6 CAD Tips You Weren’t Taught in School

February 18, 2014 3 min read

Editor’s Note: We asked Brian Benton to contribute to our blog with a Guest Blog Post. Tell us what you think of us inviting Guest Bloggers: would you like to read more? Tweet your thoughts at @Novedge.

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Many AutoCAD users go to school to learn how to use this very complex design program. In school, students will learn the fundamentals of using the software. They may even learn to use several different CAD and BIM packages. That’s great, but there are a few things they didn’t teach you in school. In fact, the following is a list that most professional CAD users never learn.

1. You are creating a database, not a drawing. In “CAD School” we were taught how to make drawings. Draw some lines, create a border, add some text and dimensions and you are finished. That’s a lie. That is not what you are doing. You are creating a database of information. That data is then processed and presented in a construction document. Sometimes we call those documents “drawings”. The drawing is what is presented to the manufacturer. But what you really created was a database of information in a geometric form. If you can change your mindset to understand that you are creating data, then you will think differently, create differently, be more efficient in your work, and make a better product. You will also be able to share your data more fluidly and with less error.

2. The less you do, the quicker you finish. This may seem obvious and a bit silly but it is true. Do your work in a manner that requires fewer steps. Automate your workflow. Find a way to get your work done that reduces the amount of possible errors. Keep it simple.

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3. Make sure your data works well with others. No matter what industry of CAD design you work in you will have to share your data with other people. Those people could be coworkers, municipalities, clients, competitors, or partners. Create your CAD Data in a way that makes sense to others, requires little effort to understand, that is simple, and that allows for them to use the data freely. Avoid methods that force your data to be presented in a specific way. This will enable your partners to use your data as they need to. It will reduce errors from incorrect translations and will help to ensure the project information is correct.

4. There are many ways to get your work done, but only a few ways to do it properly.  AutoCAD’s greatest trait is that it can be customized and used in a numerous amount of ways. It’s also its greatest curse. Just because you or somebody else has a way to get the work done doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to do it. The best way to do things is the quickest way, the way that is accurate, the way that translates well, the simplest way. Avoid the hard way whenever possible.

5. Always read the “What’s New” articles. AutoCAD changes with each release. Don’t ignore any of the new features, tools, commands, or enhancements. They are there as an attempt to improve on the program. Read about them, try them, use them. Your job may get easier because of them. There might not be a “big update” item, but there could be one new little thing that applies to your workflow that makes something better for you.

6. Keep training yourself on new versions and technology. Your boss doesn’t want to pay to train you so he/she has to pay you more. Do not rely on anyone else for your skill set. If you can get your employer to pay for training do not pass it up. If they won’t, then train yourself. You don’t have to go to full training course, you can read blogs, read training manuals, watch training videos, or visit discussion boards online. The Internet is full of training material waiting for you to take advantage of it. Learn.


To read more of Brian’s tips and advice, check out his CAD-a-Blog and connect with him on Twitter.


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