WOODWEB's CAD Forum Block Exchange

With the addition of the Tool Palette in AutoCAD 2004, users may quickly access many tools, including "blocks". Now it is possible to create an AutoCAD drawing that contains multiple blocks within the drawing. Drawings containing multiple blocks can be downloaded and used to quickly populate a user's AutoCAD tool palette with the contents of the blocks.

This block functionality is not limited to AutoCAD - many other CAD programs are capable of utilizing blocks, and the CAD Forum Block Exchange encourages all CAD users to contribute tips on how to use Blocks with their particular program.

How It Works:

To create a Block Drawing, first create a new folder to hold all your blocks. If you anticipate assembling a large number of blocks, you may want to create sub-folders with this directory for each category of block you plan to create.

Next, open a new (blank) drawing, and purge everything from the drawing. Cut and paste the blocks you wish to organize into this drawing. As you "build" this new drawing, be sure each individual item is entered as a stand alone block, and be sure to name the block in a manner that allows easy identification of its contents. Now purge the drawing again to clean it up and save this newly created drawing to the folder you created at the beginning of the process.

For example, if you had 10 separate files, each containing a drawing or block of a different type of wood screw, you would copy the screw from each drawing or block into the blank drawing you just created. Now all 10 screws are located in a single drawing.

After you have save the drawing, open AutoCAD's Design Center and navigate to the folder where you saved your blocks. Click the plus sign (+) next to the drawing, and then click on the block symbol. All blocks in that drawing will be displayed in the window to the right. With the blocks displayed in the window, right click within the window - a menu will appear. At the bottom of the menu, click "create new tab", and a new tab will be added to your tool palette. This name for this new tab will match your drawing name.

AutoCAD Version Notes:

In the interest of creating Blocks that can be utilized by all versions of AutoCAD, save your block files down to at least AutoCAD version 2000. To automatically save Blocks in version 2000 format, go to Tools => Options and select the "Open and Save" tab. Within the "File Save" area, select "AutoCAD 2000/LT 2000 Drawing (*.dwg)" from the drop down list. AutoCAD Release 14 users must use DXF format files and create separate Wblocks for insertion. AutoCAD Release 2000/2000i/2002 users can use DWG format files, but these files will have to broken out into individual blocks in the drawing, and converted to Wblocks for insertion.

To use Blocks with CAD programs other then AutoCAD, each block drawing must be converted to DXF format and imported. Detailing this process for all CAD programs is beyond the scope of this article. If you have specific questions about using blocks with your CAD program, post your questions at the CAD Forum.

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