You’ll often hear people telling you that 3D design is the gateway to a new way of doing business, and that it can yield huge gains for your company.
Well, it’s true.
What do we mean by 2D and 3D? Obviously, 2D refers to 2D drafting-based design where products are designed in 2D by constructing two-dimensional views. By 3D we mean the process whereby a model or assembly, along with its production drawings, is created directly from the 3D model.
Such 3D models provide the platform for direct manufacturing from the model itself, and allow engineering analysis directly on the same model. 3D also acts as a catalyst for improved communication with suppliers and customers, via the internet and collaboration tools.
For most engineering companies though, 2D documentation is still required. So how can 3D help with that?
All designs undergo many iterations during product development. The biggest drawback of 2D-based designs is that they are cumbersome to change. Modifying multiple drawings simply creates multiple risks of creating errors.
This is where 3D really scores. Exploded isometric views and complex sections can be created – and updated – in a few seconds. And as today’s tools tend to be associative, changes to the model or assembly are propagated to all the related drawings in a fraction of the time that 2D-based designs can be redrawn.
Of course, to get the most out of 3D you need training, and a subtle change in approach. You can’t run a clash check on a mixed assembly of models and 2D drawings.
Many people recoil with horror at the prospect of modelling an assembly, but they continue to suffer all the drawbacks of the generation and modification of 2D-based drawings.
One way of looking at all this is to remember that a single 3D model can drive 100 2D views of that model – and every one of these can be modified in seconds. Even a company that builds small assemblies of a few parts with just a couple of designers can save thousands of pounds in terms of improved ability to generate and change views on just one drawing.
Traditional UNIX-based 3D systems could be difficult to use, requiring weeks of expensive training or consultancy. Today’s CAD systems are cheaper and more intuitive to use. The Windows platform and modern technology means designers can be productive in just a few days, and fully proficient in a month or two.
So if you are thinking of moving from 2D to 3D, consider not just how your drawings can be created but, more critically, how accurately and rapidly they can be changed.