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The Amazing Align Feature in ZWCAD

March 30, 2011

By Doreen Wendy, a mechanical designer and CAD software user

Pretty much everyone knows about the basic drawing functions in ZWCAD, as well as its editing functions, such as copy, rotate, and array. I learned all these just as you have. Today, though, I want to tell you about an amazing function that I just discovered, Align.

I believe that many of you may not have noticed it, because it is hidden in the 3D Operation submenu, as shown by figure below: Modify->3D Operation->Align.

What does Align do? In short, Align can perform as many as three actions at a time: move, rotate, and scale entities. Despite its location in the menu system, it can be used both for 3D and 2D drafting.

It is very simple to use, as the command line below shows. First, you select the entity to be aligned, and then you specify two pairs of points according to the command prompts, a source and a destination. (You can ignore the third pair of points, for they are used only with editing in 3D.) The result is amazing.

To show you the value of this feature, let me walk you through a real example. Below are the components of a pump and a pipe drawn by two different drafters. The CAD manager wants to check if the two components match each other correctly. What to do?

We could use the Move and Rotate commands, which would work, but the procedure in using them is too complicated. Now with the Align function instead, we just need to specify four points, then the two parts are assembled automatically.

Once the parts are assembled, we can zoom in to the joint area to confirm that the two match each other well. In the figure below, we see that some tiny deviations still exist between the two components. Back to the drafting board!

When it comes to using shared components in drawings, we sometimes use blocks made by other drafters. It is not uncommon that the size and angle are not exactly what we need. Previously, we would have become annoyed at having to rotate and then scale the blocks when inserting them. Now we can insert the block, and then use a single command to align it into place.

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