BricsCAD’s direct modeling capabilities bring a lot of power to the CAD world. However, there are still engineers, drafters, and designers who are hesitant to make the change to BricsCAD due to the perceived difficulty of direct modeling. It can be quite a challenge to learn how to use these tools and techniques, when most of your experience comes from strictly parametric modeling tools, such as Autodesk Inventor or SolidWorks. Here are some tips to help get you started.
Despite to the fear you may have towards retraining yourself, BricsCAD direct modeling is very easy, and requires a much shallower learning curve than parametric modeling. The first step to understanding direct modeling is to realize that. When using parametric tools, often we ask ourselves how we can best leverage complex commands such as sweeps and lofts to give us the shape and curvature we desire, but with direct modeling we tend to take a different approach. In BricsCAD, similar results can be obtained by implementing simple commands such as Move, Rotate, and Copy Faces to create complex and infinitely variable geometry.
Aside the Push/Pull command, the signature direct modeling tool, let’s discuss how to apply the Move command for modeling. If you come from Inventor or Solidworks, your experience with this tool is likely limited to simply re-positioning bodies in 3D or sketch features in 2D. However, in BricsCAD, the Move tool does much more. Not only can you move solids, but you can move their associated features such as faces and edges, forcing the program to recreate the 3D geometry based on new positions of these features. By moving edges, you can easily modify prisms and triangular solids, and moving entire faces allows the creation of even more complex 3D geometry. Similar to the Move command, you can also use the rotate command to reposition faces by rotating them in relation to an edge.
When manipulating objects in 3D becomes difficult, make use of the Manipulator tool. This handy gadget allows precise movement and rotation in all 6 degrees of freedom. This tool, which we’ve discussed in detail in a previous post, plays an important role when direct modeling. The arrowheads on the Manipulator allow for mirroring features, which becomes very useful for copying and imprinting faces onto your model, especially when the Copy Faces tool does not function as intended.
Working with pick-and-place features such as fillets and chamfers becomes even easier with direct modeling. Not only can you modify specific fillets with the push/pull command, you can quickly clean up your model by selecting all rounded edges and erasing them at the same time. Because there are no parametric properties associated with these features, they can be manipulated just as easily as everything else with direct modeling.
The Copy Faces tool, when used effectively, can drastically cut down the time it takes to produce a model with repeating features. Using Copy Faces, you can quickly duplicate holes, slots, and embossed features and automatically blend them with your model. All that can be accomplished without the parametric clutter associated with creating many duplicate features.
These are some of the most important tools and techniques that you should practice using and begin leveraging in your designs. Once you master these basics, you should be well on your way to direct modeling like a professional.