The biggest businesses in the steel detailing industry have been utilising 3D tech for some time in their structural designs, but many smaller businesses are still making do with 2D CAD. However, even smaller companies can take advantage of 3D modelling, and there are good reasons for investing in the necessary software. Making the leap from 2D to 3D enables massive efficiency gains, as well as financial savings in the long run. Any steel detailing business that wants to keep up with the competition and the latest industry standards should seriously consider whether 3D CAD capabilities are worth the investment.

The industry has changed

There is a simple reason that 3D modelling isn’t quite an industry-standard yet; 2D modelling still works. It might not be as efficient as the latest 3D steel detailing software, but it still gets the job done. However, by the same token, working from a pile of hand-drawn designs can get the job done.

3D modelling is more efficient and more accurate. It’s the ideal solution for the current industry, just as 2D CAD was once the best solution available for the industry in the past.

Improve your competitiveness

2D CAD software limits your options in numerous ways. Regardless of what the steel detailing designers are using, the fabricators have mostly upgraded to 3D now. Working with 2D designs means you can only partner with fabricators who are also using 2D. The number of 2D fabricators has been declining for some time, and the trend is only going to continue until 2D is entirely obsolete.

By adding 3D design capabilities to your workflow, you will give yourself a new competitive edge. The efficiency gains that 3D designing offers means you can work on more projects simultaneously and take on larger, more complex projects without increasing your costs. The ultimate payoff makes it a worthwhile investment in both the short and long-terms.

Small steel detailing businesses need to try and keep pace with a rapidly evolving industry. In particular, steel detailers of all sizes need to keep pace with the fabricators that turn their designs into reality. Using the latest tools makes it far easier to satisfy the demands of users.

3D to 2D and back again

2D designs aren’t necessarily inaccurate, but they require proper interpretation. A 2D drawing can represent a 3D object perfectly well, provided the designer can think in 3D, translate their 3D picture into 2D, and then render the 2D design as a 3D physical object.

While this workflow does work, it provides plenty of opportunities for things to go disastrously wrong. On the other hand, a 3D model is ready to go from the moment the design is finished. More importantly, you can make any adjustments you like to a 3D model, and they will immediately be accurately reflected.

Avoid costly errors

A 2D drawing can potentially be interpreted in several different ways. Labelling a 2D design clearly can reduce the scope for errors, but also adds to the time and cost of designing and fabricating steel objects. It’s also awkward to modify a 2D drawing that is marked with precise measurements and other indicators of how it should be interpreted.

3D models do away with these issues by removing ambiguity from the equation entirely. When there are errors in a 2D design, they aren’t necessarily obvious until the point of fabrication. With 3D models, it’s much easier to detect these issues before fabrication begins.

Every steel fabrication business should be looking to move from 2D to 3D CAD. The increased efficiency, reduced scope for errors, and better compatibility with fabricators all make it a worthwhile investment.

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