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Paperless shop questions

Gavin Member

Iíve found lately that Iím in need of some soft of way to view cad models on the go. I make working drawings for every job I do, but sometimes I forget to include a dimension, or I just need to visualize how some detail goes together. In the past, this would be where I would walk into the draftsmanís office and sort it out. Now, I have no computer at my shop, so if I forget to document something, I have to put off the work until the next day, or drive back to my house. I'm thinking of buying an iPad to have all my shop drawings and 3D model accessible electronically.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what software to get? I have a program which can generate 3D PDFís, which I could view in the full version of Adobe Acrobat. Another way to go would be with a DWG viewer, any recommendations?

Also, in a more general sense, I was wondering if anyone could comment on the concept of using a tablet as a complete or partial substitute for paper plans. Iíve heard of shops where every cabinetmaker has a tablet at their bench. Iíve suggested this at a couple places Iíve worked at in the past and itís always been dismissed as Ďtoo techyí. Maybe so, but I would imagine there would be some big advantages: the ability to mark-up documents and have them update everyoneís copy, and the ability to snap dimensions wherever you want. Just curious if people have done this, and how it worked out.

12/22/15       #2: Paperless shop questions ...
Sam  Member



This is something I am working towards. I bought a few cheap tablets off amazon to try it out. So far, I would give it a 6/10. I didn't get big enough screens...

I know some software packages like KCD and Mozaik have shop modules that assemblers can view drawings in real time. If Cabinet Vision did this I would buy it immediately!

I have a Autocad viewer on my Ipad that works reasonable well if that is what you are currently using. Try it on a cheap tablet first. We got some 7" ones for $50. but I would recommend something larger or a older generation Ipad.

Let me know how it shakes out!

12/23/15       #3: Paperless shop questions ...
Gary B.


Please see this thread here:

I'm still very happy with our move towards a paperless shop floor. And with our surface pro 3's.

1/2/16       #5: Paperless shop questions ...


what is your experience with ProjectPak? As a 3 man shop was it overwhelming to set up at first? How long have you had the software? What modules are you using?
We have 14 employees and may have a mix of 25-40 small to mid size jobs, orders and or projects going on at the same time. Chasing materials and scheduling can become overwhelming. Keeping up with changes in these jobs on the fly is also an issue. I have always been under the impression that we are a bit on the small side for such a software. Would love to hear your thoughts.

1/3/16       #6: Paperless shop questions ...
Rufus Cooke  Member


you may want to consider a remote desktop app like "GotoMyPC". There may be cheaper options, but I've had emergencies where clients need sketches emailed to them on my day off when I'm out of the office. This remote desktop has even enabled me to modify a SolidWorks model and email off the sketch from my iPhone in a parking lot (though it was a pain and I wouldn't do it normally). Still, it offers lots of uses - especially with tablets and mobile devices and best of all, you use your native CAD applications and your files remain in the same locations.
Good luck.

7/15/16       #7: Paperless shop questions ...
Gavin Member

Okay, hereís my report on the Ďpaperless shopí concept I was keen on, for anyone who might be interested. Note that this is a single person shop situation.

I ended up buying an Android tablet for a couple reasons:

1. I thought that if I could view 3d models on the tablet, then that would reduce the drafting workload and save me time. The idea was that I could make bare-bones shop plans to show the client, and then build the job using the plans, in combination with the cut-list, and occasionally viewing the 3d model on the tablet to get dimensions and details that I didnít bother to document in 2d.

2. Iím just generally disorganized, and run around with an ancient flip phone, giving one word text replies, and returning emails in the evenings.

I tried this all out on a bed and a couple nightstands Iím making, and as far as I can tell thereís no 3d CAD viewer on the market (for Android at least), that has snaps, layer control, and dimensions in 3d. Please correct me if Iím wrong. This reduces the 3d viewing to pretty pictures, and isnít really what I was after. I was under the mistaken impression that I could find a 3d viewer with more features.

For the odd 2d thing you might need to draft on the fly, I found an app called BiiCADo to be the best, and I went through a lot of apps. Itís like AutoCAD from way back before my time, and the interface is such that I wouldnít want to do a lot of work with it. There is also a promising app called Ares touch, but they want $250 a year, and bundle it with their AutoCAD clone.

I also tried viewing things like the cut-list on the tablet, to cross out pieces that had been cut etc. In the end, of course, simply using a piece of paper and a pencil is simpler and faster.

Ultimately, I do think a tablet has made me more productive, but more with garden variety tasks like documenting things with photos, to-do lists, and tracking my man hours on jobs Ė things most people do with their phones! Using a cloud service has also come in handy. I'm considering the whole thing a work in progress.

8/14/19       #8: Paperless shop questions ...
Rufus Cooke  Member


like I mention in the prior post, a remote desktop app enables you to access your computer and your files. You see exactly what's on your computer and the only problem is that you have to leave your computer on and your finger (or stylus) replaces the mouse when working on the tablet. The BEST thing is that if you DO have to make a change to a part or cutting list, etc., it's on your core system.
It's not complicated, it doesn't rely on 3rd party software, it works on any tablet, smart phone or computer and I've used this strategy when on a jobsite for field dimensioning.
I can't recommend it enough.

8/14/19       #9: Paperless shop questions ...
Pat Gilbert


That sounds good but $420.00 a year seems steep for that function

8/14/19       #10: Paperless shop questions ...
Rufus Cooke  Member


Hi Pat,
hope you're doing well. There are some free desktop sharing applications I've used since this post first started. TeamViewer and Zoom are a few.
I've used Teamviewer for remote desktop and it works well. Some clients I work with use Zoom and that works well, but haven't used it to access my own computer.
I suggest checking both of them out.
Best, R

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