CAD Manager's Newsletter (#257)

23 Mar, 2011 By: Robert Green

:: Just How 3D Are We? Part 3

Managing expectations is key to keeping management and users happy during the transition from 2D to 3D.

In the past two editions of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I explored the use of 2D and 3D systems and concluded that 3D penetration is lagging, for a variety of reasons. (If you haven't had a chance to read those columns, you may want to do so now so you'll have the proper context for this one.)

In this issue and the next, I'll fulfill my promise of passing along advice for navigating the 2D-to-3D transition in a way that'll keep your users on track — and keep you sane. The approach I'll take is roughly chronological and will include action items, self-analysis questions, pitfalls to watch out for, and anything else that might help you! Here goes.

Getting Real

In my 20 years of CAD consulting in 2D and 3D design environments, I've come to believe a few essential truths about 3D implementation problems. Let me list the key concepts in summary fashion, then we'll start breaking the topics down:


  • If making the transition to totally 3D design were easy, everyone would have done it by now.
  • Not only is adopting 3D not easy, it won't happen overnight, no matter how hard you work at it.
  • 3D software only makes sense for your company if it helps you design your products better and faster; otherwise, what's the point?
  • Transitioning to 3D requires lots of training.
  • Great 3D software is a waste of money if you're trying to run it on old machines and slow networks.
  • No matter how well you plan your 3D move, change-resistant users can always sabotage your efforts.


What Did You Find?

If you're like most CAD managers, you've experienced at least a few of these troubles before. So given that many of us have experienced difficulties with 2D-to-3D transitions, what can we conclude? Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: Battling Management Burnout

Feeling fed up? Throwing your computer out the window isn't the answer, but these simple strategies can help get you back to productivity.

Ever feel like hitting your monitor with a brick and never using CAD again? Most CAD managers (myself included) have felt burned out at some point in their career. So what can you do? Try a few of these ideas:

Book a "mental health" vacation day. It could be on a Wednesday or a Monday or any day at all, as long as it's a day for you to decompress and focus on something other than your work responsibilities. It is amazing how much of a difference a single day off can make.

Make a task list and prioritize it. Then work through the list in order, pushing all the non-essential stuff aside. By getting the important stuff done you'll relieve stress and gain a sense of accomplishment that'll give you a mood boost.
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

PTC Presents Brief Introduction to PLM
Product lifecycle management (PLM) solution provider PTC has released an introductory video titled "Understanding PLM," which provides a quick overview of the technology.

ERDAS Releases ECW/JP2 SDK Version 4.2
Geospatial solutions provider ERDAS has released a new version of the ERDAS ECW/JP2 SDK (software development kit), a free product that provides software developers with tools to add read support for the JPEG2000 format, ECW imagery format, and the ECWP streaming protocol in their desktop applications.

Bentley Publishes 2010 Annual Report
Bentley's newly released annual report includes the company's performance highlights and notable achievements for 2010. It also provides news of initiatives for 2011, including a change in licensing practices, access to no-cost software for interoperability, and the acquisition of analysis software for offshore structures.

:: Events

Webinar: Create AS9102 Forms and PPAP Reports from CATIA Drawings
March 30, 2011
2–3 p.m. ET
In this free webinar, Extensible CAD Technologies will demonstrate how CATIA users can save time by creating inspection drawings and report forms using InspectionXpert for CATIA V5. Read more »

Webinar: Direct Modeling with Autodesk Inventor
March 30, 2011
10 a.m. PT
In this webcast hosted by Autodesk, Daryl Corelli will demonstrate basic use of the heads-up modeling interface, import and edit of 3D data from many CAD systems, and the ability to bidirectionally edit Inventor parametric data. Read more »

Hagerman Technology Showcase: Atlanta
March 30, 2011
Atlanta, Georgia
Autodesk technology evangelist Lynn Allen will be the featured presenter at this event, which also comprises a variety of Autodesk software labs showcasing solutions for specific industries, including manufacturing, AEC, civil and plant design. Read more »

Webinar: Quick Conceptual Modeling with Vectorworks 2011
April 13, 2011
11 a.m. PT
This webinar will look at quick ways to make a 3D site model, create 3D recession planes for the site, and sketch in the adjoining buildings, all in Vectorworks. Presenter Jonathan Pickup has written several Vectorworks training manuals for architects, landscape architects, educators, and design students. Read more »

2011 Autodesk University User Conference and Exhibition
November 29–December 1, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada
Autodesk University 2011 will include hundreds of technical classes and hands-on labs, advanced classes for experts and managers, and free Autodesk certification exams. Registration for this event will open later this year. 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

Autodesk Unveils 2012 Product Line
New product suites will support specific design workflows, and Inventor Fusion goes mainstream. Read more »

Bentley Launches New Licensing Model and Interoperability Software Portal
Portfolio Balancing and the iWare Apps site offer users new ways to manage their software investment — and to access some tools for free. Read more »

For Tait Towers, AutoCAD Rocks
Complex and spectacular concert sets emerge from a 3D AutoCAD–based workflow. Read more »

Austrian Agency Automates Sound Propagation Modeling
Urban planners process volumes of optical, laser-scanning, and GIS data using INPHO and eCognition software. Read more »

Solid Thinking Tutorial: Display States in SolidWorks
What are display states, and how can you use them with parts and assemblies? Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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