3D Modeling Techniques 
IRONCAD vs Solidworks Lesson Seventeen
Of Course It's an Assembly
No Sketching/Drag and Drop Design

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. With these lessons I introduce you to a new world of Mechanical CAD!

This model should be an inseparable assembly. When you are teaching someone 3D CAD the models should represent real design. In this case we should be using standard piping fittings. Teaching 3D Mechanical CAD offers two levels of training: Modeling and Form, Fit and Function design. Both should be considered when providing lessons.

IronCAD is a SME so top down design is a normal part of our design process. Doing assemblies in Solidworks and other clones offers different challenges with creating each part separately. This causes an extra level of documentation that is already causing chaos in the industry.

The sweep command would be more appropriately applied for tube design.

Please watch as the Solidworks presenter models this part! Even with separate parts, we do it faster.

How to Create pipe in 3D using Composite Curve in SolidWorks

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.

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.

We are going to create an assembly. No preparation required, IronCAD is a true SME (Single Model Environment). Watch as I create each part in the same scene. IronCAD offers a much easier and simpler design process.

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

We will start with flange by dragging and dropping a cylinder into the scene and size it. IronCAD drop the first shape at X0YOZO.

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 Solidworks clones.

We now drag and drop another cylinder to the center of the top face of the existing cylinder and size it.

Do you see the small arrow in the lower corner? All of these "Intellishapes" are based on sketches and in this case extrusions. I want to reverse this direction so do to a modification to the shape only available in IronCAD.

We right click on the feature. IronCAD has levels of operation defined by colors. Assembly - yellow, part - blue, feature - yellow (what is shown and face or surface green.

We will select flip extrusion direction. We will pull the handles to reset the correct location and size.

You can now see the arrow is pointing down indicating the direction of the extrusion.

I will now show you why they are called intellishapes! We can now modify the feature directly with a variety of commands from Shelling, Bevels (blends and chamfers) and surface reshaping which we will use.  

We set the side taper to 30 degrees and we are done with this feature.

Now for the hole. We drag and drop the hole cylinder on the center of face top face of the flange and size it.

We again select the new hole feature and right click and select the surface reshaping options and set the side to taper 30 degrees.

We drag and drop a hole cylinder on the face of the lower cylinder locate it with the Triball and size it.

We need four holes so we move the Triball only, by pushing the space bar and moving it to the center of the flange.

We Turn the Triball back on and set the rotation and how many copies we want to link.

We are now done with the flange.

I want to introduce you the the incredible standard catalogs. We have a variety of functions far beyond the shapes. We will be using the tank catalog for the piping! We will first drag and drop a pipe from the catalog. They have attach points that automatically line them up.

We will Select the feature level and edit the ID, OD and length.

We now drag and drop an elbow a the top of the pipe.

We now redefine the shape by editing the sweep which includes the sketch of the pipe and the sweep radius and rotate it into place with the Tribal.

We copy and paste the modified elbow and suppress the new elbow we will be using it later. We now edit the sweep to be 180 and we are done with this elbow.

We never create another pipe feature we just copy it using the Triball to the new location. We set the length.

Now we take the 90 degree elbow and using the Triball we locate it to the end of the new pipe and rotate it into place.

We copy a another piece of pipe to the end of the elbow with the Triball and locate it. This is called reusing features or parts.

Oops we forgot the fitting on the 180 degree elbow!

No problem we show only the elbow and drag and drop a cylinder on the bottom face of the elbow, located it with the Tribal and rotate it 180 degrees.

We size it add the blend and go to the tools catalog and drag a custom hole to the center of the boss and

Using the Triball, by know you can see how important the Triball is, we link the flange on the end of the new pipe and rotate it into place.

We will set the catalog to autohide for more scene real estate.

We are done with the assembly. No sketches and creating the assembly like they would do it physically. IronCAD is the very best fabrication CAD system especially inseparable assemblies like this pipe assembly.

And we are done with all of the parts. But this is an assembly so we select all of the parts and the parts, right click and select assemble and rename it to Pipe Assembly. You can see now our assembly is denoted as yellow.

But what what if we didn't have the pipe and pipe fitting catalog. I will show you how easy it is to create the pipe and elbows with drag and drop components.

The first thing we do is create a new configuration. This is how you manage your different parts and assemblies. You can have many different iterations of design in the same file. A great example of this is documented in this project "Evolution of Design"


Using the right mouse button we drag and drop a cylinder on to the center of the flange and select "Drop as Part" and size it. As you pull the length handle, you depress the shift key which will now recognize connection points, edges, mid-points, corners and centers.

We will hide all parts except for the new pipe. We select the new part with the left button two times that takes us to intellishape level. We right click and select surface reshaping and select shell.  We select end and start sections open.

Think of the added flexibility of design with just this function as compared to the major CAD sketched based systems.

Now we have our pipe ready to be used any where we would like.

We select show all and by using the Triball, we copy, locate and size length the pipe in the other locations.

Now for the elbows. We drag and drop a Partial Torus into the scene size it and locate and and rotate it.

We edit the intellishape to shell with 5 mm walls. We will copy this elbow and copy it to the other location.

Now we just edit the existing the partial torus and set the rotation to 180 degrees.

We are done with these parts. Done a much different way only available in IronCAD. I could also create them from sketches and extrude and spin them. IronCAD offers so much more flexibility that increases your productivity. Designing in a SME (Single Model Environment) makes top down design your normal design process.

The pipe and fittings can be defined in the parts list. 

You can see more on modeling techniques here.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

If you would like to try IronCAD, please download for a 30 day evaluation.

If you would like more information or download IronCAD

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.

TECH-NET Engineering Services!

We sell and support IronCAD and ZW3D Products and
provide engineering services throughout the USA and Canada!

 Why TECH-NET Sells IronCAD and ZW3D

The Worst to Best 3D CAD System and Why

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.