What every Project Manager needs to know about CAD.


Q: What does every Project Manager in the Building and Construction Industry need to know about CAD?

A: Nothing!

CAD for project managers. What do YOU need to Know about CAD?

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Your Drafters know all about CAD, so you don’t have to!

The good news is that you don’t need to know anything about CAD  to effectively manage the Drafters on your project.

But it might help you to understand what they are talking about if you learn what some of the following terms mean.

12 CAD Terms to understand and commit to memory

  • CAD– ‘Computer Aided Design’ or ‘Computer Aided Drafting’.
  • DWG – The Autodesk proprietary file extension: A ‘Drawing File’.
  • Model Space – Model Space is the ‘Infinite’ virtual reality space inside the drawing file.
    All cad drawings are drawn full size (1:1) in Model Space.A ‘model’ in this case means a mathematical model, it can be 2D or 3D.A drawing file usually only contains one Model Space.
  • Paper Space – Paper Space is the size of the paper that will be printed on.
    The drawing border and title block are usually added in Paper Space. Paper Space will contain an number of views of Model Space. These Views are scaled or cropped to fit on the paper. A drawing file may contain many Paper Space layouts.All the views on all the layouts are linked to the same Model. If the Model is changed, all the views that show that Model will change.
    (Paper Space is also known as a Sheet or a Layout.)
  • X-References – Drawing files can reference other drawing files.
    This makes it possible to collaborate on drawings. For example, one person can be working on the Building Layout which is referenced into the Floor Finishes plan. When the Building Layout is updated, the Floor Finishes plan will also be updated.When Emailing drawings files with ‘X-Refs’ it is very important that all the files referenced are sent. It is not unusual to receive a drawing file only to find that you have the Paper Space Layout, with Border and Title Block, but that the Model space information (the drawing itself) is missing!
    (Image files, PDF’s, DWF’s, and DGN’s can also be referenced. Spread sheets and Databases can be linked and all sorts of files can be linked or embedded via OLE)
  • DXF –  Autodesk’s ‘Drawing Exchange Format’.
    An ‘Open’ and un-compiled version of Autodesk’s DWG File format.This file type is mostly used by software companies who haven’t (or don’t want to!) pay Autodesk for file translators.
  • PDF – Created by Adobe, ‘Portable document format’ is essentially the information that is sent from your CAD package to the printer.The clever folks at Adobe realised that, if they made a viewer for these files, people could send the ‘Electronic’ drawing file via Email for mark-up and review – instead of sending a paper print.
  • DWF – Autodesk’s ‘Design – Web Format’.
    Autodesk created this type of file as competition for the PDF – but it hasn’t taken off. Which is a shame, because it is completely FREE.
  • Technical drawing standards – CAD drawings need to comply with the same technical drawing standards as ‘Hand’ drawings used to. The UK standards are currently set out in British Standard document BS 8888 (This superseded BS 308).
  • CAD Standards – CAD Standards usually cover the same ground as Technical Drawing standards, with the addition that they will cover the more mundane stuff, such as where drawings and their support files should be kept on the server.
  • Document Control – Every company needs to have some method of quantifying, controlling, and recording the drawings in the job – including which version of a drawing is current, and who has received it; otherwise you’ll soon be in a pickle.
  • The Draw ButtonThere is no ‘Draw’ Button! You’re friendly Neighbourhood Drafter still has to draw every line, type every note and place every dimension.The computer is a help, but it isn’t that clever!


Want to find out more about effective CAD Management? Read ‘How to Feed and Water your Setter Out!


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