What are 3D drawings?
3D drawings are a type of engineering drawing that are used to represent a component or a part in orthographic, isometric, trimetric, cabinet or cavalier view with dimensions.
Usually, the projections are used for illustration purposes, however, when the dimensions are assigned to them they are considered as 3D drawings.
3D drawings are useful for communicating ideas easily to people with little or no technical knowledge. A typical example of 3D drawing is the assembly instructions you often receive with flat-pack furniture.
The advantages of 3D drawing
3D drawings and models play a vital role in engineering work. Some of the advantages of 3D drawing are as follows:
- A 3D drawing or model easily shows the geometry of a proposed idea, along with its dimensions and tolerances.
- It can be used to check the feasibility of a design, and also any parts of the model which need to be added or modified.
- A 3D drawing can ensure better communication between designers and manufacturers.
- 3D CAD drawings minimise the chances of man-made drawing errors.
- 3D drawings are good for displaying a proposed model in different views, which can help analyse possible design weaknesses.
- 3D drawings can fast-track the product design process, as they can communicate ideas more effectively at the start of a project.
- Using software to make 3D drawings makes the design process more sustainable and eco-friendly, as it reduces the use of paper and ink.
- Checking and modifying a design and altering its dimensions are both much easier and faster than with 2D drawings.
The disadvantages of 3D drawing
3D drawings are the modern way to represent and communicate engineering ideas, but still have some disadvantages compared to more traditional 2D drafting.
- While 3D drawings can seem more effective, 2D drafting is still a traditional way of putting ideas on paper, and may be easier or more intuitive in some cases.
- 3D drawings cannot show a greater level of detail. As a result, 2D is still commonly used for engineering design.
- 3D drawing software can be expensive and requires extensive training.
- As the entire design process is computer-based, a 3D drawing environment requires regular system maintenance.
How are 3D drawings created?
Although every design project is different, the design process—which takes an idea and transforms it into a drawing ready for construction or manufacture—follows a common set of steps.
At CAD FM we offer help at each stage of the design process. Whether your project is still just a concept in your mind or already exists in some form, we can help you bring it to life and share it with your clients. If you’d like further background on CAD design and tools, we recommend you check out our CAD Knowledgebase.
8 Steps guide to creating Professional 3D Drawings
Step 1: Formulate your idea
All projects begin with an idea. You may already have some sketches of the product that you have in mind or some existing 2D drawings. A 2D drawing will ideally contain the information necessary for conversion into 3D. Even if you have nothing on paper yet, you should have thought your product through and have some idea of its dimensions.
CAD FM’s product design and feasibility services can help you to formulate your ideas and give feedback about the feasibility of your product from day one.
Step 2: Choose the most appropriate representation (2D or 3D)
The second step is to decide if 3D drawing is actually the best way to present your idea. Depending on your final product, a set of 2D technical drawings may be enough, or even more appropriate. We’ll look at some of the pros and cons of 2D and 3D drawings later in this article.
Step 3: Choose the drawing projection and view
Your drawing will show different views of your product. The way the views are presented is called the drawing’s projection. It’s important to choose the projection which will communicate information about your product most effectively.
If you’re working in 3D, you’ll use orthographic, isometric, diametric, trimetric, cavalier or cabinet projection. All of these views show different dimensions of the product simultaneously in three dimensions.
Step 4: Assign dimensions
Once you have an idea of how your product will be shown, you need to decide on its dimensions and their range of tolerances. These dimensions are required to determine the geometry of the final product.
Things that will influence your choice of dimensions include usability, the availability of standard parts, established engineering standards, and manufacturing constraints. At CAD FM, we have a wide experience of different engineering requirements and standards that can help determine the optimal dimensions for your part or product.
Step 5: Choose the appropriate drawing software, and get started!
Common CAD programs include Solidworks, Creo, and Fusion 360. Each program has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to decide which is best suited to your design needs.
Step 6: Get expert advice and feedback
Before finalising your 3D drawing, you’ll need expert advice on its accuracy to ensure it meets your needs and is ready for production.
If you’re designing a product on your own, using the services of an outsourcing company like CAD FM at this stage can save you considerable time and money when it comes to manufacturing.
Step 7: Choose your file format
Different file formats will communicate the information in your drawing in different ways. You can use .DWG or .DXF for CNC machine use, or PDF for general use. Other common formats include.STL (common for 3D printing and computer-aided manufacturing) and .3DS.
Step 8: Compare your final file with Step 1
An essential stage of the design process is comparing your 3D drawing with the idea you had in mind at the start. If you’ve succeeded in showing all necessary design details, your project is ready for manufacture. If not, you can add the missing parts you need to add after consulting an expert.
Design is an iterative process, so you’ll probably loop through a series of checks, changes, and consultations before you finalise your drawing.