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In the paradigm of mechanical engineering, 3D CAD modeling can be defined as a process of developing accurate specifications and elaborate drawings to aid the design, construction and manufacturing of mechanical products and their components. 3D CAD modeling enables mechanical design engineers to create three-dimensional images that are nearly as realistic as the actual physical objects they represent. This comparatively new technique is extensively used in various industries, including shipbuilding, car manufacturing, construction designs and manufacturing of virtually any complex mechanical product.
3D CAD modeling is usually accompanied by an unparalleled arrangement of sophisticated functionalities that allow mechanical design engineers develop highly effective and technically flawless design solutions. Irrespective of the type or scope of the project, unique abilities of 3D CAD modeling empower its engineers to design by paying extensive attention to detail. It allows engineers to try various models and come up with final specifications before even initiating the prototype phase.
The 3D CAD modeling techniques have gained popularity in mechanical engineering fraternity worldwide, because of its unprecedented ability to allow reuse of various design data throughout the manufacturing life cycle. It is worth noting that the inherent power of 3D CAD modeling is the end-product of its overall associative abilities.
For example, if you make any alteration in one of the dimensions (or a certain segment) of your product, all other relative dimensions change appropriately without requiring any user-input, and that too in real-time. Apart from that, if a designer provides the machinist (or CNC programmer) with a 3D CAD model of his design in addition to other essential drawing works, the machinist will have the luxury of deriving all the required dimensions (read: measurements), right from the supplied model itself. Further, in case the designer comes up with another revised model a few days later, the machinist can still find out all the alterations resulting from the revision without requiring any extra effort.
3D CAD modeling can be classified into 3 distinct categories:
Wire-frame models are undoubtedly the least complicated when compared to the other two categories. In a wire-frame model, all the surfaces of the physical object (including the opposite ends and internal components) are represented through bare lines and arcs. Due to the simple drawing techniques used in wire-frame models, they may not be suitable for complicated projects that require uncompromising realistic effects.
Surface models are more realistic than wire-frame models, but not nearly as much as solid models. Unlike wire-frame models, they are created by merging 3D surfaces instead of bare lines and arcs. A three-dimensional surface is more like a piece of paper that can be placed at various angles to specify different shapes. So basically, in surface modeling, designers join multiple surfaces to give it the desired shape as well as to hide the backgrounds that need not be seen.
Solid models are vastly different from the other two types of models on the ground that they are solid inside. In other words, solid modeling can be referred to as a technique used to combine a number of "solid objects" into a single 3D design. Much like a physical object, a solid model also has additional properties like density, weight and center of gravity because of which it is most preferred choice when it comes to designing prototype of a mechanical product.
Surface and wire-frame are usually preferred choices of mechanical design engineers while designing models that don't require high-level realistic effects. In most general 3D drawings, designers usually start with a wire-frame model, and then fill up the voids with 3D surfaces to give it a more realistic vibe.
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