mechanical engineering?

I was just wondering if anyone out there uses blender for mechanical engineering projects. Not necessarily for highly realistic results, but for easy to understand results that make mechanical engineering projects easy to understand. I have a few questions about the usability of blender for this kind of work too. For example: Is it possible to use dimensions in renders? How could blueprints be printed?

So the big question is…
Will mechanical engineers be able to use blender, or will they just have to keep on using AutoCad?



Ive used it to plot out a design for a foam dart sniper rifle (which i never got around to making). Does that count?

Unfortunately, Blender can only carry you far enough to visualize. To manufacture you need a fully qualified CAD model. I will do pre-work in Blender because it’s faster to “doodle” things to talk about, in the end though it needs to go into Solidworks so it can be fabricated.

I have built shop jigs straight out of Blender using the measurement addon.

Are you meaning Caliper addon??

Its just that i’m trying to start up a welding shop in my spare time and i wasn’t finding proper ways to use dimensions for printing plans and blueprints and stuff like that. :frowning: I’ll try the measurement addon and see what i can come up with.


No, I mean the “3D View: Measure Panel”. For what you are trying to do you can do that easy enough, I do it in the wood shop. The down side is you have to use the Measure panel to query every measurement as you go (and TAB to modes as you need) as opposed to having the print ready to go. Also have a calculator handy to translate the decimal portion back to measurements if you are working with imperial.

I also make heavy use of Zeffi’s Tiny CAD VTX (which does not appear to be maintained, not sure why, it’s a golden addon). You can download it however off his forum post here. It doesn’t get you measurements but it gets your intersecting edges precise when drawing the model to start with. It’s hands down my favorite and most used addon that I have.

Long story behind the reasoning for it.My youth group used to have a dart gun shootout for game time. Usually we would use NERF brand darts.Well, one day I discovered that a long 3/4 inch width copper pipe propels the streamline darts faster and farther when a good amount of air force is applied (i used it like a blowdart at that time).Because I am a person for sniping, I had the thought of converting it into an actual dart gun. Of course, because of the lack of materials and general laziness, I never got around to it.

Thats what i was guessing. :slight_smile:

Iv’e been expermenting with the Caliper addon… it seems to work nice, but its a pain to setup.
BTW i’ll keep trying to figure out how to use the measure addon, its not seeming to work for me.

I may have used the addon direct from the contrib SVN (as opposed to what is installed), I can’t actually recall.

Now, I am sure you know most of this, but I am just going to share what I did. I started by setting the scene to use the units I wanted, in my case imperial.

I then create a cube and set its dimensions to my stock. In my case I was going to start with 1"x4" plank, so I key it in to 0.75" x 3.5" and then set it to some length (which I didn’t much care about yet). I duplicate this as I go and “cut” my pieces as I would plan to with my saw. So when I start shaping things (say I cut a corner off at 45 degrees) I don’t much worry about what the dimensions are because the addon can be used to show me later.

Here’s my jig after I drew it in Blender, note the measure tool on the right. The grey piece is actually what the jig is used to produce. Material colours are assigned just for clarity on what the pieces are. Assembly has to be kept in my head (as there is no assembly and mating as in Solidworks).

<Post #1, limited to 3 images per post so more coming>

Now for the fun stuff, extracting the measurements. In the case of the following piece it’s very easy, I have single edge running the full dimension. I can tab into edit mode and select it and I get the dimension. 4.125" -> 4 + 32 * 0.125 = 4 4/32", so I can easily measure and cut that.

Now in the case where I have multpile edge loops, I just select the end vertices, duplicated them (SHIFT+D), move them out from the plane and connect them (F). I then have a single edge that I can select and get the dimension.

There is an option that seems like it would do that for me, but it gives me a number that isn’t what I expect. So probably just means I don’t understand what it really means, so I don’t use it.

<one more post coming>

From there I just walk through each piece and get the dimensions for the cuts I want to make. I have not tried the addon with arches or hole measurements, but I suspect I would have that in my mind or written on a notepad before I headed to the shop.

Here’s how it finished up if you’re curious. It was made out of red oak.

I’m not sure if any of that helped you or not, so sorry if it didn’t.

Ok…now i see what you mean. Good job.

but don’t this do about the same thing?

I didn’t know that was there =P I did look at it here however and the dimensions don’t match (I know 1 foot is way too long).

It’s possible I am out of date too, I haven’t updated in the last month or so (Blender or addons). I’m using Blender 2.65.0 r52859 and Measure Panel 0.8.9 and it tells me “Script needs repairs”, yet that works fine.

Yep, sometimes you need to apply the scale of the object. You know…Ctrl+A.

/facepalm lol, thank you =D You are right and yes, now that works!