Next Monday, when a free 3D modeling software called DesignSpark Mechanical is released by Allied Electronics and RS Components (the trading brands of Electrocomponents plc.), some of you might find the product a bit familiar. That’s because the modeling technology of DesignSpark Mechanical comes from SpaceClaim, a household name in 3D design.
“Allied and RS are partnering with SpaceClaim to launch DesignSpark Mechanical, which combines the power and ease-of-use of direct modeling technology from SpaceClaim with access to the massive library of standard parts from Allied and RS, trusted by millions of engineers around the world,” said Rich Moore, VP of business development for SpaceClaim.
Allied and RS are in the business of supplying ready made electronic components, available from online catalogs. Engineers and designers developing products that involve electric components (that’s just about everything these days) usually incorporate digital counterparts of these components into their 3D design assemblies. The need to work with these components span across mechanical design and electronic design, two disciplines that don’t frequently work together but should.
Both disciplines wrestle with design changes when collaborating, because traditional history-based mechanical CAD packages don’t accommodate swift revisions. Mismanaged or uncommunicated changes — whenever the electrical engineer revised the PCB design or the mechanical designer adjusted the space allotted to the electrical components — can cause frictions and headaches. That’s the specific area Allied and RS are expecting to serve with DesignSpark Mechanical, based on SpaceClaim’s direct-editing technology with a low-learning curve.
DesignSpark, the online portal where the free software will be delivered (the page is live, but the free software won’t come till September 16), also offers a large library of readily downloadable components (about 38,000), identifiable by manufacturers, stock number, and more. Allied and RS’s partnership with TraceParts, another 3D content provider, gives software users millions of additional components from tracepartsonline.net.
This ought to be an appealing feature to DesignSpark Mechanical users, because they won’t need to create these components from scratch. Furthermore, the automated bill of materials extracted from the 3D model will include all the part numbers, manufacturers, and purchasing info. This is also in the interest of component supplies, as the BOM will eventually direct manufacturers to their online catalogs for purchasing.
Like SpaceClaim, DesignSpark Mechanical can export STL files, which can be used to produce physical prototypes in 3D printers. Since SpaceClaim is a commercial product, it’s reasonable to assume the freely distributed DesignSpark Mechanical will not contain all features and functions available in SpaceClaim. But the preview video (posted here) shows a robust 3D modeler, with SpaceClaim’s hallmark push-pull editing tools.