BOMs Away! AutoCAD Mechanical Bills of Materials

As we dove into earlier (BOMS AWAY! AutoCAD Bills of Materials) AutoCAD contains enough tools to sort-of present bills of materials in the form of a table. But what do you do when you need more but don’t want to move to 3D? The AutoCAD Mechanical Bills of Materials is what you need.

What is AutoCAD Mechanical?

AutoCAD Mechanical (ACM) is based on AutoCAD, meaning everything you can do in AutoCAD can be done in AutoCAD Mechanical. You might have to look for it, but it’s in there, somewhere. In addition, ACM provides enhanced versions of standard AutoCAD commands and uses these as the defaults. Don’t be scared, try them, you’ll grow to love them. AutoCAD Mechanical is part of the “One” AutoCAD, as well as various suites and collections. Meaning, you might already have access to it.

New to AutoCAD Mechanical? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our introduction to AutoCAD Mechanical series and take a look at my Autodesk University class for a deeper dive.

Bills of Materials

The AutoCAD Mechanical Bills of Materials (BOM) is a collection of Part References (or Components) and their metadata. The BOM is live in that as the drawing changes, the BOM automatically updates. The metadata can be anything you want to track on your components, including descriptions, material, and vendor.

AutoCAD Bills of Materials
AutoCAD Mechanical Bills of Materials

Create Balloons (manually or automatically) from any Part Reference. The format is controlled by the active standard. The item numbers (or other information) are controlled by the BOM.

AutoCAD Mechanical Ballooning
Adding Balloons

Parts Lists are the BOM representations that you insert into the drawing. You select which BOM information to display, including filtering the list to show only 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.

Rearranging Balloons

What’s great about these features? Any object can have a Part References inserted to define the component. Any drawing with Part References will have a Bill of Material and any Part Reference can be ballooned. This means that even lines, arcs, and circles can contain intelligent information that is organized, ballooned, and displayed in the fashion you want on the drawing.

Adding Part References


ACM Structure is like blocks on steroids, a combination of blocks and groups, to define components. Although just 2D geometry the components defined by ACM are both parts and assemblies defining the structure of the assembly you are building. The BOM builds as you build the structure.

From the ACM help… “Mechanical Structure offers all the advantages of both Blocks and Layer Groups and more. Since the mechanical structure is designed for the explicit purpose of organizing a drawing. The features go beyond visibility enhancements (offered by layer groups), reuse of geometry, and automatic BOM updates (offered by blocks).”

Feature image Mushroom heap on wood background via Free Stock photos by Vecteezy