Why 2D CAD Drawings Still Matter?

It’s not surprising to see drawings developed using 3D models today, as it is easy to draw in 3D without much knowledge about the actual projections of the drawing in different views.

Mar 25, 2015 -- Today, most organizations are looking to transform their 2D capabilities to 3D because of number of advantages it offers. 3D modeling allows better visualization of the product design and helps in integrating with simulation and virtual prototyping.

It benefits in reusing individual part of the design for different other products and reduces development time considerably. These benefits have indeed affected the usage of 2D CAD tools, but its importance can’t be neglected entirely.

Why is 2D Still Important?

Despite the fact that 3D modeling has transformed product design development, 2D CAD drafting and engineering drawings are essential, especially to understand every detail about the design. 2D drawings say everything you need to know about the design and manufacturing details such as fits and tolerances required, allowing manufacturers to collaborate with their supply chain partners.

Several discussions among the online engineering community shows that there are many industries that still value 2D drawings over 3D. In many cases, companies maintain a large repository of legacy drawings in 2D, for the sake of utilizing the design data for future applications. Recreating these drawings in 3D would be quite time-consuming and meaningless.

As such manufacturers prefer not losing the 2D skills that they have developed since many years.  It is the reason why many end customers still demand 2D deliverables. Implementing a full-fledge 3D software brings along additional expenses in terms of training employees and a downtime in production, as such, many manufacturers still prefer to stick to their conventional 2D tools.

It’s hard to imagine development process in civil and electrical domains without 2D drawings. Collaboration between engineers and architects is purely on the basis of DWG files and not on 3D. Similar is the case for electrical circuit schematics, which are essentially required to be presented in 2D with all the necessary symbols. 2D in this case is the only format an electrical engineer would be interested in.

Utilizing Both 3D and 2D

The use of 3D in the present scenario is undeniable due to the amount of benefits it offers. However, using a hybrid approach can ensure utilizing the best of both the 2D and 3D. While 3D tools can be used to perform design analysis, visualization and clash detection, 2D system can create drawings for shop floor requirements or collaborating with outside supplier. The hybrid approach can help manufacturers in switching from 2D to 3D environment seamlessly.

The key to this approach is interoperability; the 3D model should be accessible with all the design information using native 2D files. On the contrary, any change in the 3D model should be reflected in the 2D drawing, reducing the need of manual updating. The interoperability can also be helpful in multi-CAD environments, allowing users to share 2D and 3D design data without the requirement for file translation software.

2D drawings are here to stay; and stay here for a considerable amount of time. As mentioned earlier, the importance of 2D drafting can’t be ignored for many industries like civil, electrical and mechanical.

Although 3D will continue to dominate, engineers still love 2D. It is like Oxygen; at some point in the design process 2D drawings will be essentially required. 3D might look nice for selling purposes, but at the shop floor 2D is a must.

About Author: Gaurang Trivedi - Engineering consultant at TrueCADD. He has applied his engineering expertise across several highly complex and big scale projects, consequently managing to flawlessly deliver as per the client requirements.

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