Product Design

CAD Manager's Q&A: Managing 3D Files

24 Jul, 2007 By: Robert Green

I understand how to manage my 2D files, but I'm struggling with the new 3D building design and mechanical modeling tools we're using. Any pointers on how to deal with this issue?

Robert Green replies: The good news here is that the most important part of managing 3D tools is having consistent, well-thought-out procedures in place. And when you’ve achieved that for your 2D files, you’ve got a good start for 3D.

So take the logical approach to controlling your files and expand your methodology to control 3D tools, understanding that the following problems will likely be the issues you’ll need to deal with.

More complex file-to-file relationships. Think about complicated 2D files with lots of xrefs and you’ll start to comprehend the complexity of 3D environments with part-to-assembly relationships, distributed databases, and file navigator type relationships. In 3D management schemes you need to worry about not just losing files but also about losing the relationship between files, thus making filing paths and structures much more pivotal to manage.

Version control gets tougher. If a single 2D drawing is updated and saved, no big deal. But what if two parts in a 10-part assembly are updated? How will the assembly know the parts have been updated, and how can you examine before and after cases on the assemblies? These are the types of data management scenarios that can drive you crazy if you don’t control them.

Data management becomes more crucial. The above scenarios point to a greater need to use data management tools that are tailored to managing 3D CAD environments.

Now do your homework on these issues, and use the same diligence in setting up your 3D standards that you did with 2D, and you’ll make good decisions and set up good standards. This will take work on your part, but it will be work well rewarded.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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