The Basic Elements of AutoCAD 1 (Part 1): A Rundown of Toolbar Features

AutoCAD is a widely used software application that allows engineers to draw error-free designs. As such, its functions and features must be understood properly by aspiring engineering students.

The main topics that we will cover on the first day of the workshop on computer-aided design with AutoCAD are: 

  • Introduction to AutoCAD
  • Getting started with toolsets generating design drawings with CAD
  • Drafting styles and standards
  • Annotation units and conversion methods
  • Clear and error-free drawings


Introduction to AutoCAD  

Back in the day, engineers had to manually create their construction or shop drawings for production and construction purposes. 

Most of the computer-aided design software had to be run on bigger and more powerful computers. People who did not have access to state-of-the-art computer technology back then had to stand for long hours and work tirelessly in creating the drawings.  

To avoid all the hassle, a company called Autodesk developed AutoCAD as a desktop application in the year 1982. With AutoCAD, the tedious task of drawing on paper has been replaced with computer drawing. 

Later in 2010, Autodesk was innovative enough to develop a mobile application that could be used anywhere and everywhere conveniently.  

Now that we know the history of AutoCAD, let's move on to its application toolbar.


Application Toolbar 

When you open the AutoCAD application, you can notice the AutoCAD logo on the top left corner. Upon clicking the logo, you can see various icons in the application window. The icons are: 

  • New
  • Open
  • Save
  • Save As
  • Import
  • Export
  • Publish
  • Drawing Utilities
  • Close



The icon or the command 'New' helps you in starting a new drawing with a selected drawing template file. You can also create a set of sheets or data sheets that manages your drawing layout or project data.

Upon clicking the 'New' icon, you will be asked to choose a template.   

For the purposes of this discussion, let's choose the standard template 'acad' and click on 'open'. Now, AutoCAD will create a new drawing in your workspace that goes by the name "Drawing1". 



If you have a drawing that is already saved on your local device, you can use the 'Open' tab to open an existing drawing file.  

Recently, Autodesk has also added cloud support. Therefore, you also open any project files that you may have stored in the cloud from other devices.  

You can also use the 'Open' command from the toolbar to import the data from a DGN file into a DWG file.  

For example, when you click 'Open', you will be taken to a destination on your local device where you would have saved your AutoCAD files. Now, when you choose a file from the menu and click 'Open', your file will be loaded and opened on your screen. 



The 'Save' command is used to save the file you have created on the AutoCAD application on your device.  

For example, if you have an open file and have made changes to it, then you can head over to the application toolbar to save any changes that you might have done to the project file. 


Save As 

The 'Save As' command is like an extended feature of the 'Save' command. It helps you to save the current drawing to the default drawing format, or you can use this command to upload your file to the local drive space, to the web, or to a cloud-based platform for easy accessibility.  

Another reason why one might choose to use this command is to use drawing templates. For example, if you have created a particular drawing, and you wish to use it as a template for your future projects, you can use this command.  

Similarly, you can use the drawing standards tool to create drawing standards that can be used to check the standard of a drawing. So, when you create a new drawing, you can save it as a standard drawing which will help you compare it with other drawings.  

You can even use the 'Save As' command to save your file in a specific file format such as DWT, DWS, DXF, or DWG. 



Import allows you to import data from different file types and formats such as PDF, DGN, and others into the current drawing.  

For example, if you are given a PDF file that has some engineering drawings in it, and you want to replicate it into AutoCAD then, the simplest way to do it is by using the 'Import' feature or command from the application toolbar.  

This will exempt you from manually recreating a drawing from an external PDF. Similarly, you can also import data from other formats. 



Just like how you can import drawings into AutoCAD from various file formats, you can also export them to your local devices in different formats like DWF, DWFx, 3D DWF, PDF, DGN, and others. 

  • The DWF and DWFx files allow you to set page setup overrides.
  • The 3D DWF files help in displaying your 3D model in a DWF viewer.
  • PDF files let you set page setup overrides.



If you want to share your drawing or make a copy of your project so that you can go back and visit the previous versions, you can use the 'Publish' command and archive your current file.  

The 'Publish' command also allows you to share your drawings with other people via email, or you can upload a shared view and share your design online.  

Additionally, you can even send your 3D objects from AutoCAD to a 3D print service and get them manufactured additively. 



'Print' is a command in the application toolbar that helps you plot the drawings.  

For example, you would have to follow certain standards like paper size, border gap, et cetera while creating a design. Hence, the 'Print' feature can be used to plot the drawings or plot the drawings in a batch.  

You can even choose to 3D print your design using this command if you have access to a 3D printer. This feature is available only for 64-bit systems. 


Drawing Utilities 

The 'Drawing Utilities' help you manage your project files and maintain a status quo across all files.  

Since the properties can vary from one workspace to another, the 'Drawing Utilities' command allows you to set and display the properties of the current drawing. The other options include: 

  • DWG Compare
  • Units
  • Audit
  • Status
  • Purge



The 'Close' command allows you to either close the current drawing or all the drawings that you might have opened. 



A detailed description of the AutoCAD application toolbar will help you get started with creating computer-aided designs using AutoCAD.  

If you are completing your degree in engineering, learning about the basics of computer-aided tools is necessary to kickstart your career. Skill-Lync offers industry-relevant courses on AutoCAD and many other topics. Visit Skill Lync to know more.


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