Moving from 2D to 3D: why haven’t you made the switch?

Over a year ago, I ran into a friend who is a mechanical designer. As a SolidWorks employee, I had to ask which CAD software he used.  To my surprise, he told me that he actually still liked working with paper and pencil, but the younger engineers
in his small office used SolidWorks.  I found it hard to believe that anyone was still using paper and pencil, and investigated more.  He said drawing by hand helped him think better than drawing on a computer.  I encouraged him to try out SolidWorks again, as it would help him work more efficiently, and noted that 3D CAD had come a long way since last he tried it.

I ran into him again recently, and I inquired about our last discussion. To my surprise, he told me that he’s now using SolidWorks and loves it, and we discussed how far along 3D software has come since his first experience with 3D CAD.

That made me wonder–how many other people out there are still using a 2D CAD system because they took a look at 3D a decade ago, decided against it, and haven’t looked again since?

I remember my first experience with 3D CAD.  I worked in a computer lab in college, where we were using a common 2D package.  I still remember the day that we loaded and first tried 3D CAD.  It was NOT the 3D CAD of today…not even close, and there was not much you could do with it besides build 3D wireframes extruded from 2D; no solid models, just low-res wireframes. In those first 3D packages, you had to think ahead about how you would build the model, and if you made a mistake, it was back to square one!  I’m sure some of you remember this.

When I’m using SolidWorks, drawing in 3D is MUCH easier than drawing in 2D was back then.  3D solid modeling tools have advanced so much over the last few years, that it’s almost too easy do create a new product.  Solid modeling makes it easy to edit models in 3D. You can tackle a design from many different directions, and still come up with a common result.  Changes are simple to make, and you can go back to any part of the design to make changes.

I have to admit, still surprises me to see so many engineers still using 2D tools. And having seen so much advancement over the last few years, I can only wonder will it look like in 5 years.  I believe one day we will see 3D completely take over the entire design process.  Best-in-class companies are already adopting 3D direct to the shop floor (drawing-less shop floor), and I hope in the next few years we will see this as a common practice.

At SolidWorks, we make it as easy as possible to move from a 2D environment to 3D. Our resellers work with you as partners to help make sure you get the right tools for your company, and they provide all of the training and support you need to get up and running. If you’re using a 2D CAD system and want to try out SolidWorks, you can request a free SolidWorks trial on our website.

So I’m curious…who out there is still using 2D CAD?  What’s holding you back?



Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling is a Senior Marketing Manager at SolidWorks and the host for the Born to Design Podcast.