Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Data sharing for plant design software packages

EU-funded researchers developed a computer-aided design tool completely compatible with standard AutoCAD software. The commercially available drafting package enables fast and efficient plant design from modelling to fabrication by eliminating multiple data format conversions.
Data sharing for plant design software packages
CAD, an acronym for computer-aided design, has become an essential tool in the design of parts and plants, leaving drafting tables and protractors far behind.

In addition to specifying detailed dimensions, CAD often provides information regarding processes for manufacture, materials to be used and tolerances with respect to specific applications.

CAD output is typically an electronic file designed to be used with automated machining tools. Nowadays, designers often want to use the data as input to other steps in the design pipeline, including three-dimensional (3D) visualisation software and real-time rendering applications. Data conversion to other formats typically uses expensive and time-consuming manual labour and often visual resolution is sacrificed.

The ‘Cad production pipeline’ (Cadpipe) project was initiated to streamline the process from CAD format to real-time rendering via creation of a highly simplified data optimiser and development tool geared toward plant designers.

The main specification was fewer conversions from three different standard CAD formats to 3D visualisation software to real-time rendering applications. Streamlining the process would reduce time and money while enabling more efficient data transfer and less loss of valuable information.

In addition, it would enable more efficient overall performance as characteristics could be added at the beginning of the design process specifically suited to later steps.

Cadpipe electromechanical drafting software met tremendous success. Commercialisation has made Cadpipe one of the most important CAD packages, taking the engineer from modelling to fabrication with a simple user friendly and efficient interface. The second generation of Cadpipe (Gen2) is currently available for updating.

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