Cleaning drawing files

Outlining how to fix the issues that are common to drawings used in the quotation process

Solving the complexity of 2D profile cutting quoting

The main task of the quoting process for 2D profile cutting (laser, plasma, oxy, flame, waterjet and others) is to interpret a drawing of a part to establish which elements define the part, and then calculate the time needed to cut it and how much material is required. Calculating time and material are relatively trivial tasks if you know what you are doing, however the interpretation of what elements in the drawing represent the part can be problematic.

The difficulty with 2D drawings is that no structure is enforced. When a designer sits down to draw a part, they are usually focussed on communicating the shape and properties of a part to another human, not necessarily a computer program.

Cleaning drawing files in ToolBox

ToolBox's Drawing Doctor® tool makes viewing and handling drawing files simple.

Below is a summary of some of the issues the Tempus Tools suite of products deals with. Further pages go into more detail about each issue and how our ToolBox product handles each.

Zero length entities

Entities with a length of zero need to be ignored by the software that is interpreting the drawing file.

Automatic: Files loaded into ToolBox automatically have their zero length entities removed.

Points and dimensions

Any points or dimensions entities in the file need to be ignored.

Automatic: Files loaded into ToolBox automatically have points and dimensions removed.

Overlapping elements

Lines can be drawn on top of each other. This can lead to inaccurate time calculation.

Automatic: Files loaded into ToolBox automatically have their overlapping lines merged into a single entity.

Gaps between elements

Parts can be drawn such that there are tiny gaps between elements. If not dealt with, you will have unnecessary pierces included in the time calculation.

Automatic: Files loaded into ToolBox automatically have their gaps analysed. If the gaps are smaller than a predefined threshold, the gaps are healed automatically.

Gaps that are too big to be automatically healed are identified with the open end points feature.

Additional non-cutting information

A designer could add extra information to make the part design clearer for a human, such as by including close-ups of certain portions of the part, or side views. These additional elements do not form part of the part definition and must be excluded for time and material calculation.

See additional information in the original drawing by toggling to the original CAD view.

Remove unwanted additional information via:

Multiple parts in a single file

A single file can contain multiple parts which need to be isolated as their own part files.

Automatic: The ‘Extract all’ option automatically identifies all parts in a multi-part file and extracts them into their own quote lines in a single click.

Scale factors

There are many ways of applying scale to a CAD file. If dimensional scaling is not detected, calculations will be performed on a part that is of the incorrect size.

ToolBox has a feature coming soon that will recognise scale factors and offer the user to confirm a dimension scaling change to the parts.

Elements that have meaning other than cutting

Some elements on a drawing file are for cutting, but some are for folding, some for etching, and others for information only.

Set the meaning of individual lines or set the meaning of entire layers.

Z-axis issues

Elements in a drawing file might produce a drawing that looks like a 2D part when viewed from the top (XY plane), but can be drawn with Z-axis coordinates which may not connect when viewed from the side due to Z-axis values.

ToolBox identifies these issues and displays a warning against the part file.

Coming soon is a feature that will automatically flatten these files when the Z-axis values are within +/- 0.1mm.

Entity Coordinate System (ECS) issues

Elements can be drawn using their own relative entity coordinate system (ECS). Normally this is set up so that the Z-axis is perpendicular to the plane of the drawing. However, this is not always so.

Automatic: ToolBox automatically analyses parts for their ECS and corrects for them.

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