Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Importing Vendor Content into AutoCAD MEP

Been seeing a lot of questions about content for AutoCAD MEP, so I thought I'd through a little gem out there. The Building Component tool lets you import an ADSK file, which can be generated by Inventor using the BIM Exchange tool, and convert it to a multi-view part for AutoCAD MEP, a multi-view block for AutoCAD Architecture, or just a block for AutoCAD.

I'm stealing a little bit from one of my online training courses provided by 4D Technologies (, so if you want to see the video, you'll have to subscribe to the lesson set.
When you receive an ADSK file to work with, the first step is to make sure you are already in a drawing file. It does not matter what file is open, since the Building Component tool will add it to your catalogs, and insert it in the current drawing for you.

On the ribbon, Insert tab, Content panel, select Building Component. Select the ADSK file you want to import, and the Import Building Component dialog appears.

You are given three options:

Multi-View Part is the basis of an MEP engineering model. It includes the tools needed to add connectors, and allows the part to be added to a standard catalog.

Multi-View block is the basis of an architectural model. It is used to define parts that do not require connectors, such a furniture or owner provided equipment.

Block allows the model to be defined as a basic part.You can use this later to make a Multi-View part or Multi-View block.

For AutoCAD MEP users, select Multi-View Part and the Import Building Component dialog appears. 

From here, you can enter the name and description of the part. 

Select the part catalog and chapter you want to store the part in.

Next, select and define the part type and subtype. While you cannot create your own part classifications, you can add any subtype as needed.

For the last step, select a layer key, which controls the layer the part is placed on when added to a drawing. The layer key is based on the layer key styles that are loaded in the current drawing, so make sure you start from a template as needed. Click OK to continue.

Once you have assigned these values, take a look at the object viewer in the upper right corner. These tools let you change the default orientation of the part on the Object View tab, including along the x, y or z axis. Leave this set to the default. You can also select Preview Image to see what the block will look like in the catalog and drawing.
Make sure you have reviewed all of these settings, and then choose Add. The Multi-view part dialog appears, and let you place an example in the drawing.

The part is also added to the default catalog in the location specified (and I recommend making your own custom catalogs, anytime you want to customize AutoCAD MEP content!). You can also add this your custom parts library as needed. You can also edit the part with the Content Builder tool to add connection points for pipe and wire as needed.

If you have Inventor, make sure you check out the BIM Exchange tools. Inventor can take a wide variety of 3D file formats, with IAM and IPT parts being the best options. My next preferred file is a STP or STEP, since it converts easily to an assembly, which makes it easier to edit and remove smaller parts and detail. You can also use SAT, IGES and more, but you're limited on the file editing with these.

Use this tool to get more detail and accuracy in AutoCAD MEP - you'll be glad you did!