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Why should I use AutoCAD Mechanical? The Finale

Like most good things, my look at AutoCAD Mechanical (ACM) must come to an end… well unless until it gets rebooted, a set of prequels, or purchased by Disney and a whole new set of movies are developed and released.

What have we seen so far?

  • AutoCAD Mechanical is based on AutoCAD meaning that anything AutoCAD can do it can do or do better
  • It is standards based meaning it automates or semi-automates many tasks so that things stay to standard
  • It has a collection of mechanical specific tools to speed up common drafting procedures
  • Content, Content, and more Content
  • The dimensioning and annotation tools kick AutoCAD’s Butt!

Although there are many areas left to cover I’ve decided to show one of the most powerful and one of the most easiest to implement features of AutoCAD Mechanical: Bill of Materials, Ballooning, and Parts Lists.

01 - ACM_BOM01

Bill Of Materials

The Bill of Materials (BOM) is a collection of Part References or Components and their meta data. The BOM is “live” in that as the drawing changes the BOM automatically updates with the changes. This includes the quantity of each component instanced in the drawing. The meta data can be any data you want to track on your components, including descriptions, material, and vendor.

02 - ACM_BOM

Part References

Part References are used to tag objects and assign meta data. What data the Part Reference contains is controlled via the standard

Balloons

Balloons can be created (manually or automatically) from any Part Reference in the drawing. Format is controlled by the active standard, the item numbers (or other information) shown in the balloon is controlled by the BOM. The Format of the Balloon is controlled by the active Standard.

Parts Lists

Parts Lists are the BOM representations that you insert into the drawing. They do not need to contain all of the information contained within the BOM and they can be filtered to only show the desired content. Changes to the BOM (or Part References) automatically reflect in the Parts List. Like all things in AutoCAD Mechanical the format of the Parts List is controlled by the active Standard, but can be overridden after insertion (on the fly)

03 - PartsList

What’s great about these features is that any drawing, whether it contains AutoCAD Mechanical content or not can have Part References inserted to define your components. Any drawing with Part References will have a Bill of Material and any Part Reference can be ballooned. This means that even a drawing of lines, arcs, and circles can contain intelligent information that is organized, ballooned, and displayed in the fashion you want on the drawing.

So what’s next?

  1. If you have an Autodesk Suite check if AutoCAD Mechanical is already installed, if not install it
  2. Start Using it. Run into a road block, use the help!
  3. Attend my AU class. You can see the software live and in action, ask questions, and we can discuss all things AutoCAD Mechanical
  4. Visit the Autodesk Support website for AutoCAD Mechanical specific Skill Builders
  5. Goto an Authorized Training Centre and take some training

The other posts in the series:

Why should you use AutoCAD Mechanical? Part 1

Why should you use AutoCAD Mechanical? Part 2

Why should you use AutoCAD Mechanical? Part 3

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  • http://cadsetterout.com/ Paul Munford

    That was a great series Michael – thanks!

    So – what’s the other side of the story? When would you say that you’d rather use Inventor over AutoCAD Mechanical?

  • Mike Thomas

    If you are using a Suite of some type I say you use Inventor in all situations except the ones you don’t (sorry couldn’t help it).

    I’d say for anything new, outside of 2D only things like schematics, you want to use Inventor. The power of 3D trumps everything ACM can do. However for existing AutoCAD drawings it may be more time (cost) effective to revise the drawing with ACM opposed to converting it to Inventor.

    At PM&P we use ACM for our hydraulic schematics, which has become very useful as we also create the initial component list (BOM) with ACM. Having the ability to tag blocks and object with part references, generating parts lists and balloons, and in turn having Vault generate items from the part reference objects has become a real time saver. We’d never do a hydraulic schematic with Inventor as it just doesn’t have the toolset to quickly and accurately do this.

    Hope this helps

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