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Why you should move from 2D CAD to 3D in steel detailing

While larger companies within the structural steel detailing industry are already benefiting from what 3D tech has to offer, many small steel detailers are sticking with 2D CAD. As a small detailer your business can, however, significantly benefit from embracing 3D in model-based construction projects.

By making the change from 2D to 3D, you can improve efficiency, make savings as well as keep up with the competition and evolving industry standards.  

The world has changed since 2D CAD was the norm

Why then, has the change to 3D not yet fully happened across the industry? The reason is that 2D does work – it’s just not as efficient compared to what new software can do for structural steel detailing. Shuffling amongst a pile of drawings can get the job done, but delivering a project in a visually accurate and data-packed model serves a project much better.  

What was the ideal solution a long time ago can still work today, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best possible solution right now.

Be more competitive with 3D

Working in 2D can limit your options because it means you can only work with fabricators who are also using 2D - a number that is decreasing. Integrating 3D adds a completely new competitive edge, and the sheer efficiency allows working on more and bigger projects. This pays off increasingly in the long run as the industry moves more and more towards automation and digital solutions. 

For small steel detailers, it’s important to keep up with the demands of the fabricators and keep adding value for them in order to maintain and expand customer bases. The scope of companies that are using model-based software is constantly expanding. At the same time, the requirements for satisfying the end users’ needs are best achieved with the latest available tools. 

From 3D to 2D and back again 

When a drawing is created in 2D, it’s accurate to a certain extent, but it needs to be interpreted as if it were a physical model. A drawing represents a real-life object – a three-dimensional construction. To produce a 2D drawing, you need to think in 3D, translate that into 2D, only to go back to 3D again.

For example, you can detail a beam with 20 lines. If there is a change, you might need to redraw 10 of those lines, and then make changes to every other drawing that the original change impacts. When you create a beam in 3D, you create one single object. Every change that is made to that object is automatically reflected in the whole model. That’s a massive save in time, effort, and ultimately money. What’s more, you get valuable data that can be used for purposes such as quantity take off, fabrication and erection planning.

Avoid expensive mistakes

Working with two-dimensional drawings can naturally result in different interpretations, which in turn can result in misunderstandings, back-and-forths, or even erroneous fabrications. 

As we know, when things go wrong in construction, it’s not only inconvenient – it’s costly. A mistake that makes its way to the actual construction phase multiplies the damage compared to catching a clash in the model. If you take a steel beam up 60 stories only to find that it doesn’t fit, it will have to be brought back down, redrawn, and refabricated, wasting time, money and effort. 

The odds of a financial blow are significantly smaller with a data-packed 3D model. A project in 3D improves information flow between stakeholders and reduces mistakes.

Stay on top of the digital and enjoy its benefits

While the status quo can be tempting, there’s no reason to fear new ways of working. 3D software is one element in the intelligent and streamlined way that businesses are increasingly operating in. The surrounding world is going digital, and staying onboard can ensure that your steel detailing business can make the most of it in the future.

Want to learn more? Download our free eBook: How to Maximize the Benefits of 3D Models Throughout Intelligent Steel Detailing and Fabrication