How to Eliminate 2D Drawings with SOLIDWORKS MBD – Part 1

The fun and excitement of SOLIDWORKS World has come and gone, but it is the many messages conveyed to the SOLIDWORKS community and the 5500 attendees of this years conference that keeps us motivated for the next year. This year we heard from Dr. Michio Kaku (Professor of Theoretical Physics) who made many predictions of the future as it relates to engineering and science. One of his main messages was 3D is the future. I would like to take that a step further to say that 3D is Today. What I mean by that is we have all the 3D design tools available to us today. We are all using SOLIDWORKS, the leader in 3D modeling, and 3D printer technology is developing faster than we can blink our eyes.

So with all of our design work being done in 3D, why are we still relying on an outdated method of using 2D drawings to communicate our design? How much time and money are we spending creating and maintaining 2D drawings? The limitations of traditional 2D drawings are becoming more prevalent – expensive, time consuming, prone to mismatch, and not compliant to the newer mandated standards. And let's be honest, there are many aspects of our complicated designs that are just not possible to detail out in 2D.

SOLIDWORKS MBD (Model Based Definition) is the latest addition to our many tools that will address this issue and potentially eliminate our need for 2D drawings. MBD helps companies define, organize and publish 3D Product and Manufacturing Information (PMI). Companies that have embraced the MBD methodologies have reported fewer manufacturing errors which is a direct savings in scrap and rework costs.


This month we are going to take a deep dive into the brand new product SOLIDWORKS MBD. We will continue to explore what makes this a valuable addition to your SOLIDWORKS products, and look at how to use this product successfully.

SOLIDWORKS MBD allows designers to store all the necessary design data such as dimension, geometric tolerances, surface finishes, welding symbols, Bill of Materials (BOM), callouts, notes, Meta properties, and other annotations directly inside of our 3D model files. So if all of this data is now inside of the model files, there is no longer the need to create the 2D drawing, which is one less file to maintain. But let's not freak out. The 2D drawing function that we all use and are familiar with is not going away. The 3D PMI data created by MBD is fully compatible with the current 2D drawing functions. The data and views that are created in MBD are readily available for reuse in 2D drawings.

According to the Secretary of Defense in US and commercial companies of various industries, nearly one third of engineering dollars are spent creating and maintaining 2D drawings. Even worse, it is a constant battle to keep the 2D drawings current to the 3D model changes (If you change a model, then you have to change the drawing). 2D drawings are hard to understand and easy to misinterpret.



  • Outstanding 3D PMI Definition and Organization capabilities.
  • Intuitive GUI-based 3D output template customization.
  • Comprehensive MDB workflow support.
  • Solid industry-standard compliance.
  • Native SOLIDWORKS data and integrated environment



SOLIDWORKS MBD Standard is an add-on product as a separate purchase for SOLIDWORKS Standard, Professional, or Premium. The product is available in both standalone and network versions.


To install and use a commercial edition or educational edition of SOLIDWORKS MBD, you must have a SOLIDWORKS MBD standalone serial number. You can modify your installation to add SOLIDWORKS MBD licenses to an existing SOLIDWORKS serial number.


Network licensing for SOLIDWORKS MBD differs from most other SOLIDWORKS products. To install and use commercial or educational editions of SOLIDWORKS MBD, you must enter a SOLIDWORKS and a SOLIDWORKS MBD SNL serial number when you install. You cannot add SOLIDWORKS MBD licenses to an existing SOLIDWORKS serial number.

NOTE: SOLIDWORKS MBD is not a selectable product in the Installation Manager (IM) or Options Editor. The SOLIDWORKS MBD components are automatically installed with the SOLIDWORKS installer.   

SOLIDWORKS MBD is not included in the SOLIDWORKS add-ins list. There is no way to turn SOLIDWORKS MBD on or off.

During startup, SOLIDWORKS checks the SNL server for SOLIDWORKS MBD licenses. If SOLIDWORKS finds SOLIDWORKS MBD licenses, then SOLIDWORKS MBD commands will be available in the user interface via the 'SOLIDWORKS MBD' CommandManager tab. At this time, however, SOLIDWORKS does not pull or use a license. SOLIDWORKS pulls or uses a license the first time you use a SOLIDWORKS MBD command.

For example, you startup SOLIDWORKS and have no add-ins enabled for startup. In this scenario, SOLIDWORKS pulls a SOLIDWORKS Standard license only. Your SNL server, however, hosts SOLIDWORKS MBD licenses. As a result, you have the ability to enable the SOLIDWORKS MBD CommandManager tab. You then create or open a file and you click on the 'Capture 3D View' command. At this time, SOLIDWORKS pulls a SOLIDWORKS MBD license.

To return a SOLIDWORKS MBD license to the SNL server, you must shutdown SOLIDWORKS.

Note: standard SNL management methods, which include the use of an options file, are available for reservation and revocation of SOLIDWORKS MBD licenses.


Installing MBD    


The installation of SOLIDWORKS MBD is very straight forward. In the installation manager MBD has its own line on the serial number page. Enter you SOLIDWORK serial number and your SOLIDWORKS MBD serial number and click next. You will not see MBD listed under products to install.

For a network installation:


Enter your SOLIDWORKS network serial number and your SOLIDWORKS MBD serial number separated by a comma. You will see both serial numbers listed when the products activate.



Once you have SOLIDWORKS MBD installed, you will not see this listed as an add-in listed under Tools, Add-ins. MBD is just on. To find MBD you need to enable the toolbar, either by right clicking on the command manager or going to View, Toolbars, SOLIDWORKS MBD.


There will be 2 visible changes that you will notice on your screen. First is the toolbar with all of the commands available in SOLIDWORKS MBD.


The second thing you will notice on your screen is a new tab in the lower left hand corner of the screen called 3D Views.


As long as you are able to find these additional tabs in your interface, you are now ready to begin using SOLIDWORKS MBD. Please continue to follow this series as we will continue to explain the specific functions of this product.

We hope this series gives you some good insight to the new SOLIDWORKS MBD product.  Please check back to the CATI Blog as the Dedicated Support Team will continue posting new series of articles every month that go further into the details of many of the SOLIDWORKS tools. All of these articles will be stored in the category of Daily Dose…..of SOLIDWORKS Support and links to each article with their release date are listed below:

  • Share this
Find Your Design Solution in the CATI Store.
Browse Products