Ever wonder how design engineers take your ideas for a product and poof, the size, the color, the circuitry, every detail is on point? It takes years of knowledge and experience but here's a little secret...they get some assistance from handy software programs! (SHOCKING, I know). Let me tell you a little bit about these helpers, the most commonly used by design engineers are Adobe Illustrator, SolidWorks and AutoCAD.
Adobe Illustrator is widely used in the industry for creating vector based art. This art is then output to either an imagesetter to create a film or to a Computer to Screen device. Vector based art produces a superior quality image for screen printing compared to any pixel based format. Preferred formats include but are not limited to .ai, .eps, .pdf, .cdr. As long as the native file was created using vectors, it can be used to produce printable graphics.
AutoCAD is widely used to produce switch artwork, engineering prints and any output requiring a .dxf format. Files in .dxf outputs can be used to create files for laser cutting, die cut making and fixture making. Autoscript is a program used then to convert drawings into a .ps format for output for screen printing. Customer supplied files in .dwg and .dxf formats can also be imported.
Both AutoCAD and Adobe Illustrator files can be converted into .dxf and imported into each other. This helps ensure that switch and graphic artwork align correctly.
When 2D AutoCAD just isn’t enough, Solidworks is an extremely powerful alternative for 3D work. This program creates .iges and .step file formats; when supplied to vendors the .iges and .step files can be used to create elastomer tooling, 3D printed prototypes and fixtures.
For customers who provide printed circuit board gerber (.gbr) formatted files ViewMate Pro can be used to both view and convert those files to .dxf format for import into Autocad or Adobe Illustrator. This then allows design engineers to make sure that graphic, switch and printed circuit board all align.
Although it is slightly disappointing to know design engineers aren't real magicians, its nice to know your design is in good hands as they work their magic to create exactly what you're looking for, no matter what kind of assistance they may use.