There are certain tasks or operations that need to be done in pretty much every Advance Steel project. You can save time by having the required elements already existing in your model rather than setting them up every time. Furthermore, the default model template provided with Advance Steel (at least in the UK build) is not up to date with the latest recommended system settings. So further efficiency gains can be made by adjusting these, and these in turn can also make the visuals much more pleasing to work with.
Read on for my recommendations for customising your model template to maximise efficiency and ergonomics. Of course, many of these settings are up to personal choice so you don’t have to copy mine completely, I am just giving ideas for you to consider.
NEVER change ASTemplate.dwt. In our experience models started form any other file that cannot be traced back to the official template can cause inexplicable problems and crashes. Open ASTemplate.dwt and immediately Save As to a new name in the same location e.g. “GRTC Template.dwt” for Graitec.
Since AutoCAD 2017.1 the speed of the graphics display has been greatly improved using what Autodesk call “Enhanced 3D” but only if you follow the rules. The default template has not been updated to follow these rules.
First of all, the default template has all beams showing transparent in the realistic display model, which isn’t very nice. We can use the XRay visual style if we want this. To remove this transparency, type the command MATERIALATTCH, then in the dialog click the red X by the Beams layer on the right.
While talking about materials, I have found that one or two materials seem to have no noticeable effect on performance and can make things more pleasing to work with. On the ribbon go to Render > Materials > Material Browser, select one or two materials you like and add them to the model. Personally, I have two concrete (one for walls and one for foundations) and one wood. Then use MATERIALATTACH to assign those materials to appropriate layers.
The default template comes with a dark blue background. I don’t like dark backgrounds, as I find them a bit depressing, and I prefer my model to look more like a sunny afternoon rather than a wet weekend. Enter the command BACKGROUND and you can change the background to any colour scheme you like.
Likewise, you can change the colour scheme used by the layers to suit your preference. Go to Home> Layers > Layer Properties, and now click the small coloured square by each layer and select the colours you like. Think about contrast and remember that Red and Blue are used for marking to mean specific things so if the default colour for an item is Red or Blue this will likely get confusing.
The default template has the AutoCAD Point style set as a tiny dot that is almost impossible to see. So when you use Divide / Measure or Centre of Gravity commands you can’t see the points created. Type in PTYPE and select a larger symbol for the point such as ones near the bottom right.
The default template comes with a good range of layers to match different object types. Nevertheless, I have added two of my own. First, I created a layer for construction lines and elements, and this can be used to hold all the lines, arc, dummy beams etc you draw so that they can be easily turned on and off on the display. Leaving the lines etc. on Standard ends up a bit messy.
The second layer I made was Glass. I set this to a pale blue colour and set the transparency to 60%. Now whenever I draw a plate that is glass I move it to this layer, so I can clearly recognise which plates are glass and which are steel. Plus, the glass actually looks like glass and is see through.
At the very least you ned to enter names for the Detailer and the Designer in the Project Settings dialog. Why not fill them in in your template since it is always your work. You might also like to fill in other fields with a prompt to remind users what each field does, and which are needed.
In every project it is essential that every object has the correct model role. Therefore, it is recommended that you search for items with no model role i.e. Model Role = None. Rather than having to create this search in every project create the search and save it in your empty template. Then it will be ready and waiting for you in Project Explorer in every new job.
Likewise, you can setup searches for other things that may be common or suitable to your projects. Some examples could be:
• Lots / Phases – One search for each lot/phase and one for no lot or phase (value is blank)
• Different Materials
• Plate thicknesses
• Railings or Stairs (based on model roles).
You should use a consistent set of numbering settings for all projects in your company. Therefore, rather than set them in each and every project go ahead and carry out the numbering in an empty model template. The settings you select will be stored I the template and become the default settings for any project made from this template.
Like numbering you can go to Home > Documents > NC Settings and adjust this to suit your preferences in the empty template. Now every project will start with the correct settings.
We always strongly recommend you place something in your model at 0,0,0 in the universe. It is likely that every project you do will require some common views such as Plan, Front, Left, SW Isometric or whatever. Consider placing cameras for these views at 0,0,0 in your empty template and it will save you time creating the same thing on every project.
There may be even more things I haven’t thought of but that is plenty to get you started. Once you have done all this start all new projects from your custom template and you should have a nicer looking screen with many repetitive tasks already done for you.