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What is Autocad
Autocad is a computer-aided design software that was developed in 1983 by John Walker and Bob Wright. It was originally written for personal computers using Apple II, but it has since been adapted to run on many other platforms. Autocad is used to create drawings of 2D and 3D objects, which can be used as a basis for manufacturing them or as a guide for creating more detailed drawings.
The main advantage of using Autocad in fabrication projects is that it offers the ability to design objects without having to use traditional drawing methods. This is because the software allows you to draw in 3 dimensions, which enables you to see how the object will look before you actu Save ally fabricate it. You can get a free Autocad Trial here: https://www.autodesk.com/products/autocad/free-trial
How Steel Detailers Help Fabricators with Autocad
The keyword is 3D. Which means you virtually build your project in a virtual space, which enables you to check and verify most aspects of the projects before it hits the shop floor. Suddenly, engineers and fabricators don’t have to waste time and money on building prototypes by hand; they can get a prototype designed inside their 3D model and clash detect any problems they might encounter in the field.
Usually, steel fabricators don’t have the time to tinker with design software. They have a lot on their hands: pricing projects, purchasing material, fabricating and installing. That’s why most fabricators hire outside designers to produce their 3D models and shop drawings for them. In steel fabrication field they are called steel detailers.
Steel detailers provide a wide range of services:
- BOM – Bill of Materials. Fabricators use BOM for material ordering, for assembly weights, for logistics.
- Part Drawings – each steel part is detailed separately, allowing a fabricator to build all parts before they even seen assembly drawings.
- Assembly Drawings – once parts are fabricated, they are put into assemblies. For example, a simple column, might have 3 separate parts – a base plate, an HSS member and a clip. Those parts are fabricated / cut and then welded together into an assembly.
- Anchor Bolt Layouts – a layout of all anchors that will be embedded into the concrete pour. Coordination with other disciplines is very important at this stage, correctly placed anchors will make sure the columns go in the right spot, which means that later, the framing will also be properly built.
- Erection Plans – later in the project, when it’s time to erect beams the crew will need a plan on where and how to place those beams. Erection plans gives a layout, sections and details on how to do that.
- CNC files – there are multiple formats of CNC files: DXF, KSS, NC and more. Those files are directly exported from the 3D model and used by fabricator or their vendor to cut plates, beams, etc. A huge time saver.
- BIM – Building Information Modeling. Not all fabricators require us to provide this, but I think it should be used more. In simplest terms, BIM is when multiple disciplines collaborate to create a master model, where problems can be avoided before construction. There is more to it, a lot more, but I’m going to leave it at that.