On 12:57 PM 4/05/2002 -0500, David VanHorn said:

>I am considering Protel for purchase, but I'm having trouble getting a 
>definitive answer to this:
>Can I import data from Pro-Engineer, to tell me board outlines, and clear 
>space around the board (in three dimensions), and can I place components, 
>then export that data to pro-e so that my mech guy can bless it for clearances?

The only import/export formats that Protel semi-natively supports are 
Gerber and DXF/DWG. You will get ACAD import/export server with the trial 

There are a few quirks with DXF/DWG but it can be made to work OK.  With a 
P99SE license you get Camtastic Designers Edition (is this still the case 
or was this a time-limited offer when it was done some time ago? You should 
ask.).  Camtastic handles DXF/DWG better than Protel in some circumstances.

The main issues with DXF/DWG export from Protel is that it is often 
worthwhile making a global change of all line widths to zero before 
exporting as this will make it easy to snap to the centre line of the 
entity in the mech package.  Also, removing as much superfluous stuff as 
possible is good as the export files can get very big due to the way vias 
and pads are rendered.  There is no draft mode export which would be very 

On the import side, things to watch for are:
1) instead of a cross hair marking the centre of any circle of location 
consider using a simple right angle (or use a cross hair but put in a gap 
between two of the arms so you get a right angle snap point).  Protel does 
not snap well to cross but does snap OK to an angle.
2) Large radius arcs are not always imported correctly.  This is usually 
when a part of the arc (including its centre point) is outside the 100 inch 
x 100 inch (positive quadrant only) workspace.  Breaking the arc into short 
line segments is almost always acceptable.
3) I have had files (from Pro-E and others) that were incorrectly scaled 
(out by 25.4 or some similar factor).  This required manipulation in a mech 
package to get the import OK.  This situation was helped when the ACAD 
server was modified to allow the user to force the import units 
4) I still get some imports that are not perfect (entities missing) on the 
first go.  But I have yet to find one that I cannot import after sufficient 
manipulation in a mech package.

There are a number of add-ons that also offer mechanical CAD 
interfacing.  Two I can think of are:

I have not trialled any of these two products but it is reasonable to 
expect they offer facilities beyond that of the Protel ACAD server, though 
possibly satisfying different requirements.

Do not be impressed by the Protel 3D-Viewer that is shown on the 
advertising bumpf.  It is basically useless as there is no method of 
specifying user models.  It just guesses what the component looks like and 
how high it is. This is possibly where the 3rd party add-ons really shine - 
maybe their creators could comment...

It is reasonable to expect the Protel 3D viewer will be very much improved 
in the next version - though this version has been delayed already, and we 
have not heard definitive words on whether there will be better support for 
3D/mechanical interfacing.

In a nutshell, yes you can exchange data with mech cad packages 

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