My dad asked me to build something for him that was going to require a series to rollers. I could have built custom roller for this application, but it was most cost effective to buy off the shelf conveyor rollers. The downside of these conveyor rollers is that they have a hexagonal shaft. While I could have probably gotten away with drilling an over-sized round hole and just let the hex-shaft be loosely constrained that didn’t sit right with me. I also could have gone a very labor intensive route and drilled round holes and then filed them to shape, but I didn’t particularly want to do that either. What options were I left with? The proper way to cut a non-circular hole in material is to use a broach; hexagonal and square broaches are quite common. I could buy a hexagonal broach for a few hundred dollars, but this seemed silly for a tool I would only use for one project. So, instead, I decided to make one.
This post is the first of a series on CAD for Hobbyists. Be sure to check back for more posts in the series.
I get to use CAD software almost everyday. There are so many programs currently available it can be hard to choose one. At work, I alternate between two of the larger players in the CAD game, Inventor and Solidworks, dependent on client needs. I’ve been using both off and on since the mid-2000s, and over the years I’ve seen each one add a ton of features (and fix a ton of bugs). More often than not, when one of them adds a great feature, in the next year or two the other will add a similar feature leveling the playing field in the CAD software feature arms race. With the current versions of both packages it is hard to say who is currently ahead. Certainly, each package has its quirks and you have to take a minute to adjust to how each functions, but to the average user the packages offer the same features.