Plant 3D is an Autodesk application targeted to the design and layout of process plant facilities. It has the tools and features designers need to create detailed plant models, including piping, structural and equipment built on the familiar AutoCAD platform. Using spec-driven technology and standard parts catalogs, designers can streamline the placement of piping, equipment, support structures, and other plant components.
Each component placed into a P&ID drawing has data that links to the Data Manager. With the Data Manager, users can view data reports, export them to a spreadsheet or a CSV (comma separated values) file and import them back into the program.
A dynamic P&ID drawing is created by combining various types of components and lines, from which data reports can be produced and edited. Each P&ID component and line has an assigned layer name, color, scaling factor, tagging behavior, and other properties that are set up as part of the project.
Components include equipment (pumps, tanks, vessels), nozzles (flanged or flow), instruments (control valves, flow meters, instrument bubbles), inline components (valves and reducers), non-engineering items (connectors, flow arrows, other items lacking reportable data).
Schematic lines include pipe lines (primary and secondary line segments, jacketed pipe segments) and signal lines (electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic).
Plant 3D includes a set of component and line symbols based on P&ID industry standards, PIP, ISA, ISO, DIN, and JIS. The P&ID tool palette provides a visual library of the symbols or components and lines that are used to create and document P&ID drawings.
If the user notices there are components and lines that are not part of the out-of-the-box symbol libraries, it is likely that they were created and added to the tool palette by an administrator. The default symbols or those provided by an administrator are recommended to ensure they comply with company standards and will show up in reports. If needed, AutoCAD objects can be converted to P&ID components or lines.
Need a Plant 3D administrator? Contact Applied Software for a discovery call to find out how the Plant 3D experts at Applied can get you through the hardest parts of Plant 3D administration?
Users can customize piping specifications to meet job requirements. Spec Editor creates and modifies specs, which include a spec sheet and a branch table. Parts can be added to the spec sheet and used in Plant 3D when routing pipe. Spec Editor will do the following:
The model can even be reviewed and checked for interferences by using Autodesk Navisworks Manage.
Piping isometrics – Plant 3D offers automated isometrics that can be customized with title blocks, symbols, flow arrows, supports, insulation symbols, and more.
Orthographic drawings (sections and plans) – Sections and plans are made easy with Plant 3D. View ports are infinitely adjustable with viewcubes and an enhanced interface for creating detailed and easy to read sections and plans.
Reports – Create automated, project-specific reports, and document BIM models.
Autodesk announced that AutoCAD 2020 will no longer be separated into different distinct programs. Instead, subscribers to AutoCAD 2020 can access multiple offerings referred to as “specialized toolsets” from their Autodesk Account. Included in these toolsets is Plant 3D, formerly known as AutoCAD Plant 3D 2018. Even though Plant 3D is a toolset, it is still a separate download application.
The Plant 3D toolset is included with AutoCAD including Specialized Toolsets. For a quick discovery call about Plant 3D and AutoCAD subscriptions, or to talk to an account manager, contact Applied Software today.
One of the most common challenges when setting up Plant 3D with a new user is the isometric title block. A customized isometric title block with a company’s logo and other custom information is often essential to project deliverables.
7. Line List
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For the basics of using Plant 3D and more in depth features, visit Autodesk Knowledge Network Learn.
You can search for previous years’ Autodesk University classes that pertain to Plant 3D.
AutoCAD Plant 3D is built on the general purpose CAD engine platform of AutoCAD. Since AutoCAD is used for many things, it is not optimized for 3D graphics. AutoCAD Plant 3D default settings are not set up specifically to favor editor response speed over display quality.
When looking to improve performance, the first thing to consider is using the Visual Styles Manager to reduce 3D display detail. You can also use 3dconfig to set options that affect the graphics card hardware performance.
Performance increases can be accomplished by turning off disconnect markers, breaking up large drawings using external references and operating in 2dwireframe mode. Plant 3D palettes not being used can be closed when working in the model. For example, closing the Data Manager can improve performance, especially when editing. Project Manager can also be closed (as opposed to Auto-Hide) to improve performance.
There is no single best AutoCAD setting for performance, because some settings are designed to disable features needed for selecting and editing.
The most significant choice is between 2D and 3D view modes. 2D modes can display 3D objects that look similar to 3D wireframe, but the modes use a significantly different redraw database. The 3D redraw database is designed for quality and response, but not scalability. In practical terms, this means that in 3D view modes, performance deteriorates faster as the model in the display gets larger.
Changing to 2D wireframe with silhouettes off can significantly improve performance. If dispsilh is turned off to improve performance in wireframe, isolines should be set to 4. Piping also uses plantpipesilhdisplay, which displays silhouettes for tube segments when dispsilh is off. For more information, see Control the Visual Style of the Plant 3D Model.
Some alternative settings could cause undesired behavior. For example, turning off pickfirst speeds up browsing, but it disables the select connected parts shortcut menu. Dragging in 2dwireframe can be slower than 3dwireframe. The best performance configuration depends on how the user is working with the model. Setting a low viewres speeds up dragging in 2D mode. Facetres is a similar variable that affects 3D views.
Vtoptions can be used to set a fast transition speed, lower the performance (fps) threshold, or disable view transitions.
Other settings that are not specific to display can be used. For example, unused layers can be frozen to improve performance, instead of turning a layer off.
Users can also turn off features not used. For example, the properties window does not need to be open until it is needed. Tracking, dynamic input, and even grips can be turned off when not used.
Breaking up larger drawings into smaller ones using external references can significantly improve performance. For example, equipment, piping, and structure can be placed into different drawings, and large drawings can be broken up by area.
Interested in custom Python scripts for Plant 3D? See this AU presentation by David Wolfe, Applied Software Director of MTG Services.
David also wrote a three-part blog series on the topic:
Autodesk describes AutoCAD Plant 3D as specification-driven software for creating 3D models of process plant components – routing pipe, adding equipment, adding components, and including support structures. Within Plant 3D, the underlying data is exchanged directly among the 3D model, P&IDs, isometrics, and orthographics, ensuring that the information is consistent and up-to-date.
Autodesk YouTube Channel with video tutorials and product and industry videos.
AutoCAD Plant 3D videos – video content for users getting started with Plant 3D.
Autodesk Knowledge Network – AutoCAD Toolsets page with video tutorials on Plant 3D features and using Plant 3D.
Includes learning articles on:
For quick references, check out the AutoCAD Plant 3D Quick Reference Guide.
To share your Plant 3D knowledge or explore popular Plant 3D topics, participate in the AutoCAD Plant 3D Forum. Also referred to as the “Autodesk Community,” you can find answers, share expertise and connect with peers.
To see if a problem you’re experiencing has been addressed and solved, see the Autodesk Knowledge Network troubleshooting content. It includes featured how-to lessons for using Plant 3D.