When performing a complete study on the design of a multi-component system of at least two components, can a CAD software perform to expectations, that is, can we do a complete study on the entire multi-component system including bearing analysis for the contact between rotating components, and simple interference checks? In this paper, I will describe simple steps and precautions to take when doing a study on the design and performance of a multi-component system using a complete CAD package — including a Drafting module, a Solid Modeler, and a Finite Element Analysis module. I will use an example of a system of multiple rotating arms to show that from a 2-D blueprint, using the drafting module, we can enter the complete geometry of each arm separately, then pass on to the solid modeler. Once the solid 3-D model is constructed, we can transfer the model onto the finite element analysis module of the CAD package and test the model. After the model satisfies all requirements, we can come back to the solid modeler and check the “modified” version of the model by updating the previous solid model. If all is well at this point, then we can move on to the superposition of the 3-D solid model into a 2-D version to perform tolerance analysis. After tolerance analysis, we can move on to the final stage which is to update the 2-D drafting version adding the tolerances recently obtained.

This is a general outline and should be straight forward except for the problems that we could encounter especially in the solid modeler and the finite element analysis module. The study or design principals of a multi-component system is not the subject of this paper, but how to perform such a study using all the available modules of a CAD package. There are few complete CAD packages on the market today that allow such a study, but transferring data, whether it is of finite elements, solid models, or 2-D geometry, is much easier today using a variety of different types of transfer files. Sometimes, data is lost so when writing a data file, it is always best to check the file afterwards. This guaranties a successful writing of the data file.

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