3D Modeling Techniques
 ZW3D Lesson One
Top Down or In-Context Modeling
Streamlined Sketching/Feature Based Modeling

ZW3D is similar to the Solidworks clones with four distinct advantages:

  • Multi-Object Environment - Parts and assemblies in a single file
  • Primitive Shapes - Using primitive shape increase productivity 30%
  • Integrated Drawing - Solves many of the PDM and PLM problems
  • Usable Robust Integrated Direct Edit Functionality

We have the native ZW3D and STEP File Available here for download

Note: IronCAD 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 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 ineffective 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

I saw the following video challenges on linkedin and thought I would give them a try.

These exercises started out to show the benefits of ZW3D 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. I call these techniques Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based 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.

ZW3D vs Fusion 360

ZW3D is very similar to the Pro/e clones with a few small differences. It is very easy for those users to get up and running with ZW3D. It has a few operation that are a bit more streamlined. The benefits over the other systems are the multi-object environment with the integrated drawing. You can do parts, assemblies and drawings in one file.

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.

Even though you can have all of your parts and sub-assemblies in one file, ZW3D is not a true single model environment. It offers what they call the "Multi-Object" feature. We start by having a top assembly and inserting components. We can insert as many as we like, using them as place holders but in this case we will just add them as we create each part. We will name this file: Center Grinder

We will now insert the top assembly. Notice the option for Multi-Object is now not available.

We will name this part Bearing.

We select the Bearing as the active part and we are ready to model

I actually cut my solid modeling teeth on CADKEY and IronCAD where both are single modeling environments. I was never confronted by the option of using the X0YOZO planes. Planes were always an extra step in the Pro/e clones and a bit of a mystery, since they were not a feature in CADKEY and IronCAD. Today, with ZW3D I am getting used to them. I have decided to establish the origin at the center of the ellipse.

I create a primitive cylinder by locating, aligning to a plane and sizing it.

The second cylinder is created the same way. This is done by inputting the information in one dialog box. Very simple indeed. ZW3D allows me to make this a component of the part even though it is not connected. You can also have it a stand alone part in the same workspace when  creating an assembly with the option to move each component to separate parts later.

Now we have to sketch the ellipse. There is no primitive shape available. We insert a sketch on the YX plane.

We have a ellipse option, we place it at X0Y0 size and we are done.

We set the extrude to symmetrical and select the center of the cylinder as the location point.


With that done we turn to the vertical bosses. This is nothing more than inserting cylinders in the appropriate locations and sizing them.

Now for the block for the sliding key. We insert a block locate it and size it.

Now for our threaded holes, we use the create hole feature. Again only locating and defining the holes.

We will create the holes with primitive cylinders again inserting a cylinder, set it as subtract, locate and size.

Now the cut for the sliding key. We create sketching plane on the face of the cylinder. We have the option to set the orientation of the sketch. Up will be the Z axis.

I just created a vertical centerline then offset the lines, I created the horizontal line at the intersection of the lines and the reference circle then offset the 7/32. 

We trim the lines and delete the entities we have used for construction.

We extrude the cut.

Now we are ready for the fillets. Fillets should be put in last in most cases and not put in haphazardly. I have evaluated the requirements and have defined the basic fillets. Fillets should be well thought through. Nothing makes someone look like a CAD Jockey instead of a designer like badly defined fillets.

Now the final fillets.

We are done with the part. Yes, only two sketches. Primitive shape design takes a lot of work out of modeling. Sketching only can be very tedious and time consuming.

We haven't talked about the history tree. Here are the step taken to model this part.

We will now detail this part for clarity in case you would like to follow along in your own system. ZW3D is one of the few 3D CAD systems that has the documentation integrated in the part or assembly file. You just right click in the workspace and select 2D sheet. It is interesting that they didn't call it a drawing. Since we are not going to draw anything I suppose it is appropriate.

Here are the views defined in the 2D sheet. We add the dimensions and we are completely done with the part.

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

Now for lesson two:

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson Two

If you would like to try ZW3D, please download for a 30 day evaluation.

For more information or to download ZW3D

Give me a call if you have any questions. I can set up a skype or go to meeting to show this part or answer any of your questions on the operation of IronCAD. It truly is the very best conceptual 3D CAD system.

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If you are interested in adding professional hybrid modeling capabilities or looking for a new solution to increase your productivity, take some time to download a fully functional 30 day evaluation and play with these packages. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions or would like an on-line presentation.

For more information or to download IronCAD or ZW3D

Joe Brouwer