Many architectural and engineering firms still rely on 2D drafting software packages to complete design, drafting, and construction set documentation for client projects. You may wonder with all the conversation surrounding 3D modeling and BIM capabilities, why many 2D-only projects still hold a major part of the AEC industry sector. And one must also keep in mind, that any 2D software package does have 3D capability – the only hold back is that the process of creating a 3D model in a 2D platform software is more cumbersome.
When a company employs a 2D architectural drafting service to complete either small or large projects, they are looking for major benefits that will bring a return on that investment:
- Fast Turn Around – 2D architectural projects can contain hundreds of drawings. Experienced CAD technicians know how to create shortcuts along with using software embedded productivity tools to draft more drawings in less time. When you work with an offshore company, expect the quick service delivery that comes with employees that are at work while you sleep.
- Accurate Layouts – before 3D drafting tools became available, drafters were expected to accurately envision the third dimension that cannot be seen on a flat surface. When you work with a 2D architectural drafting service, you work with drafters that are not dependent on 3D-only views. These drafters have the training to also create accurate layouts in orthographic views, rather than a 3D model.
- Experienced Drafters – the best drafters have experience in a wide range of projects, unlike in-house drafters that may be primarily experienced in the construction sectors that the AEC firm specializes in. This across the board experience brings deeper insight into each client project when you incorporate 2D architectural drafting services
- Powerful Computing Speeds – a drafting software package such as AutoCAD is only as good as the hardware supporting it. Expect a drafting service to maintain state-of-the-art hardware and graphics speed technology for powerful computing of the most densely populated architectural drawings.
Companies that require 2D architectural drafting services often work with vendors and contractors that are also 2D-only. Additionally, if in-house engineering and design staff is not yet trained on 3D modeling concepts, it would be smart for that company to continue in two-dimensional modes of drafting until the entire staff is comfortable working with complex 3D architectural models.
The Case for 2D Architectural Projects is Still Strong
It seems as if there is more advertising for 3D CAD software than what is being actually used in architectural offices. Actually, the adoption rate for companies moving to a 3D model only office is lower than what is advertised by 3D software manufacturers. A survey taken by a leading CAD analyst service provider determined the following results concerning the lack of 3D penetration and the strength of 2D drafting in real-world architectural and consulting offices:
- totally 2D – 20%
- totally 3D – 6%
- totally 2D and studying 3D – 10%
- mainly 2D with some 3D – 30%
- half 2D, half 3D – 22%
These numbers clearly indicate that 2D architectural drafting is certainly not being replaced by 3D modeling or BIM technology. Companies that still operate totally 2D are finding the benefits of upgrading systems, software, and the training required for in-house staff simply does not justify the costs.
The key in looking at the popularity of either 3D or 2D lies in one fact: while most companies may have purchased and rolled-out a 3D drafting software application (about 80% have done just that) – that does not take into account that 3D is not being utilized for drafting production. Often, it is an investment in the future, where companies view having the software available just in case they win a contract bid for a 3D only project in the near future.
Reasons Why 2D Drafting is Still Strong
The fact is that 2D architectural drafting is still the most productive method for many disciplines within A&E firms such as interior design and electrical/lighting layouts. Making the transition from 2D to 3D can be very cost prohibitive for some consulting firms. These companies often look to outsourced engineering design and drafting firms on the occasions where a project demands a 3D model to be constructed. Even within 3D and BIM companies, 2D drafting is still a significant portion of their workload.
There exists a steep learning curve for CAD technicians, architects, and designers that must learn 3D modeling technology. The loss of productivity is significant and making that transition quickly can be destructive to the smooth continuation of ongoing projects. While companies allow time for in-house staff to truly grasp the nuances of 3D architectural drafting, 3D projects are usually handled in tandem with companies that specialize in supplying drafting and design services.
2D Architectural drafting will not be disappearing soon, nor will it ever be completely replaced by 3D modeling only projects. Many architects will still work with hand-sketching conceptual designs and client presentation drawings. Conversion of sketches to 2D architectural drawings is generally the first workflow, even if the end project will be a 3D model. 2D drawings can then be projected into the Z-axis to obtain that third dimension for the creation of 3D structures.
2D Architectural Drafting Services
Two-dimensional projects also have the benefit of being accessible by the entire engineering team and not just those with 3D modeling experience. This point is crucial because often the MEP disciplines do not use 3D for the layout of electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems. Architectural consulting and engineering firms experience fierce competition and many smaller companies struggle to keep pace with the latest technology. This is a key factor to the increased use of 2D architectural drafting services which have the trained staff, newest software release, and robust hardware computing power to quickly process many drawings in a short amount of time, including:
- Architectural Drawings
- Presentation Drawings
- Interior Design Layouts
- Construction Drawings
- Engineering MEP Drawings
- Millwork and Shop Drawings
- Retail Space Planning
- Urban Planning and Design
- Structural Steel Detailing
Effective and simplified architectural drafting is still the preferred method for most phases of building design and development. Consider that all the contractors that are involved after an architect has designed a new facility, rely on 2D prints for building materials fabrication, bill-of-materials, and construction set documentation. The 3D model is primarily a tool for the conceptualization of spaces and is not the most efficient method of drafting.
Outsourced 2D Architectural Drafting Workflow
Using engineering drafting and design services to complement in-house A&E projects has become a routine way of doing business – one that is productive and cost-effective. Outsourcing resolves a number of specific tasks that are time-consuming, repetitive or require knowledge of specialized software. Each project should be evaluated on its own merits as to the most effective outsourcing model that will work best.
The elimination of human resources efforts to staff up for major projects is a major benefit to outsourcing. Also, the expenses of an in-house team of drafters when there is a lull between projects places an unnecessary overhead burden on annual profits. When outsourcing 2D architectural drafting to off-shore service providers, companies gain a pool of drafters that are effectively working while they sleep.
Contact The Engineering Design, a full-service architectural drafting and design firm for your next 2D architectural drafting project – along with 3D drafting projects.