3D Designing can be tricky sometimes when you are working within certain guide lines. Typically you will have a design brief with a project and be able to use the information from that to design you part. Usually it is never that simple. A lot of 3D design work is redesigning a part or developing a new one from and old design. Companies will often do this to save money with tooling or changes to the product after it has gone to market. Whatever it is, a lot of design work is fitting your design to something that is already in place.
This is a side project I was working on to solve the problem I had. The best designs solve problems in the simplest ways.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci
With this design, the problem is I don’t like the car mounting systems that are offered for cell phones. Large suction cup devices, brackets attached to your heater vent, small heavy sand bags that sit on your dashboard. I wanted a mount for my truck that looked like it belongs on the dashboard of my truck.
Here is my design process and how I used a Stratasys 3D printer at the beginning, rather than the end of the design process.
My intentions were to design a mount to hold my phone on my dashboard just like the picture below. I use the GPS feature in my phone a lot to find my way. It seemed easy enough to design something nice and simple to hold the phone in place on my dashboard while driving, until I really started looking at my dashboard. The more I investigated the issue the more I found my dashboard had a lot of radiuses and angles. How could I design something without being sure it would fit at the end? All these angles and radiuses would have a large factor in the final product. Then there is always the SolidWorks question, how am I going to start drawing this part?
The first thing I wanted to do is make sure I was holding the phone properly. Using my calipers I measured my phone with the protective cover on. I then drew the perimeter in SolidWorks, gave it a thickness, and then printed it out. Simple part took about ten minutes to build. Once I had the shape that fit nice and snug to the phone, I moved onto the shape of the dashboard.
Rather than trying to find those large radiuses, I first tried to find all the angles in the center of the dash board using my contour gauge. I then brought that inside and traced the outline of the dashboard.
Once I found the angles and dimension I modeled it in SolidWorks. I gave the part a thickness and built a thin silhouette of the angles of the dash. It’s a good thing this part only took nine minutes to build because I had to build a few to get the angles and dimensions just right.
Now for the radiuses, using my contour gauge again I found the large radius of my dashboard and traced it onto a piece of paper.
I then took a picture of the large radius with a ruler next to it. With this I took advantage of the best tool for a designer in SolidWorks, the sketch picture tool. This tool allows you to bring a photograph into SolidWorks and sketch on top of it. Once I drew the large radius with the sketch radius tool in SolidWorks this gave me the center point where I could now make an axis and revolve the part.
Now I just put a slot for the power connecter and throw on some fillet and there is my cell phone mount for my truck that looks like it belongs.
This article is really about using your printer as a design tool during the process rather than a prototyping machine at the end. We all know how some small changes can be big ones if they have to be done at the end of a project. By printing small sections of your model to test form, fit and function of certain areas of your model you also save time and material. These two things are critical when you are looking for cost in a project, and less cost means more profit.
I spent about eight hours designing this part, here is the build info:
|Est. Build Time:||13hr 26 min|
|Model Material:||2.964 in³||ABS P430|
|Support Material:||1.228 in³||ABS SR30|