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ArchiCAD Tip: Advanced DWG Translator Functions

It is quite common for an ArchiCAD user to export set of drawings as DWG files - the DWG files are obviously 'dumbed-down' 2D versions of your ArchiCAD BIM model.
Whilst ArchiCAD handled various model elements in a much more refined way, an extracted 2D DWG of a floor-plan for example can be difficult to manage in a traditional 2D CAD package (the functionality just isn't there in most 2D CAD packages)
Take a wall for example, all the settings of a wall are managed in one dialog box in ArchiCAD and include fills settings pens settings, composite selection and layer.
In an extracted 2D DWG of a wall, a wall isn't a wall - it is a collection of multiple 2D elements (lines and fills) and each is individually editable. To help the DWG user (if we are feeling altruistic), ArchiCAD has a very useful set of options in the ArchiCAD DWG-DXF Translator settings to improve layer export (as well as other functions).

If you haven't seen our previous tip on ArchiCAD DWG-DXF Translators, please click here

DWG-DXF translation allows various elements, that would be treated as a whole in ArchiCAD (again, think of a wall), to be separated onto different layers in DWG format.
Normally, ArchiCAD will export layer parameters 'like-for-like', e.g. a layer in ArchiCAD called 'Walls - Structural' will be exported as a DWG layer 'Walls - Structural' and all the elements on that layer in ArchiCAD will be exported to that same layer in the DWG file.

To improve the management of translated DWG elements, there are two clever options (i) custom layer and (ii) <source-layer>, which can be used in conjunction with each other.

Custom Layers
These fields allow the Translator to assign certain elements (listed below) to new separate layers, instead of being exported on the same layer as the construction element they belong to in ArchiCAD:

If these parameters are used in the Translator, all the Cover Fills (for example) will be exported to a new specific layer etc..

Whilst the Custom Layer is an improvement for the DWG user, the <source-layer> entry improves the export even further. By using <source-layer> AND then typing another phrase after <source-layer>, multiple layers are created based on the 'source layer' (or original ArchiCAD layer) on the element.
A suggestion for the individual parameters is shown below.

Taking a basic example of structural walls and partition walls, and exporting this to a DWG file >>
These elements may be placed on layers 'Walls - Structural' and 'Walls - Partition' - these would be the 'source layers' in ArchiCAD.

If Doors and Windows were placed in both types of walls, then the Door and Window geometry could be automatically exported to the following new layers in DWG:
  • Walls - Structural - Doors
  • Walls - Structural - Windows
  • Walls - Partition - Doors
  • Walls - Partition - Windows

The composite geometry of the Walls could be automatically exported to the following new layers in DWG:
  • Walls - Structural - Fills Cut
  • Walls - Partition - Fills Cut
  • Walls - Structural - Skin Lines
  • Walls - Partition - Skin Lines

Regarding Zones
The various components of Zones can also be separated out in a similar sense to Walls as outlined above.
To help explore the information given above - the Zip file available here includes the ArchiCAD PLN, the ArchiCAD DWG-DXF translator and the exported DWG file.
The supplied DCS translator can be added to a user's ArchiCAD setup by using the Browse option in the DWG-DXF Translator dialog.

More information on Translators can be found on this ArchiCADwiki page