|The automated, ultrasonic railroad-wheel testing station was built by Fraunhofer TEG in Germany using SolidWorks. The packaging study includes colorful models and line drawings, making it easy to recognize pneumatic and electric components, along with actuators and extruded structural beams. |
Show me the moneyA recent survey of more than 1,000 3D CAD users confirms the ROI of recent 3D systems. From the respondents, 95% reported an increase in productivity, 69% reported faster time to market, and 90% reported one or more of the following:
Early on, it was fair to question the move from 2D to 3D because the degree to which design departments actually saw benefits varied from system to system. And in the early days, the primary benefit of 3D was improved visualization, which is why many engineers believed early systems were merely for making "pretty pictures." Hence, few made the transition.
This is now
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a 3D model must be worth a thousand drawings. Seeing a colorful 3D image of a product certainly conveys more information and understanding than a flat drawing. But better visualization is just one in a long list of advantages gained from embracing 3D CAD.
Today's 3D systems are more capable, affordable, and easier to use, thanks to technologies like powerful low-cost computers and Windows. Those who use it today see it as nothing less than mission critical. What's more, the return on investment for 3D CAD technology is more tangible than it was 15 years ago.
Three-dimensional CAD systems successfully address challenges encountered every day when working solely in 2D. Take communicating design intent, for example, a CAD system's key function. Working only in 2D, engineers and manufacturing personnel have to interpret or visualize flat drawings as 3D parts or assemblies. Try imagining the lead image in this article as a 2D drawing. That could give you a headache. It's not hard to see how misinterpreting 2D drawings can lead to rework and delays. Three-dimensional CAD, however, eliminates most drawing misinterpretations. Working in 3D also lets users see and fix tolerance problems. They can check their work by assembling components on screen. When parts interfere, visual cues (such as color changes) can identify the intersecting volumes. With 2D assemblies, on the other hand, judging how well parts fit and operate, borders on guesswork. Fit and tolerance problems can go undetected until late in a design cycle -- often after cutting metal.
|The simple planetary gear train can be put in motion to check for correct rotations and then moved to larger more complex assemblies. The feature provides only kinematic studies, but is impossible in a 2D package.|
|A single menu pick transfers SolidWorks models into CosmosXpress, an analysis tool that comes with the solid modeler. It lets designers see whether or not a part taking shape is sized to handle anticipated loads. |
But it need not be. By asking a few questions, CAD shoppers can more readily compare systems. For example: