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Better 3d snapping

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Let me start by saying that I've been a mostly happy user of VW since MiniCAD 5. I now use VW11.0.1 Mechanical, and I'm still mostly happy.

However, I think an area of the program that could really use some attention is in basic 3d object manipulation. For instance, I generally design machinery in 2d. Perhaps because I still think better in traditional drafting views and can work faster in 2d when trying to develop concepts. Once most of the design is complete, I usually model the design using the 2d views as guides during the modeling process.

One of the most time consuming aspects of the modeling process is assembling the different modeled parts in the correct orientation and position in 3d space. It becomes quickly apparent that VW 3d snapping is really lagging behind it's 2d functionality. I do, of course, use the "Snap to edge points" option of 3d snapping, which helps by allowing the smart cursor to find midpoints of edges. But, it would be great to be able to snap to the center of 3d holes. I really like all of the 3d PIO's that VW Mech gives me, but it takes more time than it should to place a sprocket on a shaft and then place the shaft inside a bearing, and then place the bearing inside a press-fit hole. Usually this requires me to change views several times and draw a bunch of 2d construction guides to find the centers of holes and shafts. Sometimes, when I remember, I do take the time to build all of the 3d objects with 3d loci built into the right places to help during the assembly process. However, the Mech PIO's don't have 3d loci built in, which means more time spent trying to place a locus in the right location then grouping the locus with the PIO, and then moving it into position.

I've just started demo'ing Autodesk Inventor, which seems pretty good. It seems like they've adopted much of the same philosphy as VW, which is good as I never liked the AutoCAD method of working. One thing that is extremely powerful in Inventor is the snapping ability to find center on 3d faces and center on holes. I doubt I'd switch over to Inventor, as it is overkill for most of my machine design but it is enlightening to see how well it could work.

Anyhow, what do others do? Do you work much in 3d? At what stage in your design to you begin to model? I use modeling for idiot-checking (checking myself, in other words), and trying to make sure that I don't have physical confilcts. What do purpose does 3d serve you?

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Better 3D snapping is a must.

But while your about it NNA how about returning the 2D snapping to the precision levels of MiniCAD 7.

The current 2D snapping is problematic at best and particularly frustrating with the polygon tool where quite often the polygon won't close even when you think you have. Often you end up with another vertice adjacent to it.

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