Blocks are one of the most important object types in AutoCAD and they are also very frequently used in almost all types of drawings. If you are not using blocks in your drawings then you should better start soon because you are missing some of the awesome benefits of AutoCAD blocks.
What are Blocks
In the context of AutoCAD, blocks are the collection of geometries that act as a single object and they can be used in a drawing repetitively. The blocks which are used in the drawing are called block references and if you modify the block all its references change automatically.
The blocks can be a plain simple collection of static geometries or you can also make blocks with dynamic properties and these types of blocks are called dynamic blocks.
Why you should use Blocks
As I mentioned earlier one of the primary reasons for using a block is its ability to modify all its references by modifying a single block.
As an example, if you are using blocks for creating windows in a floor plan and after adding the windows you decide to modify the type of window. In this case, you can simply modify the window block and all its references used in the drawing will change automatically.
Blocks also help you in keeping the file size under control. A drawing made with blocks for repetitive objects will be far smaller than the drawing which uses copied instances of repetitive objects.
Blocks also help in keeping consistency in your project drawings, by using the same set of blocks you can avoid a lot of confusion among different members working on a project. This is the reason many organizations prefer their own set of standard blocks which can be used and reused as per their own requirements.
You can also keep track of block data using attributes. The attributes are information such as manufacturer name, part number etc which is associated with a block and can be extracted to an excel file or a drawing table. To know more about blocks watch this video.
Block vs Groups
Groups have a little similarity with blocks and they can also be used in places where you want to make an object from multiple geometries. Groups don’t have the properties just like blocks, but if you want to categorize multiple objects as a single unit then groups are your best option.
To know more about groups watch this video.
When you add dynamic properties to a simple block so that its geometry and property can be changed for its individual reference then you get a dynamic block. In case of dynamic blocks, you can stretch it to specified lengths, you can make arrayed copies, you can flip their direction or orientation etc.
As an example, you can make a dynamic block of a door of different sizes and when used in the drawing you can use the same dynamic block for all sizes of the door.
In this video, I have explained methods of making a door dynamic block in AutoCAD. You can also enroll in our dynamic blocks course if you want to learn more about this topic.
Using Design centre for blocks
AutoCAD has a small library of some standard blocks which you can use in your drawings, this library of blocks can be accessed from the design center palette. To open design center you can use keyboard shortcut CTRL + 2 or you can use its command ADCENTER.
The design center is simply a palette just like properties or layer properties manager palette. On this design center palette click on the home icon then select the en-us folder then DesignCenter folder and then select the drawing type from which you want to extract the blocks.
For example, you can use the kitchens.dwg file for kitchen blocks and House Designer.dwg for common household blocks. After selecting the drawing select Blocks from the object type and now you have a collection of blocks which you can insert in your drawing by simple drag and drop.
You can also use design center to extract blocks from an existing drawing. Simply click on the open icon on the top left of design center then locate your drawing and open it in the design center palette.
Now navigate to the drawing and select blocks and you will have your complete list of blocks from the drawing in the palette. You can drag and drop these blocks to bring them in your current drawing.
Using Tool Palettes for Blocks
AutoCAD also has many simple as well as dynamic blocks on the tool palette. You can access tool palette by using its keyboard shortcut CTRL + 3 or its command TOOLPALETTES.
Tool palette has many common blocks (especially dynamic blocks) that you can use directly in your drawing simply by dragging and dropping them in your drawing. You can also create your own tool palette and place your favorite CAD blocks on it, or you can create an entire catalog of your standard cad blocks using tool palettes.
More about tool palettes is explained in the related article shown below.
Need more CAD blocks?
Apart from creating your own set of blocks and using the design centre or tool palette you can also use some other resources to get CAD blocks for your projects. Some of my favorite free CAD block websites are following.
How do you use CAD blocks in your drawing? let us know in the comments below.