3D Enables Users to Take Direct Route to Manufacturing

Moving from 2D design to 3D CAD opens a door to a host of new productivity tools that users can take advantage of to improve the way they design and manufacture new products. Visualizing designs in 3D vastly improves abilities in communicating design ideas, facilitating design collaboration and obtaining customer sign-offs on proposed designs.

Creating 3D rendered design images also greatly improves the ability of designers and engineers to check for interferences and collisions between parts—long before they ever reside in physical form, speeding time to market and cutting prototyping costs. Lastly, being able to work in 3D also makes the leap to manufacturing seamless.

MakerBot Replicator 2 designed in SolidWorks


Go directly to CAM with 3D

There have been many advances on the manufacturing side of product development and a majority of these new technologies require 3D as a starting point. Three-axis and up NC programming, CMM programming, rapid prototyping, mold design, and even sheet metal manufacturing now require 3D models that can be referenced to create NC toolpaths, 3D printed molds, and sheetmetal flat patterns with proper bend allowances.

When manufacturers have to “rebuild” 2D drawings in 3D in order to accommodate these advanced manufacturing technologies, problems often rear their ugly heads downstream. Translating 2D designs into 3D opens up the possibility for mistakes. For example, the resulting part might not meet its original design requirements. In addition, when drawings are tweaked to work for manufacturing, those original 2D drawings are often not changed. To further complicate the issue, if these drawings are referenced later additional problems will arise.

As more and more companies are turning to rapid prototyping and manufacturing to cut turnaround time for prototypes and customized on-off parts, the necessity to provide 3D models is increasing. These systems require input generated in STL format, which can be easily output from 3D models by saving models in STL.

Automate CAM with integrated solutions

Several fully integrated CAM packages—offered by SOLIDWORKS partners—enable users to easily integrate CAD and CAM to help lower costs, increase productivity, and speed time to market. Because these solutions work directly with native SOLIDWORKS 3D data, there is no need to translate or recreate designs for manufacturing, reducing the chance of errors.

Single-window integration for CAM means that engineers and designers can launch the CAM app from within SOLIDWORKS. When design changes are made, these updates are automatically made in downstream manufacturing applications as well. As a result, accuracy of design data is also maintained because the CAM application creates data by directly referencing the 3D CAD model.

Join the Maker evolution

Without 3D CAD, exciting new rapid manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, are out of reach. The combination of powerful 3D modeling and 3D printing has created new opportunities and radically changed the way people think about design. If you can think it and design it, you can now build it.

For design engineers, 3D printing means faster turnarounds on physical prototypes, the ability to make parts that were impossible with traditional manufacturing techniques and a way to quickly create on-off configurations for truly customized final products.

These new rapid manufacturing technologies are quickly changing the game and adding new players to the field. Don’t be left on the sidelines of this revolutionary new technology. Adopting 3D CAD will help take advantage of all the benefits these new technologies have to offer to sharpen your competitive advantage.

Click here to learn how 3D allows designers and engineers, like you, to take designs further than ever before. You’ll have access to videos and webcasts that demonstrate how designing in SOLIDWORKS is easy, builds intelligence into your designs, and allows you to effectively collaborate and communicate with your customers.

Craig Therrien

Craig Therrien

Craig Therrien is a 3DEXPERIENCE WORKS Senior Portfolio Manager with over 30 years of CAD and industry experience - engineer, consultant, CAD product manager, CAD company co-founder. Currently, serving as Senior Product Manager for SOLIDWORKS and 3D Mold Creator. Craig has a B.S.M.E. from WPI and is a Graduate of General Electric's Manufacturing Development Program.