IronCAD vs Fusion 360 Lesson 9
3D Modeling Techniques Defined
Streamlined Sketching/Feature Based Modeling

The modeling technique is hugely responsible for the level of productivity. Those of you that are only trained in the sketch, sketch, constrain, constrain world are truly limited by not using the freedom of Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based Design, that is available in even the most Pro/e-ish of CAD systems. If your designers are designing in these very unproductive and time consuming processes it might be time to review your standard design processes. Don't have any do you?

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.

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I saw the following video challenge on linkedin and thought I would give it a try on IronCAD. I actually did it before I watched the video, so I did it a bit differently. 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.

Fusion 360 Challenge of the Month: MAY 2017


Here is the drawing.

IronCAD vs Fusion 360

While creating 3D models from drawing is the very best way to learn 3D CAD and maybe some design techniques is does not expose the designer to the design flexibility necessary in product design. IronCAD is all top down due to the single model environment. Creating mating parts is a cruise. But modeling is just one aspect of a well designed productive 3D CAD system.

I would do a video, but I really am not good at it. So I will show you step by step. I will try and get IronCAD support to create one. They are very good.

I always create the part before I watch the Fusion 360 Video, so as to not taint my process. Of course, there are a multitude of ways to create a model. There is no right way, just more productive ways. From what I have seen from these very complicated processes done by the Fusion 360 fellow, it is not just limited by the 3D CAD system.

Here is IronCAD. My default is inches, so we will set the units to mm. Let's get started.

I instantly differ from the Fusion 360 presenter by dragging and dropping a block that makes up the base of the part and sizing it. While he is concerned about sketching shapes. I am thinking of basic components of the part. 

Why does IronCAD call it a scene instead of a workspace? IronCAD was first released as a graphic design program called Trispectives. It still has much of the graphic design functionality. It truly is a wonderful mixture of professional 3D CAD and graphic design, which puts it in a much more flexible category as compared to the Pro/e (Creo) clones.

There is a time for sketching. I could drag and drop as negative shape and manipulate it, but a sketch is the optimum next step. With the extrude wizard (Probably the next most used tool after drag and drop) we set up a 2D profile to create our sketch. 

I don't sketch like the Fusion 360 presenter. I was a mechanical draftsman and we drew by sliding triangles or using a drafting machine (creating horizontal and vertical parallel lines) this was continued into the early CAD systems. I have adopted this practice in my sketching and have coined it "Streamlined Sketching". Here I have projected the two referenced edges, offset, defined the length (directly, no dimensions), created the angled line and basically connected the dots.

I create a vertical line in the middle to create a mirroring axis. Mirror the profile, delete the vertical construction line and we are ready to extrude, which is just hitting okay 

We pull the handle to size the extrusion.

We now create the center cut by dragging and dropping a hole block on to the center of the top face and size it. You can see this is an incredibly different way to design. The Fusion 360 could have easily done this. But it takes a different way of thinking. This is not to criticize the presenter but to realize how he was trained.  I could have easily created a sketch to do this. But a sketch is two step process and a drag and drop is one. 

Do you see this level of simplicity in your modeling?

This is time saving for simple parts imagine a complex part. 

Now we just drag and drop a cylinder to the center of the rectangle and size it.

We will do this cut two ways.


Here is the center cut process done with a revolve cut based on a sketch. A few years ago I started just dropping a positive or negative cone to location I need a revolve. I think it is very clever and highly productive. We will drag and drop the negative cone to the top of the cylinder. 

We select the cone at the feature level and select edit cross section and define the profile with a mixture of projected edges, offsets and defined lines.

We now have the center section removed. We drag and drop a hole block to show the result of the revolve. We can then delete the hole block or we can suppress it in the history for use later when we may want to evaluate the part.

Drag and Drop:

We just suppress the revolve and hole block (we will bring it back later).

We those features suppressed we start and start by dragging and dropping and sizing the largest hole cylinder. 

Then next cylinder will be the thin bottom cut. Why? Because we want a face to reference the center for the small hole in the bottom. We drag and drop it at the center and size.

Now the bottom hole. Again drag and drop the hole cylinder to the center and size

Now for the top. I will not drag and drop a cylinder I will use the extrude wizard to create the top cut. I can do that with one step by just projecting the outer edge and creating the center circle. I have already set the depth in the setup of the extruson.

We select okay

We again drag and drop a hole cylinder on the top and size it.

We go back to the scene browser and move the hole block to the bottom of the history, unsuppress and we see the cut is complete.

Now for the blends and holes. We create the blends and drag and drop the hole and located it with the triball. We select the hole, activate the triball, hit the spacebar that allows placement of the triball, we move it to the center of the cylinder, hit the spacebar again to reactivate the triball and mirror link the hole and we are done.

Here you go. Showing you a different more streamlined way of modeling. You can see how this way of modeling offers much more flexible options. The sketch, sketch, constrain, constrain world of Pro/e that was developed almost 30 years ago is very, very time consuming. 

It is very important that you look into how you or your engineers are creating the parts. Streamline Sketching and Feature Based Modeling is easy to learn and implement. It, alone, will increase productivity 10X. Now, IronCAD with its unique integrated history/direct edit functionality can increase your productivity another 5X or more with changes! Again, time is money in engineering.

More on Streamline Sketching and Feature Based Modeling.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

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