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Should You Convert Your Engineering Drawings into CAD?

Every time we see a hand drawing, we wince a little. We know how dangerous they are, how hard they are to protect, and how inconvenient it is to rely on hand drawings. But, should you convert your engineering drawings into CAD?

In this guide, we’ll answer that question. We’ll take a closer look into the process, and give you a few reasons why a company might do this conversion in the first place.

How to Convert Engineering Drawings into CAD

Engineering drawings can only be converted into CAD manually. It entails looking at the hand drawing while digitally drawing the new part on your CAD program of choice. If the hand drawing is an octagon with a cutout, then you would draw a dimensioned octagon with a dimensioned cutout on CAD.

It seems easy, but the process can get convoluted. More complicated parts can take hours or days to convert successfully.

In the end, you’re left with a functional 3D model of your part. You can rotate it around, insert it into assemblies, use it to cut manufacturing drawings, or use it to build a digital twin of your manufacturing operation.

5 Reasons to Convert Your Engineering Drawings into CAD

If you were on the fence, consider the following 5 reasons why you should convert your engineering drawings into CAD files.

Find the Drawings Faster

When your drawings are digitized and organized, they’re easier to find. How many hours have you spent looking through your room of hand drawings before you found the right sheet? It’s even worse when you need to find a multi-sheet assembly drawing that’s scattered around the room. It’s frustrating and annoying.

But, once you’re digitized you can just search the title of the drawing and it will show up in a second. This time saving applies to every drawing you look for — how many days or weeks will that save you in the next decade?

Get Quicker Manufacturing Quotes

Machine shops need CAD files or PDF files to get you accurate quotes. Some shops don’t accept pictures of hand drawings at all. When you convert all your engineering drawings into CAD, then you can quickly create manufacturing drawings and send them to multiple shops at the same time.

If you made the drawings into 3D CAD files, then you save even more time when it comes to making manufacturing drawings. The 3D models can be used to instantly create 2D drawings that you can send out for quote.

When you get faster quotes, you will also receive your parts sooner. Simply converting your drawings can save you a lot of time.

Mylar screenshot

Optimize Your Designs

Your legacy drawings can’t be changed unless you want to go through the painful experience of changing a Mylar drawing. It comes with a lot of added stress.

With CAD files, you can optimize your design quickly. By using the computer, you can get better results than a hand-drawn drawing. You can quickly create complex parts and upgrades without added stress.

Create a Digital Twin of Your Operation

A digital twin is a 3D version of a physical part. You can create one by drawing the piece on CAD in a 1:1 scale and applying the correct material properties to it. A lot of companies are using digital twins to optimize their whole business.

It makes it easier to manufacture, service, install, and track every part across your operation.

A lot of our customers ask for digital twins of their whole process line. We put together 3D models of equipment, storage areas, and everything under their roof. They’re left with a massive model that they can optimize and manipulate however they’d like.

Protect Your Drawings from Damage or Loss

When you convert your hand drawings to a SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Inventor, Siemens NX, or CATIA V5 file, it becomes protected. How? Well, what happens if there’s a leak or a fire in your backroom that has the physical drawings? They would be lost forever.

What happens if someone breaks in, or a disgruntled employee wants to cause chaos before they leave? Again, your drawings could be lost forever.

Just like that, your whole business will get hit. How are you supposed to fab your legacy designs if they just got stolen?

If your files were digitized, then you would be fine. This is one of the biggest reasons why we suggest that every company converts their engineering drawings into CAD.

Should You Convert Your Engineering Drawings into CAD?

Yes, every engineering company should convert their engineering drawings into CAD. Ideally, you would convert them all into 3D CAD models, but you can start with just 2D models. Doing this saves you time and money, and it boosts your company’s efficiency and productivity.


As you just learned, your hand drawings should be converted into 2D or 3D CAD. If you don’t have the time, energy, or expertise to get that done, it’s not a problem. You can rely on CAD/CAM Services.

We are a full-service engineering team that can handle drawing to CAD conversions. We’ve done it millions of times over our decades in business, and we would love to help with your project as well. Get a free quote today.

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