From Paper to Cad: Step-by-step Guide on Converting Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (p&id)

10 July 2023. By Olivia Davis. Estimated time to discover new opportunities: 5 minutes.

Introduction to Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (p&id) and Why They Need to Be Converted

Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs) help us design and understand industrial processes better. They are used to show the flow of liquids, gases, and other materials through pipes and equipment, as well as the basic operations and control schemes of the process as a whole. However, over time, P&IDs can become outdated, inaccurate, or difficult to work with. That's why it's become essential to convert these diagrams from paper to CAD.


Converting P&IDs into CAD is crucial to produce quick and accurate designs for industrial applications. This conversion ensures that P&ID diagrams can be viewed, edited, and shared across multiple devices and platforms, making them universally accessible. The CAD systems also allow users to document information in a structured, easy-to-use library from where future projects can be more quickly and easily developed.


If you want to know how to convert your drawings from paper to CAD, you should check out the article How to Convert PDF to BricsCAD by ExtensibleCAD. This is an ultimate guide to converting PDFs to BricsCAD, which is a user-friendly software that can help you convert your P&ID designs quickly and easily.


Explanation of the Differences between Paper and Cad Versions of P&ids

The paper versions are the traditional and most widely created versions of P&IDs. As the name suggests, paper P&IDs are printed copies of the technical drawing created during the P&ID design process. Although paper P&IDs are still used in many organizations, they have some major drawbacks.


For example, paper P&IDs are time-consuming to create, modify, and circulate. They are also more challenging to update, especially when changes are made to the design due to the complex interconnection of all the process components. Inaccuracies in the paper P&IDs can result in downtime, decreased efficiency, and even safety hazards.


CAD versions of P&IDs are the digital representations of the P&ID drawing. They are created using CAD software and are much easier to view, edit, and share. They also give an opportunity to track revisions and changes within the design more efficiently. CAD systems have a vast library of symbols, templates, and other features, making it trivial to make changes or modifying the designs according to requirements. By moving to CAD P&IDs, organizations can significantly streamline their design process, enabling them to spend more time focusing on higher-priority tasks.


Step-by-Step Process for Converting P&IDs to CAD

Converting P&IDs from paper to CAD can seem daunting at first, but following a simple process can make it much more manageable. The process can vary depending on the software being used, but some of the standard steps include digitizing the P&ID, cleaning up the CAD edition, grouping components, and creating a consistent symbol library. For more detailed instructions, check out this step-by-step guide on converting PDFs to DWG in AutoCAD 2023 by ExtensibleCAD. It provides detailed information on the entire workflow using AutoCAD 2023 and provides tips and tricks that can come in handy during conversion.


Digitizing the P&ID is the first step in the conversion process. This can be done either by scanning it or converting it into a PDF. Then, using software, open the P&ID in the image format it has been saved. Once the P&ID is opened, create a new CAD drawing and import the image into it. After linking the image to the drawing, all the elements in the P&ID are traced using appropriate CAD tools, i.e., lines, arcs or circles, etc. Once the P&ID elements are traced, their corresponding labels and texts will be added. A CAD file at this stage purely consisting of imported components can be challenging, so the next step is to clean it up.


Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them During the Conversion Process

Converting P&IDs comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most common issues is that P&IDs often come with hand-drawn components, making it challenging to recreate these components with pinpoint accuracy. Another challenge is recreating symbols consistently; because symbols must precisely match the standard, having an organized symbol library is critical. It is also essential to ensure that the dimensions and specifications of equipment and piping match the original P&ID drawing closely.


The easiest way to overcome these challenges is to use a professional CAD conversion service. They employ experts who can follow the tips and tricks required to overcome the various challenges during P&ID conversions. Another way is to use online tutorials and user guides that are becoming widely available, like this guide to converting PDFs to DWG in AutoCAD 2023. Online user guides can help prepare users better for the challenges they will encounter during P&ID conversion while providing thorough guidance on every step.

Tips for Ensuring Accuracy and Preserving Existing Data during the Conversion

While converting P&IDs from paper to CAD can be a straightforward process, it's essential to ensure accuracy and preserve existing data. Here are some tips for achieving this:

  • 📑 Before converting paper P&IDs to CAD, it's crucial to ensure that you have a clear and accurate original drawing. Any markings or notes on the paper P&IDs should also be transferred to the CAD version.
  • 📑 To make sure that the conversion process is accurate, you can use automated software such as Layer Magic that can help you convert PDFs to DWG with layers. This software can help you preserve the organization of your design and make the conversion process more seamless. Check out How to Convert PDF to DWG with Layers by ExtensibleCAD for a comprehensive guide on this.
  • 📑 It's vital to have a process in place for updating the CAD version of your P&IDs as changes are made. This process may involve using a revision log or version control system to track any modifications made to the design.
  • 📑 It's also important to ensure that all symbols, labels, and design elements are consistent across the entire P&ID. Any inconsistencies can lead to confusion or errors when processes are implemented.

Conclusion and Recommendation for Using Cad Software for P&id Conversions

Converting P&IDs from paper to CAD is an essential step for modernizing industrial processes. It makes it easier to view, edit, update, and share process diagrams while ensuring that data is accurately preserved. CAD software such as BricsCAD and Layer Magic can help you convert your P&ID designs quickly and easily.


When converting your P&IDs to CAD, it's important to prioritize accuracy and data preservation. Follow the tips outlined in this article to ensure that your P&ID drawings are accurately converted and any existing data is taken into account. By using CAD software for P&ID conversions, you can streamline your design process and ensure that your team is working with the most accurate and up-to-date information available.

Olivia Davis is an aspiring writer from Boston, MA. She loves to write poetry and short stories that explore themes of love and loss.

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