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[Discuss] ZW3D vs IronCAD

Post time 2019-5-21 13:04:18
Hi everyone,

I am a 12-year freelance 3D designer and I'm looking into a new CAD software investment. Two candidates here: ZW3D and IronCAD. I've tried both of the trial versions but with limited time only. I know you'll never really know the pros and cons of any CAD solution until you've spent at least 1-yr continuous learning and using.

So far I'm on the ZW3D side because I like the diverse capabilities of it (CAD + CAM + some reverse engineering), and the price is also much cheaper than the IronCAD. ZW3D also seems to have more online resources to learn and participate. IronCAD doesn't have an official open forum like this. You need to buy it before they create an account for you.

All that said, the way that IronCAD models shape like the Microsoft Visio impressed me. It looks much faster than any other CAD software I've ever seen.

So is there anyone who has used both of them for a long period of time? Can you share some thoughts about these two CAD solutions?

Thanks.

Acon
@Acon
I use Both ZW3D and IronCAD.
To be honest I would need more information about how you use CAD.
By that I mean:
Do you use parametrics when you work?
Do you need solid rendering capabilities without an addon?
Do you need mid to high level surfacing?
Do you need history based modeling?
Do you need built in CAM?


Phil
Post time 2019-5-22 05:31:02
Watching this with interest....
Cheers
Paul
Post time 2019-5-22 15:06:39
philan3916 replied at 2019-5-22 00:02
@Acon
I use Both ZW3D and IronCAD.
To be honest I would need more informatio ...

Hi Phil,

Good to know that there is a user familiar with both products.


(1) Do I use parametrics when I work?
Yes if possible. I've used many different 3d modelers including Sketchup、Rhino、Spaceclaim、Solidthinking Evolve、ZBrush and Maya, and within them I found the Evolve saved me more time when I need to modify the designs to have more iterations, but direct modelers like Spaceclaim is handy as well because you can start editing any geometry right away. But generally I think parametric modelers make more sense in serious CAD projects.

(2) Do I need solid rendering capabilities without an addon?
Yes if possible, but it's not critical for me.
  
(3) Do I need mid to high level surfacing?

Yes sometimes.

(4) Do I need history based modeling?

Does this mean the same to the "parametric modeling" since I saw these terms interchangeably when they describe CAD products? So the answer is yes.

(5) Do you need built in CAM?


No not at this moment. Even with ZW3D I need only the Standard version at this moment (which doesn't have CAM capabilities).


Cheers.
Acon replied at 2019-5-22 15:06
Hi Phil,

Good to know that there is a user familiar with both products.

Hi Acon,
Parametrics and history usually do go hand in hand but in reality they are not the same.
For instance in parametric modeling you setup "Parameters" (D1=10"). You then have access to that parameter without having to edit a sketch or roll back in the history.
When modeling with "History" you have the option to step back in time to the point where you created a feature and edit it, then all down stream feature will update accordingly.

#1
Both ZW3D and IronCAD have good parametric controls. Both can create parameters and use them throughout your designs.

#2
I find rendering in IronCAD sub-par although I think for most people it is capable.
Unless you buy a plugin to Keyshot rendering in ZW3D is poor and a lot of work.

Personally I find realtime rendering with Octane 4 faster and better.

#3
IronCAD is out for this one. It's surfacing capabilities are minimal at best and not suited for Industrial Design work.

Zw3D on the other hand really shines here. I have been able to create very complex Class-A surfaces without the headaches and nightmares involved with software like Alias.

#4
IronCAD's strengths lie in it's direct modeling capabilities. Although you can turn on a linked features setup that works sort of like Solidworks History tree, I would never use it that way.

ZW3D can use either or a combination of the two, which in my opinion is more powerful. Kind of like Hybrid design using both solid and surface modeling is way more powerful and flexable then just solid modeling alone.

#5
IronCAD doesn't have built in CAM

ZW3D does and with the introduction of Volumill it's great.

Short answer is when I build machines or complex mechanical setups IronCAD really shines and is a faster tool to get the job done. The libraries are very useful and fast. Smart primitives are top shelf over all current CAD apps. For everything else I use ZW3D.

ZW3D is adding new tools that are making it faster and faster at building machines in CAD, but not quite there yet.
Personally I still prefer ZW3D as I have not found anything I can not model in it.

Let me know if I can answer any other questions.
Cheers
Phil
Post time 2019-5-24 03:35:41
Thanks Phil,
Only experienced users truly know  what can be done.

Acon, I use ZW3D exclusively mostly dealing with small assemblies that are developer from in house parts with some generics. Like Phil, I have not found anything I cannot model given information and time.
What I do know is that the Point Cloud and Free Surfacing tools allow for organic design that is clearly not fillet based, e.g. I see a lot of design that is a basic shape with variable fillets when I would have made it from UV surfaces etc with a less flat areas. It is a different aesthetic. It is also a different skill set.

Editing and designing 'in' assembly is very good in ZW with the ability to reference assembly items then later break the references to make for independent components.

More recently I have been using Configuration to manage part variants and assembly variants. I might even be pushing beyond what was intended but it can really reduce project complexity whilst delivering excellent documentation outcomes.
I use history modeling which, with caching turned on , is very fast and add Direct Editing features when this appropriate. What is cool is that I can tweak the direct edit via history as is often required.

Cheers - Paul

Post time 2019-5-24 06:10:52
Thanks Phil and Paul for sharing your valuable experiences. It looks like ZW3D is the one I need at this moment. I've tried ZW3D for 5 days and got a very good impression so far. I was expecting good reverse engineering (CADing up based on your scanned STL model) because I did lots of this kind of work for my clients, but the ZW team told me this module is not as capable as what I saw from other specialized packages like the Mesh2Surface (a plugin in Rhino), Geomagic Design X or Catia. I don't blame this at all because the last two are both over 10X more expensive than ZW3D, even the Mesh2Surface is more expensive with the Rhino itself.

So with just some little imperfection, ZW3D looks like an all-around player with a very affordable price here. IronCAD's Visio-style editing feature still impresses me but for now, it's not that critical.

Does the Octane 4 Phil mentioned support ZW3D? I found no ZW3D related info on their website.

Cheers.
Post time 2019-5-25 05:08:35
Hi Acon,
Simlab does a decent tendering job for very reasonable cost.
Cheers
Paul
Post time 2019-5-26 07:58:54
mudcrab replied at 2019-5-25 05:08
Hi Acon,
Simlab does a decent tendering job for very reasonable cost.
Cheers


Hi Paul,

Do you mean Simlab Composer? It looks like a physical simulation application. Do you mean it has rendering features?
https://www.simlab-soft.com/3d-p ... 3D-integration.aspx

ZWsoft technical support told me that ZW3D supports Keyshot HD to be integrated in the main interface and that might be very handy with the real-time rendering capability from Keyshot. Does the Simlab Composer have the same feature?

I also found the simulation very cool and useful when one needs to design and test the motion of mechanical design. ZWsoft told me the native simulation feature in ZW3D (by constraints) is limited. Not sure if the Simlab Composer can do a better job here.

Cheers,

Acon
Post time 2019-5-27 03:15:41
I use Simlab Composer for rendering.
No time/need for naimations for animations.

For CAE I have started using Simwise which is an integrated app.
I like that it is very straight forward ot use and produces results in decent time.
Like anything there is a learning curve.
But it is not overly expensive and does dynamic model analyis if you go for the 4D kit.
The version integrated with ZW is aimed at single part which is great or many people.
When using this from ZW you can edit geometry dimensions etc and as long as faces stay consistent, re run an FEA using the original setup to see how you have improved (thats the plan at least) design.

Cheers

Acon replied at 2019-5-23 17:10
Thanks Phil and Paul for sharing your valuable experiences. It looks like ZW3D is the one I need at  ...

@Acon,
"Does the Octane 4 Phil mentioned support ZW3D? I found no ZW3D related info on their website."


It doesn't support it directly. If you want direct support and ease of use Keyshot will work.


Although Simlabs works well, I prefer Octanes results.

I am currently working on a workflow for mesh to nurbs. I just need the ZW3D team to give us the ability to show edges and points on solid shaded meshes....


Cheers,
Phil
Post time 2019-5-30 14:39:51
philan3916 replied at 2019-5-29 22:08
@Acon,
"Does the Octane 4 Phil mentioned support ZW3D? I found no ZW3D related info on their websi ...

Thanks Phil. I am trying Keyshot now and will see how it goes.

When you say mesh do you mean polygonal shapes like STL files? Turning polygonal shapes to NURBS or solid needs reverse engineering (RE) features.

Rhino's Mesh2Surface is specialized in that area. I've never really used it but their videos look very promising.

Solidthinking Evolve has a triple-hybrid modeling core which allows you to work with solids, NURBS surfaces and meshs. According to my memory Evolve has a button to convert a simple mesh body to NURBS body. But it's not really a RE feature and doesn't work with complex shapes (the software will just freeze and crash).

Acon
Acon replied at 2019-5-30 01:39
Thanks Phil. I am trying Keyshot now and will see how it goes.

When you say mesh do you mean poly ...

"When you say mesh do you mean polygonal shapes like STL files? "
Yes that's exactly what I mean.


"Turning polygonal shapes to NURBS or solid needs reverse engineering (RE) features."
Actually it doesn't, they can help but are not required. What is required is a way to make a crappy .stl fil into a quad polygon mesh.


"Rhino's Mesh2Surface is specialized in that area. I've never really used it but their videos look very promising. "

Sure if you don't mind dropping that much cash. Rhino is a great compliment to ZW3D for many reasons.


"According to my memory Evolve has a button to convert a simple mesh body to NURBS body."
Yes it does but it has to be a quad mesh....and as you have already noted it crashes a lot.


This is a model I made a long time ago that was recently converted into a nurbs CAD model.
Untitled.png Untitled2.png
Post time 2019-5-31 15:18:41
Got my interest - want ot tell how you achieved that, how it was modelled in the first place etc.

Just maybe start a new thread... (moderator hat on)

Cheers
Paul


Post time 2019-5-31 21:22:09
Beside CADing I'm also a digital sculptor and I've been using ZBrush for years. ZBrush can turn triangular STL meshs into quad meshs with only few clicks. I used this feature a lot when I needed to convert the scanned human bodies (STL) into animatable models (which require quad meshes).

It's a command called ZRemesher but it belongs to a procedure called "retopology" used in the CG/gaming/animation industries and you find many other specialized software packages. Still ZBrush's ZRemesher is one of the best.
Acon replied at 2019-5-31 08:22
Beside CADing I'm also a digital sculptor and I've been using ZBrush for years. ZBrush can turn tria ...

@Acon,
I also use Zbrush for a lot of stuff. Yes your right the zremesher is a fantastic auto-quad mesh tool.
I also use Topogun for a lot of stuff.

Something you might want to look into for sub-d to cad is MOI. it is not perfect but works pretty good as long as your quad mesh is not crazy high poly.
Probably the best on the market right now though would be Cyborg3D if you have the cash. ($995) It is hands down the best solution I have used if you don't want to do the manual work involved. It can convert SUB-D to Class-A NURBs with ease and you will have a ton of control too.

I would really like to see ZW3D add the ability to convert Sub-D to NURBs as I don't think it would be that hard for them to do. Basically your control mesh for nurbs is the same as your control mesh for SUB-D.

At least you can use ZW3D for this kind of work. There is no way you could use IronCAD for it...

I really don't understand why the the polygon and CAD worlds are so far apart... come the day when a CAD system uses both seamlessly with all functions of both worlds, that CAD system will dominate the market. Some systems are working towards that goal but fall short in too many areas.
Post time 2019-6-1 05:16:28
philan3916 replied at 2019-6-1 00:33
@Acon,
I also use Zbrush for a lot of stuff. Yes your right the zremesher is a fantastic auto-quad ...

Hi Phil,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Topogun was my main tool for retopology before the ZRemesher came out with one version (somewhere 4R2 but I don't remember). Still I think Topogun is very powerful if you want to have full manual control.

I heard about MOI and I also heard about Cyborg3D when I was looking for a reverse engineering solution. If my memory is right Cyborg3D has many different packages and one of them is called Cyborg3D MeshToCAD, but there were limited info and reviews about it (or other packages) so I gave up keep looking into it.


Acon replied at 2019-5-31 16:16
Hi Phil,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Topogun was my main tool for retopology before the Z ...

@Acon,
If there is anything you want to know about it just let me know, I would be glad to share my experiences.

Cheers,
Phil
Post time 2019-6-4 18:49:52
Hi Phil,

From what I've learned before, the reverse engineering packages (especially the middle-cost range ones from USD1,000 - 3,000) can be generally divided into two main groups: one with intelligent topology tools for quickly converting really organic shapes (sculpture, human forms, CT scan data, etc) into NURBS format, the other with contour/point/surface recognizing features to re-draw (industrial-oriented) prismatic NURBS shapes and surfaces. Cyborg3D MeshToCAD seems to belong to the first category (and it seems to be one of the most powerful ones), is my thought correct?

I do 50% art-type design and 50% industrial design. So both types of RE software would be useful to me, but now I need more application for the latter group (industrial design). How is your experience with Cyborg3D MeshToCAD in this area?

Cheers.

Acon
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