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

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 of 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.

3D CAD Modeling Techniques

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 the following 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. These exercises have become incredibly popular and I have follow up by showing more examples of this 3D modeling technique!

IRONCAD vs Fusion 360

IronCAD vs Solidworks

ZW3D vs Creo

ZW3D vs NX


ZW3D vs Inventor

These exercises started out to show the benefits of IronCAD over these systems, 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.

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.

Please feel free to review the prior lessons:

3D Modeling Techniques IronCAD Lesson One

3D Modeling Techniques IronCAD Lesson Two

3D Modeling Techniques IronCAD Lesson Three

3D Modeling Techniques IronCAD Lesson Four 

We have a couple more parts to add to our assembly. The true single model environment is by far the most productive feature in 3D CAD. Watch how easy it is to design parts in context or top down.

We are going to model the Sliding Key. First we create a configuration called "Sliding Key". With  a single model environment this is how you differentiate the parts for detailing and viewing assemblies. You can have any level of configuration. This is much better than using levels as it is done in other single model environment programs.

We drag and drop a block onto the center of face of the mating part. We use the right mouse button which allows us to make a new part.

We then size the block.

Now that we have the part correctly located we can now finish the part. We will hide the other parts to make it easier work on the part. We will just drag another block to the middle of the top of the block and size it.

Now to add the last feature. I will use the extrude wizard to create the shape. I project the edge and offset it 7/64 then create the two lines from the end point to the mid-point of the offset line. I delete the line and pull the shape in to place. We are done with the part

Now to add the Slide we create a new configuration called slide. We drag a cylinder with the right mouse button to create the new part. We locate and size it.

We now add the hole in the end of the part. We will drag a hole from the tools>custom hole in the catalog. Set the size and we are done. We will also add the chamfer.

We will add the groove. We will use the extrude wizard and just project the sliding key edges by just selecting the face to create the profile.

Now we select okay and edit the length. We can put the length in at creation, but you can see it is just as easy to select a handle with the right button and put in the length. We add the thread.

Now for the handle. We drag and drop a cone using the right mouse button. I thought of creating revolve shapes like this a couple of years ago. It is so much easier to locate the cone and just edit it. You select edit cross section and orient it to the way you want to sketch it. In this case the Y is up.

We just sketch the shape. I am a bit confused on what they want so I create an ellipse and a small radius and I will put in blends when I am done.

I played with a few blends and found that 2.25 and a 1.00 radii would look good. Now just drag a cylinder from the catalog to center of the face, size it and we are done for today.

Here is the assembly.

We can use the existing exploded view to move the other parts into place with the triball.

I am going to detail these parts in one sheet. Ironcad allows all of the parts to be detailed in one document. Great for one person doing an assembly.

Here is the handle.

Here are the slide and sliding key

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

Now for lesson Six:

3D Modeling Techniques IronCAD Lesson Six

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