12 Replies Latest reply on Apr 23, 2018 10:06 AM by Sebastyon Champion

    3D vs 2D information

    Timothy Cade

      First off let me say that currently we use Autocad and Solidworks. I see the need for both of them depending on what you are doing. Solidworks is great for mechanical design, but often times  we have to do an antenna layout for the field that simply needs to be done in Autocad. There are other things too like schematics/interconnects (not related to board layout). We have a new VP that is determined to get rid of Autocad and he says that  we don't do everything in Solidworks either because we don't want to or because we don't know how. I don't really know how to tell him that both programs have their qualities of what they can or cannot do.  He wants a one solution do-it-all program. I was wondering if anybody knows of a website that can explain in detail the benefits of using the two different types of programs? They are looking for "unbiased" information because we are obviously so biased towards change.

        • Re: 3D vs 2D information
          Dan Pihlaja

          Well, let me tell you something...


          At my last job as a product designer, the company I was working for was building a new facility for shipping.  At the time, we had an intern who ran AutoCAD who did all the floor layouts for the buildings.  Well, he left and his computer was scrapped or sold or something....


          For some reason, the VP saw that I also did things that were something like what he did and tasked me with doing the floor layout of the new building.


          I asked the IT department to install AutoCAD onto my computer so that I could do it.......and I was denied.  Something to do with the fact that they would have to buy a new license because the old license went to some guy in Baltimore, MD (I'm in the Northern LP of Michigan).


          The VP told me to just do it in the CAD software that I had.


          Well, I gave it a shot.  I created a drawing and started sketching out the layout.  Needless to say, the more lines that I sketched, the slower the computer ran.   It got to the point where I had the layout 75% complete and every time I tried to save the file, it would take about 5 minutes.  Something to do with the sketch relations in the 2D Drawing kept trying to update all the bloody time.  That and about every third time that I saved....SolidWorks would just crap out.


          It got so bad that I finally resorted to actually modeling a floor layout in a part format so that, when I brought it into a drawing it looked right.  Basically I just modeled everything a 1/4" high so that the shapes were right when seen from above.  Everything worked SOOO much better once I started using SolidWorks the way it was designed to be used.


          That was about 8 years ago.  Now I know better.  SolidWorks was NOT designed as a 2D program.  AutoCAD is designed as a 2D program.


          Yes, I know, I know.....there are a thousand different ways that could have gone.....but when you are told by the VP, he generally doesn't want to know that he's wrong or that it can't be done.


          Anyway, I hope that helps.....:)

            • Re: 3D vs 2D information
              Dan Pihlaja

              And below is a quote from this blog post: Forum for Electronics  from WAY back in 2012.


              SolidWorks is what we call a "parametric" solid modeller used for 3-D design. Parametric means that the dimensions can have relationships between one another and can be changed at any point during the design process to automatically alter the solid part and any related documentation (blueprint). AutoCAD, however, is primarily a 2-D design tool with some, but limited 3-D capabilities. It is very simple compared to any parametric solid modeller (although 3D is improved in AutoCAD 2007). Autodesk (the manufacturer of AutoCAD) makes a product that is nearly identical to SolidWorks, called Inventor, which is a parametric program for design of solid parts and assemblies.


              SolidWorks is a 3D mechanical CAD (computer-aided design) program that runs on Microsoft Windows. SolidWorks files use the Microsoft Structured storage file format. This means that there is various files embedded within each SLDDRW (drawing files), SLDPRT (part files), SLDASM (assembly files), with preview bitmaps and metadata sub-files. Various third-party tools can be used to extract these sub-files, although the sub-files in many cases use proprietary binary file formats. SolidWorks is a parasolid-based solid modeller, and utilizes a parametric feature-based approach to create models and assemblies. Parameters refer to restrictions which values determine the shape or geometry of the model. Parameters can be either numeric, such as line lengths or circle diameters, or geometric, such as tangent, parallel, concentric, horizontal or vertical. Numeric parameters can be associated with each other through the use of relations, which allows them to capture design intent.


              AutoCAD is, just like SolidWorks, a Computer Aided Design software application for 2-D and 3-D design and drafting. AutoCAD was one of the first CAD programs to run on personal or home computers, notably the IBM personal computer. At that time, most other CAD programs ran on mainframe computers or mini-computers that were connected to a graphics computer terminal for each user. Early releases of AutoCAD used basic entities such as lines, poly-lines, circles, arcs, and text to ultimately construct more complex objects. AutoCAD has since started to support custom objects through its C++ Application Programming Interface (API).


              Modern AutoCAD includes a full set of basic solid modelling and 3-D tools. With the release of AutoCAD 2007 improved 3D modelling saw the light, which means better navigation when working in three dimensions. It also became easier to edit 3-D models. The mental ray engine was included in rendering and thus it was now possible to do quality renderings. AutoCAD 2010 introduced parametric functionality and network modelling. At this moment, AutoCAD only runs under Microsoft Windows operating systems. It is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. AutoCAD can run on an emulator or compatibility layer like VM-ware Workstation or Wine, although various performance issues can arise if you work with 3-D objects or large drawings.


              Choosing a system that works for you depends solely on the type of work you want to do. Many experts say that SolidWorks is more effective when working on 3 dimensional designs and that AutoCAD is the way to go for 2 dimensional design.

              • Re: 3D vs 2D information
                Jim Steinmeyer

                Would using DraftSight be an option? I have never used it so I don't know but I think it is offered free, Kind of an AutoCAD light I suspect. Years ago at another job we used another AutoCAD substitute that came with SW and I was convinced that Dessault wanted to frustrate us enough that we just moved to SW.

              • Re: 3D vs 2D information
                Chris Dordoni

                Management, specifically those who do not do the work or understand the work should not be a position to dictate tools. I have run into this so many times its, its ineffective and wasteful of time and resources. Often pointing out the problem does not even work because there is no common frame of reference.


                I worked with a manager/owner who got his engineering degree long before there were PCs and refused to understand CAD technology. People like this should not be making purchasing decisions.


                At some point, when you've done your due diligence to describe the problem, its time to move on if the individual(s) cannot be or do not wish to be "educated".

                • Re: 3D vs 2D information
                  Alin Vargatu

                  Ask the VP to see a demo of SW Electrical for 2D Schematics. At least he will provide you with a better tool than AutoCAD.

                  • Re: 3D vs 2D information
                    Timothy Cade

                    As far as Draftsight, no thanks. I tried using it for awhile and found it not nearly as intuitive to use. There are something too that just add more time, like editing cells in table. I think it is great for an average guy though.


                    I think the biggest thing is he just wants to save money by not buying two different software. I think he could save a bunch if he just told anybody not in drafting that they could not have it. I know of at least 4 people here that could do without. I think I talked to someone heading up our drafting committee about SW Electrical. That probably won't fly either as, again, it costs money. We are not a tiny outfit. With work with our govt. and other govt's and it just seems to me that he is trying to cheap out when he shouldn't be. There is another option that I am loath to say, so I won't, but it would mean doing away with Solidworks.

                    • Re: 3D vs 2D information
                      John Helmsderfer

                      Why don't you make the case to your manager/VP's in their currency, i.e. the the value of the model in auto CAD verse solidworks relative to the manager's goal, the  cost of your time in absolute dollars and in an opportunity cost relative to other projects. Non-CAD management is unlikely to ever understand the macro differences between the programs, let alone the subtle ones, but they do understand how much they pay you and they do understand resource allocation i.e. that if you're three months on project X instead of 2 months, you can't start project Y. Presented in this context, they can make a business decision based on non CAD terms. Depending on the size of the project, there's also the possibility that this analysis will illustrate to you that another program is not cost justifiable i.e. your cheaper than additional software.

                      • Re: 3D vs 2D information
                        Timothy Taby

                        Show to them the costs associated with both options and make a case that both are worth the cost. That is what I did and we have Solidowrks and Autocad(LT) installed on all of our engineering PC's since I proved that the time saved in doing 2D layouts in Autocad was worth it and 3D stuff we do in Solidworks was worth the worth the cost.


                        When we make cylinder brush layouts and we do it in 2D because when you try to model thousands of holes in a Solidworks cylinder it just bogs down and is hard to see the pattern.  We can do it in 2D in a 75% to 90% faster which when factorign the cost of engineering time those layouts alone pay for the Autocad seat.  Also, we just moved facilities as well and did all our floor plan layouts in Autocad, there are some things that it's just better at.  Also you don't need full Autocad, get the LT version which can do all the 2D stuff that the full version can, and it's usually under $1000 per seat.

                        • Re: 3D vs 2D information
                          Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

                          Good morning, I'm a designer since when you had to design drawings on paper and pencil. The evolution was to Autocad (Mechanical Desktop), it was like day and the night, What's to tell you....it was like when you saw Pam Anderson and you didn't want to go down anymore. Then came Solidworks and the same thing happend, you left behind Autocad to be a full time designer on SW.

                          Changes are necessary.... What you should do, make libraries to do repetitive things, make typical assy to don't design everything from 0.

                          It depends a lot on how you start the designs to get the best final result.

                          The only thing that I can criticize to SW in the drawing is that sometimes some lines can't be hidden (for sure it will be fixed in the next service pack)

                          Change to SW is better now, the other system will remain in the story as it was pencil and paper.

                          • Re: 3D vs 2D information
                            Sebastyon Champion

                            Timothy, I use SolidWorks and CorelDraw x8 for 2d layouts, It's 10x faster than AutoCad and has way more abilities