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Member postings for IanT

Here is a list of all the postings IanT has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: 3D-CAD Package Shootout - Cotton Reel Example
12/04/2022 13:54:40
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 12/04/2022 13:07:31:

For example, starting with a sketch that models the spokes first creates a structure less resilient to change than one that cuts the spokes much later. Will the model break if the customer suddenly announces the reel's diameter should be bigger or smaller?


Let's see what happens in Solid Edge Dave....taking my existing Cotton Reel model...

Used smart dimension to select the outside reel diameter and change it to 40mm (from 30mm). I can do this because it is not a dependent dimension.

cotton reel - change outside diameter.jpg

So then do the same for the internal diameter... (radius from 12.25 to 18mm)

cotton reel - change internal diameter.jpg

Spokes still look OK. Might not have been as predictable if I'd tried to increase the internal diameter to exceed the external one first though. To be clear, I've only changed the two diameters here - nothing else was altered.



12/04/2022 00:06:04

It's way past my bedtime Dave! frown

However - here we are. Circles by centre - just click and enter the dims (or size it later)

cotton reel - circles by centre .jpg

Did this a bit differently, drew a reference line and then rectangle by centre, then trimmed. Think it was quicker using lines...

cotton reel - rectangle by centre.jpg

Then extruded the spoke to length...

cotton reel - extrude spoke.jpg

Used Pattern by Circle to make six spokes...

cotton reel - circle by pattern.jpg

Then extruded cylinders to length (forgot to turn off extrude symmetry for screen grab - but corrected it)

coton reel - extrude cylinders.jpg

Which gave me the basic reel shape

cotton reel - main body.jpg

Set my working plane to the end face (note F3 padlock icon) and sketched new rim.

cotton reel - sketch rim.jpg

Extruded this sketch and repeated at both ends. Could have done half model and mirrored - but didn't.

cotton reel - rims added.jpg

Selected rim edge to round it....

cotton reel - edge rounding selected.jpg

And clicked to round it - same at other end...and that finished it...

cotton reel - complete.jpg

Edited By IanT on 12/04/2022 00:11:55

11/04/2022 21:43:54

PS - When I first started 3D Printing, a friend suggested Open SCAD for my design tool.

It's very easy to get into but does benefit from a more 'programmatic' way of thinking. I'm a bit more 'visual' in nature and also need engineering drawing capability, so moved on to Solid Edge. However, I've written a few simple SCAD models that can be easily modified to suit different applications - and it's very easy to share them too - just a text file.

Adrian's SCAD model was a simple cut n' paste and worked fine in Open SCAD itself - I've no idea about using the FreeCAD version I'm afraid.



Adrians Cotton Reel


Edited By IanT on 11/04/2022 21:44:50

11/04/2022 21:27:45

Didn't bother taking snapshots as I went along & I also think this can be done in a number of ways. Nor do I really see the point of this exercise quite frankly, because to a large extent - a) the result must depend on the skill of the user (and I'm certainly not the most skilled SE user, so certainly not the best to champion it) and b) I'm pretty sure most CAD systems could do this quite easily.

However, in Solid Edge, I did the following;

Sketched the basic reel outline (circles by centre) & then dimensioned them, added a spoke (two lines). Extruded the spoke and used circular pattern to create six of them. Extruded circular elements to length. As an after thought added the two outside rims and rounded them. Could have used mirroring but didn't.



cotton reel - 110422.jpg

Thread: Best Budget 3D Cad software
09/04/2022 15:36:48

It was a while ago now Huub but I think one of the issues is that when you are trying to learn something new (and it doesn't seem to work) it really helps if you have some confidence that it SHOULD work somehow and that the most likely the cause of any problem is your lack of understanding.

Even though I didn't stick with Fusion, I was always pretty sure that any issues were probably caused by my poor product skills, rather than any undiscovered 'features' (e.g. bugs). I had the same confidence later when starting out with Solid Edge (and I still do). Having really good documentation also helps.

However, I was never completely sure with FreeCAD, which didn't help, because it's much easier to give up when you hit a problem.



Edited By IanT on 09/04/2022 15:39:02

09/04/2022 12:59:40

As Business Development Manager for my divisions software products in UK a long time ago, one of my main targets centred around product adoption - in other words market share. I spent a great deal of my time presenting and promoting our products to both trade and end users. I was always very happy to hear from anyone who could help me promote my products to a wider audience. I therefore very much doubt that any Marketing Department worth their salt would object to someone promoting their products in a positive light.

However, it's really not a point that will interest most people here.

David, why not just buy an Alibre CAD license and be done with it. MEW has actively promoted Alibre in the past and I assume that they have an existing relationship with them. You may even get a 'freebie' license from Alibre marketing to base your work on. I have no idea how Alibre CAD compares in detail with other modern CAD packages but it looked quite capable from the MEW articles and Jason hasn't moved his allegiance yet.

Of course, very many more hobbyist CAD users will use 'free' licenses from the likes of Autodesk and Siemens than will ever purchase Alibre licenses. Whilst many ME/MEW articles are fairly generic in nature (e.g. you don't need a specific 'brand' of lathe/mill to do most operations) that's not quite so true in the CAD space I'm afraid, although it may be more so in terms of 3D printing.



PS In support of Huub's comments, whilst it's been a good while since I last tried FreeCAD, it was very much a Curates Egg back then. From memory some things worked very well, others didn't (or maybe I just couldn't make them). I'm sure FC will have improved but frankly (as I found a better alternative) I'm not tempted to go and take another look unless I really need to.

08/04/2022 14:52:24

So when people produce material (i.e. articles) - both online and in print about Fusion 360 - Autodesk would see that as a commercial activity and sue the author? Youtube'ers get paid by the number of views and there's no lack of them around. Haven't checked recent ME/MEW articles about CAD but some of those may have had Fusion content too.

I'm sorry Dave - I don't think so. I worked for one of the largest software publishers in the world and their UK 'Infringement' team didn't even get out of bed for less than £1M and that was several decades ago.

I strongly that suspect that both Autodesk and Siemens would see any article about their CAD products just as free publicity (assuming they even notice it) - and also assuming David didn't write anything defamatory about them. After all, that's why they make 'Hobbyists' version available isn't it? - to spread the word.


08/04/2022 10:03:08

I don't think your assertion is true Gary - I think 'Top Down' vs 'Bottom Up' is probably more just about how you decide to approach your design work, although I'm certainly a bottom up kind of guy!

CAD basics: Top down modeling (

However should I ever need/want to do 'Top Down' - then Solid Edge can certainly do so.

How to Create a Top Down Assembly | Solid Edge (

I suspect this will be true of other commercial CAD systems too, given it's uses within a Team environment.



07/04/2022 17:19:43

David - whilst Solid Edge supports a number of different drawing types for 3D (parts, assemblies etc) - it's 'Draft' documents are essentially just 2D drawings and you can import your existing TC work into SE Draft format using .DXF files. SE Draft documents also support 'layers' which you should find very useful when coming from TC.

I've imported some of my TC drawings in this way and it's generally worked very well, although SE quickly highlighted how many 'un-joined' snaps I had in my older TC work. With some of my more complex TC drawings (where I had everything in a single model) it did help to save a simpler version that contained just the object I wanted to model in 3D. Once imported into Draft, you can modify/save your .DXFs in native mode using SE's 2D 'Sketching' tools (which are provided only in the Draft mode). However, these tools are pretty much the same as those you use when 3D sketching, so do not then need re-learning. You might find this a simpler route to get to know a new CAD system before diving straight into the full 3D works - a half-way house so to speak.

There are also features within SE that will take 2D 1st/3rd angle drawings and convert them straight to 3D drawings but that's still a bit beyond my current paygrade I'm afraid. Generally, I've found it easier to just import the most detailed 2D 'face' directly into a 'Part' document and then simply modify/extrude it manually using the 3D tools. Very easy to do with simpler things like loco frames etc and it can save a deal of work.

I don't know what Fusion is capable of in this area (in terms of DXF import/2D drawing etc) - others will have to advise you. All these modern systems are very capable but they do differ in the detail I imagine.

I certainly think this approach might be better than trying to use retrograde/old "shareware". Have a look at my link at the beginning of this thread to see the pros/cons of SE. You may prefer to use Mac or Linux for instance, in which case SE will not be for you. But Solid edge has much to recommend it and may be a very good fit in your case!



07/04/2022 15:46:08

Whichever of the better (more capable) 3D CAD systems you choose David, all will involve a good deal of time and effort, which is why once you've invested that time and effort, you become somewhat biased towards that particular system. Fusion was the first commercial grade 3D CAD to be made available for 'free' and it's gained a large following.

As a long-term TurboCAD user, I tried to use TC's 3D capabilities and decided it wasn't able to compete with modern parametric systems. If you want to make your articles of broad interest, then obviously using one of the free commercial CAD offerings make good sense. Fusion 360 is the most popular of these products but has it's potential downsides (as does Solid Edge of course).

I think your desire to write about 3D CAD, then 3D Printing and go on to CAM (CNC) is very ambitious, certainly if starting from little actual experience with a modern 3D CAD - but I certainly would not want to discourage you!

However, you have (of course) already made up your mind in this area.



07/04/2022 13:36:32

Alan's comments about having integrated software did ring some bells with me. As the owner of a small business (some decades ago) it was wonderful to move to MS Office - after some years of struggling with the costs and incompatibilities (both internal and with customers) of using products like 2020, Wordperfect, Dbase etc. Suddenly there was a file standard that cost less and which rapidly became universal. Of course many folk still hated MS, including my Lady admin staff who were addicted to WP. However, I don't see quite the same advantages with using Fusion for everything.

Going back in time, I wanted to move on from TC 2D. I'd already tried Fusion 360 and decided it wasn't for me. MEW had been promoting Alibre (the six month free deal) but I'd discovered Solid Edge CE in early/mid 2020. It seemed to meet all my current and future criteria and was free to download & run locally. I started my SE journey.

Shortly afterwards, Fusion (Autodesk) announced changes to their free license to take effect (mostly) in October 2020. A quick reminder of the changes that they announced back then (e.g. some 18 months ago)

  • Project storage is limited to 10 active and editable documents
  • Exports are limited to a small number of file types. Thankfully this still includes STL files but alas, DXF, DWG, PDF exports are all gone
  • Perhaps most importantly to the Makerverse, STEP, SAT, and IGES file types can no longer be exported, the most common files for those who want to edit a design using different software.
  • 2D drawings can now only be single sheet, and can only be printed or plotted
  • Rendering can now only be done locally, so leveraging cloud-based rendering is no longer possible
  • CAM support has been drastically cut back: no more multi-axis milling, probing, automatic tool changes, or rapid feeds, but support for 2, 2.5, and 3 axis remains
  • All support for simulation, generative design, and custom extensions has been removed

They initially also stopped STEP file export but re-instated that after much outcry online. This all happened pretty much overnight and users had no choice in the matter. I know that there are 'work-arounds' to most of these issues but they are still there - and further changes can be implemented at any time & overnight.

I also take the point about the Cloud being pervasive these days but I see a real difference in accessing my Bank account online and doing the same for my (many hours of) CAD work. The Bank can change their online access to my money but ultimately cannot deny me access to it (I sincerely hope!). I'm not sure that's true of any work done in Fusion 360?

I back up my systems (including all my CAD work) locally but should I want to keep back-up copies sync'ed with online storage, then I have a (free) 5Gb 'OneDrive' that will do so. As I use a laptop, accessing my work from anywhere is a bit of a red-herring - and I don't need to log-in every two weeks to keep any work I've done "offline" either - all my work is done and stored "off-line".

So SE meets my current needs completely. It is a fully parametric, commercial standard 2D/3D CAD system that fully supports 3D Print and which also supports sheet metal and weldment designs. It has comprehensive CAE facilities too. I have a number of friends who (like myself) dabble in electronics, who have produced PCB 'gerbers' for me. None of them use Fusion to do so. I've produced (using SE-CE) .STLs for them to 3D print enclosures in exchange. I'm really not sure CNC (CAM) will be something I will ever need (or can afford).

So, we get back to Horses for Courses. I remain delighted with Solid Edge - I believe others would find it fits their needs very well too. I understand the popularity of Fusion 360 but I'll keep pointing out that there are excellent alternative 3D CAD systems available, that may suit some peoples needs better.



06/04/2022 17:27:59
Posted by lee webster on 06/04/2022 15:08:30:

Another free 3D cad programme to try is Designspark mechanical. It won't produce detailed drawings but it will save a view of what you're drawing as a JPG with dimensions. I have produced some 3D prints to use in sand casting and it works fine. I find it a lot easier to use than Solid edge which I also have installed. I do play with FreeCAD now and then, but.......

Lee, I used TurboCAD for many years in a way that I thought was pretty competent. Then I watched a video by 'Paul the CAD' and realised I really wasn't making best use of TC after all (I stopped using drop-down menus and started just using the keyboard). So I tried to approach learning Solid Edge in a more 'structured' way and Siemens provide some excellent aids to enable you to do so. It is very well documented.

Of course, it doesn't make you a skilled draftsman (as you will probably notice) but it does give you a good foundation to work with. After using TC for so long, I really love being able to change parts (dimensions etc) and then see those changes just automatically passed through to any related 3D assemblies and 2D drawings (e.g. it's fully parametric). Creating new 2D drawings is very simple, just a 'drag & drop' operation - a few minutes work.

Obviously these drawings are mostly just for my use but it's also nice to be able to share them and not be too embarrassed. I've got my SE print default set-up for A4 and I can just dump drawings straight to the printer. Very handy if I change a part for any reason, I can just click 'update' & then 'print' - and I've a new drawing (updated with the rev date etc) for workshop use. You should persevere with SE, it will reward your time and effort.

Rod, SE only runs on Windows - and does so locally (so no Cloud required). I've just upgraded my Laptop to Win11 'Home' (from Win10 Home) and SE 2022 works just fine, exactly as I expected. SE-CE does not have a (free) CAM function currently but it does have a slicer for 3DP built in (although I'm still using CURA). As I don't have any CNC kit at the moment, it's not an issue for me. If I ever do need CAM, I will probably look at exporting my SE models into FreeCAD's CAM - which is apparently greatly improved these days.



muir hill buffer housing 060422.jpg

06/04/2022 14:28:18

Well, I did try - but it seems the Fusion Faction have won another convert!




06/04/2022 11:50:24

The previous post I mentioned is here:

Solid Edge - Community Edition | Model Engineer (



06/04/2022 11:46:24

Why not try Solid Edge Community Edition David? That's what I moved to after using TC for many years.

It's free to download and a powerful, commercial grade system - I've posted about it previously here.

I'd recommend that you use this link to download the SE-CE software.

Siemens Digital Industries Software Online Store



Edited By IanT on 06/04/2022 11:53:24

Thread: Adept Hand Shaper
05/04/2022 14:21:47

I have both hand and powered shapers. You should view them as different beasties, used for quite different work. So if you need a powered shaper, just buy one that is already motorised!

The best way to think of a hand shaper (in my view) is as a hand tool that will give you better results than other hand tools (think files and saws). Some examples

Battered V Rest

Battered 'V' rest, needed cleaning up but basic machining already done.

V rest - Finished

Fairly easy to clean up on the hand shaper, still took time but just really re-surfacing...

Next, tidying a slot drilled in a 'finger' for a finger plate

Shaping the slot.jpg

Finished slot.jpg

Simply done but an example of why you need to angle the clapper box on vertical cuts. Also used the Adept to cut the angles in the finger...

Shaper saw in mild steel


And finally, cutting 1mm AF hex parts. I often use my finger as a hold down for this and as I'm the 'motor' it is quite safe. Wouldn't do that on my Atlas of course!

All of this work can be done by other means but it's what I did at the time.

So just see a hand shaper as an aid to better hand work....



04/04/2022 22:55:44

It's an Adept Number 1 Nick, so it's quite (very?) small and you can't set the clapper box over either (which is really useful).

Hand Shapers certainly have their uses but don't expect them to remove large amounts of metal quickly or without some effort & lots of patience. A vertical slide is a better buy if you don't have one already for your lathe.

If you must buy a hand-shaper, then wait for an Adept No 2 (or Perfecto or Drummond).



Thread: Getting Old
15/03/2022 15:19:21
Posted by Robin on 15/03/2022 10:01:33:

The best bit is when you fall over and young girls rush in from all directions to help you back on your feet. Health workers treat me like an idiot and I love it, I make no effort to help and no effort is expected of me. We were stuck in the snow in the foot hills of the volcano Katla last week and I was chosen to drive because I was not built for pushing. I sat in the warm, successfully drove backwards 2 feet and became a hero. Why wasn't it always like this? smiley

I has a small incident recently that resulted in my wife calling the emergency services. Two crews turned up very quickly (something about buses comes to mind) and I was fussed over by three charming young ladies and a very smart guy who just stood back and let them get on with it. As a young man it just never occured to me that the best way to attract young ladies was to simply lie on the floor.



Thread: Ukrainian Scams
15/03/2022 10:26:37

Just received this email via our Society website

" Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Wladimir Wladimirowitsch Klitschko a Ukrainian former professional boxer who competed from 1996 to 2017. We have launched a donation campaign to support Ukraine Children and also help refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. The campaign is hoping to raise $9,000,000 to support refugees in the region.

Now accepting cryptocurrency donations and you can support with any amount. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and USDT.

Bellow are wallet details for cryptocurrency donations.

Bitcoin Wallet: 1MyT1sViNQ3mGrk2Gv1tfRtcx4sUbXtg51

Ethereum Wallet: 0xFb738d05675CeC1bS9d88408589f31eWb4790565

Best Regards, Wladimir W. Klitschko "

Hopefully no-one is going to think this is real but I thought it worth mentioning. Unfortunately, there are always nasty people trying to profit from the misery of others. BTW, before anyone says I shouldn't give the bitcoin/ethereum wallet numbers - the numbers have been changed, so anyone silly enough to use them will probably still lose their money but it certainly won't benefit these thieves.



Thread: Shaper tooling.
01/03/2022 22:32:09

Andrew, I don't know what size of shaper you have but I use small 'J&S-type' cranked tool holders in my Acorn 7". You need ones that will fit the clapper tool slot of course. Mine take 1/4" tools but the shanks are quite thin too - I can't remember their make off-hand.

Any small change in setting the tools cutting angle wrt the work can be undertaken by moving the head. I guess the combination tool is convenent in the sense that you just have one tool to cut left & right etc - but I have a set of three small holders that essentially do the same thing. If you have to move the tool bit in the combi holder, then really it's just as easy (easier?) to just swop the holder - they will both have to be reset anyway, the transfer gauge mentioned recently being handy for this.

These type of holders aren't very popular these days and if you can find ones that will fit your shaper, they shouldn't be too expensive - I don't think mine were but it's been a while.



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