There is really no limit to what you can build with BricsCAD® (other than your imagination of course). I have spoken with users as wide-ranging as structural engineers and game designers, but I recently had the pleasure to speak to Joseph “Joe” Dunfee. By day he uses BricsCAD to draft warehouses and by night theatre stage design.

He’s what he had to say about working with BricsCAD:

Joe DunfeeQ: So where are you right now?

A: Lancaster, Pennsylvania USA, in the heart of Amish country. (Out my back window, I can see a man plowing with a horse-drawn plow.)

Q: How long have you been working with CAD?

Perhaps 18 years work in the refrigeration industry with Tropical Mfg. (my current employer), and 8 years for machine design. I recommended it [BricsCAD] to Tropical Mfg, because of its high level of AutoCAD® compatibility, and its very low cost back in the 90’s. Over my career, I have used AutoCAD®, Autodesk® Inventor, SolidWorks®, and CreoPro/Engineer®. But, BricsCAD has certainly logged the most mouse clicks.

Q: How long have you been working with BricsCAD?

A: At least 20 years.

Q: What do you normally use BricsCAD for at work?

A: Most would be 2D architectural drawings of refrigerated warehouses but we also do some 3D machine design for our own equipment and for other inventions unrelated to refrigeration.

Q: How about BricsCAD in your spare time?

A: I probably have a dozen puppet stages designed in BricsCAD. For human theater, I have several and a lot of bits-and-pieces of things. Most recently, I worked out a design for a curved staircase, where Cinderella will loose her famous shoe.

theatre stage design the steps for cinderella plan view
Plans for the Cinderella steps.

Q: How did you get into stage design?

A: I have been involved with theater since my youth and continued off and on, for my whole life. It eventually lead to me working professionally in the engineering department of Sight & Sound Theaters in Strasburg, PA. When it was first built, it was the largest indoor stage and so their sets are quite large. For my 5 years there, it was quite interesting.

Q: What’s the design process like?

A: For the amateur productions, the director usually has an idea of what they want, and often has a basic hand drawing. Then, I will draw it up, 3D in BricsCAD. I try to use existing platforms and add more things as needed. These typically have the wood frames modeled in detail. Then, I will do some basic drawings, showing a plan view and other views in 3D. This really helps everyone involved to understand both the aesthetics of the design and the physical space, which can be a challenge. It is common to make changes, not so much for aesthetic reasons, but because of the logistics of providing backstage space.

Assembly instructions for theatre stage design step cinderella wood working plans
Technical drawing created by Joe for his theatre stage design for the “famous steps”.

Q: What’s the process like after you’ve finished the design?

A: Since I am typically involved with building the items I designed, the drawings don’t have to be as detailed. Basic platforms and flats generally follow an established design, so the needs for drawings at this point are minimal.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face when designing a set?

A: Because I love inventing things and coming up with mechanics, I often find myself wanting to do things more complex than is practical for the amateur productions. For the stuff we do build, the challenge is to find ways to save space, since our stage is certainly a bit small and every inch counts. CAD design is quite helpful in making sure things will fit the space.

theatre stage design the steps in the wood shop

Q: Why BricsCAD?

A: Of course, cost is a major factor, but perhaps more important is the fact that I was able to take my skills with AutoCAD® and become immediately productive. Also, it takes years of work with a CAD program, to really know all the details about it. Staying with the DWG platform, meant that I was able to bring that existing knowledge along with me. The availability of a vast library of components and utility programs is another major benefit. If I want a LISP routine for some special task, I am reasonably confident that I can find it on the Internet.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about BricsCAD?

A: After starting to use it, one thing that has always impressed me about BricsCAD, is seen on the forum. It is not unusual to see someone from Bricsys commenting. And even after our support contract expired, I was able to get support for my V14 license.

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