Design approach help



Well, As someone who managed to avoid ever having to learn Acad, I think part of the swamp you are in is simply called "change" or "different". :-)

Completely integrated is elegant, but for many of your suppliers it really will not help them.
For many processes like pad printing, silk-screen etc., an EPS or illustrator file is best. it is vector based artwork, and scales perfectly. They need 2D computer art. SW does not output this type of result well. And you suppliers are not going to apply graphics form a native CAD file. Usually there is a design or artwork preperation department, and they are going to use Illustrator or similar product, and will want an EPS file. So it is best if you (or a graphic designer) make that based on a 1:1 line drawing from SW. In fact, I was just doing one today for a client to use for embossed graphics. The graphic will be photoetched, and I will supple the EPS file with guidelines to align to the part features.
Having the graphic on the CAD model might be useful for in-house QA, but often they will want an arwork film 1:1 that they can overly onto the product to check.
If you were doing keycaps like a computer, with molded graphics, that is another story. Then you might want to model the type font as a 3D object.

I hear ya... In another thread here, there apparently will be the feature in 2006 for applying graphics that are visible all the time when working. If true, that will be very cool! But I would caution, that sounds like eye-candy and not a technical documentation feature for production artwork.

Always a sensible thing to do...

There will be others... not to worry :-)

Hmmm. I imagine that they will still work from an EPS file.
If you REALLY want to do this... and since your caps are flat... Import the text, or create the text as a sketch. Perhaps one cap at a time. Then, use insert > curve > split line, and that will give you a separate surface in the shape of your letter. You may need to do several operations for letters with open centers, like "o" "p" etc. Then select the surface of the letter and change the color using edit Color. That will look very good. But again, I do not suggest this as a means for technical documentation since the artwork is not parametric to the part and vise versa.
Enjoy! Daniel
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This is where you want to use Insert/Features/Wrap instead of Split Line. It lets you do more than closed curve at a time.
Jerry Steiger Tripod Data Systems "take the garbage out, dear"
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Thanks Jerry, I have actually never used that tool. I was interested in testing that after reading the long thread about cam paths.....
See! Gotta try something new every day! But... I already did once today, so I will try this tomorrow ;-) Besides, it is beer time here.... ;-)
Cheers, Dan
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Martin,
Another thing I would strongly suggest, as you seem to be going through a steep learning curve with SW, is to learn from existing parts / assemblies.
I found that one of the fastest ways to understand construction strategies and techniques is to look at existing part file histories. The beauty of parametric history is you can actually follow the step by step process someone used to make a part simply by rolling back the history.
I am sure you can get someone here who has an exhisting keypad part, to send you the file so that you can see their process and logic. You would learn very quickly that way. I have learned many very useful techniques this way. If they were not mentioned before in the thread, there are some very proficient users with parts you can download. Just a few from my list: http://www.mikejwilson.com http://www.scottjbaugh.com http://webpages.charter.net/mkikstra/SolidWorks.html
You will also start to quickly see good / efficient technique verses, shall we say, less than ideal solutions....
Again, good luck! Daniel
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It's not a very easy process, but I don't think it much matters whether the text is extruded or not.

text
You can have zero-thickness text or graphics on surfaces. That's what the Split Line and Wrap functions give you.

I don't think you need to do that. When you pattern your buttons, you can also pattern the cuts, so there is only one feature added.

single
Well, almost. Keypads are usually compression molded out of silicone rubber. We tried injection molding a keypad out of polyurethane, but the urethane was too stiff at cold temperatures and it was very difficult to injection mold the very thin walls that you can get in compression molding.
But that is a very fine distinction. The design rules for compression and injection molding are not all that different.

So, what

pieces
in
It depends upon the part. A case part is typically done from the outside in. You generate the basic shape, then shell it, then add the bosses, ribs, recesses, vents, holes and other features that you need.
For a keypad, you might want to go the other direction or not. In the old days, before multi-body parts, you would probably make the flat bottom piece as the first bit, then add the buttons. I would probably be inclined to go that way still, just because the feature scope often gets lost on multi-body parts and causes unexpected errors to show up later on.
Jerry Steiger Tripod Data Systems "take the garbage out, dear"
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