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Editor’s Pick: IRONCAD Strives to Define Ease for 3D Design

By Anthony J. Lockwood

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

I’ve been intrigued by IRONCAD for years now. Just out in Version 11, IRONCAD was one of the earliest contenders for technology leadership in the 3D design business before a serious bout of honcho happenings affected its development and marketing for a few years. But it was so good then that it could not disappear for good, and dedicated teams of developers kept chipping away at it, improving it every step of the way.

Today, IRONCAD is free of business nonsense, and it enjoys a wide deployment in Asia and Europe, but less than it should in North America. It’s worth checking out for a number of reasons, all of which involve technological way-cooled-ness and most of which are covered in today’s Pick of the Week write-up, but here are three things I like about IRONCAD.

One, IRONCAD is dual kernel. It supports both the ACIS and Parasolid kernels simultaneously. This means much more than it sounds. You know that ACIS and Parasolid graphics engines have the same function and that each has what might be described as strengths and weaknesses, say, a philosophy supporting manifold or non-manifold geometry. IRONCAD lets you leverage the best kernel for a modeling operation within the same model. It does it automatically, so you are not bothered with that sort of detail. You just design as you see fit.

Dual kernels also means that model transfers between CAD systems can be handled in a more reliable native kernel format rather than a neutral format. That flexibility and the ease of data transfer is one of the key reasons why IRONCAD is so widely embraced by manufacturers making stuff for clients.

Two, IRONCAD offers history-based parametric modeling and direct geometry modeling in a single environment. This lets you decide what you need when. For example, you do not want to be bogged down with constraints during concept design. No problem, because you can come back later and apply constraints to your heart’s content. This also makes it really easy to go back and fuss with something and not have to rebuild the entire model.

Three, IRONCAD does not require separate assembly and part files. It uses a single file that supports both. That means you can move between part and assembly design when you need to.

OK. Four. The IRONCAD TriBall tool. It’s for positioning or copying of objects, rotating, mirroring, and stuff like that. It’s way cool.

IRONCAD straddles a unique position in the CAD world. It has the power and functionality to attract the attention of any serious designer, engineer, or manufacturer. It facilitates file transfers, it does things that more expensive systems do, and it can serve as a complement to your PLM system. But it hasn’t attracted the attention it should in North America. Which is I recommend that you register and download the free evaluation of IRONCAD — the full enchilada, by the way — from the link in today’s Pick of the Week write-up and give it your attention for a while. It’s worth the look.

Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood

Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine

About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.