3D Modeling Techniques 
ZW3D vs Solidworks Lesson Ten
 Streamlined Sketching/Feature Based Modeling
 Two Similar Parts and AIDs: Single File
Bonus: Direct Edit Defined

I saw some Fusion 360 exercises online and I decided to compare ZW3D. 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 ZW3D 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 '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 ZW3D comparison lessons, there are some very stark differences.

Solidworks Mount Lesson 11

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. ZW3D is all top down due to the multi-object 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 (Creo) history based modeling system. I have sold this product years ago and 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.

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

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

ZW3D 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 ZW3D support to create one. They are very good.

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 feature based design, 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!

You will see with Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based modeling is much more productive and flexible. It gives you a more real world feel to your design process and is a much more pleasurable and productive experience.

Modeling Technique Note:

There are two similar parts. In IronCAD we have a single model environment, ZW3D offers a Multi-Object environment. As I started these parts I realized I would have two parts to define. So I will start with an assembly that include the two parts. I am wondering it this would also be a viable solution for the Solidworks clones, unless they are already doing it.

We will set ZW3D to millimeters!

So we open an new file by selecting a Multi-Object file type and name it MOUNT.

We will open a part and name it MOUNT. This will serve the purpose as the top file.

Under MOUNT we will insert a component -1

We can now start creating -1. We will insert -2 later when we are done with -1

Many time we start our modeling with a primitive shape, but we will start with a sketch on this part.

We create a sketch on the YZ plane

We create our sketch. We create a circle rad and set it to 20

I will create a line a set the angle and length to establish the center for then  12mm circle. I show these steps because I do not sketch like the Solidworks clone users.

I will now create the 12mm circle, put in the tangent lines.

I will trim the lines and rotate copy the entities and trim the circle

We create a horizontal line from the center 110mm long an create the other two offset lines.

We extend the diagonal line to the mating line.

We are going to put in a 50mm radii since it is not a mating face and will not matter.

I have seen three other Solidworks clone users define a radius using tangent to an arc, it results in a arc that goes out 3 places and looks like the designer didn't think it through, LOL. Tangents do not exist in the real world, once this is done there is no way to inspect it.

Sadly with CNC and non-contact inspection standard drafting standards have been thrown out the window. We now have a bunch of CAD jockeys that have no idea of what parts should be based. All the draftsman are gone so we are entering a new world. 

I sent the image on the left to customer and the product manager wondered what the lines were. I realized that the tangents are only something, we as CAD designers, know about. So I sent her the image on the right without the tangent lines shown, she completely understood.

I offset the arc and line 10mm and offset the 50mm line and trim and add the block in back. Notice there are no constraint dimension.

We exit our sketch and extrude the profile

I will insert a primitive block on the back edge and size it.

We drag and drop a primitive sphere to the center of the boss and size it

We insert a primitive block on the back face and set it to remove.

We insert a primitive sphere to the center of the sphere, size it and set to remove.

We insert a primitive cylinder at the center of the boss, size it and set it to remove.

Now for the counterbored holes. We use the hole feature set the size and locate on the face of the boss at the centers.

Now the other two holes

Now for the fillets and we are done!

Now for -2. We will insert a new component under the MOUNT Assembly. We will take the -1 copy it and name it -2 and locate it to X0Y0Z0

We open -2 and delete all of the fillets and edit the main sketch. We rotate the boss 15 degrees.

We trim/extend the related lines basically clean up the sketch, again no constraints.

We move the block

We move the holes

We create a sketch on the boss and select Y as up. Create a small wedge.

We exit the sketch and extrude the profile

One more sketch. Selecting the inside face select Y as up.

We use reference curve to define the edges.

We unlink them converting them into usable entities. We trim the sketch again no constraints.

We extrude the feature.

We notice that the extrusion is in the sphere.

We just move the sphere cut to the end.

Now for the fillets and we are done

Oops we didn't rotate the bottom Hole in the boss. Will delete the bottom hole and use the rotate pattern feature to create the hole.

Now we are done.


I thought it would interest you to make the changes by direct edit. Now this is a very simple model and you could easily recreate with just using features. But I thought this would be fun. IronCAD is the only integrated history/direct edit based system. NX and Solid Edge have given it a try but fall far short due to their dependence on previous history so let's take a look.

You can see in this article the extensive experience I have with direct edit.

Using Multiple 3D CAD Systems

The first thing we need to do is insert a component under Mount and name it Direct Edit. I really have to reiterate that the Multi-Object environment is by far the most productive feature in ZW3D along with the integrated drawing.

We will import the new part and import a STEP file of the original part that was generated in IronCAD. It comes in at X0Y0Z0.

I rotate it, because I want all of the parts in the same orientation. We go the the top assembly and go to the assembly menu to move the part.

You can see it matches -1.

We will open Direct Edit and the first thing we do, like when just modifying a part is to delete the blends. We turn on Direct Edit function and go to the Direct Edit menu. We use the simplify option which deletes the fillets and other shapes.

This may take a bit of investigation. I found these were the first blends to delete and the rest fell into place.

It is a bit of hit and miss, but it gets done.

Now to get rid of the wall again with the simplify command.

With that gone we need to isolate the boss and sphere for rotation.

We need to make a sketch and trim the model close to get faces that can be easily simplified (deleted). We project some reference edges and create an offset.

We convert the reference entities to usable entities and trim or extend adding the line outside the tangent. Again there are no constraints.

We exit the sketch and extrude the profile and set to remove.

Now we just simplify the faces.

Nice and clean.

Now we rotate the feature.

Now we can also move the base 10mm

Now to relocate the holes.

Now we just create our sketch to connect the base.

We define the sketch

We exit the sketch and extrude add.

Now for the front wall. We create another sketch.

We create the sketch

We extrude the profile set to add.

Now for the interior feature. We create the sketch. Yes I see the extraneous feature in sphere. We will fix that later.

We create the necessary edges by projecting reference entities.

We convert the reference entities to working entities and trim/extend.

We extrude the profile and set to add

For extraneous features we just insert a primitive sphere to the center, size it and set to remove.

There you go, a bit of direct edit modifying. We just add the fillets and we are done.

Now we turn on -2 and direct edit, change the colors and you can  see they are identical! I had my doubts on the robustness of ZW3D with direct editing but this exercise put them to rest. It was a lot of fun!

Time for the AIDS. ZW3D is the only history based system with a multi-object modeling system with integrated AIDs. Imagine the PDM Problems this would solve.

While in the assembly I created these sheets with a right mouse click and selecting 2D Sheet so I would have the two sheets in one document. I will not go into the detailing process, but it is a relatively easy robust documentation system.

I just select -1 and set up and detail the AID.

Then we add a new sheet and select -2 set up the sheet and detail the AID.

Please review other exercises.

ZW3D vs Solidworks

ZW3D vs Fusion 360

ZW3D vs Creo

ZW3D vs NX


ZW3D vs Inventor

ZW3D vs Solid Edge

ou can see more on modeling techniques here.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

If you would like to try ZW3D please download for a 30 day evaluation.

If you would like more information or to download ZW3D

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 ZW3D. It truly is the Ultimate CAD/CAM 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

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.