08 Apr 2022

PDF to CAD Conversion: Common Challenges With Their Solutions

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This blog has been updated on – April 08, 2022

PDF to CAD conversion is a complex process. When not managed well, it can create serious issues that can lead to higher costs and lost time.

Introduction

PDF (Portable Document Format) can contain both raster and vector elements and is one of the most popular document formats in the world due to its wide-range acceptance and easy content integration.

CAD (Computer Aided Design) software like AutoCAD (the most popular CAD software) have their own set of compatible file formats. The most well-known formats supported by AutoCAD are DWG and DXF. DWG is the native file format of AutoCAD, whereas DXF is more of an open standard.

Both PDF and DWG files are widespread and popular. However, it can be a long and expensive process to find a reliable converter if you want to use PDF data in design programs such as AutoCAD.

PDF Files

  • PDFs do not need any specific software to open and have a good integration capability when it comes to graphical information. They are easy to work with, versatile and can be transmitted electronically.

  • However, PDF is notorious when it comes to editing and converting. Particularly with complex software, editing and converting PDFs can prove to be a very challenging task.

  • Generally, you will work with three types of PDF content: technical drawings, text-based content, and illustrations or logos.

  • If you wish to convert PDF files for CAD work, you will likely be working with diagrams or technical drawings. These include electrical layouts, floor plans, and engineering diagrams.

DWG Files

DWG is an “open but proprietary” format and mainly serves digital engineering, though it can be used across many industries. Its potential level of detail is crucial for design visualization.

The filename extension was developed in the late 1970s. Autodesk licensed the file type for AutoCAD in 1982.

  • DWG files contain 2D and 3D vector graphics.

  • Typically, DWG files are used by engineers, drafters and architects to store and convey photos, design schematics, geometric data, maps and so on, in order to develop design sketches.

  • While DWG is commonly used by AutoCAD, it is also supported by many other CAD programs.

  • DWG was originally coined as an abbreviation for “drawing”.

  • Other file types associated with DWG include .dws, .bak, .svs, and .dwt.

  • DWG files are readable on several programs, including ones in Adobe Creative Cloud.

DXF Files

DXF, short for Drawing Exchange Format or Drawing Interchange Format, was launched by Autodesk in 1982. It is a vector file and widely used by engineers and architects during product design.

  • It is open source, so users can access AutoCAD files without utilizing Autodesk.

  • DXF allows designers to share drawings across CAD applications.

  • It quickly became the go-to format for exchange of designs.

  • The files are supported in many 3D applications. However, they are generally used for design sharing across CAD programs.

  • A drawback of DXF is that it will occupy higher disk space compared to DWG. This is because DGW is a binary type. Also, DXF does not support certain CAD elements such as dynamic blocks.

Why is the Conversion of PDF to CAD Compatible Format Needed?

  • The conversion of PDF to CAD-compatible formats provides a starting platform for various future design processes. This is especially useful in cases where renovation, extension or addition is needed for an existing structure.

  • PDF to AutoCAD conversion is also required when original CAD designs have been misplaced, lost or corrupted. This will help you start the design process.

  • It might also be needed if the project is of older than the technology itself. It basically serves as a backup mechanism in all of these scenarios.

Converting PDF to CAD Compatible Formats (DWG/DXG)

CAD software such as AutoCAD uses DWG or DXF file formats to efficiently store 2D and 3D design data. In contrast to a PDF format, which acts more like a paper print, CAD files store a heavy amount of data, which is useful to design professionals.

Generally, PDF drawings are scanned and imported to a CAD platform to make the requisite technical drawings available in an editable format. There is software that provides the facility to convert PDF to DWG or other CAD compatible files for Mac, Windows, Android and online. Some of them include AutoDWG’s PDF to DWG converter, AnyDWG’s PDF to DWG converter, and Zamzar’s Online File Conversion.

However, challenges still remain, since there are complications that can arise.

CAD conversion
CAD conversion by BluEntCAD

Challenges in the Conversion of PDF to CAD

PDF to CAD conversion is a complex process, since good software and skilled professionals are required to produce excellent converted drawings that can provide a base for construction projects.

Here are some notable challenges that are often faced by people involved in this job.

  • PDF Vector Graphics

    The vector graphics of the PDF format is limited. There are no Circle entities or CAD Arcs. The Circles and Arcs are either made out of Bezier curves or several short lines, and both are very difficult to edit.

    The solution lies in using a high-quality conversion software that can reinstate the short lines and the Bezier curves with true arcs and circles.

  • Conversion of Line Types

    PDF files can contain line types defined by the user, which might comprise of a sequence of dots and dashes of varying length and order.

    The conversion of these lines is a difficult task, and a misinterpretation can lead to a lot of confusion in later stages.

    To avoid this, we recommend using a CAD conversion solution, which is capable of identifying correct sequences of dashes and dots and determining the width and length of the lines.

  • Proper Handling of Text

    This is one of the most common problems of PDF to CAD conversion.

    It happens because PDFs hold words and sentences as a string of individual characters, and each character has specific positional and style information. Improper conversion of text can lead to an unclear and illegible drawing, thus rendering the final output inefficient.

    The solution lies in using a conversion software solution, which has Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR works from a database pattern and is able to detect characters and create editable text strings. This helps in rendering text correctly.

  • Multiple Raster Files

    This occurs because separate raster files are generated for each raster image in case of ordinary PDF to CAD conversion. Hence, editing and storing the drawings becomes a challenging task.

    With the right conversion software, the raster images can be mapped into a single raster file.

Conclusion

Both an effective conversion software and PDF to CAD services will help you obtain proper CAD files that can lay a solid foundation for a construction or renovation project.

Luckily for you, BluEntCAD is just a click away. We offer CAD conversion services to real estate agents, real estate brokers, apartment rental agencies, architectural companies, facility management companies, leasing companies and telecom companies. Browse our portfolio to see how we’ve helped businesses like yours.

Ready to make your project a success with PDF to CAD conversion services and other CAD services? Contact us now!

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CAD Evangelist. (2022, April 08). PDF to CAD Conversion: Common Challenges With Their Solutions. Retrieved from https://www.bluentcad.com/blog/pdf-to-cad-conversion-challenges/

CAD Evangelist. "PDF to CAD Conversion: Common Challenges With Their Solutions" CAD Evangelist https://www.bluentcad.com/blog/pdf-to-cad-conversion-challenges/ (accessed April 08, 2022 ).

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