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Hullo IronCAD people,

I have just participated in the Webinar of Friday 15 Feb and I thank you for offering the opportunity to me.

Nearly a year ago, I retired from full time employment which was, for the previous ten years or so, designing equipment for use in underground coal mining operations. Our little factory is best described as a metal fabrication facility and I can say that our products are to be found in almost every pit in the country [Australia] as well as many others around the world. It remains for me the most satisfying, most productive, worst paid, frantic, ‘rip-tear-and-bust’ craziest job of my life and I loved it.

Around year 2004, I started to use IronCAD [version 3.1 I think] and my approach to designing things was transformed. Although I was around the sixty mark, I had not had much experience in solid modeling – indeed, some of my forthright colleagues branded me as ‘digital homeless’.

Outrageous, no other word for it!

Nevertheless, the effect of achieving a good level of dexterity with IronCAD was that everything that I did was truly 3D solid. It could be viewed from any angle and / or sectioned and / or moved aside and / or made transparent. It could be linked, catalogued, projected, copied and checked for interference – there seemed no end of ways to ascertain design effectiveness prior to ‘hacking metal’! AND there was sheet metal – how good was that!! This all meant that my productivity improved quite nicely, along with my previously mentioned forthright associates, and consequently, we made the best of some roaring industry boom years.

In broad terms, the product is a roof mounted monorail carrying trolleys laden with hoses and cables and plant and equipment. The installation is contrived to follow the changing location of the mining face and is typically comprised of hundreds of trolleys extending over a length of [say] 300m when fully compressed. The overall length might be 600m when fully extended. To be able to build a scene depicting the entire monorail was an earnest desire but seemed far and away beyond IronCAD.

Modeling packages other than IronCAD promised the ability to handle the entire monorail installation and so, in 2011 the firm acquired a dozen or so seats of Inventor. I can understand the sense of having the entire system residing in one location in order that more than one designer can contribute to the common build-up. However, I reckon that some fairly tight organizational procedures are needed to take the advantage and I am not sure of the outcome at my old place of work.

With the arrival of Inventor, I had to develop some dexterity with the new software and that was a good and rewarding experience. I also found that I was in a position to make some comparisons. For instance, I found that:

  • The need to fully constrain everything in Inventor seems to be an academic as opposed to a practical demand – I regard it as sensible to have the choice in IronCAD to constrain or not to constrain.
  • Unlike IronCAD, Inventor has not the ready ability to snap onto the middle of something – sounds trivial but I remember pondering many times, “If only….”. It was pretty tedious.
  • The Triball is the ‘killer-diller’ – nothing like it in Inventor or anywhere for that matter. The Triball, to my mind, is the differentiator.


I only do odd jobs these days and for these I use IronCad 2011. I should like to continue participating in the Webinar series and, again, thanks for that.


D. Morgan.


Editor footnote: It would appear that since the author of this letter left the company in question, the Inventor promise of handling very large assemblies was not upheld and that the later versions of IronCAD would have handled significantly better.



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