El equipo de traducción perfecto / The perfect translation team

Translating technical drawings: the great forgotten?

After sending to consideration a translation and document organisation budget for a batch of technical drawings, I realise how “abandoned” this kind of document are within the workflow of some engineering or consulting firms.

One of the most important documents in many engineering projects, architecture and different technical and technological fields is the technical drawing.

Today, it can take various forms, e.g. dimensional drawings, technical sketches, 3D recreations, etc., be static, or even in video format, but they are undoubtedly a powerful and effective tool for communicating technical or commercial information of various kinds and importance.

This role played by the drawing in the documentation of a technical project is minimised when, due to technical difficulties, negligence or only lousy organisation, these documents are not included in the list of items to be translated within the workflow of a multinational project or between companies from different countries.

No one forgets the tender, the project report, manuals, technical specifications, etc. But, what about the drawings? Well, it’s just that until now it’s been complicated.

It is true that, depending on the format in which the drawing is found, the approach for its translation needs to be different, but basically the translator must know, at least in its fundamental aspects, the tool in which they have been generated: basically AutoCAD®, ArchiCAD® or similar that have been the standards for some time.

Until a few years ago, the approach could only be direct, i.e. open the drawings and replace the texts to be translated with their corresponding translations, one by one; or create a new layer with these translations and that the technician could choose which layer to show depending on the language the drawings needed to be used. Evidently, this procedure has many disadvantages, among which it is worth mentioning: the time it takes for the translation and the advanced user knowledge that the translator must have to use this method.

Currently, there are much easier indirect approaches for the translator, allowing him or her to use terminology tools, grammar checks, quality control checks, etc. Within these workflows, texts are extracted from the original document, processed to preserve their formatting features, and then translated. Once the corresponding quality control steps have been applied to the text, it is returned to its “graphic” format, and a drawing is generated with the translated elements in a so-to-say “transparent” manner and with little technical knowledge on the part of the translator regarding the tool the document was created with.

There is no longer any excuse for not valuing the translation of drawings generated in technical projects, so if you need a translation quote that includes plans among your documents, do not hesitate to contact us.


José M. Montero, Traducciones Técnicas Aerópolis.


Also available in/Disponible en: English Español

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