3D Modeling Techniques
IronCAD Lesson Six
Top Down or In-Context 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 and 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 and to the not so conventional Fusion 360.

IRONCAD vs 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.

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

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 Pivot Arm. This piece needs to utilize surfacing. IronCAD surfacing is not as robust as I wished it was. I have been selling 3D CAD for 30 years and only about 10% of us use it regularly. But once in awhile you need it. I struggled a bit with IronCAD to create this part but I finally did it. It is funny, you can spend two hours figuring it out and then it takes 5 minutes to do it.

We create a new configuration called Pivot Arm.

The first thing we do is drag and drop a cylinder with the right mouse button. The allows us to create a new part. I have changed the color to make it easier to follow.

We locate it by pulling the shape to the mating face and sizing it.

The next cylinder is vertical. Nope, we don't have to drag and drop another cylinder we just rotate the existing cylinder and copy it with the triball. The cylinder still is a feature in the Pivot Arm part.

Note: When working with catalog parts, you usually only drag and drop one part. This is important when linking parts which will be noted in the Parts List as duplicate parts.

Now we move it into the correct location and size it.

Then to the connecting ellipse. This a is bit convoluted, the drawing is a bit obscure. I showed it to an old pattern maker and he agreed on my interpretation. So we drop a ellipse on the top of the cylinder and size it.

Note: We design with shapes. Even if we have to sketch them and then locate them it is a bit more simple operation.

I will now rotate with the tribal and move it to the center of th cylinder and copy and locate the on the lower cylinder.

Now this is where it gets a bit strange. I tried to create the connecting bar surfaces with two full curves and it totally failed. I was playing with it one day and found I could create the surfaces if I split them. So I drop a hole block and center it and extract the intersecting curve.

I mirror the hole block on both ellipses and extract the curve on the other side.

We create two connecting lines and are ready to create our swept surfaces.

Now we create the swept surface with two sections and two guides. We close off the ends with a patch surface and then solidify them.

We now boolean union two pieces and put in the blends and we are ready to complete the part.

We drag and drop the hole cylinders to the center of the two cylinders and size them.

We model the small slot in the bottom of one of the cylinders and we are done with this part. We will do this using the extrude wizard. I will show you my sketching technique. I projected the center circle and edited the size to 15/32, then offset that line by 3/32 both sides. I then created the circle to locate the center of the 3/32 radius then create the two 3/32 radii.

I will just trim and delete the construction geometry. I know many of you would probably do this much different.

We exit the extrude wizard and pull the feature to the correct depth. We are done with the Pivot Arm. I will stop here for today.

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

Here is the original.

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