Automated, Menu Driven Drawings

We make automated drawing sets for our customers. Here is an extremely successful example.

These techniques have been useful when large quantities of similar drawings have to be created. In this case, a detailed drawing for a moment foundation, like that used in a pier or a large sign pole, can be commissioned in 15 minutes or less once the base drawing is set up. This compares favorably with 2 to 4 hours for a unique structural drawing.

The customer using this drawing set freed up drafting resources, since the only values to change were selected from a drop-down list on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The bolting, base plate, anchor plates and rebar were determined in advance by engineering, and change with the size of the column and foundation.  The changes are reflected in the drawing without having to change leader notes, dimension lines, or any other drawing parameter.

This particular automated drawing made it possible to crank out hundred of drawings for an installation crew, and the crew always knew how much rebar to make up and how much concrete to order.

This drawing series also enabled fast turnaround on installation quotes, and eliminated lag time between sales, engineering and field services. We can also automate sheet metal drawings so that the flat pattern, complete with bend allowances, can be sent to a CNC laser or turret punch, or a complex milled part can be interpreted by CAM software for use in a CNC mill. Entire assemblies can be driven from menus to create instructions for the factory floor or service manuals.

A few simple steps generate the drawing:

Open the Autodesk Inventor part, assembly, and drawing files, as well as the MS Excel spreadsheet.

Select the column size, footing diameter and footing depth desired from the drop down menu in the MS Excel spreadsheet, and hit “Save”.

Refresh and save the part, assembly and drawing in Inventor. The proper solid model now appears.

Print it out…use it for quotes (there is a complete, auto generated BOM and bolting spec in the drawing), code approvals and construction.  The weld specifications are also listed in this example. The drawing is in a form that is ready to checked and stamped by a local structural P.E.



Enter the column and footing size in the spreadsheet…


Open and refresh the solid model part and assembly files…


And out pops the drawing, complete with bill of materials.