Digital manufacturing doesn't have to be expensive or difficult,  with an old computer, free software and a hiring a machine for a few minutes you can make things that would not be possible in a home workshop!

This is the first in a series of Instructables on how to use CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) and CAM (Computer Aided Machining)
The first project is simple and can be cut out of plastic with a cheap laser cutter, or If you want you can send your file to an engineering shop and have it cut out of steel, aluminum, or almost any material you can think of with, either a high power laser cutter, water jet cutter, or plasma cutter as the process is the same.
This will probably cost less than you think,as the CAD program featured here is free and it only requires an old computer to run.

As computer tutorials don't translate to text very well, for this series of  instructables most of the info is in the photos. So click on the first photo and use the arrows keys on your keyboard to go to the next photo. The boxes in the photos show the location of the icons and have have text in them when you hover the mouse on them.

If you download the Instructable as a pdf the photos will have numbers in different locations  and the notes will be on the bottom of the photos.

Other projects are here

Digital Manufacturing - project two desk name plate

Digital Manufacturing - project three 3D printed box

Digital Manufacturing - project four laser cut box

Digital Manufacturing - project five printed toy car

Step 1: Stuff You Will Need

  • The first thing you need is a computer and a  old clunker running windows XP is fine. Note the 12 year laptop in the photo
  • Make sure you have a real mouse with a scroll wheel, it is near imposable to draw with a track pad
  • A USB drive is also useful to get your project to the laser cutter.
  • The software I'm using is prodesktop which is fairly old now, but  it is very easy to use, does not  require a fast or new computer and I find it will do most of a what a newer program can do .PTC have been giving this software away to schools for several years.
  • You can get a copy from an internet search or click on this link  Prodesktop 
  • The file is 250MB so it may take awhile if your internet is slow. Its also in a zip folder so unzip it and install  using the start.exe icon
  • You can also use prodesktop on a mac if you install Virtualbox and Windows XP and it will run just fine.
  • If you use Vitsa Windows 7 you will have to run prodesktop in administrator and with the XP compatible tick box on
  • Mac uses. As the delete key is a backspace key, if you want to delete something you will have to push the fn and delete key
  • If you don't have a laser cutter you can hire them quite cheaply most places will even supply the material. The last project I did  was the top of a barbeque about 600mm x400mm with lots of cut outs cost $30 and they supplied the steel
<p>Batman 4eva</p>
Ive had a n issue with the link to PTC I got this email. <br> Hi Liquidhandwash, <br>This email is an automated notification from Dropbox that your Public links have been temporarily suspended for generating excessive traffic. Your Dropbox will continue to function normally with the exception of Public links. <br> <br>This suspension is temporary.
hi every body i have still got my fingers from the laser cutter
LOL this is my key tag ;p
i laser cut it and i still have all my limbs.
My Key Tag :)
hi lol my key tag :)

About This Instructable




Bio: Fixer, Finder, Fabricator.
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