Have you ever read Evan Yares’ stuff? If not, you’re missing out. He’s a really smart dude covering this space. Evan and I got to catch up at the 3D Collaboration and Interoperability Congress, where I presented findings from the 3D Collaboration and Interoperability Study. A couple weeks ago, Evan wrote up his own analysis of the findings in a post titled Leveraging 3D CAD Data. And he didn’t just regurgitate statistics. He provided some pretty deep analysis. And it’s good.
To understand why industry is where it is with respect to the use of 3D, it might help to step back a bit, into the history of CAD.
While 3D CAD systems have been around nearly as long as 2D, for the first 25 years of the CAD era, 2D was dominant. It wasn’t until late 1980s, with the introduction of Pro/ENGINEER—the first commercially successful parametric solid modeling CAD system—that 3D really came into its own.
With Pro/E, designers could first create 3D models, then quickly and easily create associative 2D drawings. When they modified the 3D models, the 2D drawings were automatically updated. Pro/E provided the benefits of 3D, without forcing its users to abandon their long entrenched 2D drawing centric product development processes.
Pro/E was incredibly influential, and most competitive CAD systems with the exception of those designed primarily for aesthetic surface design adopted a similar approach, coupling feature-based 3D solid modeling with associative 2D drawing creation and annotation.
I highly recommend heading over there to check out the whole article. To read the full post, titled Leveraging 3D CAD Data, head on over to 3D CAD World.