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Migrating from 2D CAD to 3D

When faced with glamorous case studies using 3D solid models created with SOLIDWORKS, it’s easy to think that all computer aided design is done that way.

  1. Overview

    When faced with glamorous case studies using 3D solid models created with SOLIDWORKS, it’s easy to think that all computer aided design is done that way. That the well-documented advantages of working in 3D are so clear that no-one is still soldiering on in a 2D world.  Right?

    Not so. Surprisingly, 2D CAD is alive and well. Until recently some tasks would have been done more efficiently with 2D CAD, like electrical schematics, most printed circuit boards, and sheet metalwork. So why change?  Moving from 2D to 3D is not without its challenges.

    Transitioning from 2D design tools to 3D CAD can appear to be a significant undertaking, especially for small- to mid-size companies with limited IT resources, tight budgets and small design teams. For smaller organisations, dealing with the productivity downtime of even a small number of engineers during critical design projects can be hard to justify as can the upfront expense of deploying 3D.

  2. Statistics

  3. Solution

    3D programs cost more and require a different expertise. People who work solely in 2D CAD are more likely to be classified as drafters with a much lower rate of pay. Those who use 3D are modellers and are often people holding professional degrees.

    But once implemented, users will quickly realise that designing products in 3D from the start is naturally more intuitive. Even the simplest of products can benefit from 3D since its benefits can be realised throughout all phases of product development. Improved design is just the tip of the iceberg.

    So an acceleration towards 3D working is underway, pushing designers towards a 3D mindset in order to take advantage of new materials developments. Products which were once the province of 2D limitations are taking advantage of the third dimension – for example, curved sensors made of piezoelectric film, pushbuttons for keyboards, keypads, and control panels.

    CAD is all about communicating ideas and changing them quickly. We live in a 3D world, so we visualise objects in the same way. When it comes to communicating a design, we naturally prefer a 3D image, model, or animation over a 2D technical drawing.

    In the 2D world, designers must be able to look at three or four views of a design and mentally combine them in order to visualize what that design will look like in 3D. But customers, sales people, buyers and suppliers may find it much more difficult to comprehend. Looking at a design in 3D instead helps them understand the concepts and see the value of your products.

  4. Benefits

    • Speeds bringing product to market
    • Increased competitiveness
    • Ease of modifications or customised versions
    • Better optimisation through virtual testing
    • Use of 2D legacy data to create 3D models speeds productivity
    • Virtual assembly for fit and function
  5. Resources

  6. Products

  7. Who we have helped