Find a CAD drawing service
July 24, 2019 3:14 PM   Subscribe

I have created a small part of which I have made several prototypes. I want to get a CAD drawing of this part so that I can print it on a 3D printer and eventually, manufacture it via plastic injection mould. I can't find a local CAD drawing service. How do I go about finding someone? I see some services on the internet, just contact them? Would they need to have the actual thing? It's about 2" x 1" x 1" fwiw.
posted by falsedmitri to Technology (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think if you draw it in sketchup, a program anyone can learn to use within a studious day, you can get it printed from that. It's not a perfect tool, if it were, it wouldn't be so cheap/free, and easy to use. But it's a good starter.
posted by mumimor at 3:36 PM on July 24, 2019

I have a friend who does this freelance! I'll MeMail you.
posted by sleeping bear at 3:44 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

If sleeping bears friend doesn't work out, memail me. I have enough fusion 360 experience to perhaps help you out...
posted by Chrischris at 4:04 PM on July 24, 2019

Another easy CAD option is Tinkercad. But TBH, these days sending something out for drawings is rare: you design it yourself, and prototype it on your own 3D printer. All the designers I know (including myself) are self-taught
posted by scruss at 7:02 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I haven't done this in a while, because as scruss notes, generally the process these days is to go the other direction—CAD/model first, then 3D print, then produce in the final material—but when I have done it (or when I've needed to model a mating part to something), I've found the easiest route is to put the part on a flatbed scanner alongside something of known size for scaling. (Usually I use a US quarter. A ruler also works.) The flatbed is better than taking a photo with a camera because it eliminates parallax and is always square to the scanner glass. You do this for each dimension and then you can import the photos into Fusion 360 or Autocad as background images, and scale them appropriately using the quarter (or whatever known-size object you included). Then you trace/model them in the software. It is time-consuming but not hard.

If you don't want to do this yourself (which is fine), what I'd recommend is capturing those images and then sending those out to someone to digitize. The quality of the digital model will be very directly related to the photos (or other documentation) you have of it.

I would also use a set of calipers and take measurements of key dimensions for the person doing the modeling work to check against and scale to. Stuff like holes, pins, etc. should have their measurements taken directly and included separately from the photos.

I am personally much more comfortable working on paper with old-school drafting tools than I am on a computer, so I have been known to draw parts out on quad paper to scale, then scan the paper, then trace it in software. This is a viable workflow if you want to do it and send someone the scans too.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:22 AM on July 25, 2019

This is exactly what I do for a living. Feel free to reach out, I'd be happy to advise or help.

You are looking for prototyping services, generally speaking. They may or may not need to hold the actual thing, depending on the thing. Your thing may also need some modifications to be manufactured using injection molding. Those modifications are more involved than simply converting your object to a CAD file. You usually want someone with a little experience.

In any case, good luck!
posted by fake at 10:05 PM on July 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

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