Converting an existing 3D model into CADWorx Equipment

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Today’s topic grows out of a discussion held at CADWorx University 2010 between my esteemed colleague, Kyle Pope and edit: the Canadian “an esteemed Canadian colleague” Rod Abbott.  They were trying to decide the best way to put nozzles on existing equipment.  I happen to have my own take on that particular problem.

A couple criteria define which method to choose when using someone else’s non-CADWorx 3D model.  First, is it accurate?  Second, is it overly complex?

If the model isn’t accurate, we have to create it from scratch anyways.  The second item is easier to handle since we can remove objects.  If the model includes bolts or a similar level of detail, you will probably need to delete some of the finer objects.  Especially if your model starts to get large, over-detailing will quickly lead to extremely slow performance.

Keep in mind, our sole object is to enable the connections for piping.  Presumably if we are trying to use someone else’s model, we are not also sending it between PV Elite and CADWorx Equipment.

The first step is to get a model.  I found one here: It’s a good practice to ask your vendors for a 3D model.  Some already have them created, others may get them created for you.  It never hurts to ask!


The model I choose only has four connections, but it is in metric units.  I’ve scaled mine to Imperial due to my aversion to working in metric.

The trick I prefer to use is to create a small welded flat head, and put a nozzle on the end of it.  Then you can move the nozzle to the location you need it.  Make sure to grab all of the parts (the Equipment X and nodes) when you move it.

Start a new piece of equipment (I named mine 160E1):


Choose a welded flat head:


By default the welded flat head is quite large.  Change the diameter 8 1/4” so we can match the reinforcement pad behind the nozzle.  Also on the Placement Tab change the orientation to horizontal, and rotate it to 270 deg.  You should have something similar to this:


Interestingly enough we should be able to line up the welded flat head with the red part of the nozzle.  The easiest way to do this is by choosing the Specify On Screen option under the Location settings on the Placement tab.


By trial and error, I found the welded flat head should be about 3/4” long to match the red base of the nozzle.  Now let’s place a nozzle on it.


The nozzle is 3 1/2” rated for 150 lbs.  I changed the flange to Raised Face Slip On as well.  The last dimension to tweak is the Outside Projection which by measuring is determined to be 3 3/4”.

Our nozzle lines up and is the correct size to match.  The finishing touch will be to move the nozzle so that the node on the face of flange lines up exactly with the original nozzle.  Start the MOVE command, do a solid window from the top left to the bottom right and hit enter to confirm the selection.  Notice that we included the X which is the vessel intelligence and then nodes associated with our nozzle.


Then we can grab the center of our nozzle, and snap it to the center of the original nozzle.  The original is slightly larger than ours, so the nozzle is hidden by the existing shape.  The same process can be repeated for any connection.  Remember that you can have multiple pieces of equipment with the same tag in the same drawing file.

Connect to the nozzle the same way as you would with any other equipment nozzle.  An iso connecting to this nozzle should look like this:


Happy Piping!

9 thoughts on “Converting an existing 3D model into CADWorx Equipment

  • Wade Spruill


    Hey Dave,
    Great article…This will come in very handy.

  • Vince.Wehnes


    Hey, looks nice!

    Kevin, Richard and I had a similar discussion over lunch on Wednesday. All we really need is some form of a “generic attach” nozzle in Equipment to cover this. A lot of our vendor equipment is skidded (think large multipart compressor skids), usually with 10-20 nozzle connections. Overlaying just nozzles (that Isogen still recognizes) onto the 3D model would be easiest for us.

  • Richard W.


    Dave, first of all thanks for posting this. Your solution is much the same as Rod’s in that instead of inserting a CADWorx intelligent primitive (eg. very thin walled cylinder within the vendor’s cylinder, essentially ‘invisible’) and connecting a nozzle to it in the position of the vendor’s flange your flat reinforcing pad is a shortened version on the outside of the cylinder. 6 of 1, half dozen of another. 🙂 Both of you apply a nozzle to an object that you have to name…his inside, yours outside.

    What would be interesting would be to have ‘intelligent nodes’ that could be given an equipment name and applied at/on the vendor’s flange face instead of ‘redrawing’ a flange on the flange…only one object to lose then. Nodes being what they are may not be a suitable solution, perhaps a simple object instead…like a sphere or diamond? I take it that the information is tied to the nozzle/flange, would that not also apply to a simpler object, too?

    As it is yours may be a moot solution because, more often than not, it’s easier/faster to redraw the vendor supplied model than to try to ‘clean it up’. So if you are going to do the redraw you might as well do the job within Equipment with the proper techiques.

    Then again with so many projects being presented using Navisworks/Design Review the Clients expect a pump to look like a pump…or even THAT particular vendor pump. Worse still are those more complicated pieces of equipment (such as a slurry filter press). Redrawing those would take an exorbitant amount of time and effort.Then your solution allows for a ‘pretty’ graphical look to the equipment while satisfying the need of the pipe connections to be intelligent.

    It’s always a thing of give/take…how much information/detail is *really* needed?

    You also caution…”Make sure to grab all of the parts (the Equipment X and nodes) when you move it.” If you model the equipment outside of the main model and then xref it in you shouldn’t lose anything when it is moved.

    Thanks again for this.

    • I agree, at some point a judgement call has to be made on what will be modeled. My caution is included because we are working in the actual equipment model, not a main or piping model. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Is this the preferred method to using a LWN in Plant Pro and then cediting the tag?

    • This is my preferred method. I choose this because I always run ISOGENBATCH which requires all components have the same line number, which require you to put the line number on the LWN. Like most AutoCAD techiques, there is always more than one way to solve the problem.

  • I am wondering why I am just ‘the Canadian’ and not ‘an esteemed Canadian colleague’?

  • Well, apparently I don’t have the mastery of the English language that you do.

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