When running different types of analysis, I frequently find myself entering blocks of data to define curves of various types. Whether it be a fan curve or a pressure drop curve for a filter, in SolidWorks Flow Simulation, a stress-strain curve for SolidWorks Simulation, or a Power Spectrum Density curve in a random vibration study in SolidWorks Simulation Premium, this can often be a tedious task.
Typically my process is to print out the curve, manually trace off some data points using a ruler and a pencil, then enter that data into SolidWorks or Excel to be used.
But that was before I stumbled across a neat little free utility on the web written by Joseph A. Huwaldt – http://plotdigitizer.sourceforge.net/
It takes that manual task and makes it digital and automatic (and easy). Here’s what I can do now.
- Take a screenshot of the plot I want to use, in this case a fan curve from a cooling fan manufacturer (and the new snipping tool in Windows 7 makes this fantastically easy):
- Launch the digitizer and import the picture. It works with any common picture format.
- Pick two points on the x and y axes to calibrate the digitizer, and tell the software the value of those.
- Pick a bunch of points along the curve.
- Hit done, and you’ve got your data set, ready to be copied into SolidWorks or Excel.
I can now load curves into SolidWorks in a matter of seconds, rather than minutes, which helps to make my day that much smoother. Credit goes to the Simulation Product team at SolidWorks who pointed this little gem out to me.