That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

Here’s a peek into what has me so excited about Solidworks:
TetSunCapture
This is what the model looks like as you’re working on it. Shadows, perspective, depth cues, surface textures – wow. And that’s just the display. This is what I was working with before:
TetSun-FormZCapture
That may not seem like a major deal, but in practice every little nuance that improves your interaction with the virtual model means less eye strain, better comprehension, and fewer errors.

The geometry you see in the first picture is an honest-to-reality depiction of the sheet metal, folded up and mated together with allowances for overlap and k-factor built right in. Previously, the 3d models I made were paper-thin approximations that required me to grind the metal down to compensate for the lack of thickness. That may again sound like no big deal – but the last one of these I fabbed ended up with a nearly 1 inch gap between the first and last tetrahedrons, all because of the thickness of the metal multiplied by the number of parts (.063 inches X 12 parts =.756 inches).

Pictures are indeed worth lots of inane rambling:
Tetrahedral Sun Fab 1
Tetrahedral Sun Fab 2
Tetrahedral Sun Fab 3
Tetrahedral Sun Fab 4
In the last image you can see that the one remaining tetra will not be enough to complete the loop.

Now, imagine if I were making this thing 16 feet tall – that little error becomes a very big problem. Pulling a little gap together in the small one becomes warping and ruining the piece on the big one.

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