Why You Should Move from 2D CAD to 3D in Steel Detailing

The use of 2D drawings is still prevailing in the Sheet steel Fabrication Melbourne industry even though 3D CAD models are introduced in the designing sector. It is a matter of fact that 2D drawings have remained successful since several decades to convey the design intent. And this is one of the reasons why designers are not switching to 3D models as they have developed familiarity with 2D since such a long time. 

 

However, 3D CAD workflows for sheet metal fabrication can help fabricators to compete better in this advanced age. The models generated for sheet metal products consist of a pool of information that can be utilized for the entire product development lifecycle. This is achievable only due to the benefits provided by this new age technology.  you see the rise of 3D Detailing to enhance the visual representation of structures. Below are some Pros & Cons of 3D Detailing:

 

 

Pros –

 

  1. After creating a 3D model, all needed drawings can be generated automatically.
  2. Drawing in 3D provides you with a better visual representation of the steel structures being detailed.
  3. The drawings/models are done to scale so it’s more accurate.
  4. A change to the 3D model automatically updates the entire model & all associated drawings.
  5. A Bill of Material can be generated from the model, reducing the likelihood of errors.

 

Cons – 

 

  1. The costs/training of 3D modeling programs are higher than traditional detailing software.
  2. It’s a complex process to build a 3D model.
  3. You must build a 3D model for each steel structure to get the drawings generated.

 

Here’s the core 3  benefits of it:

 

  1. Designing with greater flexibility:

 

3D offers to design with accuracy, quality, reduced rework and more flexibility. Engineers are able to come up with a promising model which is possible only with the use of tools that remove bottlenecks in the designs at an early stage. 

 

With only fewer mouse clicks, the entire solid model is converted to a sheet metal model with all the bends, chamfers and other features. This ensures that the modifications in models can be done in a short duration of time, thus, pushing the models to fabrication shops quickly. Securing client contracts becomes easy and quick as sending 3D models with a quote will benefit both the parties involved. 

 

  2. Better collaboration:

 

One of the core benefits of adopting a 3D approach is enhanced collaboration and communication. In the case of 2D approach, generating Steel Fabrication Drawing and Structural Shop Drawings can be a painful task. This is so because in this case, it demands greater accuracy to avoid change orders and delays at fabrication shops. 

 

On the contrary, the 3D approach makes it easy for the designers and fabricators to communicate for a better revision and modification. A small change in the drawings penetrates throughout the models with fewer or no errors. The changes are automatically updated saving time and energy of the designers to concentrate on more complex areas.  

 

  1. Developing better marketing materials:

 

3D models can be used not only for designing and fabrication but also for marketing. With the in-built tools and engines, CAD offers high definition pictures for sheet metal products. These pictures can be used in brochures, catalogs, and sales communication with the end customers. There is no requirement for special tools and resources to fulfill the purpose. 

 

4) It is much easier to store data (for example, a single file could contain the whole reinforcement arrangement for a bridge/building). 100 years later if someone needs to assess the structure, all he needs is one file to get all his information. No more referring to multiple PDF’s. This is more related to BIM though, as current 3D models usually support being overlapped with other models (utility ducts etc.).

 

5) Extracting rebar information is easy (sometimes the bar bending schedule needs to be prepared by the consultant and modeling reinforcements as it automatically takes care of the cumbersome work of extracting reinforcement schedules).

 

6) It does take slightly more time to model initially but in projects where the geometry itself is subject to change regularly, this ensures 100% accuracy. When bars are modeled as is, it is very easy to spot errors like rebars encroaching into the cover / bar spacing requirements are violated etc. which are often hard to spot when looking at 2D drawings. For example, if a bar diameter changes from 16 to 20, this will affect the reinforcement in the other direction. Errors like this are very hard to spot in 2D but are obvious in 3D.

 

7) Complex rebar detailing is sometimes faster (especially if the 3D geometry is readily available) in 3D. Generating 2D cross sections from 2D plan and elevations or vice versa can sometimes be more intellectually demanding than drawing reinforcements in 3D. Most softwares also have the option of automatically generating 2D sections from the 3D model so some portion of time spent in making the drawings is saved in checking the drawings (no need to check if there is sync between plan / elevation / sections / schedule etc.)

 

8) Technology ! Technology has advanced to the stage that contractors can ask for a single 3D reinforcement file and that’s enough for him to place all his reinforcement at site (zero ambiguity, zero questions asked). This is infinitely better than the current method of generating sets of PDFs where the contractor has no clue which bar came from where (in case there is any confusion).

 

Sources-

https://business.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/1950939/Victorian-Steel-Industry-Directory.pdf