Nick Brawne wrote:
Sounds like a big part of your problem is Illustrator. A great tool for vector artwork and manipulating type, but a crappy tool for CAD. You would be much better of investing in a low cost or free 2D CAD program for creating DXF's
The cheepest usable 2D CAD I know of is ViaCAD 2D, for years the program that it is based on Vellum was the CAD program for Industrial Designers.http://punchcad.com/p-7-viacad-2d-v7.aspx
Another alternative to look at is DraftSight (free) from Dessault - the people who make SolidWorks.http://www.3ds.com/products/draftsight/overview/
Both of these products are cross platform OS X / Windows. There are also a number of open source solutions, but I dont know about how good they are, or ease of use as I spend most of my days behind a commercial package.
LOL, If you only knew how many 'CAD' applications I actually possess
)) I have all of the above and more, but my main one for the last 30 years or so has been Vectorworks (nee MiniCAD) - I even bought the latest AutoCAD in the search for a human useable tool - and failed
Most are extremely over featured and very over-priced for what they accomplish - regarding export facilities (generally DXF), they all fail in one form or another - even the dreaded autocad can't read some of it's previous versions ! The learning curve for most is horrendous - a lot of them even throw away OS standard key combinations!
I have to completely disagree with you regarding Illustrator - the issue with the line problem is LaserCAD, not illustrator - I fail to see why the line thickness should have any bearing on it's vector - /rant (no pun intended
You would think that Illustrator wouldn't be very great as a 'CAD' application, but that is essentially what it is - a 2D CAD app (with an artistic bent) - there is a plugin for 'cad' which offers dimensioning etc etc, but you don't need dimensioning to cut bits of timber and plastic - we're not producing working drawings. As long as you can easily produce accurate vectors, that is really all that is needed. I use a load of cad apps, and some of their major failings are their abilities to accurately handle simple freehand splines and 'offset' paths - used generally for toolpath generation - illustrator's offset algorithm is perhaps the best I have ever seen (other than in high end CAM apps) - I have yet to see it fail - something I can't say about the 'cad' apps. 2D binary operations are another area that work practically 100% in illustrator - again, unlike some of the CAD apps.
It's also easily programmable (something a lot of the cad apps fail to support - exceptions of vectorworks and autocad perhaps).
There is one app that I have to mention - SketchUp - it is an outstanding piece of cad software (even using it in 2D) - the snapping algorithm is superb. Once you get your head around the rather unusual interface, you would find it difficult to change back. Even better, it's free
I've written quite a few CNC plugins for sketchup (have a look across on the sketchuCAM forum - or the phlatboyz cnc website). Programming in ruby can be a challenge, but not impossible.
I'll mention one great use for illustrator - converting old model aircraft plans into cuttable parts - it is superb (I have tried loads of those 'auto-scan' type apps but you spend more time re-adjusting the data it produces than doing it from scratch). Both illustrator and sketchup are great for this.
Anyway, my sincere apologies for ranting on about my pet love/hate relationship with CAD apps - no malice intended I assure you