Mechanical Engineering drafting automated using AutoLISP

AutoCAD is more than just a drawing tool; it’s a dynamic platform that engineers and drafters across disciplines have utilized for decades. In the realm of mechanical engineering, precision and efficiency are paramount. AutoLISP, an embedded scripting language within AutoCAD, acts as a bridge, transforming tedious manual tasks into automated, swift processes. Whether it’s the generation of standardized symbols or the rapid creation of detailed views, the synergy of mechanical engineering and AutoLISP offers unmatched potential.

Key Takeaways:

  • AutoCAD isn’t just a drafting tool; paired with AutoLISP, it becomes a powerful platform for automation in mechanical engineering.
  • Mechanical drafters can transform hours of manual work into minutes by using AutoLISP to automate repetitive tasks like dimensioning, layer management, and symbol insertion.
  • Standardization is made simpler. With routines to ensure consistent layer names, linetypes, and drawing properties, projects maintain a uniform appearance and adhere to industry standards.
  • Advanced tasks, such as generating exploded views or updating external references, can be executed seamlessly, ensuring comprehensive and up-to-date documentation.
  • Utilizing AutoLISP in the drafting process isn’t merely about efficiency; it’s about elevating the quality of work, reducing errors, and focusing on design innovation rather than mundane tasks.
  • The combination of mechanical engineering and AutoLISP is a powerful testament to how technology can refine and enhance traditional processes, setting the stage for the future of design.

List of tasks in Mechanical Engineering drafting that can be automated using AutoLISP

Here’s a list of tasks in mechanical engineering drafting that can potentially be automated using AutoLISP within AutoCAD:

  1. Layer management (creation, naming, and organizing)
  2. Automatic dimensioning of parts and assemblies
  3. Creation of standard mechanical symbols
  4. Generation of Bill of Materials (BOM) tables
  5. Insertion of standard blocks or parts from a library
  6. Automatic generation of section views
  7. Automatic generation of detail views
  8. Scaling of drawings or views
  9. Labeling and tagging of components
  10. Creation of title blocks with automatic data filling
  11. Setting and modifying drawing properties (e.g., scale, units)
  12. Batch printing or plotting of multiple drawings
  13. Checking for drawing standards compliance
  14. Generation of exploded views for assemblies
  15. Batch conversion of drawing units
  16. Automatic creation of revision tables and tracking
  17. Creation and management of welding symbols
  18. Automatic generation of hole tables
  19. Generation of pattern features (like bolt circles)
  20. Optimization of drawing layout for sheet size
  21. Batch export of drawings to other formats (e.g., PDF, DWG)
  22. Calculation and insertion of mass properties or center of gravity
  23. Generating boundary or silhouette curves for complex parts
  24. Automating the creation of custom linetypes and lineweights
  25. Quick navigation to specific views or sections within a drawing
  26. Batch update of external references (xrefs)
  27. Automation of common annotation tasks
  28. Creation of custom object snaps
  29. Automatic creation of break views for long components
  30. Management and insertion of hardware from standard libraries

How can AutoLISP help to automate tasks in Mechanical engineering?

Let’s delve into how AutoLISP could assist in automating each of these tasks in mechanical drafting:

Layer Management (creation, naming, and organizing)

AutoLISP can be programmed to automatically create layers with predefined names, colors, linetypes, and other properties. If you have a set standard for projects, this can ensure consistency. For example, layers for different materials, processes, or types of geometry can be generated at the start of a project, streamlining the drafting process.

Automatic Dimensioning of Parts and Assemblies

AutoLISP can recognize geometric boundaries and apply dimensions according to predefined rules or standards. This means it can automatically measure distances, diameters, radii, and more, then place the corresponding dimension in the correct position with the correct style.

Creation of Standard Mechanical Symbols

An AutoLISP routine can insert predefined symbols, such as welding symbols, surface finish symbols, or tolerances, at specified locations. Instead of searching through libraries, the user could simply run a command and select a location.

Generation of Bill of Materials (BOM) Tables

By recognizing specific block references or entities that represent components, AutoLISP can extract relevant data (like part name, material, quantity) and generate a BOM table. It ensures all components are accounted for and displays them in an organized manner.

Insertion of Standard Blocks or Parts from a Library

AutoLISP can be set up to easily access and insert standard components or blocks from a library. Think of it as a custom toolbar where you simply provide a reference name, and the script inserts the block for you at the specified location and scale.

Automatic Generation of Section Views

By defining cutting planes through parts or assemblies, an AutoLISP routine can generate section views, handling the projection and placement automatically. This can drastically reduce the time taken to generate these manually.

Automatic Generation of Detail Views

AutoLISP can zoom in on specific areas of a drawing, capture them, and then create detailed views at a predefined scale. This ensures consistency and precision in representing intricate details.

Scaling of Drawings or Views

Instead of manually adjusting viewports or entities, an AutoLISP routine can be used to set a specific scale for selected views or the entire drawing. This ensures that all drawings maintain a uniform scale and appearance.

Labeling and Tagging of Components

AutoLISP can recognize specific components and automatically generate labels or tags for them. For instance, every bolt of a certain type might receive a corresponding label, ensuring consistency across the drawing.

Creation of Title Blocks with Automatic Data Filling

AutoLISP can create title blocks in the layout, and fill in data fields based on drawing properties, user input, or predefined standards. This might include the drawing number, date, designer’s name, and other pertinent data, ensuring that title blocks are complete and standardized.

Setting and Modifying Drawing Properties (e.g., scale, units)

AutoLISP can access and modify the drawing’s settings. For instance, if you want all your drawings to be in metric units or a specific scale, a routine can be run to ensure these settings are consistently applied.

Batch Printing or Plotting of Multiple Drawings

AutoLISP can automate the process of opening multiple drawings, setting the necessary print or plot settings, and then executing the print or plot command. This can save significant time when dealing with numerous files.

Checking for Drawing Standards Compliance

Through AutoLISP, you can develop routines that verify if your drawing adheres to specific standards, such as layer names, dimension styles, or line types. If inconsistencies are found, they can be reported or even automatically corrected.

Generation of Exploded Views for Assemblies

AutoLISP can be used to move assembly components along predefined paths, creating an exploded view. This can be especially useful for assembly documentation or assembly instruction sheets.

Batch Conversion of Drawing Units

If you have drawings in different units (like imperial and metric), an AutoLISP routine can be scripted to open each file, convert the units, scale the entities accordingly, and then save the changes.

Automatic Creation of Revision Tables and Tracking

When changes are made to a drawing, AutoLISP can be used to update a revision table automatically. It can record the date, nature of the revision, and the initials of the editor.

Creation and Management of Welding Symbols

AutoLISP can insert welding symbols based on user input or predefined criteria, ensuring that they’re consistently placed and formatted. Moreover, it can check and manage the welding symbols, ensuring their correct application.

Automatic Generation of Hole Tables

By recognizing drilled or tapped holes in a component, an AutoLISP routine can automatically generate a table detailing hole sizes, locations, and other relevant details.

Generation of Pattern Features (like bolt circles)

For standard pattern features, like bolt circles, AutoLISP can be programmed to ask the user for key parameters (e.g., number of holes, diameter of circle) and then automatically generate the desired pattern.

Optimization of Drawing Layout for Sheet Size

If you’re trying to fit various views or details onto a standard sheet size, an AutoLISP routine can arrange these views to maximize the use of space, ensuring everything is legible and appropriately spaced.

Batch Export of Drawings to Other Formats (e.g., PDF, DWG)

AutoLISP can automate the process of opening each drawing file, running the export command, and saving the file in the desired format (like PDF) to a specified directory. This can save significant time when dealing with large numbers of drawings.

Calculation and Insertion of Mass Properties or Center of Gravity

While some of these functions might rely on 3D modeling software capabilities, AutoLISP can be used to extract this information and insert it as text or annotations into a 2D drawing, providing valuable information about a part or assembly.

Generating Boundary or Silhouette Curves for Complex Parts

For complex 3D parts, AutoLISP can be employed to generate 2D boundary or silhouette curves, aiding in the creation of 2D views or sections.

Automating the Creation of Custom Linetypes and Lineweights

Instead of creating them manually each time, AutoLISP can define and load custom linetypes or set specific lineweights, ensuring consistency across drawings.

Quick Navigation to Specific Views or Sections within a Drawing

AutoLISP can be used to create a custom interface or menu, allowing users to quickly jump to predefined views or sections in a drawing, streamlining the navigation process.

Batch Update of External References (xrefs)

When drawings reference external files (xrefs), AutoLISP can automatically update these references, ensuring that the drawing always reflects the most current version of the referenced file.

Automation of Common Annotation Tasks

Repetitive annotation tasks, like adding specific notes, labels, or legends, can be automated using AutoLISP. The user can run a routine, specify a location, and the necessary annotations are placed.

Creation of Custom Object Snaps

While AutoCAD provides a variety of object snaps, AutoLISP can be used to define and create custom object snaps tailored to specific needs, aiding in precise drawing and editing.

Automatic Creation of Break Views for Long Components

For elongated components that don’t easily fit on a sheet, AutoLISP can recognize these components and automatically create break views, ensuring that they fit within the drawing space without compromising detail.

Management and Insertion of Hardware from Standard Libraries

AutoLISP can streamline the process of accessing and inserting standard hardware components (like bolts, nuts, washers) from libraries. With a few inputs from the user about size and type, the necessary hardware can be placed in the drawing.


The journey through the intricate world of mechanical drafting reveals one undeniable truth: automation is not just a convenience, but a necessity for modern engineers. With AutoLISP in the AutoCAD environment, mechanical drafters unlock a realm of possibilities, ensuring their drawings aren’t just accurate, but also consistently aligned with industry standards. As we look to the future, the alliance of AutoLISP and mechanical engineering stands as a testament to the evolving nature of design, highlighting that with the right tools, complexity can be elegantly simplified.