A Day in the life of a CAD dork – cadtoolbox.com

The hashtag #CADdork is trending thanks to an idea posted on Google+ by Melanie Perry. (The fact that we all use Google+ is your first clue into how dorky we can get.)

Anyone interested in doing a shared topic? I’m always curious how normal I am (mostly for laughs, admittedly).
Would folks be interested in picking a day and sort of tracking what we do throughout the day, then posting the summaries the next day? Sort of ‘a day in the life’… I’d imagine we’re all busier than the average bees and maybe spend more time managing projects or data than we do designing and writing. It could be interesting, seeing how we balance or intermingle work & personal life.

Several of my fellow CAD bloggers have already posted their days, Paul Munford has a running list on his website. Paul’s day is especially interesting to me because I really need to ask him what’s he doing writing in peoples diaries. Apparently, this is something different then what I would assume it is.

So here it is, my day unfiltered and uncensored… Wednesday, January, 27th 2015. The day wasn’t all the best day to pick to really get a glimpse of a typical day but some days, actually a lot of days aren’t like a CAD rock stars life. It can get quite boring and mundane sometimes. I think we can all agree that not every day is filled with flying drones, 3D scans of your face and steak and potato lunches.

12:00AM: My day doesn’t usually start at zero o’clock but for some reason I woke up about this time and can’t quite get myself back to sleep. Throat was feeling a little scratchy. Hopefully not getting a little bout of the head cold my 3 year old daughter has.

Approx 1:30AM: Zzzzzzzzzz

4:00AM: Alarm goes buzz, time to start my… no not yet, I just fell asleep a few minutes ago. SNOOZE.

4:10AM: Snooze

4:20AM: Snooze

4:30AM: Snooze

4:40AM: Ok, I’m up.

4:45AM: Looking at my phone to see what’s new since I last looked at it. Everything is still blurry and really not readable. Ok, now I’m really waking up. Just realized my throat feels like I ate a bag of sand during the night… yup, getting a head cold.

4:50AM: Shower off to wake up, get dressed make some coffee. I can’t eat breakfast this early.

5:35AM: Kiss my wife and two daughters goodbye (they are still sleeping). I have an 8 year old in 3rd grade and a 3 year old in preschool.

5:57AM: After a short commute through the still sleeping city of Wilmington, NC I wave to the security guard on my way onto site at my day job. I can’t really discuss too much about what company I work for, what I do, or anything like that. That was covered on day #1, form #62 that I signed. Lights are already on in the office… I guess I’m not the first one in today.

6:00AM – 7:00AM: Time to fire up the email and respond to questions from late yesterday. A few technical, a few from overseas that always receive an immediate response since they’ve waited most of their work day for an answer, always the few you delete no matter what they say (usually system automated and meaningless) Did I tell you I really don’t like email? This head cold is really starting to kick in now, without constantly drinking coffee or hot tea my throat is starting to really get scratchy.

Sometime around 8:30AM: Impromptu hallway meeting to discuss some of the technical questions from yesterday.

9:00AM: Not feeling too sharp today, regrouping my efforts on installing Inventor and Vault 2016 beta and testing out some new business wide PLM initiatives.

9:30AM: Instant Message: “Hey Tom can I share my screen and show you something?” ok, sure I’ll bite. Some new never seen PLM bug… noted. Let’s jot that one down for tomorrow.

11:00AM: Getting hungry, time to reheat last nights dinner for lunch. Eating lunch and reading some of the #PLMDork blog posts and the Autodesk beta forums.

11:45AM: “Tom, can we get a few copies of the new product line poster printed for around site and for the shop floors? We want everyone who helped the launch sign it before we hang it.” Ok, everything else didn’t matter today compared to this task. A project success and a super sharp rendering that most people look at and ask “Is that a photograph?” Stuff like this makes me not just a CAD Dork, but earned me the title… CAD Ninja.

2:00PM: Pack it up, head cold has hit the extreme. Time to head home to the family.

2:30PM: Big hugs from my 3yr old and hearing all about her exciting day at pre-school, I needed this the most today.

3:00PM: My 8yr old gets off the bus and more big hugs and stories. Normally, Wednesdays are gymnastics days for her but tonight is a fundraiser at Defy Gravity for her school.

3:01PM: I need a nap, not feeling too good. Zzzzzz

5:00PM: Wake up! Dinner is ready.

5:40PM: My wife, Wendy and my 8yr old are out the door for Defy Gravity. I decide to build a fire and snuggle up with my 3yr old on the couch for awhile.

7:00PM: Writing this…

8:00PM: Ok, good time for my Internet to go down, when it comes back up I’m clicking the publish button and going to bed.



So now that I thoroughly bored you with my mundane day… I promise most days aren’t this lame. I’ll try and follow up with a more CAD Ninja like day. I also apologize for poor spelling and grammar in this post… I’m running on empty for today. I’ll probably read this tomorrow morning and ask myself what was I thinking. With that, what did you do today?



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Permanent link to this article: http://cadtoolbox.com/2015/01/28/a-day-in-the-life/

Thought of the day

Unless you work at Dyson, don’t make the choice for new engineering software in a vacuum. Ask what needs, issues and questions the end users may have. If all you’re looking at is the cost savings of the different software licenses and accompanying server hardware you are not getting the full picture of true cost of ownership.

You may also want to consider the following before making your decision:

  • Training costs.
  • Costs to update any related company procedures or documentation.
  • Time and cost associated with the loss of productivity during the learning curve.
  • Actual productivity gains as a whole. Saving $100 in one area of an application only to spend $10 in 10 other areas isn’t really saving anything.

What do you have to say about it? I would love to hear from you. Post a comment or find me on Twitter or Facebook.




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Permanent link to this article: http://cadtoolbox.com/2015/01/27/thought-of-the-day/

DEVELOP3D Live 2015

For those of you who are reading this and also live on this side of the Atlantic in the good ole’ USA you’re probably like me and don’t give much though to what is going on abroad. We spend our 40 hour+ week, 8 hours a day with our nose to the grindstone creating CAD models, making drawings or making widgets on our 3D printers. Every November we pack up our bags and head to Las Vegas for the CAD nerd mecca we call Autodesk University. Autodesk crams in a weeks worth of classes, fancy presentations and so much information it leaves our head spinning well into January. By springtime we’re already thinking about the next trip to Vegas and starting to plan ahead for it.

Well, why wait until November to absorb all that CAD nerd goodness when DEVELOP3D Live is right around the corner in March. Whoa you say… what is this DEVELOP3D Live I speak of? This year It’s March 26, 2015 in Warwick, England. Now before you stop reading and flip back to the YouTube video of the guy talking like Karl from Slingblade at a Starbucks drive-thru just because I said it was in England… hear me out.

The one day conference is free and with a round trip airline ticket costing around $1,500, it’s quite a reasonable jaunt across the ocean to take in how the other half does things with a nice vacation in the folds as well.

DEVELOP3D LIVE 2015 will feature four conference streams, covering all bases of product development technology – from 3D modelling, design visualisation and simulation to 3D printing, manufacturing and workstations.

The conference also hosts a packed product showcase full of over 60 exhibitors such as AMD, Autodesk, Delcam, Dell, FlowHD, HP, Luxion, Siemens PLM and Solidworks.

This year DEVELOP3D Live will have an abundance of impressive speakers such as Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk. Jon Hirschtick, CEO of OnShape and founder of Solidworks. Kevin Schneider, Sr. Product Line Manager for Emerging Products and Technology at Autodesk, and many others.

I have attended all d3d events for the past three years. I find it one of the best independent events in the industry.

– Kevin Schneik, Director of Product Management For Fusion 360 at Autodesk. (@schneik80)

What else do you need to know? Ask them yourself on Twitter at @DEVELOP3DLive. Remember… registration is free.

Not convinced yet? (Gosh, you’re a hard sell.) Check out some of the videos from past DEVELOP3D Live events. I’ll even save you a click… you can watch one right here. Enjoy!

If Carl Bass isn’t enough to convince you… then watch Al Dean, Editor-in-Chief of DEVELOP3D Magazine convince you.


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Permanent link to this article: http://cadtoolbox.com/2015/01/26/develop3d-live-2015/

My Fusion360 Wishlist

I’ve been using Autodesk Fusion360 on actual projects now for a few weeks now and am really starting to like it. It really has everything I need to get the job done. It’s a both a great history based and free form modeler. It’s a data management tool that allows both sharing and collaboration. It has assembly and motion study features. You can render and visualize your design. It works well with imported files from a multitude of other CAD platforms. It directly supports 3D printing. It offers a whole subset of built-in CAM tools. It has built in learning tools, a great support community and is very low cost to use.

Recently, Desktop Engineering Magazine put together a list of the top 10 reasons why you should develop in the cloud with Fusion360. With all this being said, Fusion360 also is not quite a mature product yet and has quite a few things that need improving. The good news is being a cloud based product, these updates can be integrated often without much hassle to the user base.














  • Drawings: Improvement, improvement, improvement!

Although Fusion360 has the ability to create drawings of your designs. It’s not much of a tool that you can take serious yet. If you want to create a few views of your drawings and slap some basic dimensions on it, it works but that’s the limit of the functionality. The list of features it’s missing it endless, like section views, centerlines, bill of materials, custom title blocks, tolerances, exploded views, etc. Really the only feature that’s usable is the ability to export it to a DWG and edit it in AutoCAD or Inventor.

  • Component workflow improvement: 

Fusion360 allows you to create a design by adding components to it one at a time from within the context of the assembly. It’s really a sophisticated way to mature your design quickly. It would be beneficial if the ability to demote a component from your assembly to it’s own standalone file existed. Currently, you can only save-copy-as out to a file but the original component remains within the context of the assembly file.

  • Weldments: Give me some beads:

Not much else to say here, except the ability to create weldments is missing. Yes, there is ways to simulate a weldment but not true welding functionality. I would really like to see what’s available in Inventor but expanded to allow for more detailed weld design and analysis.

  • FEA analysis:

We will not complain if Autodesk gives us some form of FEA analysis in Fusion360. The fact that Fusion360 is a cloud product without giving the ability to use the cloud based optimization to test the quality and performance of our designs is perplexing.

  • Handoff between Inventor and Fusion360:

Built-in tools to pass your design off between Inventor and Fusion360 would bring life to the new push for Any CAD at Autodesk.


Autodesk being a step ahead, has posted the feature 2015 roadmap for Fusion360 which is a good sign of things to come. Another good thing is Autodesk has an IdeaStation forum for Fusion360, these wishes will be posted there soon if they are not already. The ideas that already match, I’ll be adding my kudo votes for… like better drawings.


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Permanent link to this article: http://cadtoolbox.com/2014/12/19/my-fusion360-wishlist/

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