Sheet Lightning v5 is Education...
Sheet Lightning has proved to be a powerful and valuable educational tool for schools and colleges. The main benefit for education is that the program is specifically aimed at the design of certain products including
sheet metal, but far wider. This means that as a CAD system it is far more productive (in its product area - see specification) than that of a general CAD system.
Secondly the designs created by Sheet Lightning can be physically created/manufactured using any sheet material, including the paper output directly to the printer. Students
therefore have a unique opportunity of connecting their 2D/3D design work to the real world by using the program to create anything from very simple, to very creative and artistic 3D designs (See: Examples, Gallery, Fun, Structural Steel, Pattern Development) and then actually creating the physical design using the printed output. The artisitic possibilities
provide students with very interesting design challenges.
The 3D CAD environment in Sheet Lightning bears a close resemblance to many of the general 3D CAD systems (See: Screens) on the market, but it simplifies 3D CAD in a way
that is made possible by the specific product area for which is developed. It also has the advantage of having a dual parametric/CAD design environment, which means that even
before any CAD skills are developed students can get useful and interesting output just by loading parametric design templates and typing in a few dimension values.
In the past the study and practice of geometrical patternwork was a fundamental part of engineering education in schools, colleges and universities. The discipline and practices involved in unfolding/unwrapping
sheet metal designs created in 3D was a highly creative skill. The procedures for handling intersections,
truncations, complex transitions, developing frustrums etc. was used to teach students to ‘think in 3D’.
These skills are now even more vital. The only thing that has changed is the tools we use to achieve it. The computer now demands more than ever that we teach these skill effectively. Sheet Lightning provides
students with the same kind of challenge and its productivity gives the same level of satisfaction with the results.