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DraftSight: Modern Use Cases for 2D CAD

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While the global CAD industry continues to grow, industry research has consistently shown a trend toward the adoption of 3D CAD software in place of traditional 2D solutions, a trend which shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. So, with all the evidence in favor of the undisputed superiority of 3D CAD, why bother with a 2D drafting and engineering solution like DraftSight? Despite what the data suggests, there are still plenty of good reasons add DraftSight to your toolkit.

Global CAD market breakdown for analysis

Use Case #1 – DraftSight Is Less Expensive Than Any (Decent) Professional 3D CAD Software

While we admit that we’re partial to 3D CAD solutions, they’re not particularly cheap, and money makes the world go round. If your designs are simple (layouts, flat patterns, etc.), you may not require the horsepower offered by a full 3D solution such as SOLIDWORKS. Even basic electrical schematic and P&ID work can often be accomplished in 2D without missing out on much, and certain industries make use of 2D CAD almost exclusively. If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to learn that DraftSight starts as low as $399 compared to an equivalent entry level cost of nearly $2500 for SOLIDWORKS.

Comparing SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD pricing options

Speaking of price, DraftSight is also cheaper (and more capable, for that matter) than many 2D CAD programs, including AutoCAD LT. While there are certainly open source 2D and 3D CAD modeling programs available for those who don’t wish to pay at all, they’re typically not developed and supported by a powerhouse like Dassault Systèmes. If you happen to be questioning the capability of DraftSight as compared to a juggernaut like AutoCAD, be sure to take a look at our webinar, “Is DraftSight a Viable Alternative to AutoCAD?

Use Case #2 – All Your Friends Are Using It

Okay, probably not all of them, but many organizations employ vendors or collaborate with other companies (or even other departments within their own company, for that matter) who use 2D CAD for one reason or another. Even if your company already has a 3D CAD solution in place, having a 2D solution such as DraftSight on hand allows you to open, review, and edit any DWG or DXF file, regardless of which program it originated from. You can even save to older file versions and work with dynamic blocks created in AutoCAD, allowing you to speak the same language as your collaborators, avoid costly mistakes, and reduce design time.

DraftSight versus AutoCAD comparison

If your company already makes use of SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, there’s even more to love! Since both SOLIDWORKS and DraftSight are developed by Dassault Systèmes, there’s a significant amount of interoperability between them. Entities can be copied and pasted directly from DraftSight into SOLIDWORKS sketches and, even more importantly, the SOLIDWORKS Product Data Management (PDM) system is integrated into DraftSight for proper file management and revision control. Plus, you’ll receive world-class support for both products from the technical team at Hawk Ridge Systems should you ever need it.

Use Case #3 – Transitioning to 3D Can Be Scary

Many companies, especially those which have been in business for many years, have built foundations on 2D CAD systems but also recognize the host of benefits offered by transitioning to 3D. The transition process can be daunting, especially when hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of 2D files need to be migrated, and even more so if you’re unfamiliar with designing in 3D. Keeping a license or two of DraftSight in your back pocket can make this process significantly easier (and less stressful) until you’ve managed to become proficient in your new 3D software and convert the necessary legacy data. If you’re moving to SOLIDWORKS, you’ll have extra interoperability between 2D and 3D for a cleaner transition, and the Professional and Premium versions of SOLIDWORKS include a Task Scheduler and PDM software to assist in the migration process as well.

The benefits of DraftSight versus AutoCAD

As a side note, there may be situations where you’d like to continue working in 2D, keeping your legacy data in its original format. It never hurts to be able to open that old R12 file from 30 years ago, and some data may simply not need to be converted to 3D. Only convert what you need to and use DraftSight to continue working with the rest for the smoothest possible transition to 3D design.

Use Case #4 – DraftSight Offers Flexible Licensing

Yes, this reason is DraftSight-specific, but it’s an important one. Unlike AutoCAD (and most other CAD products, for that matter), DraftSight offers perpetual licenses in addition to a subscription-based model. This means you’ll own the software forever, just like the good old days, without being forced to pay for a program you’ve already purchased.

Licensing options for SOLIDWORKS versus AutoCAD

Another major advantage offered by DraftSight is network (distributed) licensing, which allows licenses to be hosted on a server and used on an as-needed basis by anyone who needs them. This is in stark contrast to named-user licensing, in which only a single user may use a purchased license. Considering that many CAD users may only use the software a handful of times in a given month (or less), named-user licensing can become prohibitively expensive very quickly for casual users, while network licensing allows a significantly smaller, flexible license pool to serve a much larger userbase.


Though the glory days of 2D design may be waning, there are still millions of 2D CAD users across thousands of companies, and plenty of compelling reasons to include a 2D solution like DraftSight in your design portfolio. With a lower operating cost and flexible licensing options, you’ll be able to improve your bottom line without sacrificing design capability, all while improving collaboration and even simplifying your transition to 3D design, should you choose to pursue it.

Comparing 2D CAD design tools, SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD

Questions or thoughts about the software? Be sure to contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems, and don’t forget to check out the DraftSight product page for more information along with answers to frequently asked questions. Thanks for reading, and happy drafting!

Picture of Jacob Ames

Jacob Ames

Jacob Ames is an applications engineer for Hawk Ridge Systems in Bothell, WA, specializing in SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, Simulation, and 3D Printers. Before joining Hawk Ridge Systems, Jacob earned degrees in mechanical engineering and aeronautics from MIT with a focus on renewable fuels. If he's not teaching class, you'll probably find him playing video games with friends or tearing up some trails on a dirt bike.
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