June 06, 2011
ZW3D 2011 Released
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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ZWSOFT, a supplier of 2D and 3D CAD/CAM solutions to the AEC and MCAD industries, announced the release of ZW3D 2011, an all-in-one, affordable CAD/CAM software, which takes engineers from concept to finished product in an integrated, collaborative environment. ZW3D 2011 is available in six languages including Chinese Traditional, Czech, English, German, Japanese, and Polish, while French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Turkish versions are coming soon.

ZW3D 2011 is easier, smarter, and faster than previous versions. Users are invited to
download ZW3D 2011, to experience the latest productivity enhancing features developed by ZWSOFT.

This latest release of the award winning ZW3D 2011 offers users the following highlighted features:

Direct Edit

SmoothFlow combines the speed and flexibility of direct modeling with the precise control of dimension-driven designs, while simultaneously supporting the functionality of history-based modeling.

Integrated PartSolutions

Over a million parts from leading suppliers to international standards such as ANSI, ISO and DIN are included, simplifying the creation of fully featured models and assemblies.

Core & Cavity Calculation in One Step

Create a core and cavity in one simple step. Combined with the new multiple electrode extraction tools, mold design has never been easier.

Automatic 3D Feature Machining

Automatic 3D Feature Machining analyzes the topology of the model and applies the most appropriate tool paths. Holes and sculptured surfaces are all automatically machined, typically reducing programming times by 50% and machining times by 30%.

About ZW3D

ZW3D is all-in-one, affordable CAD/CAM which enables concept to finished product design in an integrated, collaborative environment. The proprietary Overdrive™ kernel delivers 3D part and assembly modeling, 2D production drawings, reverse engineering, motion simulation, mold design and integrated CNC machining, simplifying the design process from concept to completion.

Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor

While we have discussed the demise of one CAD company, think3, the past couple of editions, this time around we're pleasantly surprised to discuss what looks to be the resurrection of another CAD company – the former VX Corp. now under the auspices of ZWSOFT (ZWCAD Software Co., Ltd.).

In July 2010, ZWSOFT entered into an agreement with VX Corp., a CAD/CAM provider with a 25-year history to acquire and fully incorporate VX's technologies and products - VX CAD/CAM into ZWSOFT's products. In September, ZWSOFT released ZW3D, an integrated CAD/CAM solution built on VX CAD/CAM. With the introduction of ZW3D, ZWSOFT extended enterprise-level mechanical design and engineering capabilities to the desktop at a reasonable cost compared with competing systems.

For those who might not be familiar, ZWSOFT was founded in 1998, with headquarters located in Guangzhou, China, with branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, and Florida. Today it has a staff of approximately 400.

ZWSOFT`s vision is to provide design-through-manufacturing solutions to help companies speed time-to-market, increase profitability, and gain a sustainable-competitive advantage. In 2002, ZWSOFT launched its product, ZWCAD, that earned a reputation as a powerful and cost-effective CAD platform. According to ZWSOFT, ZWCAD has more than 180,000 users in 80 countries around the world.

The product line we are especially interested in is called ZW3D. It comes in three varieties from Standard (core design) to Professional (additional special applications) to Premium (for machining/manufacturing) with prices ranging from $2,500 to around $12,000. We are going to focus our attention on the Premium version because it has 2D and 3D modeling (with a unique ability to employ direct modeling using tree-based features), mold and die design, and 5-axis machining. The machining capabilities are particularly interesting because ZW3D Premium can recognize and machine actual features digitally, as well as machine directly from STL files or meshes. Another distinguishing feature
is the fact that ZW3D runs on a proprietary geometric modeling kernel that VX Corp. developed way back when, but continues to be further developed and enhanced. The proprietary modeling kernel debate has raged for years, but I think it's a good thing, because done right, it can optimize a CAD product and its workflow.

We'll be digging into several of ZW3D's new features, capabilities, and enhancements later, but let's take a high-level look look at a couple of things in core modeling and machining.

First, let's touch on this year's MCAD “must have” – direct editing/modeling. ZW3D has what it calls SmoothFlow Direct Edit that the company claims combines the speed and flexibility of direct editing with the control of dimension-driven designs – all without losing the features and functionality of history-based modeling. This capability is supposed to let you quickly modify features on native or imported geometry without regenerating history. In the modeling environment, there are several other new developments and enhancements related to the UI, modeling kernel, picking, editing, and other areas that we'll cover later.

On the machining (CAM) side, ZW3D Premium 2011 has automatic feature recognition with intelligent workflow generation that breaks down part topology into solid features and analyzes the capabilities of library tools for producing an efficient machining plan and generating a a machining workflow. This capability has the potential for dramatically reducing CNC programming time. There are also optimization capabilities that we will cover later, as well.

Several years ago I was familiar with VX CAD/CAM, how it has evolved as ZW3D intrigues me, so I'm going to review the Premium version and report what's hot and not in its latest iteration. Stay tuned for the review of ZW3D Premium coming soon to
MCADCafe Weekly.


Book Review: 3D in Photoshop: The Ultimate Guide for Creative Professionals

by Zorana Gee and Pete Falco

Adobe's Photoshop is several things simultaneously. On one hand, it's the ultimate tool for manipulating digital photographic images. On the other hand, it is a challenge to learn. Lastly, it's tough to stay on top of new functionality with each new version. Personally, one of the things that has been high on my list to learn more about is Photoshop CS5's 3D functionality. I was aware of it, but didn't know where to start exploring it until I read
3D in Photoshop: The Ultimate Guide for Creative Professionals. The intended audience is definitely “Creative Professionals,” such as artists, designers, and animators, although more technical types could also benefit from the content of the book.

The book is divided into three parts:
  • Introduction to 3D Concepts – Covers 3D and rendering concepts that include cameras, lights, materials, and rendering (including ray tracing). Even if you are familiar with 3D and rendering concepts, this part provides a good overview and refresher material.
  • 3D in Photoshop – Gets into the nuts and bolts of the 3D features and capabilities found in Photoshop CS5. The most interesting part of this chapter for me was information about the new Repoussé feature that lets you create 3D shapes from closed paths. Repoussé in Photoshop gets its name from a metalworking technique that shapes metal by hammering a pattern from the reverse side. In effect, you use Repoussé to create a 3D extrusion where you can apply materials and constraints.
  • Workflows – This part of the book covers how different artists actually employ the 3D capabilities in Photoshop CS5 in their work. Some good tips here, as well as answering some questions on “I wonder how they did that?”

    Except for Part 3, throughout the book there are not a lot of examples in PS CS5 of many of the concepts being discussed. Depending on your needs and experience, this may be a good or bad thing. However, even as a person pretty well versed in 3D principles, I would have appreciated more step-by-step examples.

    Although a lot of good information is presented in the book, it's a little uneven in tone and detail, so I don't necessarily consider it the “Ultimate Guide.” I'd regard it as sort of a “hybrid” book – part educational and part reference source. Overall, though, I got a lot out of the book with a good foundation in the 3D capabilities found in Photoshop. I hope the book gets updated and smooths out some of the roughness for understanding and applying 3D in future releases of Photoshop.

    You can find the full MCADCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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