While 3D solid modeling is certainly a better way to communicate design information," says Rick Chin, manager of eDrawings for SolidWorks, "many people are more comfortable in the 2D environment they were trained in." In an effort to explore the needs of that group--primarily small-to midsize manufacturing companies--SolidWorks has introduced eDrawings, a new kind of compressed electronic drawing file with built-in intelligence.
By pushing the Publish button on a menu bar, a user of SolidWorks, AutoCAD, or any CAD system outputting a DXF or DWG file can create an electronic version of an on-screen drawing that is small enough (less than 1mb) to send via e-mail, and viewable to any recipient running Windows, thanks to a compact (250k) viewer embedded in each file. Once open, the eDrawing offers virtual folding, which allows users to see and arrange several drawing views at a time; hyperlinking, with selected views of the drawing according to where a user points and clicks; a 3D pointer; and animation.
EDrawings resulted from a random telephone survey of manufacturers. "What came through with the most emotion," says Chin, "was the difficulty of communicating with others outside the company." Due to incompatible CAD file formats, many companies don`t send electronic files to each other, says Chin, relying instead on faxes and overnight packages. Even the recent influx of CAD viewers hasn`t helped much, as the files are usually large.
EDrawings will not only help 2D CAD operations work more efficiently, it will help bridge the information gap between 2D and 3D. The program will be available in the fourth quarter of 1999, free for a limited time.
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