Turn Legacy 2D Data into 3D Models (Alibre Design Tips)

31 Jan, 2008 By: Ryan Montgomery

Put old 2D drawings to use by importing them into Alibre Design and copying components into the 3D workspace to make 3D parts.

Alibre Design enables you to use 2D data (for example, your legacy data from an older 2D program) as the basis for generating 3D models. The basic process is simple -- import your 2D drawings into Alibre Design and then copy components of the drawing, such as lines and points, into the 3D workspace as the sketch you'll use for feature creation. This column will walk you through this process while giving you hints about transforming your drawings from other programs into 3D models in Alibre Design.

Importing a DXF or DWG
1. Go to File / Import and find the DXF or DWG file that you wish to use.

Import File dialog box.

DXF/DWG import options.
2. Choose your import options.
Maintain Projection means that it will maintain the orientation that the file was created with. Import Only Visible Layers means that Alibre will import only those layers that were set visible when the file was initially saved.

3. Activate the sketch on the sheet to enable the selection of the sketch figures. Do this by right-clicking in open space and selecting Activate Sketch on Sheet.

Activate Sketch On Sheet option.

4. Select the figures that you want to use to create your model. The figures you select will typically be profiles that are representative cross sections of the part. In the example model, which would make use of a Revolve Boss feature in a 3D workspace, I'll need to find the component of the drawing that represents the profile I'm after. In this case, it's the set of lines shown below in light blue. You can see how if you revolve this profile around main centerline, the main 3D solid would be created. Copy these sketch figures by selecting Edit / Copy from the menu bar after you select them.

Sketch figure selection.

5. After copying the sketch figures, open a new Part workspace and create a new sketch. Go to Edit / Paste to paste the figures you copied earlier into the new sketch.

Paste sketch from a 2D drawing into a Part workspace.

6. Depending on where the figures you copied were in relation to the 2D drawing, the figures might get pasted away from the origin. Use the Sketch Move tool to move your sketch to the proper orientation for the feature you are going to use. Access the Sketch Move tool by selecting Sketch / Move from the menu bar. Below you can see I've moved the sketch from its initial location to one to the left of the origin.

Sketch Move tool.

To use to the Sketch Move tool you will need to:

  1. Select the Figures icon. Select the figures that you want to move.
  2. Select the From icon. Select a node on the sketch figures where you want the orientation of the move to be from.
  3. Select the To icon. Select the new orientation where you want the sketch to be placed.
  4. Select Apply to apply the move.

7. Now that the new sketch is located where I want it, I need to run the Analyze Sketch tool to locate any potential problems with the sketch (for example, overlapping figures). Select the Analyze Sketch tool from the Sketch / Analyze menu bar.

Sketch Analyze tool.

Note: In addition to finding errors, Alibre Design will show you where in the sketch they are located. Just click on any errors that may pop up after clicking Analyze. Some errors allow you to use the Heal option to fix them automatically.

8. Now that I've got the sketch located and error-free, I can use it just like any other profile as the basis for a 3D feature. You can dimension it, constraint it, and then turn it into a solid. I'll use the Revolve Boss feature on the profile to get the solid below. I can now go in and add some of the final details, such as holes and chamfers, to finish out the part.

Preview of a Revolve Boss based on the profile.

Top Cover model.

Using your existing 2D data to generate 3D models is a straightforward process. The advantages of having your data in 3D are numerous, including allowing you to generate different views of your design in 2D drawings automatically, make changes parametrically, and show customers 3D representations of your designs.

About the Author: Ryan Montgomery

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!