CAD Manager's Newsletter (#256)

9 Mar, 2011 By: Robert Green

Just How 3D Are We? Part 2


Readers weigh in on the question of 3D CAD adoption, revealing a wide spectrum of opinions about 2D and 3D use.

In the previous edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I concluded that 3D CAD use isn't as prevalent as you might think, and that 2D CAD is still very much alive. (If you haven't done so already, you may wish to read through that column now so you'll have the proper context for this one.)

I promised that I'd include some feedback from readers about my 2D/3D conclusions and provide advice for CAD managers navigating the transition. However, I got so much insightful commentary that I've devoted this edition exclusively to more discussion of why 3D adoption rates aren't higher and why 2D hangs on. Here goes.

Justified Investment

In response to my conclusion that firms will use 2D when they can do so profitably, and will only invest in 3D when business purposes justify it, B.M.S. posted this comment on Facebook:

"Not just cost savings, but competitive advantage, even if there is no cost savings. My experience is with the industrial fan & blower market. We went 3D at tremendous costs to be able to produce customer designs on the fly, minimize engineering design time, and to be able to have our 3D models integrate into HVAC software. We were a market leader in this regard."

This point is very valid, because there are two ways to make more money with 3D: generating savings and generating more business via faster and better customer responsiveness. If going 3D enables you to win jobs you wouldn't get otherwise, then the technology is paying for itself.

Sometimes 2D Works Fine

I received a few responses from readers who feel that there is simply no compelling reason for their company to transition to 3D. One such comment came from M.R. in Ohio:

"I missed the opportunity to participate in the survey, but we are 100% 2D. There have been discussions about 3D software that have been going on for the last 12 years. The time and cost involved to switch to 3D just isn't worth the investment for us."Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox:
The Mighty User Suggestion Box

How can you improve things for your users? Start by asking them what they think!

Want to make things better for your CAD users, but don't really know what to tackle first? Ever have trouble identifying the productivity-zapping little problems that vex your users? Welcome to CAD management!

To find good answers to your questions, you need to ask your users for advice — but they may not always share their thoughts, for fear of offending someone or having their suggestions rejected. How do you solve this problem? With a simple suggestion box. Here's how you do it:

Purchase. Buy a lockable ballot or suggestion box and place it in your break room, along with a supply of index cards for users to write ideas on.

Protect. Keep it confidential; allow users to submit suggestions anonymously if they'd prefer. Sometimes people will tell you things that way when they wouldn't otherwise.
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!

:: Resources

CIMdata White Paper Explains Value of SOA-Based Architectures for PLM
CIMdata, a PLM (product lifecycle management) consulting and research firm, has published a white paper, "The Increasing Value of SOA-Based Architectures for PLM." This paper presents the challenges that companies face, describes the benefits an SOA-based unified PLM architecture approach can deliver, and describes approaches to a transition to a unified architecture. Releases Video Podcasts on iTunes has released two engineering video podcasts — This Week in Engineering and the Product Design Show — on iTunes. This Week in Engineering is an engineering news satire show featuring the writing and acting talents of Dan Hedges and Vince Penman. The Product Design Show examines the engineering behind consumer and industrial products, from bicycle design to farm equipment.

Bentley Shares Thought Leadership Video Series
Delivered through Bentley's Be Connected online video library, the Bentley Infrastructure Ambassadors Council eSeminar Series and the Be Inspired Award Presentation Series are intended for viewers interested in the key challenges of, and the opportunities resulting from, sustaining infrastructure. The free videos are one hour each and feature industry experts sharing best practices.

Longview Advisors Reports on Survey of Manufacturing Professionals
Longview Advisors has released the latest edition of its Collaboration & Interoperability Market Report. The report includes results and analysis from Longview's Sixth Annual Collaboration & Interoperability best practices survey, along with articles about related industry topics. The PDF-format report is free to the public who fill out a registration form.

:: Events

Webinar: Bridging the Gap between SolidWorks and your Electrical and Fluid Designs
March 16, 2011
Noon ET
Zuken's Patrick Hackney will present this webinar, which focuses on using E3.WireWorks within a SolidWorks environment. Read more »

Webinar: What's New in Teamcenter 8.3
March 22, 2011
2 p.m. ET
In this webinar, the Education Services group at Siemens PLM Software will share the latest features of Teamcenter 8.3. This free mini training session provides tips in the use of Teamcenter software and potential productivity gains achieved by investing in formal training options. Read more »

CIMdata PLM Certificate Program: The Netherlands
May 9–13, 2011
Amsterdam, Netherlands
CIMdata's PLM Certification Program prepares PLM technologists at several levels to address the challenges inherent in PLM implementations. Read more »

Be Together: The Bentley User Conference
May 23–26, 2011
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This conference carries the theme "Sharpen Your Edge," and will give Bentley users the opportunity to advance their skills, increase their knowledge, and network with their peers. Read more »

PlanetPTC Live
June 12–15, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada
PlanetPTC Live will bring together PLM experts, product engineers and developers, managers, educators, PTC partners and customers, and PTC/USER members and leadership for educational sessions, networking opportunities, and shared problem-solving. Read more »

CIMdata PLM Certificate Program: Massachusetts
June 20–24, 2011
Andover, Massachusetts
This assessment-based program includes an intimate classroom experience, individual and team exercises, and individual evaluations of achievement. 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

CAD Users, Vendors, Resellers: Cyon Research Needs Your Input
Two surveys will paint a picture of engineering software market and how users are implementing CAD, CAE, PDM, PLM, and BIM tools. Read more »

On the Edge Solid Edge Tutorial: Apply Custom View Styles to Your Designs
Set up your display with view styles, and change among them quickly. Read more »

Newforma Adds Mobile Functionality, Revit Connectivity, and Contract Management
New modules extend reach of Newforma Project Center Eighth Edition, the company's core project information management solution. Read more »

Learning Curve tutorial: Generate 2D Output from 3D AutoCAD Models in a Flash
When you need 2D working drawings, the fastest, most accurate approach is to start in 3D. Read more

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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