Using the most modern options for drawing storage is a quick way to protect your drawings and optimize your engineering efforts. You likely have a lot of hand drawings from legacy designs that you still use today.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to modernize your engineering drawing storage in 2023. We’ll include the best practices and helpful tips to get you started.
What Is Engineering Drawing Storage?
Engineering drawing storage is how you keep all of your technical drawings safe. In the old days, we would hand-draw engineering drawings on large sheets of mylar and keep the drawings in locked drawers. Of course, that was decades ago.
Why Engineering Drawing Storage Matters
Today, engineering drawing storage is very different. Proper storage will keep your IP safe, prevent damage to your drawings, and allow your engineers to quickly access these drawings. In fact, these three points are what your storage will revolve around.
Inappropriate engineering drawing storage will mean that you fall short in one of these three categories (if not all of them). In other words, incorrectly storing your drawings will allow someone to steal your IP, can permit damage to your drawings, and can give access to the wrong people.
Let’s say your company creates artillery drawings for the Department of Defense. Would you take a fully-dimensioned engineering drawing and lay it on a table at your local McDonald’s, then leave it there and go back to the office?
Doing this is incredibly dangerous and can lead to some serious problems. The drawing can get lost, the IP can get stolen, and the design can fall into the wrong hands. This is OPSEC 101.
Alternatively, would you take this drawing and lock it into an access-controlled storage facility inside your building? This quick (and dramatic) example should give you a better understanding of why drawing storage is so important.
Way to Modernize Your Engineering Drawing Storage in 2023
In 2023, engineering drawing storage is different. We have better technology and best practices to keep your drawings safe and secure. Let’s review how to modernize your engineering drawing storage in 2023.
Digitize Every Mylar Drawing
The first step to digitizing your collection of engineering drawings is to digitize everything. The simple version of this is to scan all of your drawings and save them on your computer.
To be more thorough, you should put them on your company’s server so your engineers can access the files.
If you don’t have a large-format plotter, then digitization becomes trickier. You can try to take pictures with your phone and save them on your server, but there are a few issues with this.
First, it’s going to take a lot of time to pull out each drawing and line up the picture. In addition, it’s hard to keep everything straight and square.
Finally, the pictures are going to be massive files and take up a ton of space on your server. The better option is to create vector images.
Create Full Vector Images
A vector is a line that has a size in 2 dimensions. It’s the backbone of any CAD program, and you can’t do much without vector images. When you just scan an image, you’re left with a raster image. This is simply a series of pixels that look like the original drawing.
With a raster image, you can’t extrude, optimize, or change the part at all. This is where vectorized drawings come in. You should take all of your mylar engineering drawings and create vectorized CAD files. This is the only way to preserve the design and change it in the future.
Some people will create raster images of their whole library, then go through and vectorize each drawing. This process takes a lot of time, effort, and attention. The better option is to outsource this work so you can work on other projects.
Organize Your Drawings Appropriately
If you want to modernize your drawing storage, you need to organize your drawings. Based on your company, there are a number of ways to organize your work, and we won’t spend the time going through every single option.
You can email us or call us for personalized answers, but the general version is that you should lump together similar drawings.
That could mean organizing drawings per customer, per product line, or per design. You can either do this by creating folders in your server or signing up for a file organization software like Windchill. Windchill will save you time and make things easier, but it costs a lot of money.
Most small companies stick to local storage. Your organization’s shared server can have a series of folders that organize your drawings. Again, this process can take a lot of time.
However, it’s a trade-off. You sacrifice time today to save countless hours in the future looking for drawings.
Regularly Back Up Your Server
If you decide to save work locally, you need to back up your server. This is a cybersecurity term that means saving a copy of your server somewhere offline. If you get hacked and all of your files are deleted, you can restore an offline version of your server and get everything back. Without a backed-up version of your server, your company can close after a cyberattack.
Consider 3D Models
The best-case scenario for modern drawing storage includes 3D models. Having a full 3D library of your parts makes everything easier. You can quickly cut manufacturing drawings, you can get faster quotes, you can 3D print parts, and you can create a library of sales material for your catalog and website.
3D models take a lot of time to generate, but they pay for themselves in the long run. We recently put together a 3D plant layout rendering for a customer, and they used it to get funding for their project.
Modernizing your engineering drawing storage is a great way to keep your work safe, protect your IP, and optimize your engineering process. If you need help modernizing your drawings, you can trust CAD/CAM Services.
We’ve been in business for decades, and we’ve digitized millions of drawings. We are a full-service engineering firm that can handle 2D designs all the way up to 3D plant layouts. We’ll modernize your storage and create 3D models for all of your parts. Get a free quote today to get started.
This article was last Updated on September 6, 2023