New Kid on the Blocks: Using Blocks to Automate Tasks in AutoCAD
A wise man once wrote, "nothing is certain except death and taxes." There's no doubt this statement holds true to this day. Although, one could probably add one more "certainty" to the two mentioned in that famous quote. Whether you're a student or a professional you'll always have deadlines to meet.
In order to meet those deadlines, your skills need to be efficient and accurate. This post will cover how to use Blocks and a Block library to automate some of those repetitive tasks that can eat away at your production time when working in AutoCAD.
What are Blocks?
So what exactly is a Block? In short it's a symbol or object, whether 2D or 3D, that was created with the intent of automating some of the repetitive tasks you may encounter when working on several projects over time. You can reuse symbols and geometry like door symbols or even 3D objects you may have modeled at some point. The key here is reusing and not redrawing. This will save you a tremendous amount of time in your workflow.
Blocks can even be dynamic, which essentially means they are flexible. This comes in handy with symbols or objects that may come in many different sizes like windows for instance. So, instead of drawing a 3'x3' window and then a 4'x4' window in a project with different window sizes; you can use a Block that includes both or all sizes. So now you can use grips to adjust the sizing of your Block, similar to stretching.
There are basically three ways you can get Blocks. You can use Blocks from libraries supplied by AutoDesk. You can put your skills to work and create your own Blocks and write them to a library or file. The third approach is to use Blocks from other vendors such as manufacturers websites or even TurboSquid. This approach may require a small financial investment on your part, but it can also be well worth it since you'll be saving quite a bit of time on drafting and detailing. After all time is money, right?
Creating your own Blocks in AutoCAD is a relatively easy task. Most of the effort goes into drawing a Block that is professional looking and is easy to identify. Once you're happy with what you've drawn, the next step is to create the block. In the Insert Tab, you'll notice a button called Create Block. Using this lets you define the Block by specifying the object, naming it, picking the insertion point and even defining its behavior once it's inserted into a drawing.
Once the Block as created and defined, you're then ready to write the it to a specified location or folder. This is as simple as picking the file destination and giving it a name.
From there, you can access the Block wherever you saved it when you wrote it, by using the insert button also located in the insert tab.
Creating a Block Library
Ideally, you'll want to set up and grow a library of all the different types of Blocks you've accumulated over time. This includes Blocks that you create yourself and even Blocks from other sources or vendors. The key is to setup a filing and naming system that is easy to understand, easy to navigate and consistent. Every office or firm has it's own unique set of standards so sticking to that system is the way to go. If you're creating your own library you may want to name files according to type or function. The key is to create your own consistent standard.
Becoming faster, more accurate and more productive in AutoCAD is all about knowing the commands and shortcuts available to you. Blocks are just one of many ways AutoCAD enables users to be fast and precise when it comes to creating drawings, whether 2D or 3D. Once you've created a few simple blocks and then a few dynamic blocks you'll really begin to appreciate all that this feature has to offer. Be sure to check out our many AutoCAD tutorials taught by industry professionals!