CAD Repositories

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Introduction

There are numerous ways to obtain CAD files of manufactured parts. First, there are generic, crowd-based repositories, such as Thingiverse or GrabCAD. Then there are supply houses such as McMaster Carr. Another source is specific manufacturers who post their CAD publically, such as for hydraulic valves. And there are software-specific repositories - such as the part libraries found within SweetHome3D or for FreeCAD - or even electronic parts renderings from KiCad. Then there are part generators, such as numerous part generators in OpenSCAD or other software - such as FreeCAD which can generate springs, gears, and bolts. And finally, there are individual draftspeople who post design online. And finally, one can ask any producer or manufacturer to share their files. All together, many building blocks exist - but don't expect useful CAD to be available for entire proprietary devices such as a John Deere Tractor or Tesla car. At the same time, some 2D cad may be available for parts, and this can be reverse engineered into 3D using a basic Reverse Engineering Workflow.

The available CAD spans many areas and can be used by OSE. The OSE wiki is a repository where such parts are ported into FreeCAD native formal, and placed in galleries of Part Libraries for various products. The importance of Part Libraries is having one-stop access to build anything from scratch - without spending countless hours finding all the part repositories online. Surely a master-scheme will emerge - some day - for producing all available CAD with AI - but until then - we focus on extracting useful CAD and creating part libraries on this wiki. This applies to generic parts, using the concept of Design Degeneracy to select only the most important parts. All parts should not be included. Not only is that a futile exercise - but also - OSE is actively selecting the most robust and useful designs that follow OSE Specification. Thus, hard to build, crap, complicated, obfuscated, bad materials-based, bad design should not be included in OSE's repositories - only the most robust, generative, and useful.

Understanding the State of Art

The current state of art allows for large-scale, technical design collaboration. This process has many moving parts, and OSE is working to make this process accessible to the point that large-scale, collaborative, open source design is a new normal in society. This is opposed to typical small proprietary teams, each reinventing the wheel in their own company.

Using available resources, full CAD can now be generated for many mechanical and electronic devices, houses, and more. But this is a long and arduous process where you need to know what software to use, how to convert between file formats, how to port these formats to all the software, how to design things, how to maintain well-organized repositories, and how to collaborate on a large scale. The key is treating an ecosystem of software as a whole - not relying on a single, heavyweight, proprietary computer CAD workflow - which by definition cannot scale to solving Pressing World Issues. Thus, a number of open, interoperable software components is a better answer for distributed, large scale development. The key is learning how to port and transform files, work with a diversity of free and open source software (FOSS), and entertain a mindset of modular collaboration. Almost counterintuitive - a Heavyweight Product Management method should use lightweight tools, and keep the results transparent for immediate on-boarding of new collaborators.

To create a framework for such collaboration, OSE will publish tight videos regarding the global, collaborative design process - covering the pentumvirate of FreeCAD, SweetHome3D, Blender, KiCad, and OpenSCAD along with a number of interoperable allies. The focus will be on easy access of all building blocks (parts and modules) to make design efficient, effective, and public.

This will be part of the OSE Tech School, which aims to bridge the divide between classes towards Self-Determination via Mutually-Assured Abundance.

Part Catlogues

  • McMaster-Carr - large, industrial supply house
  • Check.pngTrace Parts - [1]. Wide range of parts. Relevant are hudraulic motors, connectors, plumbing parts, ready for STEP download for FreeCAD. I contacted them to include FreeCAD as one of the download options.

Architecture

Software

  • KiCad - renders of all components
  • FreeCAD - numerous part libraries and part generators are available
  • SweetHome3D - mesh formats of all types of furniture and appliances are available
  • OpenSCAD - countless open source part generators exist

Electronics

  • Headers - [2]
  • KiCad - renders of many common electronic components including microprocessors.

Links