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8 Common “Headaches” in AEC Design

If you are architects or engineers working in the AEC industry, this article may help with your work. Ryan Huang, who previously worked in Happy City Building Design, a design institute in China, shared some “headaches” you may suffer in AEC design from time to time, and also the ways to get rid of them.

Slow Opening and Displaying

The drawings for AEC design, such as the ones for urban planning and topographic surveying, can be very large, reaching hundreds of mb. You must remember how painful it is to wait for several minutes to open a drawing.

The cure for this “headache” is multi-core processing technology (available in ZWCAD 2020), which can help significantly shorten the time of reading drawings. How much faster exactly? Check here!

Figure 1. The Tavase & Associates team from India opened their interior design drawing (72.54mb) 92% faster in ZWCAD 2020 than in 2019

Frequent Referencing

You must be familiar with the experience of referring to drawings from your colleagues of different specialties, and designing based on them. For example, if you are working on plumbing and HVAC, you’ll need architectural plans as external references. So whether the Xref function is powerful or not can affect your design work to some extent.

For me, I like the Xref in ZWCAD 2020, with several details further optimized to help do Xref with ease. For instance, new icons have been added to “Reference Name” and “Status”, to better identify the status of files. And the referenced files can be renamed directly in Xref Manager.

Figure 2. Directly rename referenced files in Xref Manager

What’s more, multiple .dwg drawings can be imported as referenced files at once by “XATTACH” command.

Figure 3. Import multiple .dwg drawings at once

It’s also very convenient that a hint will pop up at the bottom right corner to remind me that the referenced file has been modified. I can click the hint to update it directly without entering the Xref Manager.

Figure 4. Update Xref files by one click

Repeated Use of Objects

Usually, when doing architectural design, some objects will be repeatedly used, such as standard furniture and plants. It will be troublesome if you do it by copying and pasting, especially to a different drawing. To reuse objects easily, here are two small “weapons” for you: Tool Palettes and Design Center.

Figure 5. Tool Palettes (left) and Design Center (right)

You can directly drag a commonly-used object from the drawing area to the Tool Palettes, then it can be easily found and reused. What if it is in a different drawing? Design Center can help! You can select the drawing in Design Center, and find the object you want in “Block”. Then drag it to the drawing, or even directly drag it to the Tool Palettes for later reuse.

Complicated Hatch Pattern

Hatch is usually used in AEC design. The default patterns can meet your basic needs. However, using patterns in real texture can make the drawings look much better. The secret to do it is Superhatch, with which you can use the real texture in a picture, or even use an existing block as patterns to hatch objects, making your drawings more vivid and closer to the reality.

Figure 6. Use Superhatch to hatch with patterns in real texture

Tedious Plotting

As you know, a set of architectural drawings contains plans, elevations, profiles, detail drawings, design specifications, door and window tables, etc. The workload of plotting them one by one is hard to imagine.

Can we just plot all of them all at once? Yes with SmartPlot, which identifies drawing frames intelligently, and plot them in batches simultaneously. Also, it can be applied to multiple PDF and layouts.

Figure 7. Use SmartPlot to plot multiple drawing frames at once

Ineffective Collaboration

Do you sometimes feel it difficult to communicate with your team or clients? Do you get annoyed by using revision cloud lines and typing text to make annotations?

SmartVoice (available in ZWCAD) can boost your design collaboration. You can turn the annotations to voice to “tell” your co-workers relevant modifications; likewise, your clients can directly insert voice messages to you about their opinions.

What’s more, it can be even more efficient with CAD Pockets, a mobile solution which helps collaborate with your team and clients anywhere and anytime.

Figure 8. Use CAD Pockets to view drawings and make annotations on mobile phone

Hard-to-discover Modifications

Designers modify drawings every day. If a drawing is handed to you, with the former designer forgetting to make annotations for the modifications, it will be hard for you to discover what has been changed. What’s worse, you cannot be 100% sure that you’ve found them all. It will even be “disastrous” if the drawing is complicated.

File Compare is exactly what you need in this case. It helps mark all the changes in different colors, so that you can quickly find the differences between two drawings. Cool isn’t it?

Figure 9. Use File Compare to identify differences between two drawings

Unexpected Modifications

After sharing drawings with others, you definitely don’t want your drawings to be modified, no matter unintentionally or not. In this situation, you can use Lockup to lock any object in a drawing, and even add passwords to it, preventing unexpected alterations.

Are these “headaches” what you are going through every day? Hope the “cures” for them hit the spot!


Ryan Huang

Ryan Huang

Architect and Designer

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