Because the accuracy of the 2D to 3D CAD conversion is of major concern, and generally requires hands-on time for QC and some manual change, many design/build firms, as well as manufacturing firms, have discovered that outsourcing their 2D to 3D conversion can ensure accuracy and save money in the process by keeping their internal design staff focused on design rather than conversion. Often the ROI of outsourcing far outweighs the loss of productivity occurred when using their own staff.
When looking for a CAD outsourcing company, look for one that employs professional engineers and architects who are qualified to perform any 2D – 3D conversion, whether an architectural 2D – 3D conversion, or a manufacturing drawing 2D – 3D conversion. Look for a company that is able to convert hardcopy documents into any 3D CAD program such as Revit, Solid Works, CATIA, or other 3D programs, as well as being able to convert 2D CAD drawings into 3D BIM.
Ensure that the company you choose has stringent quality control (QC) methods in place. QC in 2D to 3D CAD Conversion activities requires specified control, intelligent job management, defined processes, reliable performance, and integrity of data and records maintenance. Specific controls need to be in place, including reviews of each converted file by a peer or superior who was not involved in the original conversion process, as well as customer review and feedback to ensure that the customer’s standards are met. Make sure that they are willing and able to perform the 2D to 3D conversion according to your specifications and that they guarantee results.
Due diligence at the beginning will pay off in big rewards as you establish a relationship with the 2D to 3D CAD conversion company, so that going forward, you will reap the benefits of an “on-call” 2D to 3D CAD conversion staff that is available when you need them, keeping your design staff focused on design.
The 2D to 3D Process
2D CAD drawings are digital drawings that are like the type of CAD drafting that was originally done on paper, by a draftsman sitting at a drafting table. Digital 2D CAD incorporates the same drafting processes into computer programs and the design is drawn on the computer monitor rather than on a piece of paper. In 2D CAD, as with paper drawings, all the information is presented in a flat format. There is no depth, and no way to view the drawing from different angles. A 2D CAD drawing of a building or a product requires the viewer to visualize what it will look like once it is built or manufactured. This means that the understanding of the product or building is limited to each viewer’s ability to visualize the finished construction. Not many people are good at this type of visualization, which makes it difficult to collaborate and revise the design.
However, 3D CAD adds the dimension of depth, enabling users to view the drawing from any angle. A 3D CAD model shows exactly how the building or product will look when it is completed. Potential partners can see how various parts of a product fit together and interact. Construction engineers can “build” a virtual building and correct design flaws before the actual construction begins, saving time and money.
This ability for all interested parties to view a virtual design before construction or manufacturing even begins aides in the visual understanding and enables collaboration and design changes to be undertaken with greater ease and efficiency. Securing funding for a project is usually more successful when the project is presented as a 3D CAD model. A simple 2D drawing doesn’t attract much attention, but the third dimension tends to make an impression.
3D CAD gives your projects the added dimension and impact that promotes successful projects. This translates to an increase in your revenues
What Does It Mean to go from 2D CAD to 3D CAD?
A 2D CAD file is generated using lines in layers and if you draw plans, elevations, and sections in a traditional CAD application (like AutoCAD, for instance) and need to make any design changes, you have to change each sheet manually. With a 3D CAD model, there is added “intelligence” so that when you make a design change, you make it only one time and the change is contained throughout the model, along with any ancillary changes that need to be made to other areas of the design to accommodate the initial change.
The process of converting a 2D CAD drawing into a 3D CAD model is quite complicated and the method of conversion can be time consuming. While some popular 3D modeling tools like AutoCAD, SolidEdge and MicroStation can help simplify the process, it still takes a CAD expert to easily generate both the 2D drafting view and the 3D CAD model that are usually needed for every day project activity – whether the user is a steel fabricator, machine operator or an architect. The 2D drafting view enables the person who does the actual work to build the model or component, while the 3D model enables the designer, key investors and others to visualize the finished product.
CAD, both in 2D and 3D forms, is the standard for drafting, whether architectural drafting and design or for parts fabrication manufacture. CAD experts can use the dimensions from 2D blueprints and drawings, along with special commands and tools to create 3D models. Once the CAD expert has completed a 3D virtual model within CAD software, he can send the files to special 3D printing machines that can create actual models of whatever was modeled.