3D Modeling Techniques
IronCAD Lesson One
Top Down or In-Context Modeling
Streamlined Sketching/Feature Based Modeling

IronCAD is unique and the most productive conceptual 3D CAD system. Change is incredibly easy. You can have several iteration of your design in the same file.

  • Single Model Environment - Parts and assemblies in a single file
  • Drag and Drop Design from Custom or Standard Catalogs
  • The Only Integrated History/Direct Edit Design - Both used in your design process
  • Copy and Paste Directly from Different Files
  • The Incredible Feature, Part and Assembly Manipulator - The Triball

We have the native IronCAD and STEP File Available here for download

Note: IronCAD Model .ics/AID .icd native files must be copied to the same folder.

3D Modeling is the basis for our engineering. That is the only place where productivity is paramount. You can have all the PLM/MBE gurus debating data management, but it does not add one smidgeon of productivity to the design process.

Top down or In-Context modeling is the most productive feature of 3D CAD. Most systems tout this but each part is still an external part. We are talking about a single model or multi-object design environment. Both of the systems we represent offer this as the "normal" design process. Thereby increasing your productivity 20 to 30%.

In these exercises I not only focus on modeling techniques, but also on much more productive systems to do our designs. I hope you enjoy them and learn something. If you are in management, understand that all 3D CAD systems are not the same. Cutting your engineering costs is very simple. Even your legacy data is not a problem. Please feel free to give me a call. There are millions of man hours wasted every day with poor modeling techniques and dated 3D CAD systems that cost a fortune. Productive 3D CAD systems do not have to be expensive.

Joe Brouwer

I am doing the below assembly for an exercise showing my modeling techniques and, of course, my 3D CAD solutions.

When I introduce IronCAD's very flexible design paradigm I have a hard time to get the Pro/e clone users, like Solidworks and other programs to understand the drag and drop design paradigm.

I saw some video challenges on linkedin and thought I would give it a try on IronCAD. This will give you an idea how different and flexible IronCAD is compared to the conventional Pro/e clone and to the not so conventional Fusion 360.

These exercises started out to show the benefits of IronCAD over Fusion 360, but quickly turned into a study of modeling techniques. Take a look at all of them, they will open your eyes to a much different and more productive way of modeling. It really has more to do with modeling technique than it has to do with the 3D CAD systems. I have found that I do 3D modeling as compared to the conventional 2D sketching. Of course, having a more productive 3D CAD system doesn't hurt.

See the comparison with many other 3D CAD systems.

3D CAD Modeling Techniques

These exercises were incredibly popular and I thought I would follow up by showing more examples of this 3D modeling technique.

We will be doing a couple of parts each weekend in both IronCAD and ZW3D. I hope you enjoy these exercises and hopefully they may lead to increasing your productivity.

We will start with the Bearing.

The first thing we will do is drag a cylinder from the catalog and size it.

We will now drag another cylinder on to the end of the existing cylinder. This is a bit unorthodox but we want to make sure that it is a single part. Due to the single model environment you can not have two separate part as one unless we connect them or Boolean them. I want to eliminate that step.

We will now use the triball and move it into place. The catalog can be set to autohide to increase the design scene work area.


I will show this view to indicate these two cylinders are one part. In IronCAD you have different levels of selection. Yellow is the assembly, Blue is the part, Yellow again is the feature (negative or positive) and green is the face or surface.

Now for the ellipse I drag the ellipse on a face of the cylinder and size it by selecting a handle with a click on the right mouse button which brings up the dialog box. This makes the ellipse a feature of this part.

Again using the triball I locate the ellipse and pull it into place.

With that done now for the vertical bosses. Again we drag a cylinder on to the end and center of the existing right cylinder and size it.

Using the triball we rotate it and move it into place.

Using the triball will now copy (we can copy, link or pattern) the cylinder and size it. Since it is based on the center of the cylinder we can just set the height. We copy since are going to modify it. Linking would create a duplicate which would reflect any changes to either feature. Pattern of course needs no explanation.

Now the shape for the slot. I drag a block on to the center of the cylinder. We can then grab both handles and create a symmetrical block. So easy. We snap the bottom of the block at the center of the cylinder then just set the height.

Now we just pull the shape into place.

Now we create the holes in the cylinder by dragging hole cylinders on the face of the existing cylinders and sizing them. IronCAD offers points that are on the ends, midpoints and centers of circles for easy placing of shapes.

Now the cut for the sliding key slot. We will drag a hole block to the center of the face and size it with the handle snapping to edges and corners.

Now for the tapped holes. From the tool catalog we drag the custom hole tool to the center of the affected cylinder.

Now for the blends. Blends are almost always put in last. They should be thought through on how to put them in. I will go through the process I think best in this application.

Then he final blends.

The part is complete. NO SKETCHES, NO CONSTRAINS! This is what I call 3D modeling. It is much, much faster.

The increased modeling productivity is just one aspect of IronCAD over the popular 3D Clones. Next week we will start adding parts and showing the advantage of the single model environment.

We will now detail this part for clarity incase you would like to follow along in your own system. Since IronCAD is a single model environment we need to define the configuration so when we detail the parts we can define them in the drawing module. We will name this configuration Bearing. This will make more sense as we turn this into an assembly just by adding parts. We will be detailing all of the parts in one document file.

Oops I just realized I put in the wrong height for the tall boss. I will just change the height of the base cylinder. Problem solved! This shows you how easy it is to make a small change in the model if you make a mistake.

Here we go all correct and ready for the drawing.

I realized we never went to the scene browser (history tree) so I thought I would show the history of the part. Notice that the part is highlighted. This will make more sense as we add parts. You may have not noticed but we did not use one sketch to create this part!

Here is the drawing module. We will set the necessary views and scale.

With the views in place we can now add the dimensions which is called detailing. We just create the section view to define the ellipse and we are done.

Here is the original. I did add some dims that were not defined.

Now for lesson two:

3D Modeling Techniques IronCAD Lesson Two 

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