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Why Are CAD Standards Important?

CAD Standards refer to the standards of how drawings are created and documented.  These standards are set up by each firm to allow a more cohesive and readable set of drawings.  Firms need these standards for their CAD practices because they contribute to a better workflow.  Once the drafters learn the standards, the projects drafted are able to be produced faster and the set of drawings will read as a consistent set.  The reader of the set of drawings will be able to view the set with a basic understanding of the project, and the scope of work should be clear.

The following is a brief list of reasons why CAD standards are important in office settings:

  1. Consistency
    Consistency refers to the formatting of drawings, text, line-weights, leaders, dimensions, and the title-block. The set of drawings should have the same font size for readability reasons and the title block should be the same throughout the set, correctly dated with the correct phase. If an elevation has a brick pattern that prints as gray (shown for materiality purposes), it should stay consistently gray.  If the pattern on one elevation changes to black, then the reader’s eye will go to that pattern to try to find out why it is darker, or if the scope of work has changed for that elevation.
  2. Templates 
    Template files are very important to CAD standards. These templates are the key to beginning a new project in CAD. The drafter will be able to create a new drawing using whatever architectural or structural template best fits for the scope of work.  Templates include specific layers set up with the correct layer names, color, line weights, and line styles needed.  The templates also include the drawing size needed for the paper space layouts, the plot style used to plot, annotation sizes, and font styles.
  3. Drafter’s Understanding
    Every drafter should be able to open a file and understand what they are looking at, and understand how a drawing was put together. The layers or colors should follow the specified template, for example, if it is an architectural drawing or structural drawing. If multiple drafters are needed, then the drawing should look as if one drafter worked on it.
  4. Plotting
    Every drafter should be able to plot the drawing. The model space should be organized to understand where the details are, the paper space should be set up with the correct layout, and the viewports on the paper space should allow for a drawing to be printed at the respective scales. The layers should correspond to the plot style, so that the plotted sheet prints with clear line weights and line styles.
  5. Time Saver
    Templates and standards in the office are a large time saver. If every drafter is on the same standard, that makes navigating between project files easier. If Firms do not follow a specific set of standards then each project is drafted with inefficient standards will create a more time-consuming process to ultimately “repair” these drawings.
  6. Makes Training Easier
    Training every drafter in the CAD standards is necessary. Every drafter may have their own way to draft (line vs. polyline), but once each drafter learns the correct standards and layers, then the workflow of the projects will be completely efficient. There are many times when drafters may ignore these standards, causing frustration for other drafters once they begin working on the project, if the layers are inconsistent for example.  Some drafters may ignore the standards and assign each line the correct color, but disregard what layer it is on. 
  7. Conversion of Standards Between Firms is Easier
    Assuming each firm has its own set of standards, then the conversion of standards should be easier. Sometimes architects receive structural CAD drawings from a different firm that need to be included in their set of drawings and, therefore, need to be converted to their own standards. If the detail is drawn to the other company’s standards, then it is only a matter of merging and changing layer properties, rather than assigning each line / line type its own new layer.
  8. Technical Office Procedures
    The necessity of CAD standards may derive from a greater sense of office organization.  Each office has its own naming convention for projects in the different network drives.  Offices may have their project specifications in a different network drive than their CAD drawings for organizational purposes.  The naming schemes, file locations, and file formats are office specific, so it makes sense for the office to have certain standards for CAD.  The standards tie into office procedures, such as archiving a set of drawings. CAD standards are reinforcement tools that support the company’s standards.