Using blender with Autocad

I have been recently trying to validate Blender at my job and show it value to my boss. I am trying to get the opportunity to use it at work. I currently work int he engineering field, and I am looking for a way to go from AutoCad 2008 to Blender 2.46. I have tried the dxf import script, but it doesnt import all of the geometry correctly, and it comes it associated to an empty, to which it is not editable. If anyone could help me that would be greatly appreciated.

Your best bet is the .3ds format. From regular AutoCAD you can export solids (boxes, toroids, etc.), extrusions, and revolves. From AutoCAD with Mechanical Desktop, you can also export parametric solids. For very complex objects, it sometimes flips the normals for some of the faces, but you can fix that in Blender. Good luck.

Autocad is specialist for its accuracy. Blender is a “visual” 3D animation tool, much like 3DSMax, Maya, TrueSpace etc etc.
I have a friend who just got a job in Australia and he’s taught in Maya. They use Autocad and he got in touch with me asking about Blender because he’s found the company are friendly to it… he says Blender imports / Exports to Autocad much better than Maya.

Accuracy is relative… Blender has X, Y and Z coordinates.
I am an imperialistic breed, therefore i use metric units.
My blender got 3 digits behind the comma. So it would be
or due to the generic units

1(centimter),0(millimeter) … i think you know where this is going.

the limit is the variable type :slight_smile:

The only prob are the tools within blender. they are not exactly what you call CAD friendly, but there are tons of ppl out there scripting CAD tools into blender, like intersecting lines, right angle and stuff.

Nevertheless you are right. Blender as is, is not meant for CAD :smiley:

Of course, you are most certainly correct. I appologize, if my question was not clear. I am looking to import autocad into blender for rendering and animation purposes…Not necassarily for the actual drawing portion.

Quick update, I was able to import a quick object created in autocad as a .3ds file. here is a quick rendering of it. Thanks for the help.

i too use autocad for solid modelling and then import to blender via 3ds. but i have, so far, not been able to get the smooth cylindrical surfaces like yours even after increasing isolines and surftabs. Could you give me hint as to what do you do to get such smooth surfaces in blender. so far all cylindrical surfaces have come out heavily faceted and i cannot render them properly in blender.
thanx in advance

where the rest of the pole or structure if there is?
i did some SWG with blender and it looks nice with blender
but don’t know if theses can be improted into autocad ?


Nice example there :slight_smile:

The hard edges on the rectangular bits would render better if there was a slight bevel. I normally set the whole shape to “smooth” and then set the hard faces (the squares) to “hard” to get just the gleam I am after.

Unfortunately, 2.46 bevel tool is screwed as I complained in another thread here:

No one has as yet been able to successfully solve this problem, though perhaps your CAD program could do it?

I also have had that problem with rounded objects. What I have had to do is modify the object after i import it into blender. I usually first convert faces to quads, because Autocad makes everything triangles, and then I modify things accordingly to make them look good.

I do not have the rest of the structure yet because I was jsut doing that quickly as an example to show my boss. I am trying to show him the capabilities of blender and rendering. I have a full substation drawn in 3d in autocad, but when i try to export it as a .3ds file, autocad crashes. So I have jsut been doing individual equipment. Here is another quick rendering I did…

Also, does anyone have any ideas for getting good realistic metals in renderers, i am new to using nkdata and such in indigo, but i do like using that rendering engine for realistic images. Any ideas or insight would be greatly appreciated.

I also have made simple animations of these equipment rotating, showing all sides for example purposes. I may be working on an educational video about how a substation works and all the equipment at a later date, which would be kind of fun…showing the switches opening and the flow of electricity throguh the lines with particles. I am still unsure how I am goign to get the full substation model into blender though. the file size is very large, any ideas?

the color are still missing
if you can put up a file on FTP i’ try to put some color for you
and put i back on on my FTP site
i’ll include some metallic texture to begin with
that’ll put you in tune with texturing a bit faster LOL

with time and this forum you can learn how to do the rendering with great reaslistic rendering
but it’s takes some getting used to and itme but patience and practice makes perfect

you still did not tell me if it is possible to go from Bblender to autocad ?
and what autocad does to the model - is it good or just a simple approximation
i’d like to see some pic

Blender is fun and can give real good results
By the way where are you located on the map of the word ?
send private message if you don’t want to keep it more private!

Thanks * Salutations


heer is a sample of an MCC outside with some light and color textures

A good start is to crank your FACETRES variable in AutoCAD all the way up prior to export. This will make your 3DSOUT meshes maxed out on tesselation. Remove doubles, recalc normals, and (usually) tri-to-quad your imported meshes. To make the curved faces appear smooth in blender, tinker with the “set smooth” button when those faces are selected in edit mode. (Its usually not good to have this selected for flat surfaces, but your mileage may vary.)

here your switch with some texture on it

including some galvanized steel


i did try the facetres. what is the max u can crank it upto? will try again…let me know asap.
archiman86 , how did u get the round spring like thingies so smooth?

Here are a few other pics. These are ones that I rendered in Autocad really quickly. I did not apply any colors or anything. But I have this full model that I woul dlike to get into blender so that I can render it realistically…any suggestions. The file seems to be too big for the .3ds exporter. I have not been able to get it to work yet.[email protected]/2781281533/[email protected]/2781280433/[email protected]/2781277619/

tWOW his is a whole HV sub at 240 KV or more with lots of equipment
so it’s a lot of components and details

i would suggest to do it directly in Blender
forget the import it’s way too big i think
and don’t use too much high res mesh or you’ll endup slowing down a lot and the render will be very long!
and it’s gone a take some times before you can do it because of the quantity of components
mind you ounce you have it all the other sub you do can use some of the components
already done with this first sub

another thing if you have PDS you could transfert it to PDS and do it there!


What I have been doing so far, when I get some free time, is importing each individual piece of equipment and then assembling them in blender, and adding detail.
Here is what i have so far, rendered in LuxRender (I was experiementing with that renderer as well)

let me knao what you think…i am going to post in WIP also…

the pic quality is very limited because of the size
you know that you can make a render as JPG pic with blender and upload it directly here in the post this would give a better quality !
do you have a time limit to do this work or you do it whenever you have time!