New gen 3D CAD or old school freehand sketch?
Let's say it right away ... the correct answer is both!
It depends on the phase of the project we are in, the type of component or product we are designing and the experience of the designer.
Personally, we prefer to use the freehand sketch in the first conceptual phase, where we define the general structure and the positioning strategy of the components, and only after to pass to the CAD modeling.
The freehand sketch allows us to be very fast and develop dozens of proposals in a few hours, reasoning with known patterns and schemes or, if necessary, use smart tools such as post-it, paper replicas, models, etc.
Subsequently, the design will be consolidated in 3D CAD software.
The 3D CAD modeling has the main advantages to be able to understand the overall dimensions (especially in products where space is not enough), have a preview of the product to get immediate feedback from customers or collaborators and to generate files for machine tools or any 3D printing.
Among the advantages of having the whole device modeled in 3D CAD there is also the possibility to perform simulations (thermal, vibrations, etc) and create the components list (BOM).
At KERO we have modeled the whole STILE-34 audio device in 3D, both the mechanical part (frames, panels, etc) and the electronic part (components, PCBs, cables, etc).
This allowed us to reduce the overall dimensions to the minimum necessary (being able to integrate one 5” subwoofer and two 3” fullrange speakers, the 6A power supply, electronic boards, equalizers and a touchscreen in only 340x260x146 mm) and be able to go directly to the production phase on machine tools (CNC milling and turning equipment, laser cutting, CNC punching machines, pick & place PCB, 3D printing, etc).
The Design for X principles , essential for creating a smart device nowadays, have been widely applied during the development phase.
See you next time, and BE KERO!