IRONCAD vs Fusion 360 Lesson 16
3D Modeling Techniques Defined
Alternate Sheet Metal Modeling
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 sketch, sketch, constrain, constrain world 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 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?

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 video challenge on linkedin and thought I would give it a try. I actually did it before I watched the video, so I did it a bit differently. This will give you an idea how different and flexible IronCAD is compared to the conventional Pro/e clone and to the not so conventional Fusion 360.

You may enjoy seeing how I did this in ZW3D

ZW3D vs Fusion 360 Lesson 16

Fusion 360 Challenge of the Month: September 2016 


Look at this drawing. Who details like this? It is obviously dimensioned only to be able to easily create a sheet metal model with the sheet metal tools. No where in the world would they detail a drawing like this. How do you inspect it? We are going to get it back to reality. I have included a properly detailed drawing below.

Alternative Sheet Metal Design

I was introduced to 3D CAD in 1982 with Computervision CADDS 4, Found PC base 3D CADKEY at Boeing in 1986, Started using and selling it in 1987. This was 3D wireframe, no fancy sheet metal modules. We even had unfolding programs for the wire frame design.

Here is an image of a wireframe sheet metal part. With CADDS 4 we started with one color! Green on Black! They added Color for $35,000 per seat with CADDS 4X. I sold PC Based 3D CADKEY in 1987 with full color with 90% of the functionality of CADDS 4 and Catia 2 for $9000.00 with CADKEY, a 386 computer and 19in CRT. CADDS 4 and Catia were well over $100,000.00 per seat.

The 1980's - 3D CAD - The Beginning

Are you looking up or down? This used to drive the engineers crazy. Yes, in those days 3D CAD was only in the realm of draftsmen!

Enter solid modeling in 1995. We started modeling our sheet metal like we do all of our models. We would develop the basic shape and use shelling command. I  show this process below

I am afraid that many of the new millennial engineers really don't know you can probably do your sheet metal design faster and easier than with the sheet metal modules. This option probably has never been presented.

Now, I suppose if I only designed sheet metal parts a sheet metal application might be advantageous. But most of us design projects where a variety of mechanical design is used. Machining, sheet metal and other fabrication. So you may design just a few sheet metal parts.

Being a Boeing trained draftsman, I have extensive sheet metal design experience. We would do flat pattern development on undimensioned drawings to .005 tolerance. They would photograph the flat pattern to create the tool.

Today, I just use the basic solid modeling tools. In IronCAD I may grab a feature from the sheet metal module, but that is it.

Here is just one of my many jobs.

IronCAD vs Fusion 360

While creating 3D models from 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 modeling is just one aspect of a well designed productive 3D CAD system.

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 always create the part before I watch the Fusion 360 Video, so as to not taint my process. Of course, there are a multitude of ways to create a model. There is no right way, just more productive ways. From what I have seen from these very complicated processes done by the Fusion 360 fellow, it is not just limited by the 3D CAD system.

Creating this model without using a sheet metal module would be a snap if someone understood you just don't dimension parts for the sheet metal module. So lets get started.

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

We have to use descriptive geometry to define the sketch. This shows how silly detailing a part this way.

I first create a standalone sketch.

IronCAD has two sketching functions the Wizards that allow you to instantly create a solid and the standalone sketch for more complex sketching and .dxf/.dwg imports.

I will just sketch the bent feature. Showing the geometry necessary to develop the cross section from the drawing.

We just trim the graphics and offset 2mm.

Add the end lines and we are finished with the sketch.

Now I will extrude the the 25mm.

We now have our bent shape.

We will now use the Extrude Wizard to create the bottom shape. We use the top face to create the plane then the Triball to locate it on the bottom.

We looking to the sketching plane and start sketching.

We now have basic sheet metal part.

Now we add the side tab by dragging and dropping a block and size it. We have to assume a few things. I am locating it at the center of the center face.

Now we will drag and drop a hole slot the slot into the face. Again assuming it is in the the mid-point of the face. IronCAD recognizes edges, centers, mid-point and corners.

Now the top radial cut.

Now for the top radial cut. We look at the top face and drag and drop a hole cylinder on to that face and size it.

Now we add the blends.

The last blends on the tab.

Add the two holes by dragging and dropping hole cylinders to the center of the radii and size them.

We are done with the part. Even by creating the model this way was faster than the Fusion 360 presenter with the sheet metal module.

Now you Fusion 360 users, use this drawing to create the model with the sheet metal module. You will quickly see that the sheet metal module is a bit clunky and time consuming. If fact he didn't even use the correct dimensions. When converting drawings to 3D you have to re-detail the part to assure it is the same as the drawing.

All You Wanted to Know About Drawing to 3D Conversions

A Short Primer and History of Dimensioning

Now let's build the model again using the correctly dimensioned AID (drawing)

We are already in mm so let's drag and drop a block and size it.

I will show two ways.

Drag and Drop design.

Now drop a hole block onto the left face and push/pull it into position with the handles. Notice it is just sitting on the affected face.

Now we move the Triball to the edge and rotate 43 degrees.


Now we can suppress that feature and I will create a sketch. IronCAD offers this kind of flexibility. Evaluate the situation and use the appropriate command.

First we initiate the Extrude Wizard and select remove material.

Now select the front face. I just projected the front and bottom edge and offset the lines to locate the end of the diagonal line.

We trim and delete the construction graphics. Notice no constraints.

We select finish. You can see drag and drop is a much more productive method.

Now we will add the BR of 2.5mm and the material thickness and at the 4.5 blend

We can now shell the part. I could sketch the cut but this is so much faster. Shelling is a big part of sheet metal modeling. I select the three open faces and set the shell to 2mm. When you design sheet metal you are working on overall shape that may be difficult to create with the sheet metal program. I just want to make you all aware that it can be done a different way.

We drop a hole block to trim the bottom. IronCAD operates much differently than the Solidworks clones. It is fun and as you get proficient there many more flexible options.

Now we can added the the bottom shape and other features as we did above.

Unless you are working in a sheet metal house you should send the AID (drawing) and the 3D model to the sheet metal supplier to create the flat pattern. But IronCAD will unfold any correctly designed model.

We select the base face.

The unfolded flat pattern

So there you go. That is how we modeled sheet metal parts in the past and I still do.

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 Modeling Techniques Defined

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