The next big thing in CAD, CAM and CAE is upon us. 3D solid model files are a great tool for the visualization of what a part will actually look like. I have heard from designers that rendering a part in 3D is less time consuming than its 2D sibling. But what are the advantages of each?
3D Solid Model
- Extraction of dimensions
- True visualization
- Easy calculation of weight and surface area, this is helpful in getting a good handle on the cost of things; freight, part handling, metal finishing, precious metal plating, painting, calculating of scrap, versus weight of part.
- Ability to run part through CAM software like MasterCAM or FeatureCAM. This makes writing a program for a CNC machine a more exact task. It also saves times and cost in writing these “G” code programs.
- Dimensional tolerances
- Exact dimension and any special tolerance callouts
- Specified materials
- Metal finishing
- Surface finish (RMS)
- Heat treatment
- Total Indicator Runout
- Part marking method (if any)
- Bill of Materials (if any)
- Different variations on the design of the part (exp. -1 is .020:” -2 is .025” et al)
- Specification of critical features in both dimension and design
- Proprietary information, and revision level
As you can see, 2D, while not as exciting as 3D, gives a manufacturer far more information necessary to produce a component part than 3D can. The deficiency of 3D is the inability to imbed all of the information that is common place in 2D drawing files.
As a parts manufacturer, we always prefer a 2D drawing. But designers who are providing both 3D and 2D seem to have all the bases covered. We speculate that in just a few years’ time, it will become expected that an RFQ will be accompanied by both 2D and 3D part files. For many of Luso Machine customers, we are already benefiting from that trend.