November 01, 2004
IronCAD and Inovate 7.0 - A Strong Combination For Design And Visualization - Concept Through Production
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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As far as modeling capabilities go, IronCAD's strong suit is definitely solid modeling. IronCAD's primary use of surfaces is for enhancing solid model creation. You can create or import surfaces for trimming solids, or you can create surfaces to form closed volume solids for enhancing normal solid modeling techniques. What this all means is that if you don't have heavy, complex surfacing requirements, IronCAD should suit your needs just fine. However, if you do have more demanding surface requirements, you will probably have to create them in another package, such as Rhino, and import them into IronCAD. The new version of IronCAD does include lofted IntelliShapes and guide curve control.

Innovative Conceptual Design and Visualization With Inovate 7.0

Inovate 7.0 is an adjunct product to and can be used standalone, or preferably, in tandem with IronCAD. Think of it as a sort of "IronCAD Lite," or IronCAD's younger sibling, although it's far from that. It's actually a very capable conceptual design and collaboration tool for those users with less demanding needs than full-blown IronCAD. Ideally, it is used as a design exploration tool for quickly creating, rendering, and animating design concepts before committing to them a formal detail design process. Designs can also be imported and edited in Inovate, again, for quickly exploring different design possibilities in a collaborative environment.

An explode design view in Inovate

One of the nice things about Inovate is the fact that with few exceptions its interface is almost identical to that of IronCAD, so users of one should be able to pick up the other in relatively short order. While Inovate has somewhat fewer catalog selections, it can still fulfill a portion of the design creation functionality found in IronCAD. Keep in mind, though, that Inovate is intended for the front-end of the design process, leaving the heavier back-end for the more advanced production capabilities of IronCAD. For the price ($795), though, Inovate is a actually quite a bargain.

For those users who need to only view design created with either IronCAD or Inovate, the company offers two free viewers - the 3D IronCAD Scene Viewer and the 2D IronCAD Drawing PDF Viewer.

What at first looks like a simplistic set of mechanical design tools becomes fairly deep and capable the more you work with them, especially on the solid modeling side. As stated up front, specifically, IronCAD does several things a bit differently than just about all of the competition, which, admittedly, can be a little unnerving at first, but is overcome in relatively short order once you understand some of its underlying philosophy, structure, and techniques. Taken together, IronCAD and Inovate form a unique combination for mechanical design and collaboration that sets them apart from much of the competition.

IronCAD 7.0 and Inovate 7.0

Plusses (+): Relatively short learning curve; choice of design methods (visual and precision) and modeling kernels; handles for shape and part manipulation.

Minuses (-): Somewhat limited surfacing capabilities; quirky, incomplete/inconsistent help system.

Price: IronCAD 7.0 $3,495 (US)
  Inovate 7.0 $795 (US)
  International pricing may vary

Contact: IronCAD LLC, 1-800-339-7304, 770-240-3008,

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached here or 408.850.9230.

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