IronCAD’s Signature CAD Innovations

Oct 30, 2018 | , , , , , ,
CAD Innovations

With this year marking IronCAD’s twentieth anniversary, we thought we’d take a closer look at the 3D design platform’s signature CAD innovations throughout the years. As a company that’s been devoted to making today’s collaborative design process faster and more seamless since we started in 1998, there are some fundamental aspects to IronCAD that it’s important to recognize. All other distinguishing characteristics on the feature level are essentially built on these foundational CAD innovations.

These fundamentals are best described via a tour of IronCAD’s patented technology, which can be grouped into two categories where we’ve focused on developing radical CAD innovations: productivity and collaboration.

Productivity CAD Innovations

At its outset, IronCAD was all about giving designers the quickest way possible to 3D. It delivered on this promise by instituting a fundamentally different design methodology — one that took a “3D first” approach, rather than extrapolating 3D models from traditional 2D drafting techniques. Consequently, IronCAD users can freely manipulate the 3D parts and assemblies they design vs. having constantly to define (and redefine) the relationships between features.

The basis for this shift in design methodology is IronCAD’s patented IntelliShapes, which essentially allows the users to build 3D objects using 3D building blocks that can be fluidly transformed into

more complex shapes. Squash them, stretch them, punch holes in them, extrude from them — in other words, turn the basic geometric building blocks into whatever you want.

And while you are at it, you can change the orientation of the object you’ve created and position it as you see fit, simply by moving the object using the patented TriBall tool. Then, drag objects into proximity with one another to connect them precisely. The software also has a patented system for intelligent connections that helps position, orient, and size components in the right location without manual interaction. No lengthy process is required to define relationships — the system proactively establishes those based on the user’s movement of the objects in the 3D design scene.

If you create a 3D object that you want to use repeatedly, you can save that part design in a Catalog, which essentially turns that object into one of the initial shapes available to you when you start a design or want to add to it. Moreover, the IronCAD user community has created publicly available catalogs of standardized parts — such as fasteners and electrical components —  that can be used by any IronCAD customer to expedite their design process.

All of these CAD innovations create an environment where designers can actually think and work in 3D — instead of simulating 3D on top what is a fundamentally 2D design methodology. This not only empowers IronCAD users to do more 3D design work in less time, it also enables them to explore more easily, promoting creativity. This makes for a more efficient and dynamic design process overall.

IronCAD’s commitment to delivering design freedom is further supported by its patented seamless mix of feature-history parametric design with direct modeling. This lets designers make design modifications easily at any stage of a product design cycle since they are never restricted by the way the model was created and they don’t need to worry about unexpected result from their changes. Moreover, this functionality is available for both native and imported files, making IronCAD a potential asset for enhancing existing team-based workflows that currently rely on other CAD packages.

Collaboration CAD Innovations

Since roughly 2005, IronCAD has also focused on developing CAD innovations that support the evolving need for increased collaboration throughout the design process. Because today, design is no longer just a designer’s task. Increasingly, designs are influenced by sales and production considerations. Let’s take a closer look at these critical collaboration touch points and see how IronCAD’s CAD innovations facilitate bringing these perspectives into the design process.


When it comes to selling any sort of customizable product such as bespoke machinery, speed is of the essence. Salespeople want to be able to record client needs and turn around designs — or update existing designs — as quickly as possible. The fact is, greater responsiveness helps win business.

Traditionally, those selling using customized designs have had to submit change requests to designers or engineers and then wait for revisions to be made, which is a whole process in and of itself. Besides the fact that salespeople are rarely designers, this has also been a necessary precaution to protect intellectual property.

IronCAD has overcome this divide by developing a patented way to make intelligent, lightweight versions of designs available to salespeople (or any other users, really), which they can then update in real time with customers. (IronCAD is so intuitive, sales users can learn it in no time and use it to configure things on their own — within certain parameters.)

This lightweight file can then be sent to the engineering department, which it can automatically connect to the real engineering data associated with the lightweight design, make the official changes to the model, and send it back to the salesperson. With this collaborative workflow, files don’t have to be recreated and comments don’t have to be interpreted. Start to finish, an engineer can update a source file in 10–15 minutes while the salesperson and customer get a cup of coffee.


Designs often need to be modified so that they can be manufactured properly with less possibilities of imprecise positioned components. IronCAD has evolved with this reality in mind, incorporating patented system intelligence that helps position, orient, and size components in the right location, so that a design that can be manufactured in precise locations without the possibility of manual positioning and placement issues that arise.

Additionally, IronCAD goes beyond this smart assembly of components and can integrate with ERP systems to determine part availability, for example. If a part isn’t available from a preferred vendor, an automatic query asking for price and estimated delivery can be sent. Or, the design can be adjusted to include a similar part from a different supplier.

By incorporating technologies that allow it to span the design-production divide, IronCAD helps its users reduce friction in the overall product lifecycle.

CAD Innovations with the Big Picture in Mind

From the start, IronCAD’s development roadmap has included purposeful innovations that don’t just add functionality — they push the limits of what’s feasible with CAD.

Today, IronCAD still provides the fastest and most flexible way to 3D thanks to its fundamentally different design methodology, which works without constraints. And several of its patented technologies expedite collaboration throughout the enterprise by enhancing communications between sales and design and design and manufacturing. The result is a platform that supports a more streamlined design process — both inside and outside the design department.

To see how IronCAD’s innovations can help speed up your design, download a free 30-day trial of the IronCAD Design Collaboration Suite.