CAD and profits

Where have all the profits gone?
Some CAD drafters love 3D work. I love 3D modeling. The problem I find is most people want this service for free. Unless you are working for a large firm with the resources to buy you the software to do 3D modeling and you are fast enough to be able to learn the program well enough to be able to charge your time to the project, you are wasting the clients and your employer. Why you may ask? The reason is that most small shops want to get out a set of plans that will suit the building and planning departments in their area, and not break or whittle down the projected profits.
Think about the initial cost of the software that has 2D/3D capabilities. They are all expensive and the learning curve will "knock the socks" off of any junior staff who will have to go through all of the downtime associated with the huge learning curve that is a product of so much built in utility. Even the seasoned veteran who knows everything there is to know about CAD will find learning these programs daunting. They aren't tossing drawings out the door for reproduction until they also deal with the downtime learning the program. Most even have to go to costly training sessions to learn how to use them. And, we are not speaking of the new guys or gals here who. These seasoned vets's get paid quite well to go through the training and then become proficient with the new "magic drafting and 3D modeling" software.
There are good things about the 2D/3D paradigm in design software. Expect a lot of expense to get good quality work out the door to the client. Expect to pay for traveling for training. Especially, expect to do this on a constant basis. Software companies are publicly traded and their investors expect to see a good return on their investment. This means you will deal with upgrading your CAD software every year. That can only mean one thing, $$$$$!
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I've been a cad manager in AEC environment and seen the hard sell from autodesk and others touting the great wonders of 3d programs like revit, architectural desktop etc.... bottom line, is the bottom line. Can we generate construction documents faster?? When out of the box revit and ADT have limited "blocks"...now time has to spent to develop your own...or when your design deviates from a "norm", now you gotta figure out the workarounds. What about old projects? You now have to redraw them in the newer programs. What about block and detail libraries? Try editing a 2d detail using only revit as your program.
3d gives a pretty picture but does it put money in your pocket. Whats the point in delivering a pretty picture if you take a loss on the CD's time?? Why should a cad detailer have to "digitally build" a structure, thats why we have GCs and skilled tradespeople. 3d programs have there uses for delivering a pretty picture...but I know professional "hand renderers" who can do the same in "half the time and cost". But its takes skill to actually draw by hand and the skill is being lost in the AEC field every day and being replaced with software and hardware that in the end winds up costlier.
Thens there is the ROI....you gotta have the computing power.....which means constant hardware upgrades....and the associated costs.
are pretty pictures worth it???
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sometimes they pay for themselves many times over. other times its a waste of money. i think it depends on the complexity of the issue
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Yup, sounds just like what I said ten years ago when the push to 3D was happening in the product development field - I can do engineering drawings faster in 2D in ACAD, than anyone can model the part in 3D. Boy, was I wrong.
Today, everything I design is done completely in 3D, with forms and shapes that were unimaginable ten years ago. Model it, test fit assemblies, and operate mechanisms completely virtually.. use to take months and numerous dollars at the machine shop can be done in an afternoon. Want 2D drawings? Just pick a view or define a section plane, and wham, you've got the drawing. Of course in my business today, there aren't any 2D drawings except those used for specs. - 3D geometry is sent straight to the tool shop and they cut steel for the molds.
Complex products with hundreds of component parts modelled on the desktop using a $2000 computer running a $5000 software package. Sure there was a steep learning curve on the software, but after you get proficient at it, you can 3D model things as fast as you used to draw "dumb" 2D.
I've been working with a builder to get started on our new passive solar, energy efficeint house - SIP walls and roofs, sitting on Superior Walls foundation. Both the SIP company and Superior Walls work exclusively in 3D to check fits, calculate soils loads, etc then dump 2D for the GC to know how to put it together. I developed the initial design in my 3D package ( I-deas12NX), passed a STEP file of the structure to both subs via FTP, and we were all able to interact and fine tune the exact details of the structure via email, VNC, etc.
It appears that the switch from 2D to 3D is going to have the same teeth gnashing, kicking and screaming that the engineering profession went through some time back.

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How does PDES, STEP, DXF or any other(s) stand up to 3D feature parameters conversion. (From standpoint of Q I am most concerned from a machining level, though not limited to)
the initial design in my 3D package (

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IGES?
sorry, don't really know whos passed

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Most of the data I forward to machine shops is in either IGES or STEP - basically "dumb" surfaces defined by bezier curves, without parametric history - yet they can machine very complex, organic curved surfaces from the data. These universal translators aren't perfect - occasionally you get an edge that won't knit, or a gap that's outside tolerance when importing on the receiving system. But these can usually be patched. The "flavor" of the output IGES can be tailored somewhat to the receving system, but STEP AP214 seems to work the best in most situations.
Some CAM system will accept parametric files which include complete part modelling history if the two system are compatible. But that can lead to problems, especially if you're having molds for different parts of the same assembly made in different shops - one shop may decide to "tweak" something without letting you or the other shop know, and you end up with parts that don't fit together.

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