If your company has paper mechanical or engineering drawings stored in flat files or messy rolls somewhere in the basement, isn’t it time to consider converting those drawings to your digital CAD system?  There are many advantages to doing so, such as saving space, preserving your historical data and archives, ease of re-use or updates to drawings. engineering drawings stored in flat files

It’s not hard to convert the paper drawings — the problem is that not many mechanical engineering firms have the experienced manpower or the proper equipment to do a good job in-house.  That’s why you should consider outsourcing your paper to CAD conversion project.

Of course, not all outsource companies are equal.  It’s always best to do a little homework and get competitive bids from at least 3 companies.  Here’s what you should know to make an intelligent decision:

The paper to CAD process should start with a high quality scan.  So, you should ask what type of scanners the outsource company uses, how many they have and what qualifications their technical scanning personnel possess.  Remember, image quality is everything.  The old adage of garbage in, garbage out holds true when you’re converting engineering drawngs to your CAD system.   If two lines are muddied up and appear as a single line in a scan, that’ll give you an inaccurate CAD file.  The scanners should be able to provide the  best scanned raster image possible,  and then that image should be rectified to make sure it is aligned properly, scaled correctly, and that it measures correctly on all axes points.

Next, the scanned raster image needs to be convert to your CAD vector format.  There are several different methods to convert drawings into CAD — heads up digitizing, commercial R to V software, custom written CAD conversion scripts and software, or some combination of all three.  An experienced  CAD conversion outsource comapny will be able to determine the method that provides the best end result CAD conversion for your type of drawings.  Generally speaking, one process does not fit all, so if the conversion outsourcing company you’re interviewing tells you they always follow the same procedure, consider looking elsewhere.

Also ask what type of quality control they have in place.  Work should be checked by someone other than the person who did it.  It’s a good idea if the drafting staff rotate jobs periodically to keep the drafters and checkers fresh.

Find out what type of guarantee the outsourcing company offers.  If you get incorrect CAD files back and have to pay to have them re-done, it’s not a job well done.

Finally, is there real person that you can talk to about your paper to cad conversion project?  Take advantage of CAD / CAM service’s free telephone consultation for your next paper to CAD conversion project.


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