3D Modeling
Techniques Defined

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PLM, PDM, MBE, MBD, PMI, realistic rendering etc, have little to do with increased engineering productivity, more than likely hinders it. Yet, these are the things the Major CAD systems are focused. 3D modeling functionality basically has hit its end, probably around 2010. I use that date, because it was the year that Solidworks included direct edit functionality.

The Major CAD systems know that and have to make "3D CAD" more than modeling parts, just to keeping your maintenance current. Autodesk and PTC have even given up on that and just went directly to subscription only. It truly time to break the hold they have on us!

You are Not Stuck with Autodesk

3D Modeling is the basis for our engineering. That is the only place where productivity is paramount. You can have all the PLM/MBE gurus debating data management in their ivory towers, but it does not add one smidgen of productivity to the design process.

I have coined two design processes that I have been using for decades as compared to the conventional sketching and modeling practices used by the Solidworks and Fusion 360 users in the exercises below. I have found a few that do use these techniques and wonder why they are so much faster with their work. We are talking an increase of 10X in productivity and more.

Streamlined Sketching

This is where there are no constrains required. Mostly applying descriptive geometry to your sketching techniques. This process alone can increase productivity 10X. Don't believe me? Review a few of the exercises below. It shows up in both Solidworks and Fusion 360 below. Both of the presenters have learned the Pro/e constrain, constrain, sketching process. Very time consuming. Many are in this box and it is time to step out into a much more productive sketching process.

Here is an example of what PTC calls a 3D modeling challenge that consisted of only two sketches and some blends. This is an example of the limited view from the Pro/e clones which dominate our Industrial/Mechanical industry today.

High Speed Sketching in Creo? What?

Feature Based Modeling

I have watched the Solidworks and Fusion 360 presenters in the following exercises sketch features that could have easily been put in later. They sketch fillets or blends and other shapes that take up a huge amount of time consuming constraining. I will use the shelling command instead of sketching profiles. You will also see how I use primitive shapes to cut 30% of our design time. Sketching is part of our design process but not the whole process. Take some time to review the following exercises and see if you can incorporate some of these very productive design techniques.

This is one of the more blatant examples of feature based modeling as compare to extensive sketching.

IRONCAD vs Solidworks Lesson Three

ZW3D vs Solidworks Lesson Three

Here are some interesting comparisons with IronCAD and ZW3D and Fusion 360 and Solidworks. It started as product comparisons and quickly moved to a study in modeling techniques. Review a few of the exercises. Be sure to review both package comparisons it is an eye opener.


IronCAD vs Fusion 360

ZW3D vs Fusion 360

ZW3D vs Solidworks

IronCAD vs Solidworks




ZW3D vs Creo



ZW3D vs NX



IronCAD vs Onshape Lesson 1

ZW3D vs Onshape Lesson 1



Effective 3D CAD Modeling Techniques
Top Down or In-Context Modeling

I have gone one step further and created some more modeling technique lessons based on this Assembly. You can see the differences between these two packages. Take a look, it was a lot of fun.


3D Modeling Techniques
IronCAD Lesson One

3D Modeling Techniques
IronCAD Lesson Two

3D Modeling Techniques
IronCAD Lesson Three

3D Modeling Techniques
IronCAD Lesson Four

3D Modeling Techniques
IronCAD Lesson Five

3D Modeling Techniques
IronCAD Lesson Six


3D Modeling Techniques
 ZW3D Lesson One

3D Modeling Techniques
 ZW3D Lesson Two

3D Modeling Techniques
 ZW3D Lesson Three

3D Modeling Techniques
 ZW3D Lesson Four

3D Modeling Techniques
 ZW3D Lesson Five

3D Modeling Techniques
 ZW3D Lesson Six

IronCAD Training Articles!

Learning IronCAD! Lesson 1
Setting up the Scene (Workspace)

Learning IronCAD! Lesson Two
Drag and Drop Design
Designing with Shapes

Learning IronCAD! Lesson 3
Streamlined Sketching
(Unconstrained Sketching)

Learning IronCAD! Lesson 5
Integrated History Based/Direct Edit Modeling

Here are other Viewpoints on the 3D CAD Industry

Influence on Engineering

3D CAD Productivity

Technology Applied

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 would like more information or to download ZW3D or IronCAD

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.

Joe Brouwer