3D Modeling Techniques 
IRONCAD vs Onshape Lesson One
Streamlined Sketching/Feature Based Modeling

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 some Fusion 360 exercises online and I decided to compare IronCAD. It quickly turned into a study in modeling techniques. I have created many comparisons to Fusion 360, Solidworks, Solid Edge, NX, Creo, Catia and Inventor lessons to show the difference between IronCAD and my modeling techniques. I found the presenters working identically wasting massive amounts of time with overly complex constrained sketching procedures. I was so unimpressed that I decided to model the parts or assemblies showing my modeling techniques plus IronCAD's superb design system.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

Many of these modeling techniques can easily be implemented even within their existing system. I call it Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based Modeling. Please review a few of the above IronCAD comparison lessons, there are some very stark differences.


I remember when I first heard of Onshape. I was contact by them to show them IronCAD. I gave them a presentation. These were some pioneers in the industry even though they did nothing but plagiarize Pro/e (Creo). I was quite excited how they were going to implement some of IronCAD's great features. To my surprise it was nothing but another Solidworks clone.

Now, I realize the goal was to replace Solidworks, they didn't want the product to look much different and work mostly the same. This just added another clunky history only, constrained sketching program to the already crowded field! In my viewpoint it was a huge mistake, they could have created a new CAD paradigm. They didn't even put in primitive shapes. As you will see in this comparison there is nothing new with Onshape.

I thought the cloud based CAD was very cool. But it was short lasted, I quickly found this was a history, constrained sketch based system. What was worse you couldn't save your files locally, in fact there was no file at all. I quickly took if off my recommendation list. Being a subscription service you have to pay to access your information. They make your precious engineering information public if you do not keep your payments up. If you closed a business, you will have to pay $1500.00 forever to keep your information private.

A very poor business solution.

Onshape! A View from the Clouds

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It is funny but the fellow that is doing this presentation is the same fellow that does the Fusion 360 lessons. He doesn't do much different, both are history only constrained sketch based systems.

OnShape Part Modeling Exercise 01


Here is the AID that is done in the IronCAD documentation module. IronCAD's single model environment allows you to do full projects in one file. The documentation module allows multiple drawings from the modeling modules so you can do full projects in two files. Making PDM/PLM much simpler. See this done in this article.

IronCAD vs CATIA Lesson 3 Assembly

While creating 3D models from drawing is the very best way to learn 3D CAD and maybe some design techniques it does not expose the designer to the design flexibility necessary in 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.

Onshape is a marginal 3D CAD system based on the dated Pro/e (Creo) history based modeling system. I became a partner but quickly found it, like all of the other Solidworks clones, not productive enough for our engineering department. We use what we sell. That gives us the experience to effectively support our user base.

I did try to use it as a collaboration tool, but even that became a problem!

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

IronCAD vs Solidworks and the Pro/e Paradigm

29 Years of 3D CAD Incompatibility - The New Generation of 3D CAD!!

IronCAD vs Onshape

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.

As with my Ironcad vs Solidworks exercises I have found the same problems with Onshape. The modeling technique is hugely responsible for the level of productivity. Those of you that are only trained in the complex and time consuming constrained sketching world are truly limited by not using the freedom of Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based Modeling, that is available in even the most Solidworks-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?

These lessons have actually turned into exercises in modeling techniques as compared to showing a more productive CAD systems. Again, I say, there are many different ways to model a part. I see with my exposure to direct edit modelers like CADKEY, I rarely sketch like you see the Solidworks fellow doing. I have always created my basic sketches by mostly creating offsets and extending and trimming or. It seems to be much easier. I never put in a fillet that can be created later. What do you think?

Let's get started!

We are using the newly released IronCAD 2019!

We are set the units to millimeters.

I drag and drop a block in to the scene and size it.

Note: 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 very mechanical engineering focused Solidworks clones.

Then we drag and drop another block on the top face and size it.

We drag and drop a hole cylinder on the corner of the block and size it.

We will shell the shape by selecting the open faces and select 15mm for the sides and 25 for the bottom.

Now for the square boss. We just drag and drop a block and size it.

Now for the center cut. We use the extrude wizard, we place the sketch plane on the inside face and project the edges.

We create our 9mm offset and delete the original entities.

We select okay and set the depth. We will drag a Custom Hole to the midpoint of the square block from the Tool Catalog and size it in the dialog box.

IronCAD recognizes corners, centers and midpoints of lines and shapes.

I have pinned the catalog to the open position so you can see the tool catalog. Most of the time you work with it hidden, bringing it up when necessary.

Now for the large bosses. We drag and drop the cylinders on the midpoint of the top relative edge. IronCAD drops them perpendicular to the face that you are looking into in the scene. We size them.

Now we just drag to hole cylinders to the center of the existing cylinders and size them.

We now add the blends and chamfers and we are done. Just see how much simpler, easier and faster this design process was. One sketch!

This is another stark examples of how Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based Modeling utilizing IronCAD's drag and drop of smart editable Intellishapes from a catalog and the use of the Triball can increase productivity easily 5X. I usually estimate 5X increased productivity in conceptual design and 10X in changes, and I believe I am being conservative. IronCAD can edit most of the Solidworks clone parts and assemblies faster than it can be done in the native CAD system.

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

Five Functions that Increase 3D CAD Productivity!!

Please review the earlier exercises.

IronCAD vs Solidworks

You can see more on modeling techniques here.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

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