I was asked this during one of my classes the other day so I thought I would discuss it here. Even though the stock parts are awkwardly named, we can use what is created to set up tools for ourselves that will enable us to work smarter and faster by creating parts with familiar names and tweaking parameters to reflect real world values. In this post, we will take a stock part and create a new part that will be so awesome that our teammates will beg for more.
Case in Point
Let’s take a look at the part family from Autodesk called Concrete Pipe.
Notice in the screen capture above that Concrete Pipe is in a Chapter called Circular Pipes. Chapters can be customized in a way that will provide a level of organization that will make more sense to our teammates.
Here’s another issue of note. The names of the stock parts (pipes in this case) that populate the part list are so awkwardly worded that we would not want to see these in our labels.
Finally, the parameters that populate the parts list may not possess the values that we are familiar with. Although these can be edited for each size on the parts list, we can customize these parameters before they are loaded into the part list to possess desired values instead.
Save Original Part to New File
Let’s use the Concrete Pipe family to create an RCP Class III family. We can easily do this with Part Builder.
To open Part Builder, we type PARTBUILDER on the command line and hit Enter.
In the Getting Started – Catalog Screen dialog, select Concrete Pipe from the Circular Pipe chapter and click Modify Part Sizes. As the DWG representing the part is opened, this dialog will display:
The DWG is still using a previous file version which means it hasn’t been improved upon in a good while. Just hit close to continue. However, let’s browse to the location of these files.
By default, these files are located in C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2023\enu\Pipes Catalog. This location contains several libraries:
The highlighted folders in the above screen capture represent actual libraries for pipes and structures. The default libraries are the ones highlighted in the second group which are prefixed with Metric or Imperial; the default part library system of units depends on which Civil 3D profile is being used which is set by the shortcut used to launch Civil 3D.
In this post, we will be using the Imperial libraries, specifically the US Imperial Pipe library.
If we browse into the US Imperial Pipes\Circular Pipes folder, we see this:
Notice the dates on the files.
Also notice that when you hover over a DWG file, the resulting tool tip will display the AutoCAD version in which it was created. I show you this to emphasize how old these default libraries are which raises the question, “Should these libraries be updated?” Now, back to Part Builder.
After opening the Concrete Pipe part family, we notice a new palette appears on the left docked next to the Civil 3D Toolspace; this palette is called the Content Builder. We are going to save this part family to a new part using the Save Part Family As button on Content Builder.
In the Save Part Family As dialog, we will be creating a new Chapter, and a new Part Name with a new Part Description.
To create a new chapter, do the following:
- Highlight US Imperial Pipe Catalog to create the new chapter in C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2023\enu\Pipes Catalog\US Imperial Pipes. Not doing so will create the Concrete Pipe folder inside the Circular Pipes subfolder within that structure.
- Click New Chapter.
- In the New Chapter dialog, click a new name. In this example, we will create a new chapter called Concrete Pipe.
- Click OK to continue.
Back in the Save Part Family As dialog, do the following:
- Enter RCP Class III in the Part Name and Part Description fields.
- Click OK to continue.
At this point, we are still in Part Builder. If we type PFSAVE at the command line we could close Part Builder, and, back to Civil 3D, open a Part List, and add the new part family to the Pipes tab. However, when a size from the new family is added, the awkward part size name is displayed.
So before exiting Part Builder, we will edit the Part Size Name so that a more suitable name will be displayed for each size in the Part List.
- On the Content Builder palette, right-click on Size Parameters and click on Edit Calculations.
- In the Edit Part Sizes dialog, double-click in any row under the PrtSN column.
- In the Calculation Assistant dialog, the PrtSN (Part Size Name) Parameter is composed of the PID (Pipe Inner Diameter) parameter and these words: Inch Concrete Pipe.
We would prefer that in the part list it would read something like 12” RCP CLS III. The problem is that if a quotation mark is entered into the Part Size Name in this dialog, it will be misinterpreted since all information entered into the Edit Part Size dialog box is written to an XML file as indicated in the dialog after hitting the Evaluate button:
In the above example, PID is being interpreted as a text string which prevents Part Builder from reading the PID parameter list. Trying to force a quotation mark into a part size name is quite painful. However, using apostrophes can be a work around. A space must be entered after the PID parameter, or it will turn PID into a text string. After hitting the evaluate tab, we now see something resembling a quotation or inch symbol. However, we do not need the PID parameter to display 2 decimal places to the right of the value.
- Double click on the PID variable in the PrtSN: Part Size Name field. Then under Insert Variable, scroll down until you get to the PID variable and click on it. Set Precision to 0 and click Insert. Click on Evaluate to see a preview of the value. Click OK to continue.
There is more that can be customized in the Edit Part Size table. We could edit the wall thicknesses (WTh) variable values. However, if we don’t show outer pipe diameter in plan or profile, why bother? Also, the ACMan (Manning coefficient) variable for concrete pipe can be anywhere between 0.012 to 0.016. This value may need editing depending on what is used in our region. We should edit the Material. This parameter will be very useful when configuring a non-awkward label style.
- Click into one of the Mat fields in the Edit Part Sizes dialog and type in RCP CLS III.
- When the editing is complete, we can click the Save Part Family button (PFSave) on the Content Editor and exit the RCP Class III DWG file.
Configure Part List
To launch the use of the new part, it needs to be added to a part list whether it’s an existing list or a new one.
- Assuming we are adding to an existing part list, on the Settings tab under Pipe Network, hit the plus sign next to Part List, and double-click on the list to be edited.
- On the Pipes tab, right-click on the part list name and click Add Part Family.
- In the Part Catalog dialog, click into the checkbox next to RCP Class III under Concrete Pipe. Then click on OK to continue.
- Right-click on RCP Class III and click on Add Part Size.
- Click into the checkbox under Add All Sizes in the Inner Pipe row Diameter to bring in all of the pipe sizes for this family. Click OK to continue.
- Now the resulting names of each pipe size for the RCP Class III family are not so awkward. We could delete the space after the PID value if needed or we could even replace the two apostrophes with a quotation mark if needed, but there is no need to bother with that. Click OK to continue.
Create a Label Style
- On the Settings tab under Pipes>Label Styles, click on Plan Profile, right-click, and click New.
- In the Label Style Composer on the Layout tab, click the ellipsis on the Contents line.
- In the Text Component Editor dialog, configure the Property for Inner Pipe Diameter to a precision of 1 and click the Apply Edits button.
- In the Text Component Editor dialog in the content area on the right, add a quotation mark after the code inserted for Inner Pipe Diameter and add a space.
- In the Text Component Editor dialog, select the Property for Material and click the Apply Edits button to add it to the content area.
- Click OK to close the Text Component Editor.
- Then click OK to close the Label Style Composer.
This label style will produce non-awkward looking labels. No need to wrestle with part names in the part list or properties for each part in the drawing to produce likable labels.
Making the effort to take part families from the stock part library and saving each to a new customized part will produce pipe network parts that are good to go without the requirement of further customization. The part list becomes more user friendly; we no longer need to force values into the properties of each structure or pipe to produce informative labels. This type of customization will save a ton of time in months and years to come. Most of all, our teammates will love working with tools that enable them to work smarter and faster.
– Cyndy Davenport