3D Modeling Techniques 
IRONCAD vs Solidworks Lesson Thirteen
Drag and Drop Design
Streamlined Sketching/Feature Based Modeling

Modeling note:

It is funny, you may not realize how you model because you have many ingrained processes from the past. I have been doing Boolean (direct edit) design since the beginning of solid modeling in CAD. In 1998 I was part of the IronCAD release and was introduced to history based modeling, but IronCAD has integrated direct edit so I still had that functionality available. As I have been doing these comparisons I realized that I design in shapes. I look at the drawing and pick out the basic shapes of the part. You can see that in this part.

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, Onshape, 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.

Please watch a Solidworks user model this part!

With all the tedious constrained sketching for this simple part for the Absolute Beginner, you can imagine a complex part?

SolidWorks 3d Modeling Tutorial - Automobile Engine Case

(Actually this is a model airplane engine since is only 60mm (2.4 in))


While creating 3D models from drawings 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.

Solidworks is a marginal 3D CAD system based on the dated Pro/e history based modeling system released in 1988. I sold Pro/e years ago and found it not productive enough for our engineering department. We use what we sell. That gives us the experience to effectively support our user base.

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IronCAD vs Solidworks and the Pro/e Paradigm

IronCAD vs Solidworks

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 Fusion 360 and other major CAD systems,  I have found the same problems with Solidworks. The modeling technique is hugely responsible for the level of productivity. Those of you that are only trained in the 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?

As I watch the Solidworks user sketch this part, I am amazed at the way he does it. I just can't understand struggling with all the constrained dimensioning. This IronCAD exercise took a few minutes and allows for faster and much easier modification. Again these exercises turned into a study of modeling techniques even though most of this model is Feature Based Modeling not available to most of the Solidworks clones.

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

If you are following this tutorial. I first select show the size box dimensions. You can save your custom configurations if you want.

I look at the part and I see a large cylinder and two cones for the basic body. Yes I could easily sketch these by you already know how to do that so I will drag and drop a cylinder from the standard catalog into the scene, size it and adjust the position using the Triball. It automatically drops at X0Y0Z0.

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.

We drag and drop cylinder on the front face of the existing cylinder, size it and using the Surface Reshaping properties set the draft angle to 62 degrees

We drag and drop another cylinder onto the face of the taper shape. We flip the extrusion and set the location and size. Again we use the surface reshaping tool to set the draft angle to 6 degrees. The poor Solidworks presenter is still fiddling with his sketch!

We have our basic body. I drag and drop a block to the back face of the cylinder locate by pushing and pulling the handle using existing graphics. I put a 3.7 degree draft on the affected faces.

We put the blends on the shape.

It is easiest to sketch the inner shape and extrude it. We used the Extrude Wizard that immediately creates the extrusion. IronCAD also has a stand alone sketch command for working with complex sketches or importing .dxf or .dwg

We just project the shape and do an offset. I love the way IronCAD leaves the original entities selected for easy deletions. IronCAD is very focused on reducing steps for many of the functions.

We set the size of the extrusion to match the fins shape. We adjust the fin shape as required

Again using the Extrude Wizard we create the fin cut.

We pull it into place and size it.

We use the Triball to copy link the cut. You can see IronCAD can offer many different ways to model.

I will use the Extrude Command. Select the bottom face set the height and 6 degree draft.

I drag and drop a block to the face of the front cylinder and size it. I move the Triball the center of the block (You disassociate the Triball by hitting the spacebar). You then move it to the correct locations. I move the location from inside the cylinder to outside for inspection purposes. I round it off since the location is probably arbitrary within a few mm.

I pull the block within the cylinder and add the blends.

We will now put in the piston cylinder, size and locate it, since the next shape will be referenced from it. I set the Triball in the center of the cylinder and select the relevant axis to set the distance from the main cylinder.

The Triball has many functions for manipulating features, sketches, parts and assemblies due to IronCAD's single model environment.

We create the exhaust block by dragging and dropping a block on to the top face, pulling it into shape. Then with the Triball we locate it. We could use push and pull to also do it but since it was to the center I opted for the Triball

This is one of the most stark examples of how IronCAD's drag and drop of editable shapes from a catalog and the use of the Triball can increase productivity 10X in this case. 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.

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We create the blends on the edges of the block and drag and drop a hole cylinder to the center of the radius then link copy with the Triball.

Using the Wizard we create sketch on the top of the cylinder block. We create the basic graphics to define the cut.

Trim or extent to get the net profile.

Using the handles we pulling the faces into the correct location.

As you can see I have made the exhaust block after the piston cylinder an we have to position the block before the piston cylinder.

We just move the block before the cylinder and all is correct. Since the shapes are not based on defined planes and sketches you have much more freedom in your history.

Now for two side pieces. We drag and drop a block to the top face pull it to size and locate it and add the blends

Now for the mounting tabs. Using the extrude wizard create a sketch, you can see we do not do any constraining.

Using the Triball we rotate the feature, then link copy the other 3 tabs.

Now the front ribs. We just drag and drop a block locate and size it. Using the Triball we rotate copy link the other two. The purple indicates that there are other link shapes tied to this shape.

We draft the faces 6 degrees.

We add the 1mm blends to the ribs.

We just create the first hole by dragging and dropping a hole cylinder to the center of the main Cylinder face.

Now for the rest of the large holes.

A few more holes.

Now for the work, putting in the blends and we are done!

Here is a more correct AID (drawing).

You can see more on modeling techniques here.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

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