Evolution of Design In IronCAD

I have been using, selling, supporting and training IronCAD for 24 years. It is by far the most productive CAD design tool and environment. Watch as I easily move from iteration to iteration meeting my customers requests, working in the hugely productive single model environment with its unique design process.

Five Unique Functions that Increase 3D CAD Productivity!!

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Last year Larry Smith came to me to design an enclosure for Prototek's new Handheld Line Finder. They were well into the development of the concept with a physical mockup that was designed by Charlie Fadis, one of most skilled electro/mechanical engineers I have ever worked with. He is very hands on.

I was lucky enough to work with Prototek to design the original Linefinder. It was a fun project and had a very interesting story.

The Prototek LineFinder

They came back 10 years later to do a modification on the handle. We had all the models available to modify, it was another great story. A study in direct edit design.

Prototek Redesign

In 2013 we developed the Flushable Transmitter

I am not sure what they are calling this product, I have coined it the Handheld LineFinder.

Here is are a couple of images of the prototype.


It gave me the basic shape and I started with just a basic enclosure. I am designing in IronCAD. IronCAD is single model environment so I developed the different iterations in one file.

Version One - A design draftsman never met a square shape he didn't like. I like working with Larry and Charlie, both are very bright fellows. I start with a simplistic basic design knowing it is only a talking point.

Larry is very creative , he started getting his creative juices flowing. He wanted a tilt to the display. IronCAD is the only product with integrated history/direct edit so changes were incredibly simple. Many times push/pulling and rotating faces and cutting and pasting using the robust Boolean union commands.

Version Two - Remember all of these versions were stored in an archive assembly. You never can tell when an old idea might be used again. Ah, now were are putting some style in it.

Version Three - A little smoother. I was there once a week. I tried to get them on Skype.

Version Four - Now we're talkin'

Here is Version Four with the antenna extended.

Larry and Charlie have a discussion and decided the antenna could be internal. Design change for the better.

I thought I would do an exploded view of this version. It was a fun design. You handle the design scene with configurations. One of the configurations allows you to create exploded views without altering the original locations.

Version Five - ooh la la

Larry and Charley had another conversation and decided the display could be round - Oh boy!!!

 Version Six

Now I was focusing on round.

Version Nine .. hmm What happened to Seven and Eight?

Not much change for Version Eleven just a bit modification as the PCB became more stable. We used Eleven for the 3D prints.

This is the Final Version Twelve was the last check and ready for release.

Charlie found that they needed more power and a new battery holder that held 3 AA batteries was selected. Two holders were required and there was a noticeable size increase.  We added a new button and decided on the upper back logo area to be larger. It was to be of a rubber like material to enhance the grip. It was already getting a bit large to hold, this change actually pushed it over the edge.

Version 13 we got another 3D print.

Larry was not happy with the size and came up with the bright idea of putting the batteries under the display.

Again a huge change I thought I would show an exploded view of this version
. You can see that Charlie integrated the PCB into a single unit.


Charlie decided to try his hand at 3D modeling.

He finalized the PCB and I used the model.

You have to be very careful when using someone else's graphic. So here is Version 15. Version 14 was printed and we found we had to make it thicker to accommodate the the new rod mounting requirements.

We got the Version 15 printed and it was still a little tight due small changes to the PCB. Here is an image of the Version 15 printed and assembled. We increased the handle thickness .150 and modified the button hole. With this increased thickness we made all of the screws the same size. This is important since it was going to be maintained in the field.

We are getting close to the final product with version 16.

Here is the bottom with the part edges turned on to show the battery cover.


And an exploded view.


When they finalize the design there will be some modifications for moldablity.

I uses ZW3D Mold Design to check, making sure the plastic parts are design correctly and moldable. The new ZW3D 2020 make this process incredibly easy and fast. Take a look here at the three parts run through the core/cavity checking process.

Core/Cavity Split in 5 Minutes II

You can see the core and cavity here. If the process showed any problems, I would do the change in IronCAD.

We have a great molder that will handle the mold quotes.

I put all of the versions in one file. Many times you will save to a new file when working in a single model environment having many different stages of design. Yes, this was a bit more than usual. But with IronCAD they take hours not days to modify.

I love the way IronCAD allows you to copy and past from another open file. I created this in just an hour or two.

Here is an article showing how easy it is to reuse parts in IronCAD for a new product. Make sure you follow up on Phase II. More creative customers.

Reusing 3D CAD Models for a New Product Phase I

Here is the scene browser. When you copy and paste all of the history of the parts or assemblies comes with it.

Here is a larger view.

IronCAD has a great documentation module here is the above image in an AID (drawing)

You create configurations for a variety of reasons. Here is the final version.

I will probably not make an detailed AID for this part.

Here is an AID for Charlie to review the changes.

You can do complete projects in IronCAD creating only 2 files. Or you can work like the Solidworks clones with separate parts, assemblies and AIDs. I would envision working with IronCAD in a large project designing the subassemblies and associating them to higher subassemblies or to a top assembly if required.

Here is an IronCAD vs Catia lesson that shows IronCAD with 2 files as compared to Catia with 30! Is it any wonder why the major CAD systems have such a problem with PLM/PDM?

IRONCAD vs CATIA Lesson 3 Assy

Here is sheet 1

Sheet 2

Sheet 3 shows only the top cover. You do this by creating configurations

For 20 years I have had this type of highly productive functionality with IronCAD. I have shown the obvious benefits of the system. There seems to be no one that is interested in increasing productivity. From upper management, to engineering management to the final designer.

PLM took over engineering management 20 years ago based on the major CAD programs with their very dated and limited design process and locked the companies like Boeing into a stagnant system. The industry standardized on a very dated and convoluted concept developed by PTC over 30 years ago.

It is not only the systems that slows engineering to a crawl, it is the part creation paradigm of tedious and time consuming constrained sketching that is taught. The only constant in engineering or product design, as I have shown in this article, is change. The major CAD systems are marginally functional with conceptual design but totally fail with changes.

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

Here are some comparisons, not only of the products I support but today's modeling techniques. It is quite shocking comparison which result in 5 to 10X increase in productivity by just using, what I have coined, StreamLined Sketching and Feature Based Modeling as shown in these lessons. This modeling process can be used in any of the CAD systems.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

Please feel free to give me a call if you would like a presentation of IronCAD with "your" products and needs. I have 54 years in engineering of which the past 37 have been in 3D CAD. I have documented my career which mirrors the history of the implementation of 3D CAD in the Industrial/Mechanical Engineering industry.

My First 17 Years or "How did we do it without 3D CAD!"

Or just give me a call to chat about the good old days or the new days.

If you have a project in need of a very flexible fast design service please give us a call. Our rate are very reasonable!

We can salvage out of control projects. We can work with all of the CAD systems native files.

Using Multiple 3D CAD Systems

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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.

Joe Brouwer