How taking time to learn Advanced AutoCAD Skills actually saves time

All too often, we see an organisation’s commitment to training diminish after an essentials training course. A new user receives a three-day course to learn the basic AutoCAD skills they need to get started. After that they are left to their own devices to learn everything else.

Instead of learning more advanced skills on the job, most users develop only a core set of skills which merely allow them to get by. This is because there is a massive amount of information a user has to digest to become proficient with AutoCAD – while still conducting their regular work responsibilities. Without further training, users end up wasting hundreds of man-hours, improvising to complete tasks that would be much quicker if they were aware of a few advanced features. Here are just a few improvements you can make with the right training. (AutoCAD commands are in bold.)

The Need for Speed

As your drawings become more complex, it becomes more challenging to locate and operate on the geometry. You may be manually selecting objects by hiding or freezing layers to reduce the onscreen content. How much time could you save if you were able to select objects based on their properties? For example, select blocks by block name or circles with a specific radius. (Quick Select)

quickselect

You may be working on drawings that contain scores or even hundreds of layers, but you only need access to a few layers that are relevant to your task. You are constantly switching layers or adjusting layer properties. You need a better way to manage layers in a drawing so you can work quicker. (Layer Filters, Layer States)

Reduce, Reuse, Recyclepurge

During a typical design cycle, you add and remove objects, and sometimes import geometry from other applications. As a result, named objects, such as layers, block definitions, and dimension styles are stored in the drawing but may not be required when the design is completed. You need to learn how to reduce file sizes and maintain good CAD management practices. (Purge)

Users can spend hundreds of hours searching for drawing content. When it is located and brought into a drawing, it is frequently inserted on the wrong layer. Often drawings that go out to clients created by different users or departments don’t look like they have originated from the same company! Having a way of conveniently locating frequently used content, and reusing content from other drawings, saves enormous amounts of time and gives all your drawings a consistent look and feel. (Tool Palettes, Design Centre)

They’re not Just Pretty Pictures! There’s Data in Those Drawings!

When you create a CAD drawing, it contains valuable design data that will be needed in your project. Understanding a few advanced AutoCAD features will help you mine your drawing for that information, saving time and reducing costly errors. For example, you may need to calculate the area defined by a closed object or several complex objects. (Boundary, Region) Or you need to track the data associated with your drawing components. In an assembly, you may need to track the quantity and part numbers required for production; in a floor plan, you may need to develop door numbers and floor areas listed in a bill of materials or a take-off sheet. Doing this manually is time-consuming and prone to error. A far better method would be to attach the necessary numeric and text information to your block definitions. (Attributes)

You need an easy way to communicate your design data, and you want to show revisions in a drawing, tabulated dimensions, door and window schedules or a parts list. You want to organise that data in table to make it easy to understand and share with others. (Tables) You may then need to use that table for estimating the total cost of that design. Rather than counting manually, which is tedious and prone to error, you want to execute the calculations automatically. When you make changes to the drawing, you want your table to update without further intervention. (Advanced Tables, Fields, Attribute Extraction)

You may also have data stored in an Excel spreadsheet that you need to use in your drawing. Settingup a link between your AutoCAD table and your Excel spreadsheet would save a substantial amount of time. Furthermore, if you make that link dynamic, when you update your spreadsheet, your AutoCAD drawing updates automatically, and you save yet more time. (Dynamic Linking)

liniking & extracting

Same Object, Different Scale

Annotation is a crucial part of your design drawings and creating annotations can consume a considerable amount of your day. The frequent need for you to view the same design data at different scales can require you to produce multiple sets of annotation objects, such as text and dimensions, and multiple layers. Misunderstanding of scale is very common. This misunderstanding affects dimensioning procedures and hinders many users from creating multi-scale detail drawings.

Wouldn’t it be useful if you didn’t have to spend time figuring out how big the object must be created in model space so that it scales down to the correct size when viewed or plotted on a sheet? How many plots have you had to throw away because someone got the linetype scale wrong? AutoCAD has a way to automate the process of scaling drawing objects that are typically used for annotation, eliminating these problems altogether. (Annotative Scaling)

Taking Time to Save Time

An investment in developing your skills will pay dividends for years to come. It stands to reason that if you decrease the number of steps to reach a command or a desired outcome, productivity will improve. And all of these advanced commands will reduce the number of “picks and clicks” when you are working in CAD. Saving time and money is in everyone’s interest!

Everyone using AutoCAD or AutoCAD-based software (i.e., AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCAD Map, etc.) on a regular basis can benefit from intermediate level training. Our “Beyond the Basics” training gives you the opportunity to tap into the AutoCAD features that will make an enormous impact to your day-to-day work.

Cadassist’s Autodesk Certified Instructors can be found in London, Manchester and Glasgow on a regular basis teaching our 2-day AutoCAD Beyond the Basics course. Check out our schedule online or contact us at training@cadassist.co.uk

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