3D Modeling Techniques
 ZW3D Lesson Four
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 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, our superior 3D CAD solutions.

3D CAD Modeling Techniques

I saw the following video challenges on linkedin and thought I would give it a try on ZW3D.  These exercises have become incredibly popular and I have follow up by showing more examples of this 3D modeling technique!

ZW3D vs Fusion 360

ZW3D vs Solidworks

ZW3D vs Creo

ZW3D vs NX


ZW3D vs Inventor

These exercises started out to show the benefits of ZW3D over these systems, but quickly turned into a study of modeling techniques. Take a look at a few 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 tedious and time consuming constrained 2D sketching. Of course, having a more productive 3D CAD system doesn't hurt.

ZW3D, being a sketch based program is very similar to the Pro/e clones. 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 (top down design) with the integrated drawing. You can do parts, assemblies and drawings in one file. It also offers designing with primitive shapes, this alone is a 10 to 20% increase in productivity over constrained sketching.

These exercises have become incredibly popular and I have 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 review lessons:

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson One

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson Two

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson Three

We will bring up the Center Grinder file:

Since we created this file as a multi-object the ZW3D Manager automatically comes up. It shows the assembly and all the component parts to this point.

We will select the center grinder assembly and we will see the existing parts. We will right click on the Center Grinder assembly and select "insert component". Again I want to reiterate this is not a true single model environment. Each part is still like a external reference except that it resides in the same file.

Now we insert the Shaft as a new part.

Note: ZW3D's Multi-Object top down design is an incredible time saver. Especially for the individual design. Which is most of us. Even in large companies a designer is given a sub-assembly to develop.

This step automatically puts us in the "edit part" mode that shows the other parts as ghosted. They are available for reference as you will see. We also have the "open part" mode which has only the single part available. You can make these external individual parts as required.

Note: I have surprisingly found that ZW3D is a superior top down design program. I have worked with many top down design packages (There are only 4 that I know of) and ZW3D is incredibly productive.

Now will will begin on modeling the shaft. We are going to design in top down or in context design. We will go to the assembly menu and reference an edge.

We now insert a primitive cylinder using the center of the reference entity. I think this is one of the few programs that allow a reference graphic drive an extrusion. This feature was available in CADKEY where planes were implied.

We add the blends to the ends and sketch the groove on the bottom. We create the sketching plane on the end of the shaft and select the Z axis for the up direction.

Now we skectch the cut for the grooves.

We exit and extrude the profile to the defined depth.

I just realized that the shaft and yoke are an assembly. I will now insert a new component called Shaft Assy and drag the shaft into it then insert a new part called yoke. We will rotated it to get to the location to design in context. I design in context to have the parts in car or aircraft position. I do this so I can work back and forths with ironCAD.

We will now create the yoke by creating reference on the end of the shaft. We insert a primitive cylinder, locate it and size it.

We again insert a primitive cylinder on the center of the face of the existing cylinder and size it

Now we will again insert a primitive cylinder at the center of the face and size it.

We will now make the outside cut by sketching the profile. First we will insert a plane to work with.

We now create the sketch. Here is the sketch with some of the graphics I used to create the profile.

Here is the final profile with the lines trimmed, extended or deleted.

We will add the radii before we make this cut

Now to extrude the profile.

Add the last hole and we are done with the part.

We will now add the Tapered pin that gets drilled at assembly. We will again insert a new component under the Shaft assembly.

We create a reference circle that we will use to create a plane. Whew, these planes are a bit of a hassle. I am not used to it but getting better.

Now for the taper pin sketch which we will be revolving.

Now we have the pin. We will not create the hole in the parts.

We now insert another component under the center grinder assembly and name it Coupling ring. Another plane.

Now we insert a primitive sphere and size it.

We will add the threaded holes prior to the cuts to make sure the go through the sphere.

With the holes done we will create the sketch cut for the sphere. I have been going to wire frame to select the plane. But you can zoom out and the planes stay the same size allowing you to select the plane. Not a big deal but save a bit of time.

Here the sketch. I create a vertical line off the center of the sphere, then offset .250, then trim, extend and delete the lines. No constraints.

The final profile.

Now we extrude the cut.

We insert a cylinder at the center of the affected face and we are done with the part.

We have to create another place at the center of the sphere to create the holes.

We insert the component Coupling Screw under the top Center Grinder assy. We create a reference circle and create a plane in the center.

I sketch the coupling screw for a revolve. Showing you when you design in context you will evaluate which design process to use depending on the supporting graphics or mating parts. There is no face to insert the cylinders. I could create the head of the screw and inserted cylinder, but speed is our focus.

Again I create the sketch with offset lines, trimming, extending and deleting. All 3D CAD system allow for this type of sketching.

Final profile. The only reason I focus on this is that I have seen how many of you were trained to sketch. That process was developed in 1988 with introduction of Pro/e. It was very convolute and an overkill for designing part. Wasting hours of time. As you designed in Pro/e you would do it in such a way as to have the drawing almost automatically detailed. Remember the purpose of 3D CAD prior to CNC was to provided a drawing.

Revolve the profile.

Now the slot on top by inserting a primitive block and sizeing

Now add the threads and we are done with the screw.

We pattern the screws

We need two yokes so we will insert a yoke in the top Grinder Center assembly and locate it.

Whew, we only have two parts left. Now for the check nut.

This time I referenced a face so I could align my primitive cylinder. I locate and size it.

Now for the slots. Again I emphasize how I sketch. I created a vertical line on the center, created a circle the size of the outer radius and defined the lines and offset, trim, extend and delete.

Here is the final profile.

We extrude and pattern

Now for the threaded hole and we are done.

There are two check nuts so I will insert another and locate.

Now for the key. We create reference curved to use in the sketch. I know, I know, a bit unconventional. But design in context is a bit different. I am sure this is quite new to many of you. I am just trying to show another way of modeling.

Now to sketch the cylinder.

Now to extrude, we will make it a bit over sized since we are going to use the flange and shaft for reference for our next cut.

We will now make the final sketch.

Now to extrude and we are done with our parts.

Here is the completed part to date.

Here is an exploded view, yes in one file.

Here are the views defined in the 2D sheet generated from the Center Grinder assembly. We add the dimensions and we are completely done with the part. Please remember, we have done this all in one file. Think it through!

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

Now for lesson Five:

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson Five

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

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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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Joe Brouwer