When we first start using AutoCAD Civil 3D, it may not dawn on us that the part families for pipe networks can be customized. It would be nice to create the different shapes of structures we require in our sewer designs; however, Civil 3D doesn’t exactly handle customized pipe network shapes very well. While structures can be modeled in 3D, only the front of the structure will display in profile no matter to what degree it is rotated in plan. So why customize the pipe network libraries? The answer is this: any metadata we create, populate, or store in a part can be used in a label. Even if we don’t create a custom set of metadata, we can use the existing fields in parts to populate our own values.
The part network catalog that ships with Civil 3D is packed full of various shapes for use in various scenarios. After opening the Standard part list and viewing the Structures tab, we can review all the different shapes and sizes of structures that are included in the stock structure collection.
When one structure family is expanded by clicking the plus sign at the left, we can see the name of each structure based on its size:
When we use the generic parts as they are, we are using the default metadata values.
Let’s say we could make our parts list look like this:
Let’s say when a structure is expanded, we can see this:
This is an example of using what Autodesk provides, but directly modifying the field values for our own purposes.
Let’s look at the scenario of swapping a part size when working with generic parts.
1. We start by placing a pipe network using this generic 24”x24” structure.
2. We edit the structure properties so that the description displayed in the label is the actual structure type used in that municipality.
3. Sometime along the way it is determined that a different sized structure is needed, so the structure size is swapped.
4. The description in the label resets.
5. The structure properties are once again edited to update the label.
With a customized pipe library, when a pipe network is drawn, the properties in labels do not need to be manually updated.
1. When placing the pipe network with the customized libraries, the labels are inserted in their finalized format.
2. When swapping part sizes, a choice can be made from the customized list.
3. After the part size has been swapped, the label automatically updates to display the updated values.
Working with part families with customized metadata will reduce the number of manual edits necessary when the design changes. Even if you start to create your own parts little by little, it will pay off in the long run. Working smarter increases efficiency which improves the quality of our work.
– Cyndy Davenport