August 20, 2020

The Benefits of Moving from 2D Drawings to 3D CAD Files

By John Carrington

Digital manufacturing has significantly transformed thanks to the evolution of 3D design.

Using 3D CAD technology offers multiple advantages, including richer design context, a much lower margin for error, and a much swifter route to manufacturing. Ultimately, great design is about optimization and finding the simplest, fastest route from innovative idea to manufactured product.

3D CAD technology offers a number of advantages
Great design is about optimization and finding the simplest, fastest route from innovative idea to manufactured product. And 3D CAD technology enables great design.

Moving from 2D Drawing to 3D CAD Model

Designs made with 2D drawings contain the basic components and context needed for manufacturing, but the interpretation of those drawings leaves openings for errors and requires a slower pace for quoting. Increasingly, obtaining a 3D CAD file for your design has become the industry gold standard.

At CADmore, we often meet companies that own legacy parts or spare parts catalogs, but design files are not readily accessible or are missing altogether. Other companies need a new part designed and optimized for digital manufacturing. Some have more challenging design file issues. One company we served needed just 500 parts to complete a massive manufacturing run, but a sudden plant mishap made the parts unavailable. Lacking a design file to take to the manufacturer, its entire supply chain grinded to a halt waiting for those parts.

All of these companies look for the best and fastest way to a price quote and manufacturing. But many find it difficult to obtain a quote without a CAD file. They pursue on-demand manufacturing only to be told a 2D drawing isn’t enough to even be quoted.

3D CAD technology enables great design
3D CAD technology offers richer design context, a much lower margin for error, and a much swifter route to manufacturing.

Once you have a CAD model, you have a much greater degree of freedom. You can easily obtain a pricing quote and can move to manufacturing on your time.

Not only is speed an advantage, but a 3D CAD file also allows you to be far more precise and accurate with your design. You can easily run various design tests using 3D design models.

The 3D CAD as a Service (CADaaS) model, which we provide at CADmore, further improves product opportunity. Through this process, our designer creates a 3D file and works closely with the customer to strengthen the design, noting tiny flaws, or suggesting improvements, while fully optimizing the design’s capabilities.

Most companies with a backlog of 2D files have a timeline for conversion of those files to 3D. Notably, this conversion process can take place as part of everyday workflow when a specific part is already set to be manufactured.

Perhaps best of all, customers walk away with a new digital asset they own, increasing their manufacturing independence and bringing them into the age of digital manufacturing.

Modernizing Production through Digital Manufacturing

More often, 3D CAD file design has become an integral part of modern manufacturing. A case in point is the work between our firm and Protolabs, which serves as a manufacturing modernization example as, together, we streamline the digital design process—a prime illustration of digital manufacturing in action.

CADmore's 3D Design On-Demand platform bridges the gap from an idea or a 2D image data file to a 3D file optimized for the selected manufacturing process at Protolabs, whether it be injection molding, CNC machining, 3D printing (additive manufacturing), or sheet metal fabrication. We use machine learning to predict the cost to design a part for manufacturing in any material or process, which reduces a major friction point to execute design for manufacturing at scale.

A company that approaches Protolabs with a manufacturing need, but lacks a 3D file, can harness the capability of the CADmore CADaaS platform to quickly create a 3D CAD file and move forward to turn great ideas into manufacturable products. We guide customers through an industry-proven process to create their 3D files, with guaranteed manufacturability.

The CADmore360 platform aims to simplify and accelerate the design-to-production process through an end-to-end solution for on-demand digital manufacturing, including CADaaS, instant quoting, e-commerce, workflow management, and access to the CADmore production partner network.

Protolabs serves more customers by offering 3D design services through the CADmore platform, and customers can access 3D designers to guide them through optimizing their design and obtaining a 3D CAD file.

They can take a 3D CAD file to multiple manufacturers, always with the same result. With other design methods, there can be slight variations from manufacturer to manufacturer.

More than ever, companies need a way to build resilience in their supply chains and also have backup plans and redundancy. 3D CAD data fulfills that aspiration.

Editor’s Note: This post was written by John Carrington at CADmore, which is in Protolabs’ preferred network of design firms.

John Carrington is the CEO of CADmore (formerly Zverse), a digital manufacturing ecosystem that connects innovative makers with the expert designers, materials, and manufacturers they need to bring their products to life with less friction and less waste.