Though many engineering groups migrated to 3D years ago, 2D technology is still used by many teams. When they need to share files, it's been problematic since data often gets lost in the translation.
Autodesk Inc. is preparing to address this with techniques that retain the data when files are translated. The San Rafael, CA, company recently previewed a Beta version of its technology.
Though Autodesk won't say when the technology will be adopted, its impending availability is already getting good reviews. "We've got years and years of data we can't access now. This will let us get information from those files," says Donald Gradin, a mechanical engineer at Kone Inc.'s Coal Valley, IL, R&D facility.
Once it's available, users will be able to easily move between file types. "We write DWG files from Inventor with no translations. This lets you share DWG files in Inventor with AutoCAD users," says Amy Bunszel, product marketing manager. AutoCAD uses 2D files, while Inventor adds 3D capabilities.
Though users can make translations manually, that's a time consuming task, particularly for companies that generate hundreds or thousands of files for a single product line. Bunzel notes that if only 10 % of the file translations result in errors, taking a brief five minutes to fix them can take hundreds or even thousands of hours.
Autodesk executives note that the automated translation feature will remove one of the barriers in the transition to 3D graphics. "This lets people move to 3D without losing access to files," says Andrew Anagnost, Senior Director for Manufacturing Solutions at Autodesk.