2D design and 3D modeling are two important aspects of the design and engineering process. 2D design refers to the creation of flat, two-dimensional drawings and illustrations, while 3D modeling involves creating a digital representation of an object in three dimensions.
While 2D design can be used to create technical drawings, floor plans, and other architectural and engineering designs, 3D modeling is used to create animations, visual effects, and virtual reality experiences.
One of the challenges in the design and engineering process is the conversion of 2D designs into 3D models. This process, known as 2D to 3D conversion, involves taking a 2D drawing and converting it into a 3D model that can be used in various software and applications.
There are a number of 3D design software tools and online services available for this purpose, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the best 2D to 3D model converters currently available.
- Fusion 360
SelfCAD is a browser-based, all-in-one 3D modeling software that offers a range of tools for creating, editing, and printing 3D models. One of the unique features of SelfCAD is its 2D to 3D conversion capability, which allows users to turn simple drawings and sketches into 3D models.
The 2D to the 3D conversion process in SelfCAD is straightforward and intuitive. Users can import a 2D image, such as a PNG or JPG file, into the software and use various tools to convert it into a 3D model. The software then generates a 3D mesh based on the lines and shapes in the 2D image, which can be further edited and refined to achieve the desired result.
SelfCAD provides a range of tools for adjusting and refining the 3D model, such as scaling, rotating, and extruding individual elements. The software also includes a number of 3D modeling techniques, such as booleans, sculpting, and lattice modeling, which can be used to shape and refine the model further.
Once the 3D model is complete, SelfCAD allows users to prepare the model for 3D printing by generating the necessary support structures and generating a G-code file for the printer.
The software also includes a built-in slicer that optimizes the printing process by generating a layer-by-layer map of the model.
SelfCAD’s 2D to 3D conversion feature is a valuable tool for both professional and hobbyist 3D modelers. By allowing users to convert simple 2D drawings into 3D models, the software greatly simplifies the modeling process and opens up new possibilities for creating and printing 3D objects.
3D model of a home created using AutoCAD. Image source: Microvellum
AutoCAD is a widely used computer-aided design (CAD) software tool developed by Autodesk. It is one of the most popular tools used for 2D and 3D design, and it also has a feature that allows users to convert 2D designs into 3D models.
The process of converting 2D designs into 3D models in AutoCAD is relatively simple. The user first creates a 2D drawing in AutoCAD and then uses the “Extrude” command to convert it into a 3D model.
The Extrude command allows users to create a 3D object by extruding a 2D shape along a specified distance. The resulting 3D model can then be edited and refined using a variety of 3D modeling tools available in AutoCAD.
One of the benefits of using AutoCAD for 2D to 3D conversion is that it is widely used and has a large user base. As a result, there are a wealth of resources, tutorials, and forums available to help users learn how to use the software.
Additionally, because AutoCAD is widely used in the design and engineering industries, it is also compatible with a wide range of other software and applications, making it easy to integrate the resulting 3D models into other projects and workflows.
While AutoCAD is a powerful and widely used tool, it does have some limitations when it comes to 2D to 3D conversion. One of the main limitations is that the resulting 3D models can sometimes be less accurate and detailed than those created using specialized 3D modeling software.
Additionally, AutoCAD is a paid software, which can be a significant cost for individual or small design studios.
3D model of a home created using SketchUp. Image source: SketchUp
SketchUp is a popular 3D modeling software that has a wide range of tools for creating, editing, and visualizing 3D models. Developed by Trimble, it is widely used by architects, interior designers, and product designers for creating concept designs and presentations.
One of the strengths of SketchUp is that it has a simple and intuitive interface, which makes it easy for users to convert 2D designs into 3D models. The software includes a range of 2D drawing tools that can be used to create 2D designs, which can then be extruded or “pushed” into 3D models.
Additionally, SketchUp has a feature called “2D to 3D” which allows users to import a 2D image and use it as a reference while they build the 3D model.
SketchUp also has a large user community and plenty of tutorials, which can be a great resource for users who are new to the software. Additionally, SketchUp has a large library of pre-made 3D models and materials, which can be used to add details and realism to the 3D models created.
While SketchUp is a powerful and user-friendly tool, it does have some limitations when it comes to 2D to 3D conversion. One of the main limitations is that the resulting 3D models may not be as accurate or detailed as those created using specialized 3D modeling software.
SketchUp is primarily a tool for architectural and interior design, and may not be well-suited for creating detailed mechanical or engineering designs.
3D model created using Fusion 360. Image source: Fusion 360
Fusion 360 is a powerful CAD and CAM software developed by Autodesk, which is widely used in product design, manufacturing, and engineering. It has a wide range of tools for creating, editing, and visualizing 3D models, and it also includes a feature for 2D to 3D conversion.
The process of converting 2D designs into 3D models in Fusion 360 is quite similar to AutoCAD. The user first creates a 2D drawing in Fusion 360 and then uses the “Extrude” command to convert it into a 3D model.
The resulting 3D model can then be edited and refined using a variety of 3D modeling tools available in Fusion 360.
Fusion 360 also includes a wide range of tools for simulating and testing the functionality of 3D models, which can be especially useful for product design and engineering. Additionally, Fusion 360 has a user community and tutorials available, which can be a great resource for users who are new to the software.
Fusion 360 Limitations
One of the main limitations of Fusion 360 is that it is paid software, which can be a significant cost for individual or small design studios. Additionally, like other CAD tools, the Fusion 360 may require a steeper learning curve for beginners than other tools such as SketchUp.
Blender is a free and open-source 3D creation software that can be used for everything from animation, visual effects, and video game development to architectural and product design. It has a wide range of tools for creating, editing, and visualizing 3D models and also includes tools for 2D to 3D conversion.
Blender’s 2D to 3D conversion tools are called “tools for 2D animation” and allow the user to create and manipulate 2D images and animations within a 3D scene.
This feature allows the user to import 2D designs and convert them into 3D models by extruding the 2D shapes, creating depth and volume. The user can then refine and manipulate the resulting 3D model using Blender’s extensive set of 3D modeling tools.
Blender has a steeper learning curve than some other software options and may not be as intuitive for beginners. Additionally, since it’s a 3D creation tool, it may not have specific 2D design features for user-friendly drawing and sketching.
OpenSCAD is free and open-source software that allows users to create solid 3D models using a programming language.
While it may not have the traditional interface like other CAD software, it allows more precise control and manipulation of the 3D models, making it particularly suitable for technical design and engineering.
Users can define the parameters of their 3D models using a simple scripting language and OpenSCAD will generate the 3D model. It also allows the import of 2D DXF files, so users can convert a 2D design into a 3D model by extruding the 2D shapes along a specified distance.
OpenSCAD is not as user-friendly as other software options and requires a certain level of programming knowledge to use effectively.
It can be difficult for those not familiar with programming, making it a less accessible option for beginners.
These are just a few additional software options for 2D to 3D conversion, and there are much more available on the market. It’s always a good idea to research and test multiple options to find the one that best meets your specific needs and skill level.
2D to 3D conversion is an essential aspect of the design and engineering process, and there are a number of software tools and online services available for this purpose.
AutoCAD, SketchUp, and Fusion 360 are three of the best 2D to 3D model converters currently available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
AutoCAD is a widely used CAD tool that is compatible with a wide range of other software, while SketchUp is a user-friendly 3D modeling software that is well-suited for architectural and interior design.
Fusion 360, on the other hand, is a powerful CAD and CAM software that includes a wide range of tools for simulating and testing the functionality of 3D models.
Ultimately, the best 2D to 3D model converter for you will depend on your specific needs and the type of projects you are working on. It’s always good to try out several options and compare the features before committing to one.