We know 3D CAD has been out there for quite a while, but there are still some companies who still rely heavily on 2D CAD. This, despite the fact that 3D CAD offers two big advantages over 2D CAD:
- 3D enhances not the design process
- 3D facilitates better communication with customers and design teams
We live in a 3D world and that’s the way people are used to “seeing.” Most people have a great deal of difficulty visualizing the way a finished project or product will look when they view a 2D schematic, drawing or rendering. That’s why most people prefer a 3D image, model, or animation over a 2D technical drawing.
Even when designing in the 2D world, designers are hampered by the fact that they have to be able to mentally create three or four views of a design and mentally combine them in order to visualize what that design will look like in 3D. Sometimes, what they “think” will work, doesn’t translate in the real world. Moving from the world of 2D drafting to the world of 3D modeling can advance the creative potential of designers while ensuring the real world product is workable.
3D models can generate a wide range of information, including the way pieces and parts will fit together, and the order in which the real-life product must be built. By using 3D CAD for the design, machinists rarely need to inform engineers that their part cannot be made as designed. And, 3D CAD helps on the shop floor as well.
Often, when using a 2D drawing from a customer, a CNC programmer will find that a critical machining measurement is missing. This may be because the designer didn’t know those specific measurements were needed, or the designer simply forgot to include them. When this happens, the machinist loses production time. He has to stop working and contact the customer for the required measurements.
Another scenario occurs when the machinist is working from a 2D drawing that has a revision on it and that revision has an unanticipated impact on other areas of that part or on other related parts? This kind of problem is eliminated when using a 3D model because a revision in one part of the model carries through to the rest of the model. This means that before it even gets to the machinist, an unintended impact has been corrected and the machinist doesn’t have to stop working while another revision is made. This associative ability is part of the “magic” that 3D modeling brings to design – changing one dimension on one part results in and everything related to that dimension being changed immediately so that the entire model works as anticipated.
If the customer supplies the machinist with a 3D model instead of, or in addition to, whatever other drawings they normally supply, then the machinist can get the required measurements right from the model. If there is a revised model, the machinist can see everything impacted by that revision. Equally important, the machinist doesn’t need to know anything about 3D CAD modeling. Even a novice will find a 3D model easier to view and interrogate than a 2D drawing.
The primary software used in a machine shop is the CAM software that converts customer designs into the executable g- and m-codes that are used to run their CNC machines. CAM packages are inherently 3D based, so it is more efficient to go from a 3D CAD model to CAM than it is to start with a 2D drawing.
Much of today’s CAM software is incredibly intuitive and feature-based, enabling increases in productivity and automation that all get their start with the initial 3D model.