When it comes to mechanical design, 2D drafting is as crucial as 3D modeling. A proper mechanical drawing should allow manufacturers to easily grasp the geometric and manufacturing information. So, how to produce one efficiently? I’ve got 7 tips for you! Get your ZWCAD running and keep reading!
Numerous mechanical parts are constantly used and reused during mechanical design. In this context, you’ll need a tool like the Design Center, which can help you quickly find the existing drawings and even the lists of blocks with previews, layers, line types, etc. To invoke it in ZWCAD, simply use the shortcut “Ctrl+2”. Since dragging various documented mechanical elements from the Design Center directly to the model space is feasible, managing and reusing part files in ZWCAD is convenient for mechanical designers. It's way better than browsing directories and inserting part blocks, right?
Figure 1. You can easily reuse mechanical elements in the Design Center
As its name suggests, the Tool Palettes is where you can store your frequently used parts, hatches, annotative symbols, drawing tools, etc. Screws, for instance, are common mechanical design elements. After invoking the Tool Palettes by “Ctrl+3”, you can drag sample screws straight to the model space. Besides, the screws designed by you can be dragged to and stored in the Tool Palettes for future use. With this feature, you will find it much easier to insert parts and annotative symbols.
Figure 2. Accessing and storing mechanical tools becomes so easy with the Tool Palettes
Speaking of annotations, I’ve received user feedback like this, “I need to remove certain types of dimensions before rearranging the elements in the drawing. Can I select and delete them all at once?” It’s a great point because we all know it can be very time-consuming to do that one by one, especially for mechanical design, in which there are usually countless drawing elements. And the Smart Select feature is to help you with just that. Once you execute the SMARTSEL command, the Smart Select palette will appear and display the properties of all objects in the current drawing. Then, you can customize a filter whose criteria can be object type, color, layer, etc. The objects that match the filter criteria will be immediately highlighted in the model space. It’s just wonderfully helpful for quick selection. Watch the video below to see how it can help with your mechanical design!
[su_youtube url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz2Dbd612mE" width="800" title="Smart Select in ZWCAD"]
Meanwhile, some commands are long and similar in name, especially the dimension-related ones, such as DIMALIGNED and DIMANGULAR. Used every day by mechanical designers, they can be “easier said than spelled”, even with the help of autocomplete. Apart from memorizing their abbreviations, is there another way to use dimensions? The answer is yes, thanks to the handy Smart Mouse feature. After pairing a mouse gesture with a command, you can hold down the right mouse button while dragging the mouse over a track to invoke the corresponding command. For example, I want to add some aligned dimensions to this part so that I set the downward track to be invoking DIMALIGNED. From then on, annotating with aligned dimensions is just a habitual mouse action.
In mechanical design, you will need to do wire-cutting from time to time. If you’re wire-cutting materials in the shape of letters, TXTEXP (Text Explode) the command is exactly what you need. With it, you can explode text or mtext objects into 2D polylines with one click, instead of painstakingly tracing them with SPLINE. Also, it can help explode text objects created with TrueType and Shape fonts (.SHX).
As I’ve mentioned, mechanical designers need to annotate a lot, often with dimensions. Useful as dimensions are, they can be tricky to handle when you’re plotting the drawing and the viewports are of different scales. To save you from manually adjusting their scales, I'd like to introduce Annotative Scale. Once you've added annotative scales to annotative objects (texts, leaders, hatches, etc.), such objects will automatically adjust themselves to the scale of each viewport. The convenience of Annotative Scale manifests itself when the viewports in a layout are scaled differently.
Figure 3. Mechanical parts can be automatically and annotatively scaled for plotting
You might be accustomed to creating multiple frames in which you draw different mechanical objects. However, they can become headaches if you’re to plot them all at once because you’ll need to select them one by one. Luckily, Smart Plot enables the automatic recognition of frames according to blocks, layers, or scatter lines (closed rectangles). With them intelligently arranged, you can collectively print them, convert them into single-page or multipage PDF files, or even turn each frame into an individual DWG file. In short, Smart Plot can facilitate not only plotting, but also drawing management.
Figure 4. Batch plot mechanical objects within frames intelligently with Smart Plot
Alright, now that you’ve learned about these 7 tips, mechanical design will be a cinch to you. Come and kick some tires on the recently launched ZWCAD 2021 Official! You won’t regret the faster and smoother experience.