CAD has a twenty-year history of use, and CAD data created in Japan during this period has reached several hundred million cases. Moreover, CAD data is increasing at the rate of about fifty million cases per year. We estimate that ten million cases will eventually need to be maintained by long-term archiving. In the aircraft industry, product data such as drawings, bills of materials, and process specifications must be retained throughout the life of the product. These requirements exist even if these product data are digitally defined and maintained. In the automotive industry, for purposes of patents and product liability, CAD data are required to be kept as evidence. In other words, companies need CAD data for crisis management and quality management. Currently, this kind of CAD data is permanently preserved on microfilm. A more effective method of archiving CAD data is necessary.

On the other hand, increasingly, in the manufacturing industries, "drawing authority" is shifting to "data authority", which realizes the concept of "manufacture on a data basis". In the case of "drawing authority", a storage system has already been established for managing drawings on paper or microfilm. Currently, however, in the case of "data authority", the design and production environment, including the CAD system, CAD data, hardware, OS, etc., must be preserved collectively. These storage requirements have made manufacturers in effect dependent on CAD vendors. Over the next decade, there is a great risk that the backlog of CAD data will become incompatible with new versions of its respective CAD system. Moreover, the CAD system itself may be phased out. 

In the case of 3-D CAD, which has achieved rapid popularity in recent years, a long-term CAD data archive system is serious demand because no alternative storage method such as paper and microfilm is feasible.


We propose a standardized format for long-term archiving of 2-D and 3-D CAD data. 

For purposes of long-term CAD data archiving, a stable format, independent of specific CAD systems, is necessary. The feasibility of creating such a format or "vessel" for long-term CAD data archiving has been confirmed by evaluating the provisions of ISO 10303 (called STEP standard) and subjecting it to experimental implementation. We have created a standard for long term archiving of 2-D and 3-D CAD data, based on AP203, AP202, and Part 21 of STEP standard. 


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