Full-Sized Templates From CAD Files

With a few simple software tricks, you can produce working print files suitable for a large-scale plotter. November 12, 2005

I've designed a few azumayas using SketchUp, and some of them have curved roofs. I'd like to get some paper templates made for each of the rafters. I can export dwg or dxf files to scale from SUp. Any advice, like where to have this done and what paper weight I should use? Any tips on preparing my files before I hand them over?

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From contributor G:
You can have someone load the files into a CAD package that can produce a plot file. They will have to get the scale right, and have the driver for whatever plotter you will be doing the plot on. If the patterns are to be used more than once, I suggest printing on mylar - it is stable and durable, but costly, about $1.00- $1.50 per square foot. Once you have the right plot file, you can take it to the area print shop that has a large format plotter. I have done plot files 15 long and 48 wide for some boat parts.

From the original questioner:
Couldn't I make this plot file myself, using the dwg or dxf files I export from SUp? I'm going to offer plans for these azumayas - that's why I'd like to create the templates to send along with the plans. What type of paper do you think I should have these made on so that I can mail them out? Also, could you explain more on what a Plot File is?

From contributor G:
It is possible your software will give you a good plot file. Normally, if your PC is hooked to a printer, you just hit print and, because you have the right driver for the printer, all goes well. With AutoCad, you have a lot of options for plotting, so if I want to print something too large for my printer, I find someone who has the required plotter, download the right driver for their machine, then in AC, I print to file. I can then e-mail the file to the print shop and they print it. The cheapest paper I would use is vellum, about $.40 per sq ft. You can overlay many patterns on the same sheet by using a different color for each one. It would be wise for you to find a good print shop in your area and discuss it with them. When done correctly, it is simple, but there are many places things can go wrong.

From contributor J:
Tri-Tech/E-Template Systems can plot your dxf files on an Allen Datgragh Template Maker (vinyl cutting plotter). This will give you templates cut out of mylar.