It’s darn near impossible to know everything about a software package. AutoCAD Plant 3D is no exception. Sometimes it can be a little frustrating. In fact, most users spend quite a bit of time and energy becoming more proficient at using Plant 3D, while juggling the pressures to bring a job in on time. With features like quick P&ID drafting, data validation, parametric equipment templates, and rapid plant modeling, Plant 3D is an industry-specific toolset for layout design of modern process plants. It should make your life easier.
You can be a fairly skilled user of Plant 3D and still uncover little gems about the software from time to time. We have compiled a few of the best kept secrets of Plant 3D that can help save you time and streamline your workflow.
Fixed Length Piping
With Plant 3D versions 2018 and later, it is possible to route fixed length pipe. This time saving option can be useful for grooved, plain-end mechanical, flanged, and even welded pipe. This is possible by using the ‘Fixed Length:” option in the pipe spec.
Enabling this will allow you to route pipe as you normally would in any other spec while automatically placing a flange (or weld) at the prescribed distance. Welded piping can be set up as fixed-length by choosing the “Use Fixed Length” property. Also available with this option are piping content catalogs for Resistoflex, Victaulic, American Water Works Association (AWWA), and BPE (black plain end). For a more indepth discussion of fixed length piping, including pipe routing, orthographic drawings, isometric drawings, and bills of materials, see this article from the Autodesk Plant 3D User Guide in the Autodesk Knowledge Network.
Object Snap Hotkeys
One of the most used shortcut commands in Plant 3D is Object Snaps. Object snaps allow the user to specify precise locations on objects temporarily when you are prompted for a point. The “snap” stays in effect only until you enter another command. If you will need to use the same object snaps multiple times – ie. center or intersection – you can enable “running object snaps,” which will remain even after you use subsequent commands. These running presets are listed on the object snaps settings shortcut menu.
To access Object Snap, any of these methods will work:
· Type the name of an object to snap to.
· Click the object snap button.
· Hold the Shift key and right click.
· Hold the Ctrl key and right click.
Since 2018.1.1 there has been a system variable for Plant 3D ingeniously called PLANTCOPYLINENUMBER.
By typing this on the command line and toggling on or off, you can enable the line number to carry over to a new copied line instead of remaining unassigned. This is helpful if you split models or copy and paste a line or entire pump set with piping from one model to another. Also enabled will be other parameters and information, such as tracing and insulation, that will carry over to the new copied line.
If you’re not as proficient at Plant 3D as you’d like to be, treat yourself to Applied Software training and skip the frustration. As an example, check out David Wolfe’s latest blog, “5 Ways You Can Avoid Herding Cats in Your Plant 3D Implementation.” With the world-renowned Plant 3D experts of Applied, you can get trained by the best and put more time and energy into getting your job done on time and within budget.