Converting AutoCAD Details to Revit

Details are a vital part of the documentation process for building design and construction projects.  CAD users who have used AutoCAD for years have typically developed a large detail library, or at least possess many details used on previous AutoCAD projects.  Those details are valuable as a lot of time and knowledge has gone into developing them.  It is important to be able to access those details for usage within Revit.

While there are various methods utilized for re-using AutoCAD details, not all of them are good solutions and some can add corruption to your Revit project file and create problems.

The best long-term solution for re-using AutoCAD details is to migrate the details into Revit native entities.  While inserting and then exploding details is a common practice, it creates residual information in the file and requires time and effort to clean up.

My recommended practice to migrate AutoCAD details to Revit is basically a quick 3-step process:

  1. Link the AutoCAD detail into Revit;
  2. Trace the AutoCAD linework with Revit tools to create native Revit elements;
  3. Remove linked AutoCAD detail

Link the AutoCAD Detail into Revit

  • Create a new Drafting View from the View tab and the Create panel.  Name the view per your company’s naming standards and specific to the detail that you will create.  Set the scale appropriate to the detail.
  • On the Insert tab, select the Link CAD function from the Link panel.  Select the desired AutoCAD detail and select positioning to be “Auto – Center to Center”.

Details - Link AutoCAD

Trace the AutoCAD Detail with Native Revit Entities

  • You do not actually need to trace the lines of the linked file, as that can make the process take longer.  Instead, go to the Annotate tab and start the Detail Line command from the Detail panel.  Select one of the Line Styles and then select the “Pick Lines” option on the Draw panel.

Details - Pick Lines

  • Proceed to select all of the lines that will use that particular line style.  Next, select another line style and proceed to select all of the lines that use that particular line style.  Repeat for each of the desired line styles.
    • This process is much faster than actually tracing linework.
    • The AutoCAD link can be temporarily unloaded to see the Revit linework and verify that desired linework has been replicated.
    • Instead of using some of the linework, it can be better to utilize Detail Components where applicable, especially for items like angles, beams and other complex entities.
  • After getting the linework recreated, proceed to add the appropriate Revit fill patterns to the detail.
    • AutoCAD hatch patterns do not come through as Revit fill patterns, so any of those would need to be recreated as Revit fill patterns anyway if the detail were inserted and exploded.
    • This will create consistency throughout your projects by using your standard Revit fill patterns.
  • Add text as appropriate to the detail using your company standard Revit text types.
    • If the AutoCAD detail was exploded, the text would not be the same text types as is used in the rest of the Revit project.  Inserting the AutoCAD drawing adds the AutoCAD text styles as additional text types in the Revit project.
  • Add dimensions as appropriate to the detail.
    • If the AutoCAD detail was exploded, the dimensions would need to be recreated in Revit due to the AutoCAD dimension being lines and not true dimensions.

Remove the Linked AutoCAD Drawing File

  • Go to the Insert tab and select the Manage Links function from the Link panel.
  • In the Manage Links dialog box, go to the CAD Formats tab and highlight the appropriate AutoCAD file name.  Pick the Remove button at the bottom of the dialog box.
  • The AutoCAD file is no longer associated with this Revit project.

This process creates a detail that now utilizes all native Revit entities and does not leave any AutoCAD entities in the Revit project file.  This detail can now be used in any other project file and/or saved out to a detail library.

  • To save the detail out to a library as an individual Revit detail file, highlight the drafting view detail name in the Project Browser, right-click, and select “Save to New File” from the context-sensitive menu.  Save the view as a file in the desired location.
  • The detail can also be copied into another project file by opening the other project and in that file go to the Insert tab.  Select the Insert from File button and the “Insert Views from File” option.  This allows you to insert a view from any other project file, so the desired detail drafting view can be selected for import.
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5 thoughts on “Converting AutoCAD Details to Revit

  1. Hi Doug
    Seems a lot of work to upgrade these details. If we have 9000 details to convert, what do you think our options are?

    We are ending up redrawing a parallel set for Revit – while we can use Revit as the primary source of the detail and convert them to AutoCAD, the presentation quality of these details and the general drafting limitations of Revit produces a detail that is far below our presentation quality and fidelity expectations.

    • I believe high quality details can be drawn in Revit if standards are developed and utilized appropriately.

      Each company must make a decision on how they handle details and whether they recreate them in Revit or import them from AutoCAD. I prefer to have less problems and crashing of Revit, so I prefer to recreate them in Revit. A good option is to recreate some for each project and gradually rebuild the library.

  2. Doug,
    Thanks for the post. It looks like we have a lot of work to do. One thing that would help is if you could have a “print” option so we could print out your instructions.

  3. I didn’t get answer on question how convert. I know how rebuild, but I wanted get direction how we can CONVERT AutoCAD detail to REVIt

    • My post discussed my recommendation for the best method to convert your details to Revit, which you may call “rebuild” if you desire. The easiest way to “convert” AutoCAD details to Revit is to insert the AutoCAD detail into Revit. If it needs revised, you can explode it; however, that method is not recommended due to AutoCAD residue and corruption that ends up in the Revit project.

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