Week 2 - computer-aided design

Assignment: Model (raster, vector, 2D, 3D, render, animate, simulate, ...) a possible final project, and post it on your class page.

In our Fablab we mostly use Inkscape for 2D design. For 3D design, we use Fusion 360 but often also sketchup.

2D, 2.5D design

I am not really a good designer or modeller but for this reason I am particularly interested in this weeks assignment. I am glad that I can test many different tools and compare them with each other. I have chosen the following software:


As a vector graphics software for this week's assignment, I chose Adobe illustrator as commercial software and Inkscape as an open source tool.

3D design

As 3D-design software for this week's assignment, I chose FreeCAD and Fusion360.

So lets get started with Adobe Illustrator:

With Adobe Illustrator I started to design a front mimic for the display of my growbox.
The display will have 3 buttons for the modes "germinate", "grow" and "flowering". The toothing
at the edge of the plate helps to put the sides together. Lastly, I convert the text into
multiple paths. Overall, it was very easy to use the software. In comparison to e.g. Inkscape,
Adobe Illustrator is a little smoother (better performance) and has some functions that
Inkscape does not have (At first glance eg intelligent lines functions), but
also has its price.

Download Adobe illustrator SVG-file
Download Adobe illustrator file


As I mentioned in the beginning, I have a little bit of experience with it through our daily work in the Fablab with Inkscape. I do not remember any situation in which I missed any function. The biggest advantage, of course, is that it is free.

Mac Os users should first install Quartz and then Inkscape. If there is a notification while launching Inkscape where you are be asked about where quartz is located, please browse pointing to its application. Usually Quartz is installed in Applications-utilities. Make sure you install the Inkscape version according to the version of your Mac OS installation.

In inkscape I have drawn a plate. At the top I first drew a 30 mm hole.

With the "Edit" -> "Clone" and "Object" -> "Arrange" function, I have managed to distribute the holes evenly.

If you now change the diameter of the first clone, all other holes in the diameter will also change.

Download Adobe Inkscape SVG

3D-design with Fusion 360

Well then it goes now to 3d design. My colleague Florian has recommended me to work with fusion 360. It has compared to e.g. FreeCAD a lot more functions and also gives me the possibility to animate my design. Fusion 360 offers the possibility to create the entire product development process in a cloud-based tool. It is advantageous that I can work with my colleagues online with designs and we can share these among ourselves. Fusion-360 is much more web-based than FreeCAD, your files are stored on an Autocad-Server if you donĀ“t export the parts by hand. The education version of fusion360 is free to download at

No it is not the new Ultimaker, its my Hydroponic Growbox ;)

As you can see on the picture, there is a frame for a tank for the nutrient solution. The tank is covered with a plate. In the plate which covers the tank are located holes for rockwool. In this rockwool a nutrient solution can be absorbed and roots of the plants grow deep into the tank. In the tank, a pump should circulate the nutrient solution and additionally enrich the water with oxygen. In order to counter the formation of algae, the tank must be completely light-protected. I chose wood optics for the design. In the box will be a high air humidity, so the prototype must be made of plastic or similar. In the frame must be additionally drilled holes for the electronics and the connection to the pump.

I would like to use the following sensors in this box: PH-value, air humidity, temperature and water level. In addition, a ventilator is to be installed on one side to provide fresh air and strong plants. An airflow for the plant is like a wind simulation in nature.

A short animation video:

Download Fusion360-file

3D-design with FreeCAD

After designing the frame for the hydroponic system, I decided to design the tank for the roots and the nutrient solution in FreeCAD.

Freecad is a parametric 3D CAD system which is open source. You can download it here. It is important to put all the logical direct relations in the sketch. These can be eg. horizontal, vertical, tangetial, symmetrical, equal, parralel, perpendicular.

After the determination of the relations, I began to start the dimensions.

In the nutrient solution container is a set at the upper edge, in order to be able to insert the plate with the holes.

Download FreeCAD-file

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