4 Tips to Efficiently Convert 3D Models to 2D Drawings in Manufacturing

The rise of comprehensive 3D models has not completely eliminated 2D drawings and the latter still remains an indispensable part of manufacturing. Here we bring you the best practices to convert 3D models into 2D drawings. 

3D models have special significance in the manufacturing industry, but this hasn’t rendered 2D drawings obsolete. In fact, stakeholders - designers, manufacturers, and fabricators - still heavily rely on 2D drawings owing to the simplified annotated geometry they offer. 

As the majority of engineers work with 3D models, AutoCAD 2D drawings are usually created by converting 3D models into 2D manufacturing drawings.

A simple straightforward conversion process, however, isn’t just sufficient. It has to be a combination of the best possible steps, tools, and approaches that optimize your efforts, time, and resources. You can have an ideal 3D to 2D conversion process by following best practices. 

Why manufacturers and fabricators need 2D drawings

2D drawings are great means to getting detailed access to the manufacturing details of a product. They essentially offer engineers a great deal of insight into different processes such as cutting, drilling, etc. 

For example, when sawing and cutting teams are trying to determine the most precise dimensions for boards and panels, detailed 2D drawings are the best option. Similarly, 2D drawings are required by drilling teams to correctly set tolerances for holes, bends, punches, etc.  

Advantages of 2D drawings

2D drawings come with numerous benefits for mechanical engineers such as: 

  • Streamlines and regulates design communication 
  • Designs are less prone to error on the shop floor 
  • Ease in maintaining and organizing design information 
  • Flexible design changes as the file isn’t data heavy  

Efficient ways to convert 3D models to 2D drawings in manufacturing

Conversion of 3D models into 2D drawings is not only a process of conversion; it needs attention to detail to avoid losing design intelligence. While AutoCAD has numerous features that make the conversion process efficient, it still takes an expert CAD drafter to enable seamless conversion and conserve design intelligence. 

Below are the best practices: 

1. Create section planes

Using the SECTIONPLANE command, create the desired sectional planes, move them and obtain various cross-sectional views of 3D solid models in real-time. The designer can create 2D blocks of elevation and sectional views and place them into a drawing to have 2D documentation with this method. The advantage here is that as the designer updates the design features in 3D, the changes are automatically reflected in the 2D views.

2. Use Flatshot to create 2D representations

Flatshot tool projects the edges of 3D objects onto a plane parallel to the current viewing plane in 2D form. These 2D representations of the edges can be saved as separate drawing files. By selecting the particular view – either orthographic or perspectives, you can clearly communicate design intent and also create technical illustrations. 

For best results, create the elevations first and then use suitable commands to perfectly arrange the elevations for views. The advantage with Flatshot is that obscured internal geometry can be easily created. 

3. Use Solid Views, Solid Draw, and Solid Profile to create orthographic views

CAD drafters can automate the intermediate steps of the process of creating 2D drawings from 3D models using Solid Views, Solid Drawing, and Solid Profile. By partnering with a CAD drafting expert, you can set the sequence of the steps to be automated and apply them to preserve design intelligence. 

For best results, use the sequence specified in the Modeling Panel. Begin with a command sequence to generate solid views and convert these 3D models into 2D drawings using the Solid Drawing tool. Application of Solid Profile creates a 2D profile of a 3D solid. Remember, this application is useful especially when your target is to create 2D orthographic views of a 3D model.

4. Detailing the drawings the right way

Once the drawings are generated, the manufacturer only meets half his details. These drawings need to be detailed with various views. You must examine the views to ascertain if they meet the required criteria. If not, then they are subject to further edits such as:

  1. Removing extra design details and adding missing information 
  2. Fix dimensions, tolerances, allowances, etc.

Additionally, there are some other ways to ensure that the conversion is seamless and accurate. Some of them include: 

  1. Have a cross-platform strategy for accurate 2D drawings: You have to deal with different types of 3D models and relying on one single application type restricts your scope to generate all-efficient 2D drawings. This compels the need to make use of multiple 3D modeling tools such as SolidWorks, Inventors, etc. Ensure that you maintain format uniformity across applications (ideally, Parasolid (*.x_t) format is recommended) to avoid inconsistencies resulting from format conversion.
  2. Ensure proper scaling and measurement: The successful conversion isn’t just about converting three-dimensional objects into two-dimensional planes, rather it is also about rightly translating dimensions. Double-check the dimensional units and scales and validate that they are uniform across 3D as well as 2D designs. 


3D solid models are indeed easier to create, especially, with the panoply of functionalities that AutoCAD provides. But, in most situations as you need 2D drawings, adopting a haphazard 3D model to 2D creation process can keep you from creating an ideal 2D drawing.

Remember, in any conversion process, the generic flow remains the same, but the most important factor that decides the course of the conversion process are context-specific requirements.

When you lack skills and are directionless, hire their experts at Hitech CADD Services. Our experts are adept at examining context against multiple approaches and apply the best approach. This strategy can enable you to create the most efficient 3D to 2D conversion workflows.

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