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Intelligent 2-D drawings by e-mail

Even for those trained to interpret them, 2-D drawings are a complicated way to communicate design information. Trying to send them electronically to others involved in a project, such as customers, vendors, purchasing agents, and managers, only adds to the dilemma. Between software incompatibilities and the infinite opportunities to misread the information, many designers resort to snail mail or faxes.

After an extensive survey found that its customers were frustrated with the process of sending, receiving, and understanding drawings, SolidWorks Corp. found a way to improve the situation. Last month, SolidWorks unveiled a package called eDrawings Publisher that promises to let engineers and designers create and send drawings over the Internet with a single mouse click. To overcome the incompatibility issue, eDrawing files include a self-contained viewer, which takes up a mere 250K, so that anyone receiving the file can read it immediately.

According to Rick Chin, manager of the eDrawings Initiative, the new package is free, and is compatible with SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and any CAD system that outputs a DXF or DWG file. ?An eDrawing file is about one-tenth the size of the original CAD file, so it can be uploaded and sent much faster. We?ve also included self-interpretation tools that help to eliminate errors,? he adds.

These tools are the intelligence behind eDrawings, and include the following features:

  • Virtual folding. Users can open and arrange individual views in a drawing, regardless of their arrangement in the original file. This eliminates the need to sort through multiple sheets of paper, or fold drawings to place different views next to one another. This tool also automatically aligns the views intelligently, and lets users print and export any subset of a drawing.

  • Hyperlinking. To navigate between views, eDrawings contains a network of hyperlinks that lets users highlight a detail on a main view and zoom into the detail view with one click. The software recognizes how drawing views relate to each other because it understands standard drawing conventions such as ANSI and ISO, including first and third angle projection.

  • 3-D pointer. This tool lets users point to a location in one view and see the same location in all other drawing views simultaneously. Again, eDrawings understands basic 2-D drawing conventions, so it can distinguish how views relate to each other to represent a physical design.

  • Animation. In another one-click feature that automatically animates a 2-D drawing using a 3-D look, individual drawing views can also be shaded to clarify geometry without loss of 2-D annotations.

    System requirements include Windows95, 98, 2000, or NT on a Pentium-based computer. To download the software or view a demonstration, check the website listed below.?Michelle Maniscalco

    SolidWorks Corp.
    Concord, MA
    Phone: (800) 693-9000
    Fax: (978) 371-7303
    [email protected]
    www.solidworks.com/edrawings

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