What You Should Know About 2D to 3D CAD Conversion

Whether you’re using AutoCAD, Solidworks or some other 3D CAD program, it’s nearly inevitable that at some point in time, you’re going to need to convert a 2D CAD drawing into a 3D CAD model.  Conversion from 2D to 3D is a way to leverage an existing 2D drawing into a new 3D design.  Making use of an existing 2D drawing in this way can make the design process go more quickly and can help save development costs when making a similar product. 2D to 3D CAD Conversion

Most 3D CAD software has the ability to help you with the conversion, or, you may elect to outsource the conversion process so that you can focus on other core design projects.  Either way, the accuracy of the conversion is important.  The actual process of converting a 2D drawing into a 3D model can be complicated and the method of conversion can be quite a time to consume.   While some popular 3D modeling tools like AutoCAD and SolidWorks can help simplify the process, it takes an experienced CAD technician to generate an accurate 3D model from a 2D CAD file.  This is true whether the final product is an automobile or a building, a running shoe or a food container.  The 2D drafting view is a flat surface that must be changed measured, altered and converted into the 2D model in a series of steps.  The resulting virtual 3D model enables the designer, key investors and others to visualize the finished product.

Why 3D Visualizations Are Important

It’s human nature to want to see an object and understand visually oriented objects that they deal with. 3D models eliminate communication uncertainties and can save businesses time and money that is otherwise wasted while reworking designs.

The visual concept that solid modeling provides during the conception of new products is also extremely useful in rapid prototyping of a manufactured product.   Moreover, in today’s manufacturing processes, a 3D model of your product can be used in the manufacturing process for the actual production.

Some of the advantages of converting from 2D to 3D CAD include:

  • A 3D model is a virtual representation of a real entity
  • A 3D model is more realistic than 2D drawings
  • The realism of 3D design provides a competitive edge through improved design time
  • 3D models are great for design reviews with other members of a design team.
  • When construction and shop fabrication drawings are created from the 3D model, it virtually ensures an accurate final product.
  • 3D models help companies market their products
  • Design flaws and errors are more readily seen and corrected

When you convert from 2D to 3D one additional consideration is “design intent.”  Design intent enables you to capture intelligence in your model by means of parametric and geometric relationships that define the fit and function of the part.  This provides a perfect representation of the component and enables future revisions and changes of one section within the model to be interpreted throughout the design so that the engineer can see the results of the change in the overall design, rather than just as a basic shape change in one section.

This added dimension can mean that there may be unforeseen problems when moving from two dimensional CAD drawings to three dimensional CAD models.  This is because 2D systems provide an approach to the drawing process that is similar to old-school hand drafting that may not be easily interpreted into 3D systems.  When problems like this occur, they can require additional adjustments to the design.

If you decide to outsource you’re your conversion project, make sure that the CAD company you choose is willing to work with you if your 2D to 3D conversion has problems that weren’t foreseen at the start of the project


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