Time for a Change: Convert Paper Drawings to AutoCAD
Organizations that use AutoCAD and that have legacy paper drawings often waste time when they need to convert the paper drawing to an AutoCAD drawing. Knowing exactly what to do when it comes time to handle old paper archives in an AutoCAD environment is important.
We’ve found that a two-part process works best:
Step #1 Scan the Drawing – But Make Sure It’s Accurate
Scanning engineering drawings requires an accurate large format scanner and a knowledgeable scanner operator. Your firm may choose to purchase a scanner and train someone within your company to use the scanner; or you may decide to outsource the scanning.
Questions to ask:
- How many drawings do you need to convert? Too few drawings and you will not be able to justify the cost of a scanner; too many drawings and the job may take too many man-hours away from current projects. If you have many drawings, but will only be converting them a few at a time, and, if you have a someone who knows his or her way around a large format scanner, then it may be to your advantage purchase a large format scanner. However, if you have just a few drawings to convert, or if you have many to convert all at once, then outsourcing probably makes the most sense.
- What condition are they in? Drawings in poor condition will need special handling during scanning. If they are particularly fragile, they may need to be slipped into a projective document sleeve for scanning. If they are fragile or damaged, even with a protective sleeve, the resulting scan will likely need editing and clean-up to ensure that digital file is free of error and distortion. Most of today’s large format scanners have excellent clean-up facilities within the operating software, and can do a good job of file clean-up in the hands of an experienced scanner operator.
Step #2 Convert from TIFF to CAD
- Do you know how to perform this conversion? Going from the TIFF file that you get when you scan to the DWG file that AutoCAD requires means changing from a raster file type to a vector file. While automatic conversion can be performed via software, you’d be surprised how many customers come to us after they’ve tried unsuccessfully to perform a software conversion. The quality and resolution of the raster image are key factors for the quality and accuracy of the vectorized data, and that’s often a factor that all but conversion experts ignore.
- Do you have the time and the hands-on skills that are required? Even with advanced automated raster to vector conversion technology, it usually takes additional hands-on human intervention to complete the process and have an accurate AutoCAD file. For instance, when converting legacy drawings into AutoCAD files, you will want to ensure that the converted files contain 5-7 layers, editable text, and correct dimensions in separate layers.
Because most engineering companies are focused on current projects, not conversion of older projects, it can be helpful to outsource the paper to AutoCAD process and/or the raster to vector process.
An experienced Scan to AutoCAD service can customize the scanning process to suit specific drawing requirements and to solve integration matters between the paper drawings and the AutoCAD conversion, enabling your internal staff to focus on current projects. They can also help your company to manage the challenge of organizing and making the archives readily accessible and easily located. This is particularly helpful if your engineers have large numbers paper drawings that must be saved for reference and for further design.
Outsourcing your Scan to AutoCAD requirements can save both time and money.