Paper to CAD Conversion – Should You Outsource?

A service bureau that specializes in a paper to CAD conversion can be a big help if you have a large paper archive of engineering drawings.   The important thing is to find a company with both the knowledge and the equipment to scan your paper drawings and provide the highest quality, most accurate digital files.   Often organizations are concerned about the cost associated with paper to CAD conversion and worry that they will need to outsource their work to India or some other off-shore location in order to be able to afford the scanning and conversion service.  This article explores the options and recommends solutions for the most common Paper to CAD conversion situations.What’s your CAD Conversion Strategy?

What’s your CAD Conversion Strategy?

A successful paper to CAD strategy starts with a well-thought-out and professionally managed document imaging plan that takes advantage of the latest scanning technology and capture processes. Without a solid approach to scanning and organization, your paper to CAD project may end up producing poorly scanned drawings that are difficult to find and hard to read once they are found.    In order to avoid this type of frustration, it is best to be aware of the latest trends and technology in document imaging and scanning as well as in optical character recognition (OCR).  Remember to seek expert advice on best practices in those areas.   Talk with other companies who have gone from paper to CAD in order to be aware of the document imaging challenges that they faced.    Remember, prior planning is the key to success.

If you have a large paper archive, you may be more comfortable approaching the paper to CAD conversion process with small-scale implementations.   Depending upon the structure of your organization, this may mean implementing a paper to CAD project one department at a time.  For other organizations, this may mean taking one type of drawing, or one year’s worth of designs and converting those and them merging that process with departmental workflows, so that they can easily share important drawings and documents with other workers who need to see them.

A professional paper to cad conversion company can help you determine the best strategy for your firm.

Paper to 2D CAD or 3D CAD?

Rather than converting their paper drawings to CAD, some companies opt to convert their 2D paper drawings into 3D CAD drawings.  This is particularly relevant for manufacturing firms, electrical engineering drawings, HVAC, etc.   A good service bureau should have a team of experts – mechanical and electrical engineers and draftsman who specialize in doing all the kinds of CAD conversions you require, and who have the experience of working on many projects that meet the most stringent standards.

With 3D paper to CAD conversion, it’s especially important to ensure that the conversion specialists are experts with the type of 3D software that your company uses.   Going from paper to 3D CAD is a 2 step process that requires scanning the paper drawing, then converting the scanned raster drawing into a  2D CAD, and finally,  converting the 2D file into 3D CAD.

Most 3D modeling systems offer features that help manage the accuracy and completeness of 2D to 3D conversion. However, the accuracy of conversion seems to be of major concern and is best implemented when the scanned image is highly accurate, to begin with.  This generally requires hands-on time for scanning QC and some manual change to the 2D scanned drawing before the final 2D to 3D process begins.   This is why many firms opt to outsource their paper to 3D CAD conversions.   A reliable outsources company will guarantee not only the accuracy of the legacy paper drawing conversion to scanned images and then into 2D CAD, but will also guarantee the accuracy of the 2D to 3D conversion. Often the ROI for outsourcing this type of complex conversion is farther favorable than the ROI for doing the job internally, especially when the loss of productivity of your in-house experts is factored in.  Remember, when you use them for conversion of legacy files, they’re not working on new designs.

Make your Paper to CAD Conversion a Success!

Successful outsource projects always start with a qualified outsourcing firm.  Look for a firm that employs professionals who are qualified to perform large format scanning, raster to vector conversion and 2D – 3D conversion.  This requires a multitude of abilities, probably not all found in one individual, so you will want a firm that has a pool of talent on staff rather than a company that hires freelancers to do the work.  This ensures that you will have a dedicated team of experienced individuals to work on your project.

Look for  CAD Perfect™   files, a designation that we use for a process that is so precise that we’ve trademarked the name.   Whether you are a small or large corporation, you want your drawings converted with the high precision and dimensional accuracy that a CAD Perfect™ file guarantees.


White paper: 3 Strategies for optimizing your paper to CAD Conversion

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