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Tag Archives: Pipes

Civil 3D | Do you use Civil 3D for As-Built data?

Civil 3D is the king of the hill for Civil Design, and can develop elegant and detailed construction plans. Using Objects provided by the application, such as Surfaces, Pipes, Structures, Gradings, etc, revisions that would have taken a week can be performed in a day’s time. I did say ‘can be’. However, what happens after the plans are released, and the site is constructed? We need a CO, and what often stands in the way are As-Built plans that reflect the site improvements AFTER the construction.

As-Built Civil 3D Objects

In the past Engineers everything in the construction plans were line and text, and the only way to show the final as-built conditions of a development was to edit all the text. Today, Civil 3D uses dynamic Objects that automate the line and text process and updating these is actually easier than re-texting everything. The formatting and conventions are already taken care of by the styles in use, and calculations such as slope and length are dynamically updated. All we have to do is edit the Objects. Seriously, it’s so much better. One main reason is that we can then reference (and re-use) the As-Built Pipe Network in future designs and renovations.

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There is however one problem: When companies and agencies want to see Finished Grades vs Actual data (and similar situations). What do you do?

Most of the companies I deal with will add text to represent the final conditions adjacent to Civil 3D Object Labels. Unfortunately, that results in additional calculations that Civil 3D would have done, and now they will need to handle that themselves. I like the text, but instead use the adjacent text to represent the original design information. When I edit the Civil 3D objects, the original design information as for a reference. The main benefits in this method are the reuse of the Civil 3D objects, as well as no-frills text that you can move however you like.  To accelerate the process I copy the objects and labels to the side, explode the labels, and move the resulting MText objects back into place. Then erase all the left over object trash.

In the example shown in the images above, I copied the Pipe Label (so that two were attached to the Pipe), and edited the text. We can do that with Pipe Network Labels. I simply changed the style to one that had built in strike-throughs, and selected ‘Edit Label Text’. Then I use these to reflect the design information. This is a bit tedious, but no more-so than manually calculating and re-texting everything. I prefer the Copy – Explode to Mtext option for a number of reasons. Either way, this process is straight forward… until we get to tables.

Tabular Data

imageThe Civil 3D Tables are formatted with Object Design information, but have no place for editable text. What do you do in this situation?

We can expand the table and and left a blank section for a column of MText. It would be quite beneficial to have similar capabilities to edit texts as we have with the Pipe Labels. Unfortunately this is not the case since the tabled data is driven and created dynamically, where as the individual Pipe Labels are created by the user. Perhaps a free text option in the Table Cell Components might be nice, and related to the ‘Structure All Pipes’, or other Pipe related texts. These populate dynamically for each pipe – so we’d have a free text field for each pipe instance.


Split Network is your friend

This workflow is a bit odd and definitely not ideal, but will cut the additional time spent with this process to almost nothing. COPY THE NETWORK and KEEP IT SAFE.

image I can’t say how large a network you can copy before disaster will strike you, but give it a try. Select all the Network Pipes and Structures, and copy them to a safe out of the way location. Unless you have to show old Alignment References, then there is no reason keep it ‘one on top of the other’ (In fact I’d very much recommend against it). The next step is to use ‘Split Network’, and choose the Create Network option. BAM ! it’s done, and now you have the original network and a new one (off to the side) to HOLD the Original data. Split Network is awesome, so here’s a shout out to Dana Probert (who first showed us) and the AEC design team for this great tool.

Here is the best part – The Surface FG references in the Structures will retain their design state elevations in the sudden absence of a Surface to reference (won’t go to zero).

In the image above I simply copied the table, and assigned a new ‘As-Designed’ style with wider offsets, and tagged it to the components in the New Network. Each Structure in the table now has the As-built data to the left, and the original design data to the right.


What’s your method or thoughts

Do us all a favor and add a line or two on how you get through this process. Would you like to see a solution within the Civil 3D package? Make a suggestion so we can get some useful ideas, and maybe even a product solution.

Civil 3D – Pipe Structure dragging and elevations changes

When Dragging Pipe Network Structures you may notice that the Rim Elevation Changes. Sure the Rim elevation will change if set to Surface elevations, but they can change even if the Rim elevation is set manually.

In this example, I was cleaning up an as-built utility plan. I already had the Rim and Sump elevation data from the field entered in, but I lacked the horizontal locations.  I recently received the remaining data, so I am adjusting everything accordingly.


The Rub

If you drag the structure to a Node Osnap, the Rim elevation will change.  It may not be the Point elevation value, but it will likely change. I wish I had specific exacting details of how and why, but finding the reason does not justify the time needed.


Instead just drag the structure free to the node location. You should find that the structure Rim and Sump elevations will remain unchanged.

Civil 3D – Existing Pipe Network Tip

We often do not create any Pipe Networks to represent the existing utility mains in a project.  There is usually limited information on the correct depth of the utilities, even with a utility spot.  The best we can hope for is to draw the main in the plan view based on paint markings, and draw the crossings in our profile manually based on an approximate depth after a phone call to the respective agency.

On a recent design, not knowing the depth of the existing utility mains was a problem.  We have Force Main and Water Main running along and under a dirt road that will be paved.  Everyone is concerned that vibratory packing will cause a problem.  So they potholed the lines.

Now I have 3D point locations along 2 mains.  A pipe network would be best, so that it is easy to bring into my profile, and can be managed by styles. This presents a nuisance since the locations are on top of the pipes, and there are a lot of locations; that’s a lot of pipe edits.

Here is what I came up with.  Again, not rocket science, but I hope that it will help someone else. 

  • Style the points so that it is easy to discern them from others. 
  • Make the style respond to the elevations
  • Create a 3D polyline from point to point
  • move the polyline down the HALF (see below) the respective inner diameter plus one wall thickness.  I used he move command.
  • Make sure the Pipe style prepared as desired, and the correct pipe size is in the Parts List.  Don’t forget the wall thickness
  • Create Pipe Network from Object
  • Add the network to your profile


Half the diameter

The reason for this is that the Create Pipe Network from Object will use the elevation of the 3D polyline for the CENTERLINE of the pipe.  If you move the polyline down a full diameter, then the pipe will be created too low.  I mean to tell you that is a lot of edits. 

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Civil 3D – 2010 Pipe Network Label BUG

NOTE: I have revisited this issue and article 4 times over now.  I am rewriting this…again…, but the images are old because I don’t have time to cut new ones.  I hope the article is still understandable.

I needed a fast certificate of completion letter, and the drawing to go with it.  I’ll just throw down some pipes here in 2010; it’s simple, no need to go to 2009. A good job to start getting a feel for this part of the new version.

I thought I would put down some simple structures, labeled automatically, edit the network, and spend the bulk of time messing with the profile (at least I hoped).  My styles are all formatted, and all work smoothly.

Things did not go as planned.  The profile was a lost cause.  Perhaps we’ll discuss that later.

Pipe Network Labels


I laid down this arrangement from my (imported 2009 template) Network Parts List. Notice the disgusting mismatched labeling on the pipes and structures.  The blue, while not labeled correctly, is formatted to what I thought I’d get by default.  The Red is useless.  You have to manually change the description.

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Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 7

Back to Part Builder Part 6

In the last session we created the Structures in the Civil 3D environment.  In this session we will modify the configuration to add the slopes to a list, in order to change the structure to be consistent with the corridor side slope.

Open up Wingwall Sloped in Part Builder.  Since we have something that hopefully works, let’s save a new part.  This way we have both.  “If it aint broke, then don’t try and fix it”.  Let’s try Wingwall Variable Slope.

Pick the ‘Save As’ button on the toolbar. The ‘Save Part Family As…’ dialog will appear allowing us to change the Chapter, Part Name, and Part Description.  Leave the chapter as Inlet-Outlet-Custom, cut change the Name and Description to Wingwall Variable Slope.


Hit OK.

Right Click Size parameters and select Edit Configuration.

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Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 4

We will pick up where we left off from Part Builder Part 3. Open our saved part “Wingwall sloped” from the last session.  Adjust the view so that you have something similar to the following image: It’s time to speed things up a bit, so as I refer to procedures, I will once again detail… Continue Reading

Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 3

We will pick up where we left off from Part Builder Part 2. Open our saved part “Wingwall sloped” from the last session.  The image below should be representative of what we had before. Model Parameters The Model Parameters are the nuts and bolts variables that control the size of the part. The parameters are… Continue Reading

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