With 3D printing technology becoming more readily available, it only makes sense that design software would follow suit. DesignSpark Mechanical, a 3D solid modeling and assembly tool, aims to provide intuitive design capabilities for everyone from novices to experts transitioning from 2D to 3D design. Developed by RS Components and SpaceClaim, the software is also available free of charge.

Traditionally 3D CAD tools have been costly, not only in physical costs but in the time spent learning how to use them. DesignSpark Mechanical was created to be accessible to all engineers looking to quickly create concept designs through intuitive, gesture-based modeling. The software’s “direct modeling methodology” scales from simple shapes to complex blends and surfaces. Users can choose from four simple gestures; pull, move, fill, and combine tools to enable a more hands-on approach. The pull and move tools also work on both face- and edge- based editing, which allows maximum flexibility. Hints can be added within the design for thin walls, mirrored, concentric, rounded, and chamfered geometry.

The software also provides the ability to draw 3D extruded, revolved, and swept geometry without ever leaving a 2D cross section. That way, new concepts can be sketched out and solid 3D designs can be achieved without performing extra work and helps bridge the gap for users working with previous designs. There’s also no need to set up a system of constraints, dimensional values can be edited by selecting the specific element. Different users can also set up and save their own sets of dimensions.

DesignSpark Mechanical also offers flexible assembly structure; parts can be turned into an assembly or vice versa and assembly structures can be created even before drawing a shape. There’s also no need to worry about inter-component relationships preventing changes. There’s also no unnecessary mode switching as the same tools can be used to edit assemblies, parts, drawing views, and 3D markups.

A variety of formats can be imported including ECAD (IDF, IDB, EMN) files, OBJ, SketchUp, STEP, and STL. Over 38,000 models from RS Components and Allied Electronics’ catalogues, as well as over 100M 3D models from Traceparts.com online library can be imported as well. Designs can be exported in AutoCAD (DXF), OBJ, 3DPDF, STL, XAML, JPEG, and PNG formats. While a user is completing their design, a bill-of-materials is compiled, enabling an instant quote from RS and Allied. The final STL output formats are also directly compatible with 3D printers.

With the software solutions previously available on the market, it is estimated that only 5% of the world’s engineers have access to 3D modeling tools. 3D model downloads can also save an engineer anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days of work not needing to manually create the component. DesignSpark Mechanical aims to make those problems a thing of the past, complementing existing feature-based CAD software, decreasing time spent on designs through an intuitive process, and being available free-of-charge.

DesignSpark Mechanical can be downloaded here.