ZW3D 2011 Whitepaper - Software Review

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ZW3D 2011 Whitepaper - Software Review

  1. 1. Software Review: ZW3D Premium2011 – Capable CAD and CAM In One Package Conducted for ZWSOFT By Jeff Rowe Cairowest Group, LLC Sept. 9, 2011 Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  2. 2. Software Review: ZW3D Premium 2011 – Capable CAD and CAM InOne PackageAlthough they do share some similarities, CAD and CAM processes are actually moredifferent then they are similar. They have different requirements, workflows, and outputs,and very few design/engineering software packages are up to the task for performing both.ZW3D Premium 2011, however, handles them both – all in one package. The ability tohandle both CAD and CAM in one package has several distinct advantages, including acommon user interface, the fact that you can seamlessly toggle between CAD and CAM, andservice packs and updates can be applied to both simultaneously when they are available.All in all, a single, integrated, and comprehensive application that can handle both CAD andCAM makes for a more efficient manufacturing workflow that can provide better end results.For those of you who might not be familiar with the company that develops, markets, andsupports ZW3D, its ZWSOFT, based in China and has been involved with CAD since 1993.Its 2D product, ZWCAD, has been available for almost 10 years. Its 2D/3D family, ZW3D,was added to its product portfolio last year when it acquired the products and technologiesof VX Corp., a company known for its integrated CAD/CAM software and used extensively inthe plastics manufacturing industry. As part of the acquisition, ZW3D continues toincorporate and enhance the proprietary geometric modeling kernel originally developed byVX – something I consider an advantage because it provides greater control overdevelopment and can optimize the functionality of a CAD product.Recently released, ZW3D 2011 is available in three versions – Standard, Professional, andPremium. Let’s take a quick look at what each of the versions offers for users with differentneeds and workflows:  ZW3D Standard – Has comprehensive import capabilities, history-based and direct surface and solid modeling, sheet metal design, design optimization.  ZW3D Professional – Has everything included in Standard, plus integrated PartSolutions library, mold and die design, point cloud processing.  ZW3D Premium – Has everything in Professional, plus extensive integrated manufacturing and machining capabilities.Probably the two most significant breakthroughs with ZW3D 2011 Premium include:  Direct Edit design paradigm that is integrated into the existing history-based modeling architecture – providing you with different design methodologies that each have their own distinct advantages.  Auto Feature Machining that reduces the time required to program complex 3D parts for creating a machining plan by automatically detecting features and optimizing tool selection and machining strategy.ZW3D Premium 2011 will be the version covered in this white paper/review, so, let’s getstarted. Note also, that although ZW3D Premium has a wide range of CAD and CAMcapabilities, we will focus primarily on the CAD side of the equation. Because there is somuch to cover on the CAM side, we will briefly discuss CAM capabilities in an overviewfashion, hoping to cover them in much greater detail in a future white paper/review.Getting StartedRegardless of experience, for the most part, learning a new software package always haschallenges and associated frustrations, and CAD programs are often no different than othertypes of software. Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  3. 3. Most CAD applications now have educational tools and a path for easing the steepness ofthe initial learning curve, with some tools and methods definitely better than others. Fornew and even experienced users, the place to start with ZW3D 2011 are the Show-n-Telltutorials.Although hardware prices continue their downward spiral, frugal users without budgets fornew hardware will appreciate ZW3D’s relatively modest system requirements – IntelPentium IV or better; 1GB RAM; and 1280 x 1024 VGA video with True Color. Of course,more advanced hardware will improve performance, but brand new hardware is not a costbarrier for running ZW3D 2011 Premium.Figure 1: ZW3D 2011 User InterfaceAlong with educational materials, a good user interface is also integral for new users, andZW3D is making some significant strides in this vital area. However, more work needs to bedone here as it looks and feels somewhat dated. For example, the large number of iconsand drop-down menus are not very intuitive, especially for new users, and take somegetting used to with regard to functionality and sequence.Unlike some other CAD/CAM systems, files created with ZW3D can contain as many parts,assemblies, drawings, and CAM plans as needed, each being known as an object. You canstore an entire project of objects in one file or multiple files. A good strategy would be tostore commonly used parts in one file and create part objects specific to an assembly inanother project file.Another good strategy for beginning a design with ZW3D is to create template objects formodeling, 2D detailing, and machining. All template objects are stored in the Templates file.You can edit previous template objects, as well as copying and pasting to create a new one.Templates can be customized to set such things as colors and line styles, layer schemes,and machining operations and parameters. A template can be selected and used whenstarting, for example, a new part, drawing sheet, or CAM plan. When using templates, be Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  4. 4. sure to properly save and close the Templates file when you have finished editing to ensurethe integrity of your work.ZW3D has a couple of hints and prompts design aids that new users will appreciate. First,there is Show Hints that provides context sensitive, continuous tips. Second, at the bottomof the graphics window is the Prompt/Status Line that displays the current command andthe next logical step ZW3D wants you to perform. This latter feature is not perfect, but isusually quite helpful.Figure 2: Importing Geometry with the Import OptionThere are two ways you can import geometry -- using the Import option under the Filemenu or using the TransMagic option under the Applications menu. Using the Import option,you can import DWG, IGES, STEP, VDA, DXF, Parasolid, STL, and Neutral data formats. Ifyou have the TransMagic data import/export tool installed (it is a free add-on for ZW3Dusers), you can import CATIA V4 and V5, SAT, NX, Inventor, Pro/ENGINEER, andSolidWorks formats.With ZW3D Premium you can work with any geometry and solids are not necessarilyrequired. Once imported you can manipulate solids, surfaces, wireframe, and scanned pointcloud data. Geometry healing is useful for correcting gaps in imported model geometry.Healing functions make it relatively easy to analyze surface topology, sew surfaces together,fill gaps with new surfaces, and specify tolerances for creating closed solids.Modeling PartsZW3D is built on the company’s own, proprietary Overdrive modeling kernel, which, as Ipreviously mentioned is a good thing for mathematical modeling efficiency, optimization, Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  5. 5. and the fact that you and your CAD vendor are not held hostage by a modeling kerneldevelopers’ schedule.Figure 3: Creating a New FileSketchingRegardless of what CAD system is used, most new designs start with sketches, and ZW3D isno different. However, ZW3D can simplify sketching with a capability called ReadySketchwith several pre-defined commonly used, dimensioned geometric sketch shapes that can bequickly edited to a needed size. Text created using ReadySketch can be embossed orextruded.Sketching in ZW3D is straightforward, making it easy to begin a design. Clicking on a lineand right clicking displays several context sensitive options, such as copy, move, mirror, cut,etc. Geometric constraints, such as perpendicular, parallel, etc. are automatically displayedand in effect during sketching. Clicking on a constraint displays options for changing it.When you save and exit the sketch, you are ready to next create features. Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  6. 6. Figure 4: Sketching a Part in 2DAdding FeaturesProbably the most common way that 2D sketches become 3D shapes for further modeling isby extruding the 2D sketch. Extruding and adding additional features, such as fillets andchamfers is easy with several options available as they are added for arriving at exactly theshape you want for your design. Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  7. 7. Figure 5: Adding 3D Features to a 2D Sketch – Extrusion with Several Typesof Features AppliedApplying DimensionsAt the 2D level, there are several dimensioning modes available, including  Normal – dimensions point to point  Baseline – dimensions from the first point selected to successive points  Continuous – dimensions continuously between successive points  Ordinate – similar top Baseline, but each successive point receives an ordinate value measured from the first point.For 3D, with ZW3D’s dynamic dimensions you can pick and drag 3D dimensions formodifying shapes with simultaneous visual feedback. This ability lets you construct 3Dgeometry with parametric dimensions because they are automatically created during thedesign process.Applying ConstraintsIf required, and they usually are, constraints can be applied in both 2D and 3D designenvironments.In 2D, there are several commands available for adding constraints to an active sketch,such as anchor, parallel, perpendicular, co-tangent, etc. Like it or not, constraints forceconditions on geometry as a sketch is modified. You can choose commands to analyze andsolve the constraint system of a sketch. 2D constraints (and dimensions) can also beapplied automatically to sketch geometry on the fly by using the Constraint toolbar andselecting a base point.In 3D, the constraints are most commonly applied are assembly alignment constraints. Forassemblies, inserting component parts and adding alignment constraints are consideredindividual steps in parametric history. This is a good feature because constraints can beadded in any order since they are not bundled with components or replayed sequentiallyduring a history replay. When a 3D constraint is applied, a short animation shows the partsaligning and moving into place in the assembly. Alignment constraints can be added, deleted,solved, edited, dragged, and investigated. Alignment constraints can also be applied toanchor components in a fixed position. Applying 3D constraints can be time consuminghowever, because in most cases, multiple constraints are required to properly align acomponent.Two Modeling Approaches – Parametric and DirectBefore we go any further, you should know that ZW3D provides two different modelingmethods – history-based and direct. History-based modeling employs a History Manager, orwhat other parametric system vendors call a history/feature tree.ZW3D’ SmoothFlow Direct Editing combines the best of both worlds – the speed andflexibility of direct modeling with the precision of dimension-driven modeling, while stillmaintaining the functionality of history-based modeling. Using SmoothFlow, you can directlymodify model geometry without editing history – a real time saver, since creating andediting history-based geometry can be a challenge. Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  8. 8. QuickEdit is a new ZW3D technique that streamlines creating and editing shapes. WithQuickEdit you don’t have to pre-select an editing tool. Instead, you touch a part’s face oredge, right click the mouse, and choose a tool, such as fillet, offset, or move.SnapPick is a new ZW3D option that takes a point pick and automatically drives it fromintersections, critical points, and axis directions. You can think of SnapPick as an assistantfor helping create 3D sketches, features, and parts.The direct modeling/editing approach provided by ZW3D is unique because of the way itemploys a feature tree. While some competitors have abandoned the feature tree with theirdirect approaches, it does make for a workflow that is easier to track and understand. Directmodel editing lets you pick directly on geometry for quick modifications. You also havedifferent options for viewing how the model was created with the ability to display thehistory of modeling operations, a list of parent and/or child operations, as well as the abilityto replay and step through a model’s history.Important for ZW3D users who are involved with both CAD and CAM, regardless of whetheryou model parametrically or directly, any changes made to geometry automatically updatesassociated CNC program output downstream.Stepping Up to AssembliesCreating assemblies from parts in ZW3D Premium 2011 is one of its strengths becauseassembly modeling is key to ZW3D’s underlying design philosophy. It supports efficientassembly definition, manipulation, and management, and was a fundamental considerationwhen the ZW3D architecture was conceived and designed. For example, ZW3D’s ObjectManager loads only display data for an object into memory if that object is active for edit,minimizing an assembly’s memory footprint while maximizing the size of an assembly thatcan be worked with. The Object Manager also lets you decide how assemblies aredistributed into files – ranging from each component in a separate file, an entire assemblyin one file, or anything in between. Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  9. 9. Figure 6: Toggle Clamp Assembly With Alignment Constraints AppliedZW3D Premium supports the two main assembly creation approaches – bottom-up and top-down.In bottom-up assembly design, assemblies are broken down into smaller subassemblies andcomponents, and each component is designed as a separate, unique part. The componentparts can be archived in a library in one or more ZW3D files, making this approach anefficient way for creating and managing large, complex assemblies. Each part is insertedinto the active part, creating a component instance and an assembly. The componentbecomes the child of the active part and then it becomes the active part. Because aninstance of an actual part is used, you can have it update automatically if the archived partis modified, or you can modify the archived part by activating and modifying its componentinstance. While it might sound complicated, it really isn’t, and this ability illustrates theflexibility of ZW3D.In top-down assembly design, all components are typically designed and placed while youare in an active part. Using the top-down method in ZW3D, the active part actually becomesthe assembly. The component becomes a child of the active part and then it becomes theactive part. When created, the component is an instance of an original part that becomes aroot object placed in the active file. The part or each component is activated and can beedited. The top-down approach is generally considered more advantageous than bottom-up.Why? Here’s a typical example. If you are working on a new design, you can elect to keepall component parts in a single file until the design project nears completion. If the projectis cancelled or you decide to go in a totally new direction, deleing the one file deletes thepart or assembly and all of its components.The PartSolutions library, at no additional cost, makes standard parts from a wide variety ofsuppliers available for insertion into an assembly. At the part level, with the PartSolutionsPartAssembly application, you can insert components into active ZW3D assemblies. Youselect the part group that you want, such as fasteners; select the specific part you want to Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  10. 10. insert and modify it if you need to; click on the Transfer to CAD icon; and in ZW3D, selectthe insertion point for the new component.Figure 7: The PartSolutions LibraryFinally, ZW3D supports its proprietary lightweight Burst technology that lets you manipulatelarge assemblies without memory constraints. The tree structure for assemblies allowsindividual component parts to be graphically highlighted for identification and modificationpurposes.Creating DrawingsZW3D automatically creates 2D associative detail drawings directly from 3D models fromwhich they are created, so the process is pretty streamlined. The production drawing anddetailing process are assisted by ZW3D’s unique object server architecture that lets youdecide whether drawings will be saved in the same file as the 3D data from the mastermodel or in separate files.Drawings provide an opportunity to briefly discuss ZW3D’s architecture that is a multi-levelobject-oriented system with access to its various integrated modules (such as drawings,CAM, etc.) through a common user interface. Rather than having to launch separateapplications for drafting or CAM, you just open a ZW3D file and proceed to the level youwant; in this instance the Drawing Level for creating and editing drawing packets anddrawing sheets. The Drawing Packet Level contains functions that are used to createdrawing packets, while the Drawing Sheet Level is used to create drawing sheets. In ZW3D,a drawing packet is a collection of one or more drawing sheets. A drawing sheet is wheremodel geometry is located. Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  11. 11. Figure 8: A ZW3D DrawingWhile we’re discussing drawings, there is a new command for bills of material that lets yousynchronize a BOM with part attributes for updating a 3D part by making changes to theBOM table on a 2D drawing , so you don’t have to drill down to the part.VisualizationBefore proceeding to the manufacturing stage, for rendering a model (scene) at the partlevel for presentation, you use the command and options under the Visualize tooltab.Rendering a scene is performed with the following basic steps in the Visualizationenvironment:  Position and orient a part or assembly in the scene  Modify any face attributes  Apply any texture attributes or maps  Create and position light sources  Modify any rendering attributes  Render the scene Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  12. 12. While not as sophisticated and complex as the rendering packages found in some competingCAD products, the visualization capabilities in ZW3D are not overkill, relatively easy to setup and use, and will fulfill the needs of virtually all users in this design space.Using Built-In Manufacturing CapabilitiesOne of the most unique aspects of the ZW3D Premium CAD process is its association withthe manufacturing process. For example, ZW3D recognizes and machines geometric designfeatures (up to 5 axes), and has the ability to directly manipulate and machine from STL ormesh scan files.With an extensive integrated knowledge base, ZW3D Premium 2011 includes automaticfeature recognition (holes, slots, pockets, etc.). ZW3D breaks down part topology into solidfeatures and then analyzes the capabilities of library tools for producing a machining planand generating a machining sequence/workflow. This technology is a real time saver. Thecompany estimates that it could cut machine programming time in half and machining cycletime by up to 30%.ZW3D Premium 2011 lets you create mold geometry that includes core and cavity, partingsurfaces, draft angles and material shutoffs. The core and cavity can be created at the sametime in one operation. Also available is a comprehensive library of standard mold basecomponents that includes slides, lifters, ejector pins, cooling channels, and electrodes forproducing molds. One of the most significant features of ZW3D’s mold capabilities is theway it is organized into a logical sequence that walks you through the mold creation process.Before getting to the mold design phase, you can interrogate, analyze, and animate aplastic part’s design to ensure that it is manufacturable. ZW3D also generates so-calledintelligent workflow. For example, it employs auto-feature milling with machining strategybased on a part’s features.Although you can create them from scratch, the quickest way to create tooling for producingplastic parts is by using ZW3D Premium’s Mold and Die Tooltab. You use this command setto insert a mold base from the ZW3D standard parts library. You also use the Mold and DieTooltab for automatically creating electrode geometry during mold design. Inputs forelectrodes include approach direction, the faces or features to duplicate, trimming curves tolimit the electrodes, and the side of the faces or features that will remain. In a nutshell, thebuilt-in mold libraries use knowledge-based libraries to build mold bases and electrodes withautomated parting line, surface, and electrode generation. Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  13. 13. Figure 9: Creating a Blow Mold CavityThe CAM and Tactics Managers in ZW3D Premium provide assistance during themanufacturing phase. These management tools help you develop intelligent and efficientmilling and drilling operations. You do this by defining rules that ZW3D CAM will use whenanalyzing CAM features. The rules that are defined form a rule set that will help select thebest machining tools from your library and calculate the best tool paths. For example, if adrilling operation is required and a good match from available drill tools cannot be located inthe library, ZW3D CAM searches existing reaming or boring tools for a better match for thegiven operation. The suggested tooling operations can then be organized, verified, andoutput just as manually created operations would be. Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  14. 14. Figure 10: Managing ZW3D Machining OperationsZW3D Premium 2011’s machining tactics/strategy optimization assists in selecting the beststrategy based on part features. It analyzes feature attributes, such as sharpness and depth,and selects machining strategy based on this information. Machining strategy optimizationprovides better flexibility and control with better surface finish and improved tool life.Figure 11: CAM Plan/Tactics General Machining Managers Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867
  15. 15. Toolset optimization (TSO) consists of several technologies that ZW3D uses to generateoptimal tool selection for specific machining sequences. It analyzes available tools andmakes “intelligent” choices based on part, stock, material, and machine to compute toolsequence optimization.Final ThoughtsWhile ZW3D 2011 Premium has several strong capabilities in part and assembly design,drawing creation, and data management, its greatest strength and differentiator is the factthat in one package, you have all the tools necessary for going from design throughmanufacturing (machining). In effect, ZW3D Premium 2011 can handle the entire productdevelopment process. This comprehensive ability really adds to its value propositioncompared with its competitors, many of whom require optional or add-in products toachieve this level of functionality, especially on the manufacturing side.Having all workflow capabilities available in one package ensures a similar user experience,look, feel, and behavior throughout the design and manufacturing process. It also ensuresthat all support questions throughout the process can be handled by one organization. All inall, dealing with one comprehensive software application, such as ZW3D Premium 2011, andits supporting cast will benefit many potential customers, especially those directly orindirectly involved with plastic product design and mold and die or machining operations.Although it’s definitely a competitive market, ZW3D Premium 2011 is a uniquedesign/engineering/manufacturing software application because it can do it all. In the nearfuture, look for a much stronger presence of ZW3D in North America by manufacturingorganizations seeking a solution that is capable of doing it all. ZW3D Premium 2011provides a lot of functionality, and we just scratched the surface and evaluated just afraction of its unique features and capabilities. If your organization and workflow call for theability to work with both CAD and CAM worlds, then ZW3D Premium 2011 deserves seriousconsideration because it provides both in one package.EVALUATIONZW3D 2011 Premium2D/3D CAD/CAMPluses: Comprehensive range of capabilities from design through manufacturing; hybridhistory-based and direct modeling; modest system requirements.Minuses: Dated user interface and workflow; help system/tutorial shortcomings.Overall: B+Price: $7,000 (US). Upgrade $1,500 (US). Free trial download available.For More Information: www.zwsoft.com Cirowest Group LLC 1100 Cherokee, Unit 401. Denver, CO 80204 USA 719.221.1867

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