Interview with Colin Watson

Written by: Justin Cunningham | Published:

Colin Watson, business development manager at UK based software solutions provider, Imass, talks with Justin Cunningham

JC: How many of your customers are still using 2D design packages?
CW: We estimate that about 60% of our customers are using 2D. We still have a lot of work to do in turning people from 2D to 3D, but there is probably a good percentage of the remainder who will not go to 3D anyway.

JC: What is stopping these people from moving over?
CW: Some people are reluctant to change. They do not know how it might affect processes and production and in the current climate they don't want to take that risk.
In certain industries, the delivery of a pile of drawings triggers a milestone in the project that allows the company to be paid. I still think that will exist even if the process is primarily a 3D process. The delivery of a pile of 2D production drawings will trigger payment to the company producing the design.
And there is still a generation of people who grew up with 2D. Those people will probably never change from 2D to 3D because they do not need to. And why would a company want to change a process if it works?

JC: So, why make a transition to 3D?
CW: Autodesk is trying to make its applications fit together and interact well. If a 3D user is on one of the mechanical applications - like Inventor - it can produce its own 2D drawings automatically from the model.
Inventor is able to provide 2D content that is much richer, so it can be passed down to somebody who has a 2D application to finish off at the detailing stage. But less work is actually involved in the detailing stage as most of it is done on the model. This allows the 3D people to get on and do the conceptual design and more esoteric work.

JC: How difficult is it for companies to make the transition to 3D design software?
CW: There is a requirement to train designers to use 3D software packages. It changes the way you work. In the 2D world people are used to being very precise about what they are laying down. But in 3D, particularly with Inventor, some of that is conceptual so you can sketch. Then you can apply precision dimensions to it once the form is correct.

JC: Has the recession affected the 2D vs. 3D debate?
CW: People who haven't yet made the investment in 3D are waiting until they feel more confident in their own situation and the company's financial. What we are finding is that companies that made the investment can now re examine the technology that they have got and try to make better use of it. So a company might have brought in to the 3D process but found that they are only using a very small percentage of it. What those guys are doing now is asking to get more out of the 3D technology and we can do that by further training.

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