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The Case For Pipe Objects


I come from a piping background.  Gas primarily, but a significant amount of water design as well.  I really appreciate what pipe objects offer in Civil 3D.  I understand that it is very easy to create pipes in plan and in profile very quickly just by creating a polyline of the run, then do the math, and offset the appropriate amount for the size of the pipe.  A lot of groups use this method, and it is a viable option.  But that is why I feel I need to make the case for using the pipe objects.  Here are some benefits that you could realize.


First of all, pipes are objects.  Just like other objects in Civil 3D, they dynamically update themselves when they are edited.  That means, if you move the structures in the plan view the pipes update their location in profile and section views as well.  Beyond that, the labels in all of these views updates as well.


Second, editing pipe networks in plan and profile are extremely easy.  There are grips that can be graphically edited.  As the depth of a pipe is changed the structures that it is connected to will change its depth to match the new data.  Move a structure in plan view and the pipes that are connected move as well.  There are also tools that help the grip editing be more precise.  They are called transparent tools, and have a host of other uses, but one of them is moving items to station and offset of a given alignment. 


Beyond that, there are several different places that you can edit in a data graph.  Changes made here are live, and in real time, so you can see them take place and watch for potential problems.  Also, you can edit invert elevations to 3-places of precision.  Did I say “invert”?  Sure, but you can also edit these elevations at the centerline or the crowns as well.  Once you have a “starting” elevation you can then edit the slope of a pipe while holding that starting elevation.  The columns of the pipe data chart can also be moved around so that the data you are concerned with can all be placed for easy access.  I mention this because one of my favorite editing practices is to move the Start Invert Elevation, End Invert Elevation, and Slope (Hold Start) columns next to each other.  Then I am able to edit each elevation and slope as I need to, one pipe into another.  And if I situate the data grid where I can see the profile view of these pipes I can confirm proper location immediately.


Third, pipes are one of the objects that can data shortcut into other drawings in your project.  This means that they can be created in one file but referenced into any other file that you need them to appear.  This keeps those files smaller while still communicating pipe data.  Also, someone can be working on the pipes while someone else is working on grading, or labeling, or some other aspect of the project.


Finally, pipe objects allow for Interference Checks to be run against them.  These checks can run against any combination of pipe networks in the drawing, or even a single network against itself (that would be a pretty complex design to need it – but it happens).  You can then augment the interference check to check the proximity of pipes, not just where they outright conflict.  If you are checking a sewer network against a water network you can make sure they don’t come within a certain distance of each other.


Hopefully I’ve been able to uncover some reasons why you should use the pipe objects.  They’re more than just lines in your plan and profile views. 

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