CAD software 2D or 3D for metalworking? The pros and cons

As a modern metalworker, you can no longer do without CAD software for digital drawings and designs. The market offers a wide range of different CAD packages, with a distinction being made between 2D and 3D representations. But what is the right CAD software for your business? We'll get you started by discussing the pros and cons of both 2D and 3D CAD software.

The pros and cons of 2D CAD software


  • You often receive a file in 2D from the customer. You then no longer need to edit it or convert it to another format.

  • Some machines still work with 2D files. Then a 2D drawing is sufficient to take the sheet metal work into production, for example.

  • Employees with years of experience in the metalworking industry are used to working with 2D files. By working with 2D CAD software, it is not necessary to train current staff to use 3D CAD software.


  • With 2D files, you take longer to convert the file to your own standards.

  • When you make adjustments to your 2D model, it usually has to be done manually. 2D consists of separate elements. Do you want to make the front of an element wider? Then remember to also widen the rear side to ensure a good fit. In a 3D model, this happens automatically.

  • A 2D drawing is only a flat representation of a component. This makes it more difficult to visualise what the part will ultimately look like. Working in 2D usually requires more communication with the customer about how something should be made.

The advantages and disadvantages of 3D CAD software


  • The market is changing and 3D is the new standard. Especially when working with BIM, you have no choice but to work in 3D. With 3D CAD software, you can keep up with the progress in the industry and serve more customers.

  • 3D has the advantage that you can control machines better. Especially if you are going to automate more processes. A 3D file contains more data about the sheet metal than a 2D file. The machine knows exactly what it needs to do, which saves you extra manual work.

  • CAD software that allows you to model in 2D and 3D reduces any errors in your project. You often have to convert a drawing from 2D to 3D or vice versa. When converting files manually, small errors can creep in which are easily overlooked. If you can work in both 2D and 3D, you can convert the 2D representations quickly and automatically to 3D. This way, you immediately save time and failure costs.


  • Not all machines already work with 3D software, so then it is more difficult to transfer files..

  • 3D CAD software is often a bit more expensive than 2D packages. 3D software, on the other hand, offers more possibilities and is often applicable to multiple industries.

  • As already stated, experienced employees are used to working with 2D CAD software. This therefore requires retraining to work with a 3D package. The new generation of employees have already been trained to work with 3D CAD software.

Our recommendation for CAD software? 2D and 3D

It is best to have CAD software which can model in both 2D and 3D. Many metalworkers still work with 2D drawings and are happy with that. When more and more customers start working with 3D models, you also want to be able to serve them, but not exclude the customers who supply their models in 2D. This is why it is useful to have CAD software that allows you to switch easily from 3D to 2D and back again.

CAD software: how much do you save?

New CAD software often requires a one-off investment, but it mainly provides you with various benefits as a metalworker. Do you have doubts about whether you should invest in CAD software or not? Fill out the form and you will receive a custom calculation of what an investment in CAD software will eventually bring you.

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