It's very time consuming to design every single nut and bolt (or similar standard part) when designing for 3D printing in 3D CAD programs. And building up a library of these parts is pretty futile as you never seem to have the exact part that you need saved to your PC.
There are loads of places on the web that these parts can be downloaded from but it takes quite a lot of searching to find them in the right format for your software… And students seem to find themselves easily distracted from the designing as soon as they fire up a web browser 🙂
But I think I may have a solution… Use an app on your iPad for finding the parts and keep your PC free for the designing! These two bits of kit can actually work very well side by side on your (or your student's) desk.
I have been trying out the app “3D CAD Models Engineering” by CADENAS GmbH …. There are literally thousands of parts in a huge number of catalogues and most of these can be configured to different sizes etc. And even better they can be downloaded (emailed to yourself) in the correct format for your CAD software…. All you have to do is open and save the email attachment on your PC.
So, here is the iPad app that I'm trying at the moment https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/3d-cad-models-engineering/id522705054?mt=8
… The app provides search facilities, QR code search, 3D previews, and even augmented reality views!
Another similar iPad app I have downloaded (but not yet fully explored) is GrabCAD. First impressions seem to indicate that the objects available from this app are more complete designs rather than component parts and it looks like selecting the parts/objects within the app redirects you to the safari browser and the GrabCAD website. So perhaps not quite as useful a pairing of iPad and PC as the CADENAS app provides…. But it's still a great way to search for things to 3D print when you have run out of ideas or don't fancy designing something yourself.
Here's the link to the GrabCAD app https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/grabcad/id518400211?mt=8