“Of our current 140 customers in the UK, only three or four are actually using 3D modelling software to its full potential,” says John Sutton, md for design consultancy firm, Syntech Solutions. “Designers in manufacturing companies are replacing 2D design software with 3D modelling systems, but are then simply using the new software as a better visual aid,” adds Sutton. “They carry on using 2D procedures and systems, and continue to give 2D output to toolmakers and other customers.” Sutton says it’s all about education. “What these people really need to be doing is leveraging their investment in 3D, and sharing this data across departments, and along the supply chain with suppliers, partners and customers.” And Sutton says that in his experience, most UK companies who have invested in 3D modelling tools, waste 20% of a product’s total design time. He explains: “They spend time creating a 3D model, then more time translating this into a 2D output for the toolmaker. This person then has to interpret the 2D data [which is not easy to do when products or surfaces are complex!]” So what’s the answer then? According to Sutton: “You’ve got to design in 3D, then output this data in native 3D format to your toolmakers and fabricators. The data can then be fed automatically into CNC machines without wasting time interpreting the output. This means tools, fabrication work and any prototypes are right first time.” Syntech works with more than 140 UK customers (small and large enterprises) across a broad range of industries including automotive, aerospace and other discrete manufacturers.