Line Tagging

Plant 3D: Creating Symbols, Valves, Fittings, and Block-Based Parts


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If you’re like most people in the manufacturing industry, you’re always on the lookout for ways to accomplish more in less time. One solution you can use immediately is to avail yourself of the Plant 3D Checklists that Applied Software has developed to save time and effort in your daily work using AutoCAD Plant 3D Toolset. Following are tips by David Wolfe, Director of Applied Software Manufacturing Technology Services and world-renowned Plant 3D expert, for creating new symbols, valves, fittings and block-based parts. Access Mr. Wolfe’s on-demand webinar at this link, Spring Cleaning with Plant 3D.

When creating new P&ID symbols, your tool palettes need to be set to “read only” so other users don’t overwrite your data. Clean up the legend you receive, making sure your block references are exploded, the layer is set to 0 and the color set to ByBlock. Then set the length of valves and in-items to 1 unit (it’s easier to convert to metric units if required later). Create the layer where the block will be inserted and add the linetype the block will be using. Then identify connection points, key behavior characteristics, the type of tagging your symbol requires and whether it will be available in a standard. You’ll need to decide if the parent class has a property with a required symbol list. Set properties for new classes. Assign the appropriate auto-nozzle property if needed. Finally, add the symbol to the tool palette. Be sure to have all other users close out before you do, so your changes will be saved and you can set it to read-only. At this point, you can create neat, clean AutoCAD blocks for each of the items. Check out Tailoring AutoCAD P&ID and Plant 3D for more details.

To create new Plant 3D valves, find the closest stock family to the valve you want to create and use the spec editor. If you can borrow any other property it saves time. For flanged classes, fill out pressure class and facing. Set connection port properties to match if needed. Easy to recognize custom names are helpful. Call out the mandatory valve properties. See Demystifying AutoCAD Isometrics for more information on the ISO symbol types and SKEYs. If the valve needs to reduce, set each port size as needed, then set the weight, length and dimension testing.

Creating new Plant 3D fittings is similar to valve settings. Just be sure you pick the correct elbows. Set the flanged classes, pressure classes, facing, ISO symbol, and SKEY. Then set the connection port properties, making sure your short description matches the company standard or catalog. Again, if the fitting reduces, set the port sizes. Finally, set weight, length and dimension testing.

Plant 3D block-based parts are a little trickier. An administrator will need to set the location for the shared content (catalog support) folders. When the object is modeled in 3D solids, those are the only things in your custom parts – you can’t use meshes or surfaces. As with symbols, set color to ByBlock. For best results, align to the positive x-axis and positive z-axis direction you want the mouse to circle the pipe. Set the UCS to world. Then convert items to WBLOCK, and use PLANTPARTCONVERT to add ports. Add properties, SKEY and symbol type; use the custom plant palette to test new symbols and make sure the connection works before you add it to a catalog. When you add properties, make sure the normal fittings work so you can rule out join errors. Then run an ISO of that custom part and make sure the symbol is correct and oriented the way you expect it. Page 5 of the Plant 3D Checklists includes a time-saving Engagement Table, featuring hand-tighten threaded lengths to be sure you don’t come up short on matching stock parts.

You can troubleshoot block-based parts to edit them, as described in Mr. Wolfe’s Autodesk University presentation Top Troubleshooting Tips for AutoCAD Plant 3D. First – and always – backup the block using WBLOCK. Then explode the block. Erase any parts in the model that reference the block; otherwise they will lock the block down. Purge the block by name. In the folder containing the current file, erase the xml and png files, which are old reference data. After this, save the drawing and reopen it. After you clear the local data cache, recreate the block.

A little project cleaning never hurts. First clear the local data cache. In a 3D model, run PLANTAUDIT to make sure the objects are linked. Make sure you have good backups in place in case one of your objects that lost its data gets deleted. The AUDITPROJECT command will check the links to the database and the relationships. Clear the local data cache again. After this, everything should be displayed correctly with the latest server or project information to this point. Most people don’t enjoy spring cleaning. But your models and your project will benefit greatly from a little extra effort and attention.

Let the industry-trained experts at Applied Software help in your quest to accomplish more in less time. Squeeze a lot of Plant 3D learning into a small amount of time with the upcoming MicroLearning A-Z with Plant 3D: Line Tagging on April 11 from 9-11 am EDT. Sign up today to refine your Plant 3D skills from the comfort of your own desk.

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