Which CAD Conversion Method Is Right For Your Needs?
Learn how to choose the right CAD Conversion method and avoid common mistakes. Understanding the different techniques will save you both time and money.
There are only 2 options to consider when converting legacy 2D drawings.
Translating your 2D CAD drawings to 3D is a different subject matter all together.
Choosing the right CAD-conversion method is simple so long as you understand why you would choose one method over the other.
A manual 2D CAD conversion is the process of re-drawing the information found on a paper drawing or blueprint and translating it into a 2D CAD platform in a native digital format.
A Raster to Vector CAD conversion is the process of creating a digital copy or scan of the paper drawing (Raster Image) and translating the imagery into a 2D CAD platform.
This process of translating paper drawing to digital (Raster to Vector) format has many names.
Some of the common terms used to describe the process are known as:
Regardless of what they are being called, the meaning is the same.
However, the end results or output can vary greatly depending on the service provider you are dealing with buyer beware!
Learn how and why you should transfer your old paper drawings to 2D CAD... before your assets turn to dust!
Around the world there are an astounding number of hand drawn legacy paper drawings and blueprints that are regretfully in decay.
In time this high value information will degrade beyond recognition if it hasn't already.
These aging blueprints along with hand drawn sketches can be referred to as raster images. Most likely they were created on a drafting board with good old-fashioned manual drafting tools.
Regardless of how they were created, they are deteriorating and even the best methods of preserving them are now failing.
Organizations may have an archive of legacy drawings in safe storage, but over time the quality of the blueprint will degrade to a point that photocopying and scanning is no longer useful.
Before this high-value technical documentation fades away it must be upgraded into a digital format that not only allows the information to be shared and properly distributed, but preserved and backed-up before it is lost forever.
The least expensive way to accomplish this is to scan or photocopy the drawings and save in a PDF format.
For the vast majority of legacy technical documentation this is a perfect solution when there is no need to reference the information for any downstream processes.
For example: If the drawing defines a product or process that is unchanged of the lifecycle and uses conventional (non technical or manual manufacturing process) there is no need to convert the information into a 2D digital CAD format.
On the other hand, if the product or process is being updated or modified for any reason you should give serious consideration to using one of the CAD Conversion methods described in this article.
Each method of translation has advantages and disadvantages.
Understanding the fundamental difference between the two will save you a fortune!
Manual CAD conversions are just what the word implies.
The paper drawing is manually re-drawn in a digital 2D CAD format line by line, feature by feature.
Raster to vector conversions are created by scanning the original paper drawing or blueprint (raster image) and processing the scanned image through a cad converter software platform that can be read by a CAD platform.
The results are radically dissimilar.
While raster to vector CAD (R2V) conversions can sometimes appear to be less expensive up front, they often contain imperfect data that cannot be manipulated. Secondly, the results are not a true CAD translation.
In other words, the entities (lines and circles for example) are simply "dumb geometry" and non-associated.
This information has no downstream application and is therefore considered low value.
For example: In order to use the information for a CNC operation additional time and expense is required to repair, restore or re-draw the required entities before they can be used in other applications.
If you only want to digitally copy and store your aging drawings then a CAD raster to vector may be a suitable solution.
If you intend to use the new digital CAD file to make changes to an existing drawing or product, or if you intend to use the data for automated downstream applications then a raster to vector conversion is not your best choice.
When you need the precision and accuracy of a fully functional 2D CAD drawing than a manual Auto CAD conversion is your best and only choice.
Let's break this down a little further shall we?
While the results are never perfect, the benefit of raster to vector conversions is in cost savings.
Think of a R2V CAD conversion as a highbred photocopy.
Great effort has been made to develop software to make the conversions easier; but your drawing will never be fully integrated into a functional CAD format.
The raster to vector CAD converter platforms are useful when you do not have a need to make changes or modifications to the original drawing.
Beware the pitfalls of raster to vector!
The software used for vector conversions will not recognize line intersections, circles, arcs or text entities for what they really are and the data cannot be manipulated.
In other words, it all becomes "dumb geometry" and only as useful as the original paper drawing.
Some other problems associated with raster to vector conversions will become obvious when you want to do anything with the drawing other than print a new hard copy.
Software developers are making headway in improving the cleanup of raster to vector conversion drawings but time is still spent manually cleaning up speckles, folds in paper and coffee stains from the digital scan.
How do you decide which methods is best?
When all you need is a visually enhanced digital copy of a blueprint or drawing for archiving and printing than a Raster to vector CAD conversions is sometimes the better value.
If you require accuracy and a fully functional 2D CAD file then a manual CAD-conversion is the obvious choice
Again, the only way to get a true 2D CAD file from paper drawings or blueprints is to manually re-draft them.
A high quality CAD file is very useful, particularly when used in creating multiple iterations of a product or when it is necessary to make adjustments for OEM equipment for example.
How to save hundreds and thousands of dollars NOW on CAD conversions!
Old blueprints, manual drawings and new product concept sketches are all included in paper to 2D CAD conversions.
Save yourself the headaches and big money at the same time by making sure all details are included before requesting a quote.
Here are some tips to make CAD conversions easy!
Include any notes or change orders in your RFQ (Request for Quote)...
Why People Use ICT
When it comes to complex mechanical systems, custom machinery, hardware or tooling, ICT delivers high-quality, high-value solutions. My first collaborative effort with Will Zeober was completed in 2008. I look forward to an ongoing professional relationship for years to come. If you're seeking a design and engineering expert who is committed to the objective - Will Zeober and ICT will deliver on-time, on-budget and on task.
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