SolidWorks for 2D only?

Does anybody here use SolidWorks for 2D only?

One part of our engineering group works with temporary materials (cardboard, sheet plastics) and currently uses a program called Artios, which is geared toward that. Artios however is very poor as a CAD program, and they plan to switch to something that will work much better for them. Right now that plan is AutoCAD, but the rest of the engineering group will use SolidWorks. I'm thinking that they may also be able to use SolidWorks, but only for 2D. Any reason why that wouldn't work? Is there something that would make it very difficult to do? Any and all feedback is appreciated.

Note that I've left out several details in the description above... there's more to it, and more reasons for switching, but the basic question is the feasibility of SW for 2D work. Thanks...


Reply to
Brian Mears
Loading thread data ...


Solidworks is designed so that 2D is the "result" of 3D.

If they're going to stick with 2D, go with autocad.



Reply to
Mark M

They could certainly start with 2D, but they would soon find that the 3D capabilities would work for them if they needed to put folds in the cardboard, and needed flat patterns, or blow mold the sheet plastic for packaging. They could also import your products and design packaging around that in 3D. Then your entire group would be on the same page for support, training, and so on.

If it's not for packaging, then, uh, maybe. Depends what they do.


Reply to
Brian Park

If they are only drawing 2D items which can't have parametrics assigned to what they require, even AutoCAD would be over overkill for them. If they require a robust programming environment, perhaps Acad using VBA. If they can automate the 2D items via equations, have them jump to Solidworks for your compatibility.

Keith Streich

Reply to
Keith Streich

SolidWorks and AutoCAD are pretty compatible. I would leave the 2D work with AutoCAD, as that is what it is mainly designed to do, and leave 3D to SolidWorks, as that is what it is mainly designed to do. When stuff would need to be 3D'd you can simply open the 2D layout directly in SolidWorks and go from there.

Reply to
Jeff N

I concur.

Reply to
Corey Scheich

There are kinds of 2D work that I've done in the past which wouldn't be very compatible with SolidWorks. Actually even AutoCAD isn't perfectly suited for it either, although it's workable. That work I'm talking about is design of labels and overlays. If that's the kind of stuff they're into I might suggest to think about CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator. You can create better stuff, get EPS and Postscript output (which is often important to labelmakers) and also output DXF (from CorelDraw, I know, but I'd have to check whether that's an option with Illustrator).

Otherwise, if the work doesn't include labels and such but really needs to be 2D only AND is unlikely to lead to 3D parts then BOTH SolidWorks and AutoCAD are WAY overkill in terms of cost. You can have IntelliCAD for free, and TurboCAD for almost free. Those are both plenty powerful, and they output DWG and DXF (actually IntelliCAD's native format is DWG). There are others as well. The only reason I could see for keeping AutoCAD 2D is to accept files from other companies in DWG or DXF format, and for that all you need do is maintain ONE seat. And you don't even NEED to do that (there are translators available).

Mark 'Sporky' Staplet>

Reply to

I used to use a program called Interact, which later became LaserPoint, then became ArtiosCAD. ArtiosCAD has a built in macro language that allows you to customize it. I have to disagree with you regarding ArtiosCAD as being a bad CAD program. It has been around for about 23 years, and might be considered the standard CAD program for packaging design. It has a built in macro language, and it is easily customizable. The nice thing about ArtiosCAD is that the program is a combination CAD/CAM program. Most users aren't aware of this, but it started off as a CAD program specifically for steel rule die manufacturing. You have complete control of the order of entities and line direction in the database.

AutoCAD doesn't allow you to do this. There are some workarounds, but AutoCAD out of the box has virtually no CAM functionality. Ashlar Score is probably ArtiosCAD's biggest competitor. It is Ashlar Vellum that was customized for packaging design. Started out on Mac's, and has been on PC's for quite awhile.

formatting link
- now goes by the name of Score! CAD. I have never used it, but know a lot of people that do.

They also have a new program called Score! X -

formatting link
- I have messed with it, but it is not really a CAD program. It has a bunch of packaging standards, you key in length, width, and depth, and create designs you can export to CAD for further work.

The problem with designing in 3D for packaging design is that the end result for manufacturing is a flat pattern. It is probably because I am old school, but it seems easier for me to design flat, and then test my folds. That is assuming you know the basics of packaging design styles and corresponding material thicknesses, and have access to a corrugated and folding carton samplemaking table.

formatting link
is the one I use.

I am also an experienced AutoCAD user. After using dedicated packaging design CAD programs for 15 years, I would never go back to designing packaging in AutoCAD. It is basically an exercise in futility. I can tell you from experience that it is much more time consuming.

It didn't get any better in AutoCAD 2000. I have also used IntelliCAD, and am an intermediate Adobe Illustrator user. Same goes for them. Good programs, but not for efficient packaging design. Illustrator doesn't allways translate back into CAD in a clean manner if the end result needs to be used in manufacturing (like running a laser).

I have tried doing some packaging design in Autodesk Inventor, but was pretty frustrated. Some was my lack of experience, but the sheet metal functionality isn't exactly tailored for packaging design. I have also read your earlier thread, and it appears others have experienced problems using SolidWorks for 3D packaging deisgn. I am suprised that nobody has created add ons to SolidEdge, SolidWorks, or Inventor for packaging design. It is a somewhat limited market, but if you look at it in terms of global use, it appears there is enough of a market for it.

My suggestion to you would be to gain a better understanding of ArtiosCAD, and its macro language. A lot of times, it is a manner of cleaning up the data in ArtiosCAD before it is exported, such as removing 0 length lines, making sure arcs are tangent to line segments when they are supposed to be, removing overlapping lines, eliminating gaps between line segments, etc.

Let us know your other reasons for dumping ArtiosCAD. You wouldn't be the first :) And, if you find a 3D solution that works great, let me know.

Reply to
Ron Smith

I'm speaking on behalf of the Artios guys here, so I might be just a little off base, but from what I see, the major problem with ArtriosCAD is documentation. You can't easily create drawings and add/change textual information. Printing is supposedly a nightmare. They're trying to mimic our AutoCAD attributes with little success. We need to export data into an ERP system, and ArtiosCAD can't do it... that's from their tech.

We use ArtiosCAD for packaging design, but it's primary use is temporary store displays, which are often VERY complex. Most of those are designed flat in 2D in Artios from scratch, sent to the plotter table (Kongsberg), and tested. You could do the exact same thing from AutoCAD or any 2D CAD system, with the added benefit of being able to document it all easily.

Don't get me wrong... I (we) do NOT feel that ArtiosCAD is a bad CAD system... it is in fact excellent at what it's designed to do... package design. We will never dump it, as we will continue to have a use for it.

I have determined that Mechanical Desktop/SolidWorks/Inventor are not suitable for packaging or temporary material design. The subtle (?) differences in sheet metal vs. cardboard design are enough to make it too difficult to be productive. I'm also suprised that we haven't seen some type of add-on yet. I'd be all over that.

Thanks for your post... it sounds like you've followed many of the same steps that I have. Please let me know if you have any other comments/questions, and I'll let you know if I find anything new...


Reply to
Brian Mears

I also design some corrugated point of purchase displays. I am also assuming that your ArtiosCAD users have never written any programs with the built in macro language. In actuality, every saved ArtiosCAD file (ARD extension) is a compiled macro. Every entity in the ArtiosCAD database can have variables associated with it. It doesn't mean they do, but they can if you associate one to them.

Basically, like:

A$ = 'Sample' L = 5

These variables are then saved in the file. The entire ArtiosCAD interface for the most part is written in the macro programming language. The CAD engine for ArtiosCAD (behind the scenes) is the same as it was when I started using Interact ("no menu ArtiosCAD") in 1985. When I was evaluating new packaging CAD sysyems one year ago, I had the ArtiosCAD rep come in, and he let me look at the program from the "command line". It didn't look much different from when I quit using Interact 10 years ago.

Most ArtiosCAD users have no idea a command line exists, much like new users of AutoCAD probably never use the command line, and wonder what the words "Command:" means in the lower left hand of the screen.

The macro language has complete control over the variables, and the entitites. The key is to have each piece of text a distinct variable.

As far as your "tech" telling you that you can't export data into an ERP system, that is simply untrue. I recently worked 2 1/2 years for an ERP company, and we would have had no problem reading an intermediate CDF (comma deliminated file) from ArtiosCAD. I was hired to help them be able to do it in AutoCAD.

AutoCAD users can create Bill of Material information many different ways ie.text, attributes. and AutoCAD 2000 (specifically AutoCAD mechanical) has the BOM that extracts directly to a Microsoft Access database. AutoCAD 2000 also has dbConnect, which I was able to have complete access to our ERP system from within AutoCAD. The point I am trying to make is the data that is held inside ArtiosCAD can be extracted, and manipulated pretty easily if you know how to do it. There is a user group for ArtiosCAD -

formatting link
They might be able to help you.

I agree that the printing of ArtiosCAD drawings (using their pre-defined forms) can be a nightmare. A good example of the power of the ArtiosCAD macro programming language - the head CAD person at one of the largest packaging companies in the world wrote their entire interface in it. All of his users were trained in this interface, regarding designing / creating / printing drawings. All of the variable information contained in his users files (the variables he created) is standard throughout his user base.

Reply to
Ron Smith

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.