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
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.