By Edited by Laura Carrabine, Senior Editor
Advances in modeling and design software have led both designers and manufacturers to expect intelligent, reactive drawing environments.
Although the latest modeling, visualization, and analysis software automates many manual processes, the 2D documentation process has not always followed suit. Manufacturers and designers developing model documentation are still forced to perform a range of manual processes that can be tedious and error-prone. However, Autodesk has made improvements in AutoCAD model documentation capabilities that help designers and manufacturers import 3D CAD data directly from non-Autodesk 3D modeling software into AutoCAD, create and update drawing views faster, and reassociate dimensions when a model changes.
Thanks to new integrated translators, AutoCAD 2012 and AutoCAD Mechanical 2012 have overcome traditional translation issues to support the file formats of all major modeling applications.
Directly import 3D models
To develop 2D model documentation from 3D CAD data, designers and drafters typically import the data into AutoCAD. Many companies use Autodesk products throughout their workflow and rely on Inventor software. In these cases, data usually flow more smoothly from Inventor to AutoCAD. Other organizations use non-Autodesk products to develop 3D models which can present data translation problems.
Usually a manufacturer imports non-native data into AutoCAD in one of two ways – exporting the data to either an open-source DWG file format or to a neutral file format such as IGES, STEP, or ACIS. Exporting data as open-source DWG files, however, could cause dimensions and lines to shift, formatting to be lost, or objects to lose associated intelligence. Exporting to a neutral file format is a two-step translation process that can degrade data quality. In both cases, the manufacturer must clean up the 2D documentation before sending it to the shop floor.
The ability to bring 3D model data from any source directly into AutoCAD can help manufacturers speed up the model documentation process.
AutoCAD 2012 and AutoCAD Mechanical 2012 have reportedly overcome the historic translation challenges to support the file formats of all major applications. Manufacturers and designers can now import Catia, NX, Parasolid, Pro/E, Rhino, and SolidWorks surfaces, solids, and 2D and 3D wire geometry directly into AutoCAD. The data is translated into native AutoCAD geometry and inserted into model space. Parts and assemblies in the original models are preserved, helping to maintain data integrity.
For those using Inventor, the import process is easier. According to Autodesk, there is no translation at all. The native files are used to create drawings directly in AutoCAD. The AutoCAD file maintains its associative relationship with the Inventor file. Whenever the Inventor file is updated, the AutoCAD documentation updates automatically.
With the new documentation tools in AutoCAD 2012, you can associate all views with the base view.
Importing 3D CAD data into AutoCAD is now easier. You access the import tool from the import panel of the insert ribbon tab. Then select a desired file format from the drop-down list of file types. Because the translation process happens in the background, you can do other tasks. When the import process is complete, a bubble notification displays the translated file name. Once a file is imported, you can modify its data using standard AutoCAD editing tools and document the 3D model using new model documentation tools. The ability to bring 3D model data from any source directly into AutoCAD can help manufacturers speed the model documentation process, reduce potential for error, and reduce barriers when partnering with companies using any type of CAD software.
Automated drawing view creation
Creating multiple views for model documentation was once a slow and tedious process. And, because each view was separate, any change meant updating each view individually. With the new documentation tools in AutoCAD 2012, however, users can associate all views with the base view. Each time a change is made to the base view, all other views update automatically. This associativity between the base view and other views can be turned on and off. A change to the “child” view – changing the scale of the view – can be made with effect on the base “parent” view.
The Base View tool creates a 2D view from the 3D solid and surfaces in model space. The tool displays a scaled preview of the model, attached to the cursor. A designer placing the base view on the drawing layout can specify type, orientation, and scale. After placing the base view, the user can create projected views by dragging the cursor to the desired location. AutoCAD creates the appropriate view, and each view creates a new Drawing View object. The Projected View tools allow addition of more projection views including four orthographic and four isometric standard view projections.
By automating many manual processes, AutoCAD can improve the accuracy of model documentation and possibly reduce problems on the manufacturing floor.
You can then establish a parent/child relationship between a new projected view (child) and any existing Drawing View object (parent), as long as the parent view is up to date. A child view inherits the projection angle and all other properties of its parent view. When the parent view is edited, the changes are applied to both it and all its child views. Using this feature, a user can also remove or display all tangent edges or interferences from all views with a few clicks instead of manually searching and hiding every edge on every view. Users making multiple changes can defer updates to be made in a single view computation. With the intelligent view creation capabilities in AutoCAD, designers can create views more quickly and accurately.
Changes made after a designer creates and annotates views can lead to some of a model’s dimensions becoming disassociated. For example, suppose a designer models a shovel and associates a range of dimensions with its handle, but then decides he doesn’t like the handle and deletes it. The dimensions associated with the deleted handle remain in the documentation unattached to any object. In previous AutoCAD versions, the user would have to look for any changed dimensions manually, then delete or reattach them. Any remaining disassociated dimensions could lead to manufacturing problems or confusion on the shop floor.
AutoCAD now provides a tool that identifies disassociated dimensions and marks each with a blue X, making it easier for you to see where dimensions must be reattached or removed.
Filed Under: 3D CAD, Software