3D Modeling Techniques
 ZW3D 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 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 feel free to review the prior lessons:

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson One

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson Two

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson Three

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson Four

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 Sliding Key as a new part.

Note: ZW3D's Multi-Object top down design is an incredible time saver. Especially for the individual designer. Which is most of us. Even in large companies a designer is given complete sub-assemblies to develop. The benefit of designing in top down and in a single model or Multi-object environment is that we design in aircraft position, I have been informed that automotive has car position. This how I have designed since 1986 while at Boeing with CADKEY. Top down design in the single model environment was the one reason I could not move to the Solidworks clones.

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 sliding Key. We are going to design in top down or in context design. We will go to the assembly menu and reference a face selecting to create a plane.

Now we will create a sketch on the new plan selecting the Z axis as up.

We use the existing edges to create our profile. I did two offsets. 3/32 up and 3/16 down. I delete the middle line and were are done.

We select extrude and set the size.

We are now going to work on the part directly, we don't need to reference any more mating features. We select open part. I insert a primitive block on the part and size it. Now I could create a sketch but I am getting very good with using primitives.

Now for the last shape. We will create a sketch on the far face and select the Z axis as up.

You can see I just created a line using the mating edge and created an offset and just added the lines from the end to the mid point on the offset line. (I show this because I know many sketch like an architect or an Autocad user from point to point. This the way we drew doing manual drawings. We basically slid triangles, used a T-Square or a drafting machining to create vertical and horizontal parallel lines. We would draw light construction lines and then drawing heavy lines over them erasing the residual construction lines.) I delete the construction line, now these are actual entities, I do not want them to be confused with the "Construction entities" that are available in most programs. I delete the bottom line and exit the sketch.


We now extrude the profile to the correct length and we are done with the part.

We create a plane on the mating face of the bearing and insert a primitive cylinder and size it.

I move the slider into the correct position in relation to the universal joint.

We will create the chamfer and create the hole.

Now we will define the groove by creating a sketch on the far face of the slider and use the slider key for reference.

I use the slider key to create the groove. I create a line 17/64 from the center of the slider and then move the groove to the correct location delete the construction line and exit the sketch.

I just extrude the groove to the correct length.

Now we insert a primitive cylinder on the end and size it.

Add the threads and we are done with the part.

Now for the handle. I insert the component and set up the sketching plane.

I had to be a bit creative with this part. The original detail really is a bit obscure. So I took a few liberties and create the sketch. Here is the sketch with all of the entities used.

We clean up the sketch and exit.

I now put in a 2.375 fillet and a 1.000 fillet to finish the handle.

We insert a primitive cylinder and size it and we are done with our last part.

Here is the assembly 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 parts. 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 Six:

3D Modeling Techniques ZW3D Lesson Six

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