Is there still a future for flat two dimensional (2D) writing or drawings, yes. 2D drawings and written communication have been around since the beginning of time as evidenced on cave walls and papyrus. Today many use these flat 2D methods based on needs, medium, cost, and effort and will continue to rely on them, even in design using CAD (Computer Aided Design).
CAD has dramatically changed the way we design and develop products, structures, and systems. CAD software today is more focused on 3D modeling, enabling engineers and designers to create three-dimensional representations of their ideas. However, amidst the dominance of 3D CAD, the question arises: Is there a future for 2D CAD?
The Role of 2D CAD
While 3D CAD has become the go-to tool for many design disciplines today, there are numerous scenarios where 2D CAD still holds value. 2D CAD primarily focuses on creating 2Drepresentations of objects, designs, and plans. It can simplify the design process much like sketching, allowing for accurate drawings without some of the complexities and time required for a 3D modeling. I am aware that many CAD platforms designing in 3D can also output 2D drawings such as a BIM modelling application automatically producing the floor layouts and section drawing which is a huge benefit for designing in 3D and reducing errors. But in some simpler ideation or layout needs, designing in 2D is sufficient.
Here are a few key areas where 2D CAD remains relevant:
Designing a steel plate or fabric or most any flat material material to cut including the shape nesting can be fast and easy in 2D.
For engineers, 2D CAD continues to be indispensable for creating design and engineering drawings in the drafting process as well as on the fabrication floor. These drawings convey vital information such as dimensions, tolerances, and materials necessary for manufacturing and assembly. 2D CAD's simplicity and precision make it a descent choice for producing these technical drawings with ease and clarity.
Documentation and Technical Illustrations
In technical writing, user manuals, patents, and documentation, illustrations play an important role in conveying information effectively. 2D CAD software allows technical writers and illustrators to create detailed, easy-to-understand diagrams, enhancing the comprehension and usability of the documents. From exploded views to assembly instructions, 2D CAD simplifies the process of generating accurate and visually appealing technical illustrations.
Differences Between 2D and 3D CAD
While 2D CAD and 3D CAD serve different purposes, it's important to understand their distinctions:
Depth and Visualization: The most evident difference between 2D and 3D CAD is the ability to visualize designs in three dimensions. 2D CAD focuses on flat representations of objects, while 3D CAD creates virtual models that simulate real-world objects with depth and spatial relationships. 3D CAD enables designers to explore their designs from various angles, enhancing visualization and comprehension and ideally reduce errors.
Complexity and Learning Curve: Producing 3D models requires a higher level of expertise compared to 2D CAD. The complexity of 3D CAD software can be challenging for beginners, whereas 2D CAD offers a simpler and more intuitive interface. For professionals seeking quick and accurate drawings without the need for extensive 3D modeling, 2D CAD is often a more accessible option.
Functionality and Design Analysis: 3D CAD provides advanced features for design analysis, simulations, and virtual prototyping or visualization. Engineers and designers can test the functionality and performance of their designs, detect interferences, and simulate real-world conditions. In contrast, 2D CAD often lacks these advanced capabilities, as it primarily focuses on accurate representations rather than simulation and testing.
While 3D CAD has gained prominence and value in various industries, the importance of 2D CAD cannot be overlooked as one tool in the toolbox and I don't see that 2D design disappearing anytime soon.