A disjointed and ineffective computer-aided design (CAD) system begins with the existence of multiple file platforms for engineering drawings (both hand-drawn and CAD), technical images, specifications and data sheets, shop drawings and administrative documentation. The solution – implement a comprehensive CAD Conversion Services program with the prospect of reducing the number of incompatible CAD system files; files that are archived due to old/unsupported software release, vendor/shop drawings on various platforms and eliminating vellum drawings by conversion to CAD.
Why Full Documentation Compatibility Matters
A seamless project management approach to architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) projects requires setting forth corporate-wide file standards for each type of documentation involved in producing a full drawing package. Sometimes, the client dictates file structure, for instance, requesting drawings to be DVD-released with an older Autocad software revision. Autocad certainly provides an appropriate ‘save as’ option to accomplish this request. Still, your in-house records should remain at a release level which enables your in-house architectural drafting and detailing staff to re-use pertinent data as a starting point for future projects.
This is the underlying reason for full documentation compatibility. The re-using of other drawing files has been proven to significantly save AEC firms time and money by not ‘re-inventing the wheel’. Furthermore, the inherent inefficiencies of multiple CAD system files will reduce productivity and increases drafting/design staff frustration. Improperly imported CAD files between different platforms can lose their line and level attributes – the very basic structures that enable CAD as a drafting production tool.
Converting Hand-drawn Vellum into CAD Files
As the first step in seamless documentation conversion and management, many firms will outsource CAD drafting tasks, especially the function of re-drawing the hand-drawn vellum or paper architectural plans into a CAD system. It simply makes good business sense to outsource these types of engineering tasks. To use your in-house design staff for this time-consuming and labor-intensive work would take away from present projects and the expense is more cost-effective when outsourced.
Many firms discover a treasure-trove of engineering design information in drawing vaults. The only way to use this information for new projects is to hire a service to re-draw drawings which are constantly fading and could one day be lost to fire or natural damage. Historical buildings or those projects that began the success of an A&E firm often reside on vellum or blueprint paper, but when converted into CAD files the historical relevance and architectural beauty of the project is preserved and assured.
Design Data Conversion Between CAD Systems
There are many opportunities when engineering drawing data needs to migrate from one CAD system to another. Here are a number of CAD conversion services we can successfully accomplish for clients:
- Concept drawing conversion – many architects use stand-alone concept and sketching software programs such as SketchUp, which are less cumbersome and offers the creative freedom to quickly flesh out innovative architectural projects. These programs are not as powerful as AutoCAD, yet they allow easier 3D manipulation for architects who are focused on design and not details. Conversion to AutoCAD allows the approved concept drawings to be used as project design and drafting files, which saves project time and money.
- Conversion Between CAD Programs – companies sometimes make the switch from one CAD platform to another, such as from MicroStation to AutoCAD or from AutoCAD to SolidWorks. This is a major business move and requires fast and efficient processing to properly convert files to the new system. Our drafters specialize in providing accurate translation services that preserve the dimensional integrity and protects object attributes, by double-checking all work against the original document.
- CAD Software Version Conversion – there are instances where the same CAD software is not compatible with newer software releases. Another case in point is for third party vendors, fabricators, and shop drawing producers that are using an older software version, when clients send files in the newest release of AutoCAD, Revit or SolidWorks. In some cases, different software release files cannot be manipulated and require conversion through specific import and editing techniques or redrawn altogether.
The Need For 2D to 3D and BIM File Conversions
3D architectural modeling and building information management (BIM) buildings are quickly becoming premiere AEC projects, which require a highly trained drafting, detailing, and design staff educated in the use of sophisticated software such as Revit or 3ds Max software. So how can an A&E firm take advantage of these complex and game-changing projects. One method often used is to strategically divide the workload. Existing in-house design staff creates the traditional two-dimensional floor plans working hand-in-hand with in-house architects, while the task of building the 3D Revit model is outsourced to professional and experienced AutoCAD experts who meticulously build the 3D model as required.
BIM modeling services can take an architectural firm to the next level in contract bidding by supplying the needed expertise to finish energy efficient designs without hiring additional staff or buying expensive software and supporting IT hardware. Now, small to medium-sized A&E firms can have the skilled manpower needed to convert large-scale and complex construction projects into 3D BIM models.
Implementing Shop and Fabrication Drafting Conversion
While creating shop and fabrication drawings may not be considered a direct conversion of design files, it is one way to maintain more documentation control. Instead of relying on fabricators or vendors to supply the required construction documentation, implementing an established design service skilled in all industry construction trades to convert engineering designs in shop drawings is a great way to stay on project schedule, have direct communication and input into documentation file standards, and save time and money by having one point of service to solve each of these construction documentation needs:
- Millwork Shop Drawings
- Curtain Wall Shop Drawings
- Structural Steel Shop Drawings
- Foundation Formwork Drawings
- MEP Coordination and Shop Drawings
Each of these construction drawing sets will require industry trained personnel to convert architectural and engineering designs into highly detailed fabrication and assembly drawings to direct fabricators and construction workers on the methods and materials required to construct the new facility.
Converting Floor Plans to Elevations, Wall Sections, and Cross-Sections
A final use of CAD conversion services is outsourcing the interior and exterior facade documentation to complete an architectural design package suitable for client review. While architects layout building spaces to fit the owner’s planned functions and form, a great amount time and cost can be saved by outsourcing the creation of critical architectural elevations, wall sections, and interior cross-sections. After all, it is from these three types of detailed drawings that suppliers, vendors, and construction companies glean the needed information to actually build the new structure.
The CAD Technician Plays Key Role in Conversions
Architectural CAD technicians are a great resource in converting hand-drawn documents, out-dated revision-level drawings, different CAD platform files, 2D to 3D BIM models, shop and fabrication drawings, and construction phase elevations and sections into the right file format or software required by your company or client. If a client demands AutoCAD Revit drawings, no need to worry, as outsourcing these types of projects is quickly becoming the standard.
The particular skillset of CAD technicians involve knowledge of multiple software platforms, industry trade techniques, and possess quickness while maintaining accuracy to get the job done on time and within budget. As an architectural firm, your documentation management and controls can become unified through CAD file conversion services.