By Raj Ganesh, an engineer and CAD software user
I got some exciting news today: ZWSOFT announced that ZWCAD 2011 Beta had the SolProf command. I became familiar with this feature years ago when I was learning how to use AutoCAD software. I have been waiting for this function when I switched to ZWCAD with the 2007 version. And now my wish comes true with ZWCAD 2011. SolProf is short for “solid profiles,” and is only for 3D designers; probably, most users may not concern about it. Anyway, I like it and make good use of it in my designs.
I would like to share with you how I use SolProf. If you use SolProf in other ways, I hope that you share the techniques with us, too.
Here is the typical use for this command. I have mechanical drawings of 3D objects. I know that if I am going to manufacture this component, I have to convert the drawings to 2D plans of several different viewpoints, and then add dimensions to size the parts. For example, the figure below shows the drawing of a 3D part.
1. The first step before using SolProf is to split the drawing into four viewports to show three sides (top, side, front) and an isometric view. This arrangement clearly shows what the object looks like.
2. The second step is to start the SolProf command, and then apply it four times, once on each viewport. I’ve captured the command history so that you can see that it is not very complicated.
Select object: (Choose object in one viewport.)
Entities in set: 1
Select object: (Press Enter to continue.)
Display hidden profile lines on separate layer? [Yes/No] : (Enter Y.)
Project profile lines onto a plane? [Yes/No] : (Enter Y.)
I would like to give a brief explanation about the meaning of the last two options:
“Display hidden profile lines on separate layer? [Yes/No]”
Y means that two blocks will be created, one for visible lines, and the other for the profile’s hidden lines. (Hidden lines are those at the back of the part.) I recommend that you enter Y.
N means all visible and hidden lines will be created as one block.
“Project profile lines onto a plane? [Yes/No]”
Y means the profile lines will be generated on one plane. I recommend that you enter Y.
N means the profile lines will be 3D.
The picture below shows the result after using SolProf. You can see that the profile lines were generated from the 3D object. In addition, several related layers were created to segregate profile lines, such as PH-1DF and PV-1DF.
3. What I did was get the profile lines from the 3D object. At this point, I could turn off original 3D object’s layers in the Layers Manager, and then change the line types and line weights of profile lines. See figure below. This makes the profile lines look nicer and makes them easier to work with.
4. Each viewport now has its own set of profile lines, making it convenient to modify them, such as adding dimensions and placing text.
If there were no function like SolProf, I could not imagine how I would go about getting profile lines. Probably, I would need to set the 3D object on a plane, and then trace its shape by drawing 2D lines or something like that.