October 14, 2015

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D 2016: IFC Export & Create 3D Solids from Pipe Networks

As the ENI Manager at Ideate, I am always interested in new features and tools that help our customers move toward a model-based design workflow.  As a civil engineer, I have used Civil 3D for many years to develop 3D models for transportation and infrastructure projects, and have also encountered the difficulties in providing that model data to other consultants on the project.

This year, Autodesk has added new and improved tools for streamlining the Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflow from a civil engineering perspective.  Once a surface or pipe network model has been created using Civil 3D 2016 software, options for extracting 3D solids from those objects are now available.  The Extract Solids from Surface command is built-in to Civil 3D 2016, and you can find out more about the command in Gaurav’s post here:

The release of Civil 3D 2016 Productivity Pack 1 in August (you can download and install it using the Application Manager) adds a new tool called Create 3D Solids from Pipe Networks.  This tool activates a command called CREATE3DSOLIDS and works on both standard Pipe Networks and Pressure Pipe Networks and can be found in the Toolbox tab of the Toolspace.
In order to use this tool, a Pipe Network or Pressure Pipe Network must exist in the drawing, and for best results, it is recommended that the View Direction be switched to one of the Isometric options (SW, SE, NW, NE).

Once these settings are in place, double-click the tool in the Toolbox tab and follow the instructions at the Command Line to select the parts for conversion, and delete the originals or keep them to create overlapping 3D solids.

So where does this fall in the BIM workflow? 

Civil 3D 2016 includes a new export option called Export to IFC or Industry Foundation Class.  Industry Foundation Class (.IFC) files were established by buildingSMART® as a way to promote collaborative design and BIM based on open standards and workflows regardless of software choice.  In order to support this movement, Autodesk has included the .IFC export option in 2016 AutoCAD and Revit products, however Civil 3D objects must be converted to 3D solids before they can be exported. 

The combination of the new Create 3D Solids from Pipe Network tool in Productivity Pack 1 along with the IFC Export option added in 2016 now further enhances the BIM capabilities of Civil 3D and streamlines the workflow for exporting Civil 3D objects to an industry compatible format.

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Matt Miyamoto

ENI Manager & Senior Application Specialist

Jim Matt is an ENI Manager and Senior Application Specialist in Ideate, Inc.’s Seattle office. He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and is a licensed Civil Engineer. Prior to joining Ideate, Matt worked as a civil engineer, using Civil 3D on a variety of projects including site development, roadway improvements and infrastructure design. With over 10 years of experience in the civil engineering industry, Matt now provides training, consulting, technical support, and implementation strategies for organizations transitioning to Civil 3D. Matt is an Autodesk Certified Instructor (ACI), as well as an Autodesk Certified BIM Specialist: Roads and Highway Solutions. Additionally, Matt is and Autodesk Certified Professional for AutoCAD, and AutoCAD Civil 3D. He can be found on twitter as @MattM_PE