History Based Direct Modeling Using IRONCAD – Part 1

In my opinion, one of the most misunderstood MCAD products is IRONCAD by IronCAD (the company name is written in mixed case and the product name is written in uppercase). IronCAD also has a lite version called INOVATE. IronCAD arrived on the scene way back in 1998, although there is some history before that as well. The company is mainly known to have a direct modeling product. But how many of you know that the current version of IRONCAD has a strict history based parametric modeling work flow as well? They call it “Structured” mode and it was added in 2009. However, I am told that about 98% of IRONCAD users use the other older mode called “Innovative” mode because its just so wonderful and easy to use.

For the past couple of days I have been making a great deal of noise about Solid Edge ST3 and how it now offers feature based parametric modeling and direct modeling in the same environment. IRONCAD has been able to do that for years. 12 years to be precise. And that is precisely the part that is largely misunderstood. The problem with IronCAD was that when they came out with their technology in 1998, the CAD press put them in the category of direct modeling software and it has pretty much stayed that way ever since. Most people never really understood that IRONCAD does work like a history based parametric modeling system with the important difference that it does not constrain the user to the history tree. There are a couple of things about IRONCAD that I want to highlight in this series. Firstly, IRONCAD intelligently reorders the features in the tree automatically so that features can be moved around the model. Secondly, when a user attempts to carry out a direct modeling operation that will affect more than one feature, the software intelligently combines only the features that are required to be combined to allow the operation and leaves the other features intact. I will explain both these concepts in some detail in this series and compare them to Synchronous Technology as currently implemented in Solid Edge ST3. IronCAD has some fantastic patented technology that needs to be showcased which is the whole point of this series.

Another thing. If you are a 2D CAD user looking for a nice and easy way to move to 3D, I suggest you pay close attention to this series on IRONCAD. If not anything, at least you will know what you will be missing in case you decide to move to another 3D CAD product. 😉

Part 2 >>