4 Steps for Converting AutoCAD Details into Revit Projects

If your firm is transitioning from AutoCAD to Revit, but still has a library full of old AutoCAD Details, you can rest assured. There are several ways to convert your AutoCAD Details into your Revit projects. This process will involve cleaning up your AutoCAD Details, importing to Revit for scaling, cleaning, and importing it back into a separate “seed” Revit file. In the October From AutoCAD to Revit webinar, U.S. CAD’s Technical Specialist, Jack Trexler demonstrated this process in 4 simple steps:

acad2revit details workflow

Step#1: AutoCAD Portion –  Cleaning your details for importing

For the first step, you will be selecting the AutoCAD Details that you use on almost every project, and cleaning them up before bringing the file into Revit.

The Steps

  • Open AutoCAD Details file or open a single detail file. If using a file that contains all the details, copy out one detail at a time and name the file the same name as the detail.
  • Change all text to an Arial font, use TXT2MTXT command to combine single line text to multi line text. At this point decide if you want to change the layers now for easier conversion in Revit.
  • Remove all designer notes and options. Options will need to be separated into different files and details.
  • Purge all.
  • Save the file to a temporary location the same name as the detail. This file can be deleted once in Revit.

Step #1 Video Transcript

Here’s a typical detail layout. It would have a lot more than this, of course. But, I just grabbed a quick file that shows you a few details on here.

Basically, this is what I’m talking about, is just take one of your files. Take one of your details here. I’ll just take this. Then, I’m just going to copy this guy out. Start a new DWG, and just paste this guy in at the 0,0, just where … there. This is where you start to start changing your text.

This is a multi-line text, and we’ll test it here. I’m not going to break this out. But, what I like to do is type in my styles. There we go, style. Hit my … I guess I probably should have found out which text style I’m using most. But, I’ll just go ahead and change all these. Just change all of these to the Arial, just so that I know they’re all there. That one’s good. That’s a true type, but we’ll just change it anyway. And one last one.

All right. Good. I’ll apply that. Close it, and now it still looks like it’s not. I’m going to regenerate. Oh, not region. Regen, and there we go.

All right. Now you can see that all my text is to the Arial font. Basically, like I said here, you can come in here and change these layers. This is objects. You can change them for easier conversion, but basically, I’ll just leave them alone. We’ll change them over once we get into Revit.

So, I’ll come in here and I can take this, and I’m going to copy that name. I’m going to go “Save As.” Throw this onto my desktop, well actually, I just throw it in here. Give it that name that I copied. Actually, I will put it on my desktop, just for easy … Okay, there we go. Save.

All right, now what I can do is basically get rid of that, because I’m not going to need that anymore. My title. Everything else looks pretty good. I’m going to keep the hatches there for now. I’m going to go through my purge. Purge this all out. All right, that looks good. Okay. So, I’m going to save this file, and that is just about it for the AutoCAD cleanup.

Basically, all I did was just change the text to an Arial font, and purged it so I don’t have any extra stuff that comes in. That’s about it for right now, for the AutoCAD portion.

Step #2 – Revit Part 1: Bring CAD in and scale it

In this step, you will create a “trash” file, where you will import your AutoCAD Detail to scale and clean for the “seed” Revit file import.

The Steps

  • Open a copy of the company template. This will be a trash file so AutoCAD styles don’t get into projects and the “seed” file.
  • Create a Drafting view with the same name as detail and use the 12”=1’-0”. If you know the scale, use it.
  • Use Import CAD and select the CAD detail. For options, I use Black and White, All, Auto-Detect, Auto – Origin to Origin and turn off Correct lines that are slightly off axis. Move the view in the project browser to the correct location.
  • Create a sheet, place it and adjust the scale.
  • Open the detail and use Full Explode.

Step #2: Video Transcript:

Right here, so I already have a … Let me see here, I already have a trash or a transfer project already setup. Let me see if I can find it. Okay, so that’s what this one is going to be. So it’s basically just going to be my transfer file. I don’t want to use this in any project or anything like this. I’m just going to use it basically to remove the AutoCAD stuff that comes in. I’ma open him up.

Okay, so here’s one of my details that I did earlier. So let’s see here, let me change this real quick. Okay, so basically this is just going to be a copy of the of your company template, I’m just using the the out of the box systems template. So if anybody is curious about that I’m just just the out of the box Revit template. So we’ve got it, now what I want to do is start a drafting view right here and I believe I still have the same name. Yes, so there we go, I’m using the name as the detail. I’m just going to make this one to one and select okay and now we’ve got our detail.

Now all we’re going to do is just import the CAD in. Go out and find, oh at this top. So there is my file, so like I said colors … And this is up to you too. I just prefer black and white, because I have the white background. If you have a black background, if that’s the way you like to use Revit that is totally fine too. Probably you would want to use colors at that point. Layers and levels I do all. Auto-detect, I will turn off my correct lines that are slightly off axis and then origin to origin, level one is good, orient to view is good too. So I will go ahead and place this in here and there we go, there is my detail.

So before I go in and put this on a sheet here is that detail right here, okay. So talking about moving this it came in as coordination, that’s because of the drafting view that I use. I’m just going to change this over to plumbing and now it will be under my plumbing details. Okay, so and I could add a subcategory or a subdiscipline in here too I’m just going to leave it as plumbing.

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And that is my detail there so now what I’m going to do is come down here and it looks like I already have a sheet created. All right, good now I’ve got a couple details on here. So these details will kind of help me decide what scale I’m going to run this detail at. So I want to come back upward to my details, right there and then I’m just going to drag and drop him in and there we go. So that one to one detail is very big. So I’m pretty sure I could probably check. So I’ve got three eights and a quarter. Well let’s just try the quarter first. There we go, that looks a little too small. Yes, that is definitely too small, so I’m going to jump this back up. There we go, now I’m just going to move these guys over. That looks about the same. So I think we’ve got it. So there is my scale now.

Now I’ll just come back. Now I’m ready to explode this detail. Now I’ve got it to the right scale so I’m going to get in here, select my detail, I’m going to use the full explode, and there we go, now I’ve got the full explode. All right, so that finishes up the Revit part one. It’s basically just bringing them in here.

Step #3 – Revit Part 2: Clean the detail

While still working in the “trash” file, step #3 involves cleaning up the detail.

The Steps

  • Use a window to select all of the lines and text of the detail. Use this process with filter to select items to change.
  • Filter out everything but text and change it to company standard for details. If there are different size text on the detail, separate them out.
  • Repeat 1st and 2nd bullet for Lines and Detail Items. Check the detail at this point for missing lines or objects.
  • Optional: delete all leaders and arrows and replace them with the text leaders. Keep arrows from dimensions and scale them so they match.
  • Change the scale to N.T.S. (Not to Scale). Select Custom… from the scale list select Display Name: and type N.T.S.
  • Save and close the file.

Step #3: Video Transcript:

So here what I will do is just come into my Revit, do a big window select, I’ll filter out, first I’ll do my text so my text notes here. Take those and it looks like I’m going to use one size text on all of this so I’m gonna come up here and you can see all those different text styles will start coming in. When you start doing 10, 20, 30, you can see that this can get very big so like I said, this is just gonna be a trash file so 3/32 Arial. That’s my company standard right now and you’ll see too that I brought this as an Mtext and it did explode onto single line text.

Now what I’ll do is I’ve got all my text done so I’m gonna come back in here and go to looks like lines earth, so I’ll just start with this one, lines earth. Okay so it looks like those up there so I’m just gonna change this to my thin line style, there we go and then do this over again. And then we got some hidden, we got some leaders, I’ll do my object for now and those are all the objects so I want them to be probably medium. I’ll do these medium lines. There we go. Now all those lines are medium. So I’ve got my medium, I’ve got my thin, let’s look at the rebar. Those looks like it could be a little bit thicker, we could try wide. Yeah, those look fine. We’ll do wide lines on there. And then I’ve got leaders. So those are gonna be, I could probably put these in the thin line style. There we go. And we just keep doing this until we get rid of all these so there’s my hidden, 10 medium so I will check none, do my hidden. Okay right up here so this one I’ll try MEP hidden, see if that does. That’s fine, that’s good.

Alright so now what I’ll do is I’ll just check it again, make sure that there’s none of those so the detail items, I’ll still need to fix, let’s see, wide lines, thin lines, everything looks good there, we’ll check our detail items so here’s what I’m talking about with the arrows and such. So here you can go through the lengthy process of basically selecting your text, getting a new arrow on there, getting it correct and deleting out your old. So like I said I’ll do a couple of these and then I think you guys get the point. Want to delete those out. So here you just go through the whole gambit of arrows and leader lines, all those look pretty decent. If you do use in any one of these like these dimensions that are set up here, I will just take a leader, I’ll just add a leader here and basically just take this leader and just scale these arrowheads up so they’re basically the same size so that’s what I would do for some of these detail items and basically, that is it for this. We’ll save this, okay. And then I could close the file, I think I’m gonna keep it open for right now.

But basically that’s the conversion that you do in Revit.

Step #4 – Revit Part 3: Add the detail to the “seed” file

To ensure none of the unwanted AutoCAD styles are remaining in the “trash” file, we create a new “seed” Revit file to hold the cleaned-up details. From here, you can add all your cleaned details to your Revit Sheets, Views, and Schedules.

The Steps

  • Create a “seed” file to hold all clean details. Use the project template so all settings are the same.
  • Import the cleaned detail from the temp file using the import views from file. Check the project browser that the detail inserted to the correct location.
  • Check the text styles, line styles, and filled regions to make sure no unwanted styles have come over. Check the detail at this point for missing lines or objects.
  • Repeat all steps until all of the details are in the “seed” file. Allow about 3 – 10 min per detail.
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Step #4 Video Transcript:

Now, like I said, I’m going to come in here and, I’m not used to that little “R” quite yet. So I’m going to go in here, open, project, or actually start a new. New project. And this is where you would use your company template. So like I said, I’m just using the systems default. Select open. Select okay. And this will become my seed file. So I’m going to save this guy, over here, into my location. Right here, and basically that’s what that file’s going to be. So I can make this details and, or name him to seed, there we go.

Okay, now I can just basically, any time in my project I can just come over here and go to insert. And I’m going to use the insert from file, and I’m going to insert views from file. I’m going to select that. Then I’m going to go find, that detail, and I’m going to transfer file and there’s that detail. So I’m going to select open. And here is what you would do in your seed file and your project file. So this is sewer service, nope not that one, that one. And see how I can select multiple too and it gives you a nice little preview unless you can make it, can make it bigger but it doesn’t change the size of this.

So there is my detail that I just created, so I’m going to select okay. And 3/32, that’s fine. And again I’m going to just select the key, the notes, and it looks like I haven’t gotten any additional CAD textiles for that. I’ll check my lines. And see if I’ve gotten any, there it looks pretty good. I don’t see any crazy AutoCAD layers in there. So my lines are good. Then I’ll just check my detail items. It doesn’t look like I’ve gotten anything crazy in here, so everything has stayed with, basically the trash file. So this becomes my seed file. And I can put sheets together.

One thing I did forget. On your scale, this is one thing I did forget, is to change it to NTS, go up here to custom, on your scale list, and just use the display name, and then just change this to “N.T.S.”, select okay. And now when I put this in the sheet the scale’s going to be NTS. So let me do that real quick. Choose that. Now I’ll come in here and there’s where my drafting went to, so exactly where I put it. I’ll drag him on, and there we go. And now you’ll see that my title comes with NTS.

And you can customize this title to show how you want, and so on. But basically that is my detail from here. That is that entire conversion process. So I’m just making sure that none of those AutoCAD lingering stuff comes over into my projects and definitely into my seed file. So this is what I would do, is now what I’d do, is just start bringing in all these details in, and bringing it into my seed file and go from there.

Looking for more information about Details? Check out the full FAQ transcript below from the October 11th From AutoCAD to Revit webinar.

FAQ from the Webinar

Can I use my old AutoCAD details in Revit?
Yes you can. We have lots and lots of AutoCAD details. Especially if you’ve been in the industry for 10, 20 years, or so, you will have a lot of CAD details.

Will the details be “dumb”?
Sort of, but we can make them a little smart by referencing them on the floor plans and referencing that view on the sheet. They are a little “dumb”, but we still have our referencing.

Will I be shamed by the Revit gurus?
Anything that you bring up AutoCAD into Revit, you’ll be shamed by Revit gurus. That’s just the way it is. How I look at it is, as long as I don’t crash the project, and I make it very organized, and I don’t bring a lot of AutoCAD stuff into my project, I think you’re pretty good to go.

Will CAD trash my Revit file?
Yes. If you just start bringing them over and start exploding them into your project, yes, your project will get very big. The other things, too, is your line styles and your text styles will grow immensely, because all those styles will come over into your Revit project. It may be hard to switch between your line styles and your text styles.

We still use AutoCAD on projects, does this mean I will need to keep up with two sets of Details?
If you still are in-house, and most places do this, they have AutoCAD projects that are strictly going to AutoCAD and our new Revit projects. Basically this is kind of, will you be maintaining two sets of details? Yes, you will. I’ve had to maintain two sets of details for a while. I’ve tried to find a better way of doing it, and really, maintaining the two sets is really not as bad as you think. But you do have to keep up with the two sets of details, if you’re still in AutoCAD and Revit.

Should your Revit template be complete?
Well, no Revit template is 100% complete, but you should at least have your text styles set up, your line styles set up. And what’s good, too, is to have your browser organization set up prior to doing all these details, because we want to keep our line styles the same. We definitely want to keep our text styles, our Revit text styles, the same for our details with our other projects. And then the project browser, is basically what I like to do when I’m converting my details, basically, I copy a project from our current template and use that. I can basically place these details into the project browser. So when I do go to import them in, they go into the correct location, and I don’t have to keep moving them around in my project.

Which ones should I start with?
What I normally tell people is find 80% of your details that you use on all of your projects. Start with those details that you use on all of your projects. Then slowly work in the special details, or the details that don’t get used a lot. Start using those. But at least get 80% of your details in there, and you should be good.

What tips & tricks did you find most useful when moving your AutoCAD Details to Revit? Leave us a comment below!

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