It seems like I’ve been around large format scanners and CAD (Compter Aided Design) for a very long time. Starting long before large format scanners, there were graphic digitizers and rudimentary CAD systems, but it was in the mid 1980’s when the industry really began to take off, as government agencies and private industry began to computerize.
CAD drafting started to be favored over hand drafting. GIS (Geographic Information Systems) began to replace hand-drawn cartography. Satellite imagery was able to be incorporated into maps as well as into engineering design for highways and other heavy construction.
The race had begun to see who could design better hardware, better software, better maps and CAD drawings. The race had also begun to see who could figure out ways to incorporate the years of paper design and paper maps into the new paradigm of design and mapping.
Scanning Starts the Race
The move from tedious hand digitizing — that could take hours, if not days to convert a paper map or drawing to a digital file — to the ability to create scanned images for mMultiple paper drawings in minutes created a new issue. The speed of scanning was virtually nullified if the drawing or map had to be recreated from scratch on the computer in order to be utilized in the CAD or GIS system.
What was needed was a way to quickly and easily convert the scanned image into the CAD or GIS file format, without having to re-draw it.
Raster to Vector Conversion Adds Speed
Smart programmers came up with a way to let the computer do the work, and raster to vector (R2V) software was born. R2V software was (is) great…when it is able to duplicate exactly the original drawing. The problem, even today is that automatic raster to vector conversion can do only so much automatically. Even the best auto-conversion program still needs a tweak or two (sometimes more) to ensure that the vectored file is as accurate as the original.
Most of the time, the only way to ensure absolute accuracy is by human involvement. This need for expert humans to verify and correct the digital drawings lead the way for outsource firms to take on this task. The more they did, the more skilled they became, with the most skilled of them developing their own techniques to make the process as seamless and accurate as possible. Some firms, like ours, CAD CAM Services, Inc. even boast that we can do R2V conversion that produces CAD drawings (in 2D or 3D) that are moreaccurate than the original.
How Do We Do That?
Well, as I said at the beginning, I’ve been in this industry for a very long time, and there’s very little I haven’t seen in the way of problem R2V conversions. This means that I and my staff have had ample practice and have developed plenty of tricks to overcome even the toughest CAD conversion problem. That’s what we mean when we say we perform “CAD Perfect®” conversions.
So, no, I’m not going to share our “tricks of the trade,” but I will invite you to download the white paper below and to send us your toughest paper to CAD, raster to vector, or 2D to 3D conversion job and see what we can do. If anyone takes us up on the dare, we’ll report on the results in later blog posts. Cheers! And happy Blueprints to CAD conversion or Scanned drawings to CAD!