Abstract

Inspired by MOSIS, the CyberCut project has been developing a manufacturing service for mechanical parts over the Internet. Among the various services provided by CyberCut, this paper will focus on the front end of the design process, in particular on the on-line CAD tool that the designers will be working with when defining the final geometry of a part to be fabricated with 3-axis milling. To date we have constructed two prototype versions of a design interface for CyberCut, called WebCAD, and tested them on audiences consisting mostly of students at Berkeley and at some sister institutions with research groups working on similar problems in design for machining. We learned that it is surprisingly difficult to create such a front end that will lead the designer to manufacturable design on 3-axis milling machine. We will discuss the results of these initial trials, and the insights gained from them, which then led to the specifications for WebCAD 1.5 which is currently nearing completion. We will discuss the simple and consistent view of the milling process that needs to be presented to the users of WebCAD, some of the key paradigms in the user interface, and the extra utilities that we had to incorporate into the WebCAD tool for users who have had no previous exposure to machining.

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