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A tale of Two Worlds

Submitter: Paula Fusiara
Description: The electronics and mechanical worlds used to be two different entities. Separated, all alone and lonely, fully occupied with their tasks in their own field of expertise: the one totally absorbed by the flat 2D world, while the other fully indulging themselves in the 3D space with all the degrees of freedom.
- "The Earth is flat!"
- "No, the Earth is round!"

They used two different Computer Aided Design Software packages which do not really communicate with each other. E-CAD vs M-CAD. Just try to import the files from one software package to the other. You'd get a huge headache and your MCAD would have problems swallowing and processing all the tiny components ... not to mention not being able to do anything with your machine because it takes some time to load and translate everything from E to MCAD (long coffee break for you, or time for reading some already printed-out articles ;-)). At the end, even if you succeeded importing all the ECAD and you wanted to place components and make 3D circuitry ... well ... ehm, it leaves a lot to be desired.

However, there shines a light at the end of the tunnel! The situation is slowly changing, and the flat world is turning more and more into the 3D space. Very recently, one of ASTRON's Electronics Engineers (Lesley) took part in an electronics CAD software workshop in Germany. Nothing special, you might think; software like any other E-CAD. WRONG! Here is the very first software package that combines the two worlds and allows you to route PCB layouts on an imported 3D body to make a 3D-MID part!

In the future, you will see more often that a Mechanical Engineer (Paula) will also join the Electronics Engineer (Lesley) in attending such 3D Mechatronic Integrated Device Design and Manufacturing workshops. This time we were the only participants who represented both worlds, the Electronics & the Mechanics, among all the attendees (Electronics Engineers).

The workshop was very interesting, and oh, boy! we had fun together: Lesley enjoyed routing his PCB layout and placing components on a 3D body for the first time (do not be fooled, 3D space can be tricky!), and me making my very first PCB layout and placing electronics components (yay!). We've learned a lot about metallization process, design rules, visited a production site of BETA Layout http://www.pcb-pool.com/ppus/info_pcbpool_3d_mid.html that does the 3D-MID prototyping, and of course we've seen the LPKF machine for 3D MID prototyping in action.

After all, we all know that the Earth is not flat at all ... disciplines are intertwined and we should learn from each other.

Great applause and thank you go to a small, family software company: engineering bureau FRIEDRICH who developed the TARGET 3001 MID PCB design software! http://ibfriedrich.com/en/index.html
Watch this space ... it's just the beginning.

The tale of two worlds: status - to be continued :)

Copyright: Lesley Goudbeek & Paula Fusiara
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