DesignSpark Mechanical, a new 3D solid modeling and assembly tool, is available free of charge from Allied Electronics (Allied) and RS Components (RS), the trading brands of the distributor Electrocomponents plc.

Developed in conjunction with the 3D modeling software maker SpaceClaim, DesignSpark Mechanical is billed as being a significant step in the evolution of the DesignSpark online resource hub for the engineering community.  DesignSpark's use of direct modeling methods, instead of parametric modeling, is said to let engineers and others involved in product development  become fully conversant with the software within minutes, rather than the weeks or months required to become skilled with traditional 3D CAD tools.

DesignSpark Mechanical users have access to more than 38,000 3D models in its online component library. RS and Allied have also collaborated with world-leading 3D content company TraceParts to provide access to millions of models from the online tracepartsonline.net CAD portal in DesignSpark Mechanical format.

DesignSpark Mechanical employs a methodology called ‘direct modeling’, which differs from traditional feature- or parametric-based 3D CAD software. The tool uses simple gestures that enable real-time editing and instant feedback. Users can create basic designs quickly via the use of the software’s four basic tools – Pull, Move, Fill and Combine – in addition to use of familiar Windows keyboard shortcuts such as cut/paste, undo/redo.

The software can also be used as a complementary 3D tool in the product development process for the creation of early concept designs alongside 3D CAD tools that are already in use. 3D designs can also be exported in STL, the standard file format to enable rapid prototyping builds and computer-aided manufacturing, in addition to providing the ability to quickly obtain Bill-of-Materials (BOM) quotes via the Allied and RS websites.

The tool can also import circuit layout files in IDF format from any PCB design tool, including from DesignSpark PCB software.

DesignSpark Mechanical will be available for free download via www.designspark.com/mechanical with support available through the DesignSpark community at www.designspark.com.