A couple of decades ago, everyone created mechanical documentation in 2D. With the today’s large scale adoption of 3D CAD, however, it would seem as if hardly anyone uses 2D anymore. But frankly, that’s not the case. Many companies, big and small, use 2D CAD for a range of reasons. And the ability to integrate 2D and 3D designs can be useful. Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight offers powerful capabilities on this front.

Representing Designs in 2D

For the most part, 3D CAD is the natural choice for design engineers working to design mechanical products. But, engineers still benefit from the ability to create and use 2D representations. 

Dassault Systèmes offers two popular 3D CAD solutions: CATIA and SOLIDWORKS. Both solutions, which traditionally have been desktop offerings, are now part of the solution provider’s 3DEXPERIENCE cloud platform. This platform is a collaborative cloud solution that empowers designers and engineers to create products and services virtually. Of course, there remain design situations where 2D drawings are still required. To meet that need, Dassault has added a new component: 3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight.

This post discusses the ongoing need for 2D digital representations in mechanical design and the value DraftSight offers to Dassault Systèmes customers. 

Recent Changes in Product Design 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how companies operate. It has also affected mechanical product design. Today, many design engineers work remotely. Their organizations increasingly rely on outsourcing to be more cost-competitive and to compensate for the difficulty in hiring local engineering talent. This is the new normal—and most organizations have accepted that it won’t change anytime soon. Design stakeholders can and do work from all corners of the globe. With employees scattered to the four winds, success depends on a collaborative environment where stakeholders can work together to accomplish product development goals. 

Given today’s working environment, there are likely many stakeholders contributing to a new product design. Each has specific and challenging tasks to accomplish. Companies can reduce friction by enabling these stakeholders to use the tools and formats with which they are most comfortable. As we shall see in the next section, for some, that means supporting the ability to work with 2D digital representations.

Applications for 2D Digital Representations 

Not all companies have access to a 3D CAD solution. They may not want to pay for it, or their engineers may not be comfortable using the solution. And there are still other reasons a company may need to work with 2D representations. Let’s consider a few such cases.

Outsourcing Prototype Machining

Once a product design is ready for review, companies will need to create prototypes. Outsourcing the machining of prototypes to external machine shops is a very common practice across the industry. And most machine shops still work from 2D drawings.

Collaboration with Electrical Engineers

Like their larger peers, smaller organizations that develop mechanical systems are also transitioning to smart, connected products. As a result, mechanical products now include more electrical and electronics components. This means that mechanical engineers must work closely with their electrical engineering peers. Electrical engineers need to create the bill of materials (BOM) and cabling and harnessing in the final product. Some of these engineers, particularly those working for smaller organizations, still prefer to work with 2D drawings of electrical systems involving cables and harnesses.

Integration with AEC Representations

Some mechanical engineering products are placed in a larger facility, plant, or building once they are created. As a result, these products must be integrated with other architectural or civil structure drawings. These architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) representations are usually 2D.. In these situations, having access to a 2D representation of the mechanical product is invaluable. 

Benefits of using 3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight

3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight is a comprehensive, cloud-based 2D CAD solution from Dassault Systèmes. It allows organizations to create, share, and collaborate on designs across all shareholders in a 2D format. We’ve already discussed several situations where a company may need a 2D a digital representation. Engineers who are more comfortable designing in 2D can now use DraftSight within the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

One of the most powerful advantages of DraftSight is the way it enables concurrent and collaborative design. The solution supports an experience where multiple engineers can access and change different parts of the 2D drawing simultaneously. This collaborative capability is familiar to Dassault 3D CAD users. Now, Dassault is offering a similar experience for those who wish to work with 2D representations. The platform enables stakeholders, wherever they are, to give their inputs and make changes to the design in real-time. Concurrent design with remote stakeholders is genuinely possible.

DraftSight also offers associative capabilities. 2D drawings can be created from 3D designs. DraftSight maintains a tight association between 2D drawing and 3D design. So, if and when there are changes to the main 3D design, those changes will be automatically updated to the 2D drawing. This ensures all stakeholders are always working with the latest design data.

3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight eliminates the need to use images or .pdf files of mechanical designs to share and collaborate on 2D drawings. With the addition of DraftSight, 3DEXPERIENCE now offers a more comprehensive and collaborative 2D design environment on the cloud that benefits the entire design team.


Most design engineers are moving to 3D platforms for their design work, but there remains a need to represent digital designs in two dimensions. Dassault Systèmes’ new 3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight allows users to integrate 2D and 3D designs and enable comprehensive, collaborative design for all stakeholders, no matter where they happen to be working.