6 Reasons to Use Civil 3D Grading Optimization

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May 3, 2021 | All, Autodesk, Civil 3D

Grading is an art.

During the recent Applied Software webinar, “Civil 3D Grading Optimization,” Kenneth L Driscol Sr. explained what many of you in the civil discipline have already experienced: Terrain grading design is often a manual, time-consuming task. However, with the Civil 3D extension “Grading Optimization,” designers can perform grading design based on specific project constraints and explore alternatives for an optimal grading solution. The selected result can then be returned to Civil 3D for the detailed design work.

shows how grading optimization helps people design based on project constraints.

You can access Grading Optimization for Civil 3D when you have the Autodesk Architecture Engineering & Construction (AEC) Collection.


If you’d like to subscribe to the Autodesk AEC Collection – a suite of 14 complementary tools – and increase your team’s productivity, contact Applied Software today!


The Way We’ve Been Doing It

For many civil design professionals, the meticulous process of point-to-point grading has been a time-consuming process for a long time. The workflow for a typical grading design involves creating and editing surfaces and feature lines. Then to evaluate a single solution, it can take you a day or more to create the grading model, edit and finalize the grading plan. Although feature lines work well to create the grading plan, they can be hard to keep track of when making revisions.

How Optimization Will Change Your Life

Grading Optimization can enhance the way you work, enabling you to:

  1. Enhance operational efficiencies – More efficiently generate multiple grading design options and site grading workflows for consideration without manual intervention.
  2. Modify options easily – Control constraints based on site conditions and project requirements.
  3. Validate the most feasible design option – Identify grading design challenges earlier in your process, minimizing errors and rework.
  4. Get stakeholder buy-in – Deliver a balanced earthwork grading plan that meets your customer’s intent.
  5. Save costs – Evaluate scenarios for grading optimization to minimize material waste and optimize earthwork volumes.
  6. Win more bids.

Grading Optimization is an interactive tool that enables designers to work on grading various land areas like highway interchanges, around structures and sites based on realistic, real-world design elements like building pads, curbs and paved areas. In addition, you can monitor constraint violations in real-time.

Diagram of how a grading optimization tool works.

How it Works

The optimization process uses algorithms that work toward surface smoothness while accommodating user-imposed constraints on global as well as individual grading and drainage parameters. You can define grading alternatives to establish a balanced/ minimized site considering cut, fill and volume earthwork.


Once optimization begins, the real-time problem solving can be observed. By using multiple visualization themes for the surface, or while observing the trends of the convergence plots, you can stop and change designs or let the optimization run until a desired solution is found. If an exact solution is not possible within your constraints, the best approximation is provided.

The optimized grading result you then choose can be taken into Civil 3D for further, detailed design work. Grading Optimization includes sample files that you can use to explore the surface optimization tools. The files are installed to C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Grading Optimization 2022\samples. There are two versions of each sample file. The first is a clean drawing without any of the grading objects, and the second has grading objects and constraints applied.


During the Applied Software webinar, “Civil 3D Grading Optimization,” Kenneth L. Driscol Sr., Senior Solutions Specialist, provided a detailed demonstration of the features and performance. The full one-hour webinar can be accessed on demand.