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TECHNICAL NOTES: SPECIALIST SERVICE - Malcolm Barnett, BDA Education Architect, looks at CAD services

The flexibility of brickwork means that it can be tailored to virtually any design situation. In order to help specifiers exploit this virtue, and to generate detailing solutions that work, brickmakers have been quick to provide assistance by way of computer-aided design (CAD) services to architects, engineers, contractors and distributors.

Naturally, the type and extent of services and the basis on which they are supplied varies between individual companies - this article aims to provide an overview.

Services range from design studies and 3D visualisations through to final construction details and scheduling services for cost estimating purposes.

The most commonly used CAD software is AutoCAD 2000, but information can also be made available in DXF format for use with other commonly used CAD systems.

Information can also be exchanged via all available electronic systems.

For architects and designers not yet geared to CAD, at least one company can convert hand-drawn details into AutoCAD and can produce 3D computer images from 2D information.

Some manufacturers also maintain a photographic sample database of their bricks that can be combined in a variety of bonds and mortar colours to produce digital versions of brickwork panels. These can be e-mailed to the client as JPEG files. These visualisations can also be pasted into 2D and 3D models to show the effect on the overall appearance.

Many manufacturers can help with the architectural detailing of arches, plinths, window surrounds, corbels, sills, copings and cappings and the most intricate arrangements of polychromatic brickwork. Sketches and templates for bespoke brick specials, plaques and lettered bricks can quickly be produced.

Depending on the circumstances of each individual project, these services may be available on a speculative basis or on receipt of confirmation that an order will result. Details are often prepared to clarify order requirements and, following receipt of the order, details may then be produced full size for use in manufacturing, particularly when non-standard special shapes are being used.

Paving layouts are another example of how manufacturers' CAD services can help designers and suppliers in exploring a number of options. Ranges of standard brick and paver details are available in electronic format for incorporation directly into CAD drawing files for software systems capable of reading DXF files.

For more information on individual companies' services, visit the BDA website www. brick. org. uk, which has links to all member company sites. Or contact our Brick Information Service.

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