Introduction: Getting Line Drawings Into CAM Software

Its surprises me how long I actually spent trying to achieve this in a simple affective way and I still fill like I have a NOT got a workflow down.

When starting my residency at Autodesk I was excited about taking this super large drawings I create and playing with the scale, so example printing 100ft mural super tiny on the ember printer or taking drawings of mine and make handheld object like coins and tools with them.

The advice I mostly got as to how to do this was “bring it in to software and just extrude it”. That sounds good in theory, but many of these programs are not design to deal with lines drawn by hand and I found my self-going down this rabbit hole to try and get there. I’m not going to go into to much detail of all the things I tried, which did not work, but happy to share that information with anyone if it's helpful and if your reading this thinking ‘why did she not try x’ give me a shout!

The closest workflow I got to was: Photoshop – Clean up drawing

Illustrator – Live trace (ignore white)

Also in Ai group everything and back save it out as a SVG or export as DXF, DWG

Some of the issues I still had with the workflow above. When importing to Fusion it would make stuff up, basically it would add extra lines, which were not there in the first place, lose information and not be suitable to pipe or sweep along the entire lines. For inventor this worked if the lines where super simple, but I’d be unable to pipe the drawing and saw a lot of the spinning wheel.

I even tried some free online programs like selva3d which did a good job at the extruding part, but had difficulty with fine details and recesses of the model.

Step 1: Trace and Pipe in Rhino

This is what I ended up doing.

­(I did also try Maya, but Rhino seemed easier to pick up).

Import you drawing as a layer and start to re-draw with the spline tool (on my computer this was the 2nd one in with more control points). When re-drawing stay as close to the center of your line as possible.

Once you have traced/re-drawn you will create the volume of the lines, to do this use the ‘pipe’ feature. I watched a few videos to get the hang of this. Make sure to have your pipe set rounded, with the ends closed. Now you should have an extruded like drawing!

It can feel like your losing something by re drawing the original, but you can also fell like your adding another layer of the drawings journey. In the end I got pretty used to drawing with the spline tool in Rhino, so I have also started to use that as my starting point.

Now export this file as a .stp and you will be ready to bring it into Fusion, inventor or your cam software of choice.

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