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There are a lot of benefits to using AutoCAD. How will you take advantage of them?
Since the initial release of AutoCAD in 1982, Autodesk has been a leader in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software. Prior, the design process for architecture, engineering, or part design was done by manual drawing. Following the industrial revolution and into the 20th century, hand drafting necessarily became a more common profession, and by the 1980s manual drafting on trace paper was the standard production method for architects and engineers. Recognizing the potential offered by computation, AutoCAD was originally developed as digitization of hand drafting tools.
However, over the course of almost 40 years and the release of 35 versions, Autodesk AutoCAD has transformed the way that designs are conceptualized, developed, and ultimately documented in 2D drawings and 3D drawings. This article will discuss the benefits of using AutoCAD as one of the premier drafting and design tools.
If we consider Version 1.0 of AutoCAD released in 1982 as a ‘sketch’, it is safe to say that Version 35 (AutoCAD 2021) is now a very detailed, documented, and refined design. As it has developed over almost 40 years as one of the oldest cad systems, improvements have come from a few places:
Advancements in desktop computing (Microsoft, Intel, AMD, Nvidia)
AutoCAD started as a simple idea: Computer-Aided Drafting. It has since expanded to facilitate workflows across programs, projects, and trades. AutoCAD is the result of countless hours of collaboration between designers and software engineers and has played a major role in facilitating the profitable delivery of countless design projects. As a dynamic engineering model, AutoCAD is a great software application, but the many end products it has facilitated are testaments to its success and effectiveness.
As AutoCAD has been adopted by designers over the years, Autodesk has provided resources for networks of user groups, strengthening the broad user community. The Autodesk Group Network, the AutoCAD Forums, the Autodesk Knowledge Network, Autodesk University, along with many others, consist of the various ways that Autodesk supports and retains feedback from its user base. These feedback loops inform software development at Autodesk and have provided a unique opportunity for community-driven enhancements, fixes, and features. AutoCAD is available with 14 different language packs, expanding the ease of access across the world and growing the community.
Over time, this resonance between software developers and drafters has put AutoCAD in a superposition as the powerful, user-friendly, and adaptable end product that designers said they needed. Those that use AutoCAD, whether new or experienced, can engage with this vast knowledge network to advance their own expertise of the software, or contribute back to the community.
Industry Specialized Toolsets
In addition to ‘vanilla’ AutoCAD, there are various Specialized Toolsets that have functionality certain trades or disciplines will find invaluable for annotating, dimensioning, working with component drawings, and production drafting in general. These include automated workflows and large collections of intelligent parts, symbols, and building objects. The toolsets are built atop the core AutoCAD installation and productivity studies have found that users can save 60% of their time drafting when using AutoCAD Architecture versus regular AutoCAD.
CAD drawings can remain in the DWG format, but each design team member can choose a specialized tool as they develop their part of the design.
Below are the different products available with a subscription to AutoCAD including Specialized Toolsets:
AutoCAD (Windows & Mac)
Create floor plans, sections, elevations
Walls, doors, windows
8000+ intelligent architectural objects and styles
Panel layouts, schematic diagrams
Project-based organizational structure
65,000+ intelligent symbols
AutoCAD Map 3D
Create, maintain, and communicate mapping and GIS information
Manage GIS data, aggregate with design data
Automation tasks for mechanical systems, generate machine components, create a bill of materials.
Create parts, assemblies, and other drawings for product design
70,000+ intelligent objects
Task-based tools to create MEP drawings for building systems
10,500+ intelligent MEP objects
AutoCAD Plant 3D
Generate isometrics, orthographic, and materials reports
Schematic diagrams, plant layouts
400+ intelligent plant objects
AutoCAD Raster Design
Despeckle, bias, mirror, and touch up images
Create lines and polylines from raster images, convert raster files to vector drawings
A more comprehensive list of features can be found here.
Data is an important part of the design, and the Express Tools in AutoCAD make it easier to manage. With blocks and intelligent objects, it is much easier to import and export design data. This may include schedules, quantities, areas, volumes, etc. and can be entered manually, or automatically generated. Data can be copied from spreadsheets into tables, or Excel Spreadsheets can be linked to the drawing via Data Links.
Point clouds can be attached to a DWG to generate precise geometry based on scans of existing conditions. These scans, sampled with hardware such as GeoSLAM, can accelerate the documentation of existing conditions, and reduce the number of site visits significantly.
Additionally, Fields were introduced in 2005 which allows for the project and drawing data to automatically be inserted into any Field object, such as MText, title blocks, schedules, etc. Working with data in AutoCAD can take a little time to set up and understand, but once managing Fields gets integrated into the daily workflow, users will enjoy tremendous time-saving benefits throughout an entire project.
These tools to collect, organize, and manage design data are some of the most powerful AutoCAD features for automating the documentation process.
The new version of AutoCAD has powerful new features and enhancements that many will find very useful for automating workflows in AutoCAD:
Compare two DWGs side by side and easily view their differences, and merge them if necessary
For drawings saved to Box, Dropbox, or OneDrive, the current version of the drawing can be compared to previous versions. As an extension of the DWG Compare tool, differences can be easily viewed and geometry can be merged into the current drawing.
Compare different versions of an XREF at any time, or when prompted to Reload
Organize blocks into libraries for quick and easy insertion into drawings
Included in new subscriptions, AutoCAD is also available as an App for mobile devices (Android, iOS) as well as AutoCAD Web, which is a limited flavor of AutoCAD that brings Computer-Aided Design to the browser. New subscriptions to AutoCAD software include these mobile versions, allowing users access to AutoCAD from anywhere with an internet connection.
While each of these flavors of AutoCAD has limitations, the ability to open and access DWGs from anywhere can help to resolve issues in a more timely manner, which is increasingly necessary and helpful in a mobile, post-pandemic world.
Integrated with the mobile versions of AutoCAD are a select set of cloud storage options:
These allow for easy access to project files from any machine. With Box, Dropbox, and OneDrive, users can take advantage of versioning, which is a technology that preserves each version that has been saved to the cloud. Losing work due to overwriting is now a thing of the past with these new integrations with cloud services.
Autodesk Desktop App
Along with the installation of most Autodesk software, an application called the Autodesk Desktop App will be installed. Some users think this is bloatware and have uninstalled it, but it is highly recommended to ensure the optimal performance of all products. The app will automatically detect all Autodesk software installed on a computer and offer relevant updates.
Updates can be set so that the user can manually select which updates to install, or if desired that any available updates are automatically installed. In addition to managing updates, the Desktop App can help control licensing for all products, which can be very useful for Named Users that are on Subscription. Users simply need to login to the Autodesk Desktop App, and all software that has the licensing mode set to USER will be automatically activated once opened. The Autodesk Desktop App is a great tool that will save a lot of time and ensure that the Autodesk software is running optimally and securely.
Autosave and Drawing Recovery
On occasion, the software may unexpectedly crash due to factors beyond the product’s control. For instance, it is common that Microsoft Windows 10 Updates are automatically installed on a computer, necessitating the update and installation of any hardware or software that is dependent on those updates. Sometimes a Windows Update will require a Service Pack or Hotfix for AutoCAD, and if not installed, the program may crash. Most of the time, the issue can be resolved by updating through the Autodesk Desktop App, but if the crash has already occurred, there is a chance for data loss.
Fortunately, AutoCAD has convenient Autosave and Recovery functionality that is customizable. Autosave files will be saved to a specified location (Default: TEMP) and can be saved at user-defined intervals. Additionally, backup files (.BAK) are saved within the same folder as the current drawing and can be converted to DWGs if the original file is lost. These recovery options ensure that data loss is mitigated, which will save time and help keep projects profitable.
The DWG file extension has been around for almost 40 years, and due to the prevalence of AutoCAD, most other design software that was developed afterward allowed for the import or conversion of DWG files. As a result, the DWG file is one of the most dynamic formats and offers the highest chance of compatibility with CAD software used by outside consultants.
AutoCAD can be used as a precision design tool for 2D drawings as well as 3D models. By default, Workspaces can be toggled from 2D Drafting and Annotation to 3D Modeling so that the appropriate tools and palettes are readily available for producing 3D designs. With a subscription to AutoCAD, the 3D printing tool Print Studio is available, so 3D models can print optimally depending on the 3D printer manufacturer and model.
As a recap, here are all the features and supplemental services that users can take advantage of when using AutoCAD:
Industry Specialized Toolsets
Cloud Storage Integration
Autodesk Desktop App
Autosave and File Recovery
The advantages of AutoCAD are many and continue to grow as the supporting tools, services, and community becomes more robust. Over the course of its evolution, it has proven to be a refined tool with time-tested features that designers have asked for.
Customers of Microsol Resources enjoy the added benefit of free Technical Support for AutoCAD, in addition to many other CAD programs. If you would like to purchase seats of AutoCAD, feel free to visit our eStore or send an email to Microsol Resources Sales Team to request pricing.
Bluebeam Revu 20 is here! Keeping your team on the same page has never been more important. That’s why the latest version of Bluebeam Revu makes it easier than ever for your team to instantly collaborate—anytime, anywhere.
Bluebeam Revu 20 is the newest and greatest version of Bluebeam. Setting you up with the smart tools that you need to keep your team in sync. Here are a few things that you can expect to see from this latest version:
Get More Done Together
Studio allows you to invite team members from anywhere to finish projects faster and collaborate in real-time. You are now able to keep track of who said what and markup at the same time together. The newly enhanced process for setting permissions allows the right people to have access to information from the beginning of any project.
Finish Projects on Time, Every Time
Bluebeam gives you a centralized place to generate, annotate, and share documents. This makes it easier to manage projects. No more wasting time wonder who completed what task. The improved markups list filters allow you to easily see the latest updates and edits.
Simplify Tasks From Start to Finish
Stop juggling multiple platforms! Bluebeam offers a number of measurement tools to improve takeoff speed and accuracy. Keep RFI’s and punch list items organized with smart markup, hyperlinking, and automation tools. Finish your tasks faster with the newly improved PDF markup and measurement tools.
For more information about Bluebeam Revu 20, make sure to visit our product page here. You can also download your free 30-day trial license.
Do you want to upgrade or get the latest version of Bluebeam Revu 20? Contact us at email@example.com or (888) 768-7568, and we would be happy to help!
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is blurring the lines between digital processing and physical systems, causing the design and build phases of projects to move closer together. Seamless integration of these processes saves time and money. Tools used to connect design and construction include streamlined fabrication technology, prefabrication of materials offsite, modular construction, and 3D printing.
As modeling has matured, an increasing number of contractors and fabricators have embraced BIM for its exceptional value in downstream activities, such as detailing, fabrication, installation, and handover; integrating the complete design and construction workflow as an efficient, collaborative digital effort. The integrated workflow is transforming the design and construction process.
We hosted a five-part webinar series on Connecting Design and Construction as we explore how designers and builders stay connected and working from the same project data for better collaboration.
Missed it? You can still watch the video recordings of these webinars:
You will hear from industry analyst, Steve Jones of Dodge Data & Analytics as he presents their report called, Using BIM to Connect Design and Constructionwhich focuses on the architectural, structural, and MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) aspects of the integrated workflow for building projects.
Hear the data on how BIM is used to connect design professionals with fabricators and contractors, as well as the current and future value they find in BIM.
Explore the frequency of current implementation and the current and future impacts of a fully connected integrated workflow for building projects.
If you are interested in the Dodge Data SmartMarket brief, click here to download.
Nick Marchek of Microsol Resources discussed how BIM 360 connects data and processes from design through construction and operations. It empowers field staff to anticipate and act, and back-office staff to manage all aspects of construction performance.
Tailored for the needs of the AEC industry, BIM 360 Docs delivers tools for publishing, managing, reviewing, and approving all project plans, models and documents from the earliest phase of a project through owner occupancy. A cloud-based service, accessible at the desktop or mobile devices, BIM 360 Docs delivers anywhere, anytime collaborative access to the entire project team.
In this webcast, we will see how BIM 360 Docs:
Supports data continuity in a common data platform, allowing easy transfer of information and integration of project workflow from design to construction
Connects seamlessly to industry-leading authoring tools such as AutoCAD, Revit and Civil 3Dand supports more than 50 design file formats
Is built on the Autodesk Forge development platform that supports integrations with more than 70 third-party applications to connect project information and workflow and extend the value of data
This allows teams to reduce risk and eliminate errors in projects that occur from missing or inaccurate information and provides an ability to increase collaboration with the entire project team via a single source of truth for all project information.
John Semel of Microsol Resources discusses why a successful project outcome depends on consistent communication with the team throughout every project phase. Connect teams and information in a central project location in the cloud to improve productivity, reduce rework, and accelerate project delivery.
BIM 360 Design connects design teams to improve project outcomes. Integrated access to Revit, Civil 3D, and AutoCAD Plant 3D files, and design collaboration on a single cloud-based platform will help teams boost productivity, improve efficiency, and accelerate project delivery.
In this webcast, we will see how BIM 360 Design:
Boost productivity. Teams can work on the same project, which helps them avoid time wasted on uploading, syncing, transferring, or waiting on large files.
Improve project efficiency. See how new design information could impact ongoing work to help reduce rework and downstream construction delays.
Accelerate project delivery. Project information in a single cloud-based repository helps streamline approvals. Expedite review cycles with trackable coordination activity recorded for all teams.
Joseph Freund of Microsol Resources discussed how BIM 360 connects data and processes from design through construction and operations. It empowers field staff to anticipate and act, and back-office staff to manage all aspects of construction performance.
BIM 360 Coordinate gives users access to a connected cloud platform that improves VDC & BIM collaboration throughout preconstruction. It offers the ability for preconstruction teams a collaborate across a single platform on all constructability reviews and simplify trade coordination.
In this webcast, we will see how BIM 360 Coordinate:
Automate clash resolutions to avoid costly issues onsite.
Encourage multi-disciplinary teams to collaborate and quickly identify issues.
Access 3D models anytime, anywhere, without downloading robust software.
How do you extract BIM data, add intelligence, and collaborate in real-time? Nathaniel Coombs of Autodesk shares how the integration between Assemble Systems and Autodesk BIM 360 is enabling more communication and collaboration between project teams. He will walk through the latest issue tracking workflow that helps our clients identify and resolve issues in a faster, more traceable way.
With this integration, project teams can make more informed decisions with access to specifications and documents from BIM 360 directly in the Assemble model. The integration provides a holistic view of the project to increase collaboration, transparency, and accountability at every step of the project from design to construction.
Assemble is the web-based 3D solution that lets you extract metadata, add coding, collaborate, and connect. This allows project personnel to make better decisions and deliver projects on time and in the budget.
Learn how to unlock the power of BIM to create intelligent building information for use across the entire project lifecycle. You will also learn how to:
Create a complete data inventory of your models in minutes. Assemble extracts model information from authoring tools and sends it to the cloud so your team can access and use BIM data in a web browser. Publish models in minutes, using the Assemble Add-in for AutoCAD or Revit, to quickly visualize the model, it’s quantities, and other mission-critical information without being a BIM expert.
Easily access, condition, and sync your data to leverage your BIM software investment. Assemble provides advanced data management capabilities to streamline BIM activities with greater efficiency and accuracy. Access, organize, edit, and manage design and construction data sets throughout the project lifecycle. Using Assemble, your entire project team will be able to access the model data, add intelligence, and condition BIM data into actionable information.
Share your BIM data with the entire project team. Assemble is a cloud-based solution giving all project stakeholders access to the BIM data they need, when they need it, from wherever they are working. Versioning ensures that your project team is working from the same information. Define and share specific data sets in common file formats.