5 Killer Answers to 3D CAD Questions on Quora

Written By: Cat McClintock
  • 5/17/2017

You’ve got a burning question that needs answering. And if you believe in the wisdom of the crowds or can at least plow through lots of bad answers and tin-foiled-hat-driven responses, sometimes you ask the web.




Enter Quora. And tread lightly.


The site is chockful of questions from users that run the gamut from wacky and funny (e.g., Can an airplane land in a pickup truck?) to more general ones (“Can you end a sentence with the word of?”). Depending on who’s doing the answering, the answer is no, or yes.


We visited recently to see what they were saying about a topic dear to our heart: CAD. We thought we’d share some of the more interesting things we found.  (Remember, answers are crowdsourced. And, like the saying goes, use with caution and maybe a grain of salt.)


Question 1: Can 3D printing be used on a 2D CAD model?

Yes. And no. Or, maybe? (We never said it’d be easy.) One author says:


Your 2D CAD model will not be “3D Printable” because obviously it lacks the 3rd dimension. What you have is just a flat object and thus cannot be 3D Printed directly.


However, another author pipes in with:


Yes. But probably not in the way that you are thinking. What happens when we 3D print a 3D model? Well we take an STL and put it into a 3d printing program with a built-in slicer program. The slicer then takes this 3D data and begins to make 2D toolpaths for the 3D printer to follow as it lays down filament.


We were all ready to turn the snark button to eleven but you know what? The answers here were thoughtful and informative. Not an Internet troll in sight. Then again, we’re only on question 2. Five stars.


Question 2: Do mechanical engineers often overuse 3D-drawing/CAD software?

That’s a loaded question, and the responses tend to be in the “I'll give you my CAD when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” camp to “I’m not familiar with the word ‘overuse.’” One author says they can:  


…easily iterate on a design, changing only the features that need to be changed.


Fair enough. Another author proclaims:


CAD software allows for a multitude of things that a paper sketch does not. 


I mean, really, do any of you really ever overuse 3D drawing or CAD software? From some of the CAD drawings we’ve seen? It’s not being used enough. Regardless, you can always tell when someone is passionate in the way they describe something, and these authors obviously have the experience to answer in a non-crazy, well thought-out way. Five stars.


Question 3: What are some of the disadvantages of using CAD?

As opposed to using a cocktail napkin? Pithy and to the point from this author:

You need electricity to create, modify or view your work.


Well, yes, you do need electricity, genius.  (This is the truest, most honest answer on the web. Ever.) Unless you’re Fred Flintstone and you work at a quarry


This answer is more real-world (how refreshing) and hits the mark:


The biggest disadvantage for me is that CAD allows changes to happen more quickly and in my experience you end up with many changes for changes sake.


Another very honest answer. We’re guessing when they wrote “in my experience” they were talking about changes at the last minute – from everyone – the marketing department, the client, the boss, and anyone else in the chain that (always!) has feedback. Three stars.


Question 4: What are the biggest problems encountered when using 3D CAD software in manufacturing?


Clocking in at a mere three answers, this one starts out with a Zen-like answer:


There can be many.


But, wait! There’s more. The author gets into more detail:


Revision control. For smaller companies it can be a huge pain, resulting in old versions of models and drawings floating around.


And, this is a new one for us (and seems so simple):


Most of my issues have to do with conversion errors from English to metric or vice versa.


This is a good example of Quora delivering for its readers. Five stars.


Question 5: Where can I get more answers to my CAD questions?


Okay, I just made that one up. The truth is, you don’t have to rely on crowdsourcing for your CAD answers. Get the information you need about CAD from the experts. Start by downloading our Buyer’s Guide to Purchasing CAD Software, and learn quickly how design engineers choose their CAD systems—and why there is no such thing as “overusing” CAD. Then check out the PTC Creo Community for a 24-hour conversation about all things 3D CAD.


 So, Quora? Sure, we snark a bit, but at the end of that day, you can glean some solid information from the site and even save time. You might get numerous answers, you might get some right ones, some wrong ones, some crazed ones from a lonely Internet denizen, and you might find yourself embroiled in a flame war on CAD vs. No. 2 pencils.


Like you have time for that.


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About the Author

Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.