Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

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ASenger
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2016 3:39 pm

Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby ASenger » Tue Nov 29, 2016 5:24 pm

Hi,

this is a commercial project I have started a while ago. Things start to come together, so I thought it might be of interest for some to see how well FreeCAD is suited for such type of work.
EspazzolaCupCAD.png
EspazzolaCupCAD.png (282.52 KiB) Viewed 2109 times


Here is the structure of the cup model as depicted in the dependency graph.
EspazzolaCupDependecyGraph.png
EspazzolaCupDependecyGraph.png (226.83 KiB) Viewed 2109 times


The Espazzola consists of a cup to be made from stiff plastic and membrane to be made from flexible material. The shapes are therefore quite fluent but must also adhere to strict rules necessitated by the injection molding process (especially pretty even wall thickness and draft angles everywhere).

The molds for both parts are currently made and first samples have arrived:
EspazzolaCupReal.jpg
EspazzolaCupReal.jpg (309.91 KiB) Viewed 2109 times

EspazzolaMembraneBoth.jpg
EspazzolaMembraneBoth.jpg (237.31 KiB) Viewed 2109 times


My initial intention was to use FreeCAD for the first prototype stages and to later switch to a commercial CAD suite when things start to outgrow FreeCAD's capabilities.
However, FreeCAD kept pace with my needs and I ended up with doing everything within this superb free software! :D

Being more or less at par with some commercial CAD suites (mostly Autodesk Inventor) I started this journey with version 0.14 of FreeCAD from official Ubuntu Trusty repos as a FreeCAD beginner. This went pretty ok, however Boolean operations - which I utilize frequently - proved to be too buggy and I was about to switch back to commercial solutions when I discovered the FreeCAD PPA. With version 0.15 boolean operations were much more stable and I was happily modelling away. Release 0.16 of FreeCAD made things even better (the constraint solver in sketcher is totally awesome!!, improved support for fillets) so the urge to switch became less and less. In the end I am very happy to have done everything with FreeCAD and will continue to do so in the future.

Here are some remarks, totally from my point of view, so you might disagree:

- FreeCAD is great!
- I love that it is a fairly lean package (in contrast to pretty much all commercial suites which are often extremely bloated).
- Did I already mention that the constraint solver in sketcher is brilliant? For me this is the most beautiful and natural way to build models I have seen in all CAD programs used so far.
- Feature content in general is good enough and a lot of special things can be done on the python console.
- FreeCAD is astonishingly sturdy - apart from stability issues with Boolean operations in the very beginning I haven't had many problems. Throughout the whole process I had only one crash where I lost a few hours of work, which has also happened to me with commercial CAD suites.

There are, of course, also some areas which could be improved:

- The UI can be confusing sometimes with seemingly redundant functionality hidden in different places.
- With large models on not-so-beefy hardware things start to become a bit sluggish.
- Support for fillets and chamfers is a bit limited on complicated geometries (but this is more an issue with the underlying CAD engine, as far as I understand).
- I would love to see a feature where the model can be navigated in the dependency graph (e.g. clicking on a node brings you to the corresponding entry in tree view). Tree view itself is not terribly convenient in that it is constantly jumbled around when e.g. Boolean operations are reversed.
- It would be very helpful if features in the model would be tied to geometrical elements instead of some entry in an intern list. E.g. a fillet would be connected to an edge at a certain position in space and not to an edge with a specific number in an internal representation. The enumeration in the later changes much too often when some element lower in the tree is altered, which results in broken models all the time. Especially working on features very much at the bottom of the tree can become cumbersome if the whole model has to be constantly repaired.

Overall, though, FreeCAD has proven to be a very valuable tool and more than ready for larger projects! A big thank you to all developers, your work is great!

And if you wonder, how the parts of the Espazzola belong to each other:
EspazzolaReal.jpg
EspazzolaReal.jpg (237.13 KiB) Viewed 2109 times


By the way, this tool is intended for cleaning group heads of espresso machines. If your espresso tastes that much better next time you visit your favorite cafe, it might also because of FreeCAD. ;)
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easyw-fc
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Joined: Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:34 am

Re: Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby easyw-fc » Tue Nov 29, 2016 9:57 pm

thank you for sharing your project and your final 3D real product!
It is nice to see that FreeCAD is used also in commercial world and in so different fields :D
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rockn
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Location: Toulouse, France
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Re: Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby rockn » Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:27 am

Yes, thanks for sharing !
This project make me think about a slogan :

FreeCAD is not ready for production but some people ignore it ! ;)
Formations et tutoriels FreeCAD en Français, soutenez moi : https://www.tipeee.com/formations-freecad
emills2
Posts: 202
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:23 pm

Re: Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby emills2 » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:07 am

This a beautiful design. Did you do all the handle surfaces with booleans and variable fillets? are there some lofts in there? i wish i could read the picture of the dependency graph :D
chrisb
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Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:14 am

Re: Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby chrisb » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:22 pm

Thank you for sharing, it sounds as if to you FreeCAD is worth more than a free coffee for every developer 8-) .
ASenger
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2016 3:39 pm

Re: Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby ASenger » Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:12 am

Thank you for your comments!

There are actually quite a few lofts in that model: walls of the inner cup, the drain, handle and some smaller parts. It often is the most natural way to model a geometry suitable for injection molding IMHO. I am sorry that I have to limit the amount of detail I can show, but its distinct geometry is the one thing that sets the Espazzola apart from other tools and I fear it would be all too easy for copy-cats if I would give more in-depth information here.

Regarding readiness for commercial use: FreeCAD certainly is not as streamlined as the big CAD suites out there (how should it? There are huge companies with at least dozens of full-time developers behind those software packages). But if the user is willing to adapt his or her work flow here and there it proves to be very capable. IMHO a lot of the functionality of the commercial suites is fancy eye candy or caters for quite special needs.

On the other hand FreeCAD is made by people who really care. I, for my part, like the feel of the work flow much better than with most other CAD systems I have used so far. Also having the machinery behind the shiny surface exposed to some degree gives a much better understanding of the whole process from my point of view.

@chrisb You are right! FreeCAD is certainly worth more than a free coffee (or a couple of them). If the Espazzola generates significant revenue I feel obliged to funnel some back to this project. Alas, we are not there (yet, hopefully).
triplus
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:45 pm

Re: Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby triplus » Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:34 pm

Looking good.
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bejant
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Re: Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby bejant » Sat Dec 03, 2016 3:02 pm

Hi ASenger, welcome here and thanks for such a great first post! Best wishes on the commercial success of your idea.

Also, I especially like this thought:
ASenger wrote: I would love to see a feature where the model can be navigated in the dependency graph (e.g. clicking on a node brings you to the corresponding entry in tree view).
My Part Design tutorials on YouTube (aimed at beginners).
chrisb
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Re: Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby chrisb » Sat Dec 03, 2016 7:22 pm

ASenger wrote:- I would love to see a feature where the model can be navigated in the dependency graph (e.g. clicking on a node brings you to the corresponding entry in tree view).

In 0.17 exists the DAG View which does it. The Dependency graph as we know it from 0.16 has become pretty useless to me because there are no longer these linear dependencies as soon as the body is involved.
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bejant
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Re: Espazzola - a commercial tool for coffee machines

Postby bejant » Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:10 pm

chrisb wrote:In 0.17 exists the DAG View which does it.

Thanks, now I enabled it.
My Part Design tutorials on YouTube (aimed at beginners).