The very first form of keeping records of designs was hand drafted sketches and documentations, following which dawned the era of digitalization that transferred this task to Computer Aided Design (CAD) software applications. Although in the early 1960s CAD softwares was only utilized in 2D format, it wasn’t long before the advent of 3D CAD in the 1970s that it began gaining massive momentum for its useful application in various industries.
The field of sheet metal fabrication, in particular, was drawn towards this new and convenient way of creating project models as it was not only increasingly efficient but also allowed users to store information about the project and its components within the digital 3D model.
Why did 2D fabrication drawings fall short?
Previously, sheet metal fabricators relied heavily upon 2D shop drawings but the room for improvement could not be bridged by 2D technology alone. To enhance their Sheet Metal Drawing Services, fabricators had to make a switch to 3D CAD that allowed them to overcome the numerous limitations and unavoidable inefficiencies of 2D CAD, some of which are listed below:
1. Complexities in changing design
When working with sheet metal, designers have to ensure that the final product is consistent with desired appearance and functionality. Hence, it is crucial to make constant changes and updates in the model through extensive collaboration and inputs from all concerned professionals in the designing stage itself. This is already an extensively arduous process that is made even more incessant by 2D CAD designs.
Changes need to be registered and reflected in all drawing views i.e. front, rare, sides, top and bottom. This was not the case in 2D design and it forced the designer to make changes manually in all drawings, thereby adding unnecessary extra time and cost to the designing process.
2. Checking equals chaos
When it comes to capturing design complexities and intricate detailing, 2D CAD drawings are not of great assistance. Also, they require users to invest more time to achieve precision while still being prone to errors. They do not take into account component assembly in their respective working positions.
All these shortcomings make the correction process increasingly prolonged and disorganized as the drawings undergo constant change of possession from one professional to another.
3. Prototypes are a must
2D CAD drawings are insufficient in displaying data like fit and functioning of various components as well as potential issues that may arise after the final product is created. Thus, they require extensive help of prototyping in determining design and functional inconsistencies.
To develop even one prototype is a lengthy process. Developing multiple prototypes after constant bug fixes prolongs product development cycle extensively, adding extra time and cost to the project.
Benefits offered by 3D CAD
An increasing number of sheet metal fabricators are turning to 3D CAD to access comprehensive steel shop drawings. This is owing to the fact that besides providing a solution to all the aforementioned challenges of 2D fabrication drawings, 3D CAD also provides a host of other benefits to users such as:
1. Extraction of 2D fabrication drawings
There is no requirement to waste precious time and effort for creation of separate documents for 2D drawings as they can be obtained from the 3D CAD model of the product. These extracted drawings are very accurate and detailed, and can directly be used for fabrication. Moreover, modern CAD software are capable of providing files that can directly be used by CNC machines for fabrication.
2. Accuracy of Scale
3D CAD models are suitable for designing detailed true-to-scale sheet metal products and their components. They enhance designing efficiency by providing scaled designs of products with a greater precision.
3. Complete project information in one digital 3D model
Components of the model can embed information about dimensions, use, material, etc. within themselves, thus eliminating the need for separate documents to be created for such data. It is also convenient for the manufacturer as all the required guidelines and information can be found in the digital 3D model itself.
4. Collaboration and communication
Stakeholders no longer have to deal with unnecessary delays resulting extra costs caused by constant exchange of 2D fabrication drawings between contractor, project managers, designers, and other various professionals. All concerned personnel have easy access to the 3D CAD model which allows for efficient collaborative efforts, thus reducing the time and cost of the project by a significant percentage.
Thanks to the parametric feature of 3D CAD, any and all changes made in the design of the model is immediately registered and reflected in the 3D model and all associated 2D sheet metal drawings, enabling enhanced communication between team members.
Today, rapid modernization through adoption of latest technology has become the industry gold standard. Thus, it is necessary for designing companies and professionals to enhance their 2D Mechanical Drafting Services through adoption of 3D CAD. It enables product visualization that provides their clients with improved view of a product that accurately resonates their vision and values.
3D CAD also helps avoid expensive mistakes that can cost additional time and efforts to firms. Thereby, by investing in 3D CAD for their steel shop drawings production process, companies can become more competitive, ensuring their growth and survival in the market.