems, HPDE / Road Course Racing, Travel, RC craft, Scuba Diving, and Airsoft.


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