The Top 10 Reasons to move from 2D CAD to SOLIDWORKS 3D Software

Article by Rod Mackay updated July 8, 2016


Moving from 2D to 3D CAD has allowed many successful manufacturers to expand, grow, and innovate. 3D design generates time, cost, and material savings; improves workflows, processes, and product quality; and fosters creativity, inspiration, and innovation.

No matter what you design, moving to 3D will help you do a better job—and help your company succeed—by accelerating time-to-market, improving design for manufacturability, eliminating unnecessary costs, producing consistently high-quality products, and encouraging greater innovation. With the easiest, smoothest transition path from 2D to 3D, SOLIDWORKS® design software can help you achieve the productivity and efficiency gains that will enable you and your company to grow and gain a competitive edge in an increasingly competitive global market.

Why make the move to 3D?

Over the past two decades, many of the world’s top manufacturers have made the transition from 2D to 3D design, such as Bausch & Lomb, Garmin, SMC, and Trek. Manufacturers that have upgraded to 3D product development have realized significant return on their investments (ROI) in 3D technology—not only in product design but also throughout their product development and manufacturing enterprises. Just as the change from drafting tables to 2D CAD software ushered in dramatic gains in productivity, moving from 2D to 3D CAD tools can reinvigorate your product development operation by saving substantial amounts of time and money, while simultaneously improving efficiencies, maintaining quality, and increasing innovation.

Bausch & Lomb Flow Simulation

Bausch & Lomb test and optimize their products virtually in 3D – which is just not possible with 2D CAD

Here are ten good reasons why you need to move from 2D to 3D CAD with SOLIDWORKS:
  1. Speed Approvals – Obtaining the necessary approvals from management and/or customers is the first major hurdle in product development. In 2D, this is often difficult to achieve expeditiously because getting non-technical personnel to understand a 2D drawing— especially for complex designs can be slow, trying, and challenging, delaying approvals.
  2. Make Quick, Easy Design Changes – Dealing with design changes is an everyday fact of life for engineers. In 2D, every design change requires laborious, time-consuming manual updates to multiple drawing views. For assemblies, design changes in 2D become a major undertaking because of the need to update other parts in the assembly that are impacted by the initial design change. In addition to being slow, making design changes in 2D creates opportunities for errors.
  3. See How a Design Moves – Engineers working in 2D are hard-pressed to accurately visualize how a design moves in a 2D drawing. An assembly design could have collisions and interferences in it, but you’d only notice them if you could watch how components in an assembly interact with one another as the assembly moves. Finding these problems in 2D is time-consuming and difficult, even for the most discerning checkers.
  4. Create Animations, Photorealistic Renderings – Need to show customers, managers, or partners how a design concept functions using an animation? Or, do your sales and marketing personnel need photorealistic design images to seed the market for a new product or to publish your product catalog? In 2D, you simply can’t create compelling, aesthetically pleasing 3D images or animations to meet these needs.
  5. Validate and Optimize Performance – As an engineer, you probably ask yourself “what if….” frequently, but you can’t get answers to your questions because you can’t easily run analyses on a 2D drawing to simulate design behavior. Thus, you can’t gain the insights that would help you either validate a design or optimize it to improve performance, save material, or improve manufacturability.
  6. Reuse Designs, Components, and Assemblies – The majority of new products are actually modified versions of previous models. Reconfiguring or tweaking part and assembly designs in 2D is such a tedious process that you may decide to start from scratch to avoid it, limiting your ability to reuse valuable existing design resources.
  7. Collaborate Effectively – How well can you collaborate with customers or non-technical colleagues—such as marketing, sales, finance, and logistics personnel—who are increasingly included on design review teams, in 2D? With a 2D drawing, it’s difficult to effectively interact with anyone who doesn’t use 2D CAD, which can lead to misinterpretations, errors, and missed opportunities to secure valuable input.
  8. Produce Standout Proposals – Do you really expect that your 2D-drawing-based proposal to an RFQ will stand out from competitive proposals that are chock full of rendered 3D images and animations? Of course, potential customers don’t usually award bids based solely on style and will certainly evaluate substance. Nonetheless, 2D-based proposals will miss out on a lot of business, because companies increasingly prefer receiving proposals in 3D and many insist on it.
  9. Take Designs Straight to Manufacturing – With 2D, releasing a design to production often requires a manufacturing engineer to convert the 2D drawing into a 3D CAD model first in order to generate the tool paths on a machine tool being driven by a 3D CAM program. This interim step takes time and prevents you from taking a design straight to manufacturing. Integrated 3D CAD and CAM allows users to make a design change, and have the NC toolpath data update accordingly.
  10. Leverage 3D Printing for Rapid Prototyping – Want to take advantage of the latest 3D printing and rapid prototyping technologies to quickly “print” one-off samples or prototypes? You can’t do it with a 2D drawing, unless you recreate your 2D design as a 3D model. Of course, that approach creates another unnecessary step that you can avoid completely by moving to 3D.ime, simplifies product-data management, and enables automated manufacturing and inspection systems to read dimensions and tolerances directly from 3D models, eliminating errors.

Want to learn more?

Download our white paper using the form below and you will learn how moving from 2D to 3D CAD is easier than you think!

2D to 3D CAD White Paper

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Rod Mackay

Rod has been using 3D CAD software for over 25 years and has trained thousands of designers to use their CAD systems more effectively. Rod is the Javelin Webmaster and is based in Ottawa, ON., Canada.