While there are many design tasks that lend themselves
better to a 2-D workflow, many of these traditional 2-D tasks can be performed
more effectively with 3-D workflows. One example would be electrical wiring and
wire harness design. While the electrical system design and schematics still
reside in the domain of 2D, the connectivity designs - wire harnesses, for example, are better suited for 3D. Why? Not only are routing issues solved
much faster, but there are significantly greater downstream benefits to
employing these techniques. Purchasing, for example, can determine precise
lengths, the gauge of wire that will be required and the amount of heat shrink
One of the biggest benefits of working in 3D is not the model
geometry itself, but rather what you can do with it. Obviously, accurate and unambiguous drawing views are beneficial, but the impact on manufacturing and structural analysis functions
is far greater. Traditionally, design teams had to create or re-create geometry
to meet their specific needs. Today, they can perform analysis and design
tooling for components while they are still in the design phase. More importantly, the
designers can make the design more structurally sound and
The biggest fear many have about the switch from 2D is that 3D
will prove to be too complex, take too much time or lead to lost productivity.
Your goal, however, should not be to move from 2D to 3D, or to replace 2D with
3D. Rather, the goal should be to successfully blend 2-D and 3-D design and
engineering processes. A good way to get up to speed and successfully begin to
implement 3D as an adjacent workflow is to select a small part or sub-assembly
and work up from there.
As someone who got their start as a microwave engineer working on
radar systems at GE Aerospace, but has spent the past seven years at Autodesk guiding the development of 3-D technologies, I have seen the benefits of both 2D and 3D in product
design and development. This experience has illustrated for me that there are
practical reasons to take a blended approach.
The most practical reason for using a combination of 2-D and 3-D
technologies is that 2D is not going anywhere, as it remains critical to
manufacturing workflows. In fact, 75 percent of design engineers at
manufacturing firms continue to use 2D as part of their daily workflows. While
manufacturing, MCAD and consumer products firms have very high rates of 3-D
adoption, most continue to run a combination of 2D and 3D. Many of these firms use 3-D design tools, but
rely on 2D for shop drawings or to collaborate with outside customers and
University of Southampton researchers have come up with a way to 3D print transparent optical fibers like those used in fiber-optic telecommunications cables, potentially boosting frequency and reducing loss.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.