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Whatever role you play in construction or manufacturing projects, reliable documentation will be crucial to the success of your endeavor. This documentation can take many forms, including building permits, contracts, purchase requisitions, work schedules, and many different types of drawings. These drawings can exist in many different forms, from hastily drawn sketches of prototypes and hand-drawn blueprints of a remodeling job to full-blown three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) models of a proposed office park. 

So, whether you’re a member of a project team or working on a solo project, you already understand that that you’ll be compiling, handling, and storing technical drawings. What you may not know, however, is that there is often a need to convert these drawings from one form to another. It is sometimes necessary to convert hand drawings to digital images or to migrate records from one file format to another.  

This process is formally known as CAD migration or CAD conversion services (the terms are used interchangeably). And, as you can imagine, CAD migration can be time-consuming and require a high level of specialized knowledge. But help is available – Cad Crowd has experts with years of experience handling conversion services for residential, commercial, and industrial projects of all sizes.

Who uses CAD migration services?

People from all walks of life and businesses of all sizes utilize CAD migration services, including:

Architects and architectural firms Fabricators
Building developers Homeowners
Contractors Manufacturers
Designers and design firms Project managers
Engineers Realtors and real estate companies
Entrepreneurs Subcontractors

Why would someone need CAD migration services and what are the benefits?

As mentioned above, there are two types of CAD migrations – migration from paper to a digital format, and migration of existing digital files from one format to another. Depending on the scope and complexity of your project, you may benefit from utilizing either or both of these services.

CAD migration from paper to digital

This is actually one of the more common reasons for working with a CAD migration services company. For example, at the beginning of a project, it sometimes happens that only paper blueprints are available. By having these paper blueprints converted into CAD drawings, not only can changes to the design be made more efficiently, but project information can be shared more easily among project team members.

Even large projects often begin with nothing more than back-of-a-napkin sketches or paper blueprints. A CAD conversion services firm can convert these 2D images into 3D CAD drawings, which will add visual depth and interest to your designs. These CAD drawings, once stored electronically, can be readily retrieved and printed.

Speaking of storage, paper drawings are often difficult to store and are subject to weathering and deterioration. And, like most objects that are handled by multiple people, paper drawings are easily misplaced or lost. Drawings stored in a digital format are readily reproduced, and multiple copies can be easily printed. By converting your paper drawings into digital ones, you’ll be creating permanent records of your designs.

There are a number of other benefits to using a CAD migration service company to digitize your project documents:

  • Blueprints and other documents are often too large to scan on equipment easily accessible to most individuals and businesses. CAD migration companies have specialized equipment dedicated to this service.
  • When time is of the essence, the costs for shipping documents through an overnight delivery service to project personnel working remotely can quickly add up, especially when multiple changes are being made to your designs. But once an outsource company has digitized your files, you can transmit the information electronically at virtually no cost in mere seconds. (Rather than emailing or FTPing large files, many companies simply store or update their digital drawings on a server accessible to project personnel through laptops or other mobile devices. This is a much more efficient and secure method of handling sensitive or proprietary information.)
  • Overnight delivery service not fast enough? What about the cost, in terms of time, to instead have a staff member deliver documents to a remote site or to deliver them personally? What about the cost, financially, of using a same-day courier service? A reputable CAD migration firm’s upfront fee to digitally convert your documents will be reasonable; it will seem even more so compared to potential rapid-delivery charges.
  • Once a CAD conversion firm has digitized your drawings, the text information within those drawings becomes searchable. Material specifications, part names and numbers, and vendor information become instantly accessible to you.
  • Compared to a hand drawing, it is usually faster and much easier to make changes to a drawing that has been saved in a format that is readable by CAD programs. (These formats are discussed in more detail, below).
  • Having a CAD conversion services company prepare digital files of your project can be a vital part of your disaster recovery plans.  An efficient document indexing system along with strict protocols regarding data backups can minimize the downtime if a fire, flood, or other catastrophe causes a loss of core project data.

Members of Cad Crowd’s CAD migration network have the equipment and expertise to quickly and accurately convert your paper documents to digital files. We can put you in touch with a pre-qualified and vetted migration professional today!

CAD migration of digital file formats

You are most likely familiar with modern file-naming conventions. Most files nowadays are given descriptive names, followed by a period, followed by a three-digit extension – CAD Migration Services.doc would be a good example. The extension tells you the type of file you’re dealing with. In this example, the .doc means this is a document of some type. You’ve undoubtedly seen many other file types, like .pdf (for Portable Document Format, another type of format used for documents) and .exe (for Executable, a format used for computer programs).

Digital CAD files are named in a similar fashion. But there are literally dozens of different extensions currently in use, and the number of characters isn’t limited to three. Nearly all CAD software programs store drawing information with their own special extension (and since there are literally dozens of different CAD programs, the number of extensions adds up).

We’ll get to why that can be a big problem in just a minute. 

Despite the glut of file formats, they can be broken down into two types: proprietary (also called native) and neutral (sometimes called standard).  

Neutral CAD files can typically be edited and saved using a number of different CAD programs. Using a neutral file format generally makes it easier to share your files with other project personnel. For example, a file with the extension .x_t can be opened with over a half dozen different CAD programs. In a similar manner, a .doc or .pdf file will also work with many different software programs. 

Examples of proprietary file formats

.catproduct .model
.drw .par
.ipt .sldprt

And, as mentioned earlier, that can be a problem. For example, if one of your suppliers requires CAD information in one proprietary format, but your CAD file is in a different proprietary format, it will be difficult for the supplier to read your file. But this is a perfect opportunity to contact a CAD migration service. They can quickly and accurately convert your file into whatever format your supplier needs.

At this point, you may be wondering why anyone would choose to work with proprietary CAD file formats, especially since there are a large number of neutral file formats in widespread use. Their common usage around the world is actually one of the benefits of choosing to work with neutral formats. But people choose to work with proprietary files because each CAD software program can store certain types of information that other systems can’t. And in fact, companies base their CAD software purchasing decision in part on their unique data requirements. 

When technical drawings are saved using the CAD software’s proprietary format, that specialized data is saved as part of the file. It turns out, though, that when these drawings are instead saved to a neutral format, that specialized data will be lost. So in many situations, companies are locked into using proprietary file formats; this makes sharing files more difficult, but they have a sound reason for doing so.

There are a number of benefits to using a CAD migration services firm to convert your documents from one format to another:

  • It’s true that a few types of file conversions are fairly straightforward. But if your documents contain more than just simple drawings with dimensional data, you’ll want the help of someone who specializes in migration services. They can ensure that ancillary data makes it through the conversion process into the new file format. This is especially true if you or the company you are sharing files with has instituted a Building Information Modeling (BIM) program. BIM is a comprehensive approach to managing all of the data generated during a project (typically construction projects). Additional data like time and cost analyses, material specifications, supply quantities, part names and numbers, vendor information, scheduling information, and other project data is stored by the CAD system right along with the drawings. This BIM modeling data is vital to the success of the project, and a migration profession will have the software, training, and expertise to make sure that the integrity of this data is maintained when converting file formats for you. Here is more information on our BIM modeling services.
  • A freelancer or migration company can assist you with format conversions even if you are not sharing files outside your firm. There is sometimes the need to migrate files to a new format whenever the CAD software program in use undergoes an extensive upgrade. A professional can help you manage the transfer to the new format.
  • The point above works in reverse too – imagine that you’ve been given a CAD file to work with that has been saved using CATIA software, which was just recently upgraded to version 6. As luck would have it, your firm also uses CATIA but hasn’t gotten around to upgrading beyond version 4. These two different versions of CATIA use different incompatible proprietary file formats. The general consensus is that converting from v6 back to v4 goes relatively smoothly; however, there have been some reports of backward-compatibility issues arising during the process. An outside firm specializing in CAD data migration will be well versed in handling situations like this.
  • CAD software is constantly evolving. Systems gain or lose popularity over time. You can prevent the loss of existing data from older projects by converting those CAD files into a more commonly used format.
  • The cost of outsourcing your CAD data migration projects, especially for smaller firms, may be much lower than the expense of purchasing specialized software and hiring and training personnel to handle the migration in-house. In addition, sending this work to an outside firm allows your staff to concentrate on your core business operations.
  • The safety and privacy of your confidential information are assured when you utilize the services of a member of Cad Crowd’s vetted CAD migration network. Can you be certain the same is true if you use an online application at a free CAD file conversion website?

File format conversion is often a necessary part of any design project lifecycle. Whether your project is simple or complex, a CAD migration specialist can help you manage the ins and outs. 

What are some of the more popular CAD software packages in use today?

There are many different CAD software programs in use around the world, and that means compatibility issues are common. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but among the more popular packages are:

3ds Max Navisworks
ArchiCAD Rhinoceros (Rhino3D)
AutoCAD Solid Edge
Autodesk Inventor SolidWorks
CATIA Tekla Structures
Microstation Vectorworks

 Let us know your project goals when you request a quote, and we’ll put you in touch with the right professional for the job.  

Cad Crowd has the resources to help with your project

Let Cad Crowd assist you in achieving your project goals. We can put you in touch with the right CAD migration company or freelance specialist. Our network members possess decades of professional industry experience, so you can be sure of obtaining high-quality results. 

Whatever the size of your project, Cad Crowd has the professional resources to help you meet your goals. Our freelancers can help manage your CAD conversion project on time and within your budget. We will even back up the quality of their work with our accuracy guarantee. 

Hire a professional freelancer for your next CAD migration project

Our freelance migration experts are among the most talented in the industry. We have an extensive network of pre-qualified and vetted professionals available who can convert your drawings and data files quickly and accurately. So if you’re thinking: where can I find a CAD migration service near me? Obtain a free, no-obligation quote today!

Brands we've worked with

Yale University School of Medicine
Tiffany & Co.
CNOOC Limited
The Boston Consulting Group

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