CAD Manager's Newsletter (#255)

23 Feb, 2011 By: Robert Green

:: Just How 3D Are We? Part 1

Software vendors would have you believe that 3D software has taken over the CAD market — but how many companies have actually abandoned 2D?

I've always been fascinated by the discrepancy between how much 3D CAD advertising I see and how much actual 3D usage I observe at my client companies. It appears that the adoption rate of 3D software is far lower than the software companies would have us believe. To verify my suspicions, I started including 3D usage questions in my CAD Manager's Survey years ago.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll share the results of those questions from my latest survey (fall 2010) and compare those with the results with my last tabulated 3D usage results (fall 2008). I think you will find the implications of those statistics interesting. Here goes.

Survey Questions

To measure 3D penetration for my 2010 survey, I settled on six categories of 2D/3D usage:

  • Totally 2D
  • Totally 2D but studying 3D
  • Mainly 2D with some 3D
  • Half 2D, half 3D
  • Mainly 3D with legacy 2D
  • Totally 3D.


My logic in creating these categories is that a gradual evolution from a purely 2D workflow to a purely 3D workflow is what I've most often observed in the field. In fact, almost all of the companies I've seen that attempted to quit 2D cold turkey experienced implementation problems that led them to adopt an evolutionary strategy in the end.

I asked the CAD managers responding to the survey to base their answers on their companies' 2D and 3D usage, not their own personal usage. I figure nobody knows more about which software is actually being used than the CAD managers. Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox:
Pump Up the Performance of Your Old Laptop

It doesn't take much time or money to convert an aging computer into a useful CAD machine.

I've recently completed renovating a two-year-old dual-core laptop to create a traveling CAD machine with reasonable performance. The primary criterion for the upgrade was that it wouldn't cost much. Given that constraint, I was still able to make this machine run a lot better than it did prior to the upgrade, and the only expenses were a $109 Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade (which I will use on another machine once this laptop is retired) and a $30 SD memory card. Interested? Here are the steps you can take to juice up your laptop like I did:

Upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7 32-bit: The upgrade option meant I didn't have to reinstall programs, so the process didn't take long. And since the machine had just 3 GB of RAM, I saw no point in moving to Windows 7 64-bit.

Turn off the Aero graphics theme: Go to Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization, where you can select the graphics theme for your computer. Choose one of the Basic themes rather than an Aero theme to conserve system resources and make graphics performance faster. This is optional, of course, but you should notice faster program swaps and less disk activity if you try it. Read more »


Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at; if I use it in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Events

Webinar: MCAD Smackdown! Direct vs. Parametric Modeling
February 24, 2011
Noon ET
During this free webinar, experts from the mechanical CAD industry will debate when, why, and how to use direct and/or parametric modeling. Led by Cadalyst contributing editor and CAD guru Bill Fane, the panel of CAD technologists will debate the issues and take questions from attendees. Read more »

Webinar: NX 7.5 Sketching and Edge Blending
March 1, 2011
2 p.m. ET
The Education Services at Siemens PLM Software will present a free mini–training session to provide tips in the use of NX CAD software, and potential productivity gains achieved by investing in formal training options. Read more »

Webinar: Low-Energy Building Design with GRAPHISOFT EcoDesigner
March 1–8, 2011
Various times
This webinar will discuss how GRAPHISOFT's EcoDesigner software can aid design decisions by providing precise forecasts about the annual total and specific energy consumption, monthly energy balance, and carbon footprint of a project. Spanish and English versions of this webinar will be offered. Read more »

Cloud Connect
March 7–10, 2011
Santa Clara, California
Cloud Connect, a technology event produced by UBM TechWeb, will focus on technologies, strategies, and innovations within cloud computing. Read more »

PLM Road Map 2011
October 4–5, 2011
Plymouth, Michigan
At PLM Road Map 2011, presentations will cover simulation-based design, embedding simulation across the entire product lifecycle, mechatronics, transforming PLM (product lifecycle management) into a dynamic infrastructure for business decisions, and more topics. Read more »


For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

Cadalyst Webcast: MCAD Smackdown! Direct vs. Parametric Modeling
On February 24 at noon ET, join Cadalyst and some of the mechanical CAD industry's most knowledgeable (and opinionated) voices for a good-spirited debate of one of today's existential technology questions: When, why and how do you use direct and/or parametric modeling to best support your business? Learn more and register today!

Utility Design Software Simplifies Standardization
Southern California Edison implements Autodesk application to improve consistency and reduce design and ordering time. Read more »

If You Can Dream It, They Can Build It
Dynamic Structures uses AutoCAD to design really cool stuff — from telescopes to theme-park rides. Read more »

Remote Monitoring Makes Maintenance a Breeze for Wind Farms
Beijing's Guohua Energy Investment Company deploys an SKF sensor system to keep tabs on turbine conditions. Read more »

Visualization Goes Beyond Appearances
Creators of OXO gadgets unlock the marketing power behind digital rendering. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

Add comment

Note: Comments are moderated and will appear live after approval by the site moderator.

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

Follow Lynn on TwitterFollow Lynn on Twitter

Do you use any augmented or virtual reality (AR or VR) technologies in your workflow?
Not yet, but we are planning to implement it.
No, but we think these technologies could hold value for us.
No; these technologies do not hold value for us.
Submit Vote

Download Cadalyst Magazine Special Edition