3D Modeling Techniques Defined
Streamlined Sketching/Feature Based Modeling

The modeling technique is hugely responsible for the level of productivity. Those of you that are only trained in the constrained sketching world of the major CAD systems are truly limited by not using the freedom of Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based Design, that is available in even the most Pro/e-ish of CAD systems. If you or 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 started out as product comparisons, but quickly turned into a study in 3D modeling techniques.

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

See this done in ZW3D

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 the following CATIA YouTube tutorial and thought I would give it a try on IronCAD. I have to tell you it is almost tortuous to watch the CATIA presenter. CATIA is a constrained sketched based system as are Fusion 360, NX, Inventor, Solidworks and Creo. This modeling paradigm is used throughout the industry causing millions of wasted hours.

I was a bit surprised to see a bit of direct editing in CATIA. IronCAD is the only integrated History/Direct Edit CAD system and effectively incorporates and direct face moves instead of adding them as steps in the history. Direct editing should not be used haphazardly especially in a history based systems where every face move is a step! He should have organized the features better so this was not needed.

I have to say the CATIA presenter struggle with such a simple part. I cannot imagine the wasted time CATIA is creating for companies like Boeing, Bombardier, Airbus, Gulfstream, Chrysler and so many more.

The CATIA interface is cluttered and confusing.

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Effective, easy to use part modeling is the basis for all engineering productivity.

You can see I did the part in a different order so I would not have to do any direct edit modification. The order of Design in IronCAD should be Drag and Drop, Sketching, Direct Edit and finally Surfacing if required.

CATIA Tutorial 10 -Pump Body


While creating 3D models from a drawing is the very best way to learn 3D CAD and maybe some design techniques is does not expose the designer to the design flexibility necessary in product design. IronCAD is all top down due to the single model environment. Creating mating parts is a cruise. But effective modeling is just one aspect of a well designed productive 3D CAD system.

The drawing is at the end of this article if you would like to try this lesson.


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.

I usually create the part before I watch the Video, so as to not taint my process, but this time there was no drawing so I had to suffer through this presentation getting the dimensions. Of course, there are a multitude of ways to create a model. There is no right way, just more productive ways. But from what I have seen from these very complicated processes done by the CATIA presenter, it is not just limited by the 3D CAD system.

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 Pro/e-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?

I have to say this is incredibly simple. But the CATIA presenter has been indoctrinated into these designs techniques. It started with Pro/e (Creo) and has been the way the sketch, constrain and assemble. The Solidworks clones are costing the industry millions, if not billions, in lost productivity.

Here is IronCAD. We will set the units to millimeters.

We will start by dragging and dropping a block from the catalog and sizing it.

What are these shapes? We call them intellishapes. All are based on sketches that can be edited.

We then drag and drop another block and position it at mid-point of the top rectangle sizing it as shown. Location of the Intellishape allows you to size it more efficiently. Like the length and with are size with symmetry in mind.

We use the handles to pull it into place and size the depth.

We drag a hole block to the mid-point and size it.

We then add the blends. I have shown the hidden lines to make it easier to create the blends. I just wanted to show this feature, I rarely use it.

We now add the 10m threaded hole on the top flange. We drag a hole from the custom hole option in the tool catalog. We locate the first hole using the center of the blend. The CATIA presenter has to create a reference point to locate the hole.

We have a couple of options we could use the Triball to link one by one, we can pattern or we can Triball link two, then Triball link those two, which is the process I will use.

We drag and drop a cylinder on the lower edge of the front face and size it.

You can see that the hole does not go through the cylinder. Take a look at the history and notice where the cylinder is.

We just move the cylinder before the hole and now the hole goes into the cylinder. This allows much more flexibility in the design process.

Now we added the first boss by dragging and dropping a cylinder to the center of the large cylinder and we size it.

We use the Triball to rotate the boss and pull to locate it.

We size the boss by just pulling the handle, holding the shift button to match the faces of the large cylinder

We press the spacebar to move the Triball to the center of the large of the cylinder and mirror link the boss.

We add the M10 hole in the boss.

We active the Triball, press the spacebar and move it to the center of the large cylinder and select mirror link by right clicking the in relative inside handle. The Triball is by far the most sophisticate feature, part and assembly manipulator!

We select both holes move the Triball to a middle position and mirror link.

We add the center hole by dragging and dropping a hole cylinder to the center of the large cylinder and sized it.

When you design with shapes a whole new world opens up to you. I drag and drop a block on to the top flange of the model and size the base.

Now we move it into place with the Triball.

We select the Extrude Wizard and select the front face of the base feature

We create the sketch by projecting the relative edges and putting in 2 tangent and raduis circles and trimming. No constraints.

We select okay an our extrusion is complete. The Extrude Wizard is used through out the design process. IronCAD is a single mode design environment and the Extruded Wizard is indispensible for in context design creating features for mating parts.

Now for the rib. Again we use the Extrude Wizard and set to add, we select the front face of the base feature again and project the relative edges create the two lines. Notice I do not include the blend. Again, no constraints.

We now put in the blend.

We drag and drop a Custom Hole from the Tool Catalog to the mid-point on the base feature and locate it with the Triball.

We now add the small slot on the bottom. Using the Extrude Wizzard we create a sketch and set it to remove. We project the relative features offset, mirror, extend and trim as necessary. Notice for the 3rd time no constrains.

We select okay and locate the feature.

Add the blends.

Add a few effects and we are done with a fun part. I have included the AID (drawing) so you can practice with your own CAD system.

Since we didn't have a drawing we will now create the AID. IronCAD has a separate documentation module. Since IronCAD is a Single Model Design Environment we can have complete projects in two files.

But if you have the job of converting drawings to 3D you have to create a drawing to check to see it the model is correct.

All You Wanted to Know About Drawing to 3D Conversions

When select file new drawing it will come up with the dialog box to select the format size. I will select E-Size

Now it comes up with a dialog box to set the views.

We set our views and create the necessary section views

We just detail the views and we are done.

3D model and AID for this part! Two Files!

It is very important that you look into how you or your engineers are creating the parts. Streamline Sketching and Feature Based Modeling is easy to learn and implement. It, alone, will increase productivity 10X. Now, IronCAD with its unique integrated history/direct edit functionality can increase your productivity another 5X or more with changes! Again, time is money in engineering.

More on Streamline Sketching and Feature Based Modeling.

3D CAD Modeling Techniques

To experience this increased level of productivity, please download IronCAD for a 30 day evaluation. Legacy data is no problem, IronCAD can read the native files of all of the popular programs. IronCAD is a great replacement for the subscription only Autodesk and PTC products.

Give me a call if you have any questions. I can set up a skype or gotomeeting 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.

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