For This Mechanical Engineer, Transitioning to DraftSight Is Illuminating30 Nov, 2020 Sponsored By: DraftSight
A former AutoCAD user who taught himself DraftSight shares his experience.
TOMAR Electronics is an Arizona-based developer of illumination and signaling systems, including the flashing lights that help emergency vehicles grab drivers’ attention. Senior Mechanical Engineer Tomasz Taubert explained that TOMAR designs every aspect of these systems, including the optical, electrical, and mechanical elements — even the software. In addition, all product assembly is completed in-house.
For his part, Taubert performs mechanical design and thermal management of printed circuit boards (PCBs), enclosures, wire harnesses, and entire systems. On occasion, he supports production operations as well. “A typical workday may be filled with a mix of mechanical 3D design driven by my thermal and structural simulations, designing wire harnesses, assembling and testing prototypes of new products, inspecting first articles from new production lots, and creating product visuals for TOMAR’s marketing,” he explained.
Taubert, who holds an engineering degree in major mechanical manufacturing technologies and in design for manufacturing, has worked in industries ranging from telecom to medical devices. He began his career by contributing to manufacturing operations, processes, and technological trials, and performing some product development and design. “After 10-plus years I moved to predominantly product design,” he recalled. “My passion is to transform new product ideas and user expectations into profitable products, using my scientific and engineering fundamentals and professional experience.”
2D CAD Plays an Integral Role
As it has evolved, Taubert’s career has taken him through a variety of CAD software applications — beginning with one that’s no longer around today. “In the early 1990s, I taught myself AutoSketch, and used that in occasional design tasks,” he said. “In 1997, I took a formal training in using AutoCAD 14, and started using it immediately for full-time 2D design work. AutoCAD was also my first CAD tool for creating 3D designs, until I started using Autodesk Mechanical in 1998. In 2000 I switched mainly to SOLIDWORKS, although I have also done designs in Solid Edge and Pro/Engineer.”
After embracing 3D design, Taubert thought his 2D days were over: “Back then, I did not expect to use 2D CAD again in the future ... I was thinking indeed that 2D CAD was obsolete for mechanical design.” He learned that that couldn't be further from the truth when he joined the TOMAR team, which uses DraftSight for 2D CAD work for wire harnesses and designing PCB panels.
TOMAR migrated from AutoCAD LT after implementing a SOLIDWORKS suite that included DraftSight. “My start with DraftSight was actually surprisingly easy, [even though it had been years since I was] working with AutoCAD. I quickly trained myself and could do everything that was needed for the 2D CAD deliverables, without delays. Working with DraftSight is [equally] as fast as it was with AutoCAD — not slower, not faster,” he reported.
Now Taubert uses DraftSight in tandem with SOLIDWORKS. “SOLIDWORKS remains my primary MCAD tool,” he said. “[When] I export DXF or DWG objects from SOLIDWORKS drawings for inserting into DraftSight documents ... there are no compatibility issues.”
Give the Trial Version a Try
Mastering the software needed for the day-to-day tasks of their job may be enough for most users, but Taubert is not one to rest on his laurels. “I do learn new CAD/CAE applications continuously, just to stay current with the technology — and because it is fun,” he said. Over the past decade, he’s made his way through about one-and-a-half new applications per year, Taubert estimated. “In most cases it is not an in-depth learning — I’m just trying to start using and deliver some outputs, allowing me to judge the software’s capabilities and workflows.”
Those looking to evaluate DraftSight for possible implementation in their department or company can start by downloading a trial version of the program, as Taubert typically does when exploring a new application. “For me, it is important that the download is easy and unconditional: no gotchas, no obstacles,” he commented.
Although DraftSight — and 2D CAD in general — may be simple enough to learn that no training is needed during a migration, users can take advantage of support from the reseller to develop their knowledge of best practices in using the software. “The fundamentals are valuable for further learning, and the quality of deliverables created with the software [is improved],” Taubert advised.