Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review 2023: Can I Use Civil 3D As AutoCAD?

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review

Overall Verdict

Civil 3D is a civil engineering design and documentation tool that integrates with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) processes.

Out of 10


  • Share The Model
  • Surfaces
  • Description Key Sets
  • Survey and Points


  • Does not reconcile survey points utilized in drawings.


Price: $ 305

Here in this article, we will be telling you all about Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review, you need to know about Autodesk that will help you make an informed decision of whether paying for it is worth it or not.

With the retirement of Land Desktop, many land surveyors and engineers are left wondering what to do with their design software.

You’ll discover which sorts of professions benefit the most from AutoCAD Civil 3D in this post. As with any software acquisition, it is vital to match user requirements to program functionalities to achieve success.

It’s critical to understand how AutoCAD Civil 3D may help you and your organization, whether you’re presently using or transitioning from AutoCAD Land Desktop to Civil 3D. (LDT).

My decision to embrace AutoCAD Civil 3D originated with a desire to implement an integrated surveying and design solution that would improve accuracy, productivity, and profitability. My land surveying company was expanding at the time, and I saw the need for increased efficiency to keep up with demand.

While Civil 3D was new to the market, I picked Civil 3D as our CAD and surveying solution after assessing our requirements, the capabilities of Civil 3D, and its connection with our AEC customers. The switch was first difficult, but I learned the superiority of Civil 3D over prior AutoCAD options along the process.

While standards, BIM, civil design, and documentation are all beneficial characteristics, which ones are beneficial to you? That is dependent on the sort of employment you do.

Regardless of their size or scope of services, businesses need practical tools for conducting surveys and managing data, integrated civil design, and rapid and accurate plan generation.

If you’ve worked with LDT for any length of time, you’re probably acclimated to and proficient at utilizing it to do your surveying and civil design tasks. You most likely discovered how to use the built-in LDT function via a few simple hacks and workarounds, which you may first overlook while switching to Civil 3D.

However, I believe you’ll like some of the additional features and processes after you’ve invested in Civil 3D. Let’s see how well it matches your requirements.

What Is Civil 3D and How Does It Help?

Civil 3D is a civil engineering design and documentation tool that integrates with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) processes.

It’s simple to grasp project operations using AutoCAD Civil 3D, to retain the relevance of procedures and data, and to get a lightning-fast reaction to your adjustments.

Civil 3D is a design-oriented software application used by civil engineers and architects to plan, develop, and manage civil engineering projects.

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review Autodesk Civil 3D

These projects fall into three broad categories: land development, water development, and transportation development; and may include, but are not limited to, construction area development, structural engineering, road engineering, river dam development, harbor port construction, canals, and embankments.

AutoCAD Civil 3D is intended for users with a background in land surveying and civil drafting/drawing.

The software’s dynamic design processes enable the rapid construction of alternatives using model-based design tools.

AutoCAD Civil 3D aids in the organization of project data, the creation, and analysis of surfaces, the creation of block layouts, road corridors, and network layouts.

What Is CIM?

In the construction business, the notion of CIM (Construction/Civil Information Modeling) is gaining traction. It is similar to BIM (Building Information Modelling), but what is BIM? Contrary to common opinion, BIM encompasses much more than 3D design.

BIM is a method used in the creation of building projects. It begins with the planning of the project and continues through construction, operation, and maintenance, taking into account the whole cost, method, and strategy.

BIM began in the construction industry and has now expanded to include the infrastructure, supporting structure, and civil sectors.

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review autodesk What Is CIM

As a consequence, civil engineers refined the idea, making it more focused and specialized to the civil engineering business; therefore, the CIM (Construction/Civil information modeling) was born. Both BIM and CIM have the same concept, although the terminology differs by industry.

CIM allows architects and civil engineers to collaborate on a collection of three-dimensional models. In exchange, it develops an interactive project that incorporates real-time marketing. When architects and engineers focus on Drafting/Design, they get successful CIM outcomes.

CIM enables the construction of projects of any magnitude, from a single structure to a whole village. CIM can provide superior outcomes at a reduced cost. This is what motivates the industry’s shift away from old practices.

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D – About The Author

ASCENT creates and distributes a broad variety of courseware solutions, knowledge products, and courseware for the industry’s premier engineering software tools from Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, and PTC.

ASCENT’s team consists of courseware developers, engineers, instructional designers, architects, and technical writers that collaborate to provide effective training solutions to their customers.

Their curriculum division specializes in developing blended education programs that combine the finest of expert-led and technology-based training to provide the most effective course material and ensure users get the most out of their engineering tools.

Additionally, they endeavor to satisfy the demands of our clients by delivering various degrees of customization for classroom training curricula.

Why Should I Purchase AutoCAD Civil 3D?

With a comprehensive and complex toolkit that addresses a wide variety of Civil engineering disciplines and requirements, Civil 3D is the ideal BIM software for bringing your Civil engineering projects together, from initial exploration of what-if design scenarios to earthwork calculations, road, and highway design, and drainage systems, among other things.

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review Purchase AutoCAD Civil 3D

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2020 supports 64-bit operating systems, which enables it to handle extremely large data sets.

Additionally, it is available as part of the Autodesk Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Collection, which is excellent news for civil engineering firms seeking complementary CAD software.

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review: What You Should Know

When Autodesk released Civil 3D 2007, an already intelligent software gained even more intelligence. The model-based software takes the utilization of intelligent objects to new heights and provides sufficient functionality for real-world tasks.

However, is Civil 3D prepared to shine as the preferred production tool for civil engineering professionals? Globally, engineering businesses and governmental agencies are asking about that issue as they stick to Autodesk’s Land Desktop as their major production software and only see Civil 3D as the future.

Since the software’s original release in 2004, the intelligent objects and dynamic modeling features have gained prominence. Rather than depending on generic CAD entities, Civil 3D incorporates real-world objects that interact with one another.

For instance, an alignment object is a collection of lines and curves that collectively describe a project component’s horizontal placement, such as the centerline of a road. When you adjust an alignment, all associated objects, such as profiles and cross-sections, are updated immediately.

1. Vaulting For Management:

Civil 3D is the first civil software to use Autodesk Vault, a project management component that enables multiple users to access and collaborate on project data through project drawings.

Vault centralizes design data and enables users to collaborate on Civil 3D objects like surfaces, alignments, profiles, and pipe networks.

While one user is working on a specific aspect of a project, others may generate read-only references to object geometry for usage in other drawings. When employing Vault, points that are ordinarily recorded inside a Civil 3D design may be saved in an external database.

Vault may not be suitable for all civil users due to its previous integration with Autodesk’s mechanical and electrical products. According to others, it is better suited to repeated, linear procedures than to the project-specific character of civil work.

Time will tell if civil professionals embrace Vault or dismiss it as a pleasant feature. Civil 3D also features a project shortcut system for those who do not like to utilize Vault. This is a simpler application for project collaboration.

autodesk Vaulting For Management

Additionally, Civil 3D has a new label object that consolidates previously distinct label types for alignment and profile stationing, surface-spot and section-view elevations, as well as comments, lines, and curves. The new behavior enables the inclusion of references to other objects inside a label.

Corridors, one of the most outstanding Civil 3D objects owing to their ability to connect other objects like alignments, profiles, and sections, were upgraded in 2007. Along with dynamic modeling options for highways and other projects, grip-editing subassemblies are now possible in a corridor section view.

In other words, you may modify components like curbs, sidewalks, and pavement sections visually in cross-section view and have the changes reflected automatically in the corridor object.

Additionally, many bells and whistles have been added to other Civil 3D elements, such as points, surfaces, profiles, and sections. Autodesk has constantly added features and capabilities to Civil 3D, transforming it into a tool for both preliminary and final design.

However, critical gaps persist in critical areas like production drafting and data interchange. While interoperability with Land Desktop projects is typically strong, some elements like point data and earthwork volumes may not transfer readily.

2. Survey Functionality:

Additionally, Civil 3D has tools for dealing with field survey data. Previously, you had to obtain, produce, analyze, and edit survey data using external software, such as Autodesk’s Survey module in combination with Land Desktop.

Civil 3D surveying is accomplished via the use of two major objects: the network object, which represents a survey network or traverse, and the figure object, which represents a survey figure, such as a plat. Within a network, you may observe field observations in both graphical and tabular formats for a specific configuration.

In contrast to other Civil 3D data, survey data and figures are stored in a survey database, which means they may be accessible via numerous drawings connected to the same survey database.

In a command window that records both input and output, you may execute several surveying computations. For field-traverse analysis, you may make modifications to survey networks or individual traverses using techniques such as the least-squares approach. By utilizing point descriptions or figure instructions, you may create and manage field-located line work.

You may work with several survey data collectors to convert field data to field-book files and load it into Civil 3D. However, do not search for interfaces for data collecting inside Civil 3D: Autodesk makes use of third-party applications that may be accessed through the Civil 3D Media Browser or the Civil 3D partner goods Web site.

3. In The Pipeline:

One significant 2007 innovation is the addition of the ability to create pipe networks. You may model storm sewers, sanitary sewers, and other utility systems in three dimensions and manipulate them as intelligent objects. Drainage structures may be located in plan view beside a highway, connected to pipes, and pipe network components shown in profile and section views.

When you make modifications to pipe networks in plan view, the systems in profile and section views are dynamically updated. A part builder may assist in the creation of bespoke manholes, inlet structures, and pipe types, or you can choose from a library of prebuilt standard components.

Along with pipe network design, interference tests may be used to determine when pipes or structures physically clash or are too close together. Now, the interference check is a Civil 3D object with customizable styles and settings for identifying and displaying conflicts.

Civil 3D lacks H&H (hydrology and hydraulics) features, which means you cannot use the program to estimate storm-water runoff or pipe diameters. However, after pipes and buildings are scaled, the product excels at geometric design.

As with any product, there may be circumstances that the software cannot manage, such as automated labeling of inverts at pipe crossings or the inclusion of service lines inside a system. Civil 3D, like other Autodesk products, is customizable using VBA, Visual LISP, and.NET, which enables you to design routines that handle certain circumstances.

Features and Benefits of Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D:

Here are the features of Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D:

1. Share The Model:

One advantageous characteristic of Civil 3D is that you just have to represent your data once. You may then share it across several drawings and projects, as well as with other project consultants such as engineers.

You may, for example, represent a surface once in a master design and then distribute it via data shortcuts, Land-XML, or Vault.

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review autodesk Share The Model

The shared model may then be utilized for design or presentation reasons throughout plan production.

This not only eliminates duplication of work but also ensures that when the original model is modified, the revised model is dynamically updated in all other drawings, as well as any referenced designs or plans.

2. Parcels:

There are excellent parcel characteristics available regardless of whether you are doing a small border survey or a huge development. In a few easy steps, parcels are formed and completely labeled for dimensions and areas.

Naturally, if you need to modify a package, these labels and measurements will change automatically as well.

It’s easy to see how Civil 3D parcel capabilities are advantageous for subdivision planning and layout, but it’s also advantageous and beneficial for quality control and accuracy when used for even modest surveys, such as those for a single lot.

Have you ever seen a survey plan where a dimension or two on a property line are missing? Civil 3D makes it simple to name every line simultaneously, ensuring that no label is missed.

3. Surfaces:

Surfaces, in my opinion, are the one Civil 3D feature that best demonstrates the advantages of Civil 3D over LDT, especially when it comes to dynamic updates. Civil 3D’s surfaces are substantially identical to those in LDT, except for Civil 3D’s improved use of surface styles for surface presentation, its ability to dynamically update surfaces while editing, and its interaction with other design elements.

autodesk Surfaces

Once you’ve configured your surface styles (Civil 3D has numerous) and mastered the process of adding survey data to a surface, altering that surface will become simpler than ever. Because the surface constantly changes when you alter the data—or directly edit the surface—you see the effects instantly.

4. Description Key Sets:

If you’ve utilized description keys in LDT, as I’m sure you have, you’ll see that this capability is also available in Civil 3D. However, in Civil 3D, the description key file is stored in each drawing, in contrast to LDT, which uses a single master description key file across many drawings.

What makes Civil 3D unique are point styles, point label styles, and point groups, which extend and enrich the presentation of points considerably beyond what is possible with merely description keys.

5. Survey and Points:

As with LDT, AutoCAD Civil 3D has comprehensive survey capabilities through survey databases. Additionally, you may enter and modify survey data in a project survey database for reuse across numerous drawings or projects. In contrast to LDT, Civil 3D, however, does not reconcile survey points utilized in drawings.

For example, with LDT, if you establish a point in a drawing, say point number 1, that point is reserved in the project, indicating that you should not construct a new, differently positioned point number 1 in the future (duplicate point).

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review autodesk Survey and Points

Regrettably, Civil 3D allows you to construct an unlimited number of points with the same point number in various drawings and the survey database.

Because I suspect that many if any, land surveyors would desire two or more points placed in separate locations to share the same point number, it is up to you to manage your project’s points.

You’ll need a mechanism in place to control the integrity of points between your survey databases and project drawings. This is not as difficult as it seems, but I want to alert you to this possible constraint.

FAQs On Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review :

Is Civil 3D a difficult program to use?

Civil 3D is a very difficult program to master. More so than the majority of BIM software. It employs very uncommon and difficult techniques for constructing topographic surfaces (affectionately referred to as TIN or Triangulated Irregular Networks), roads (affectionately referred to as profiles and alignments), and sewers (aka networks).

Who is the target audience for Autodesk Civil 3D?

Civil engineers, civil designers, and other professionals use Autodesk's Civil 3D to plan, design and manage land development, water, and transportation projects.

Is Autocad Civil 3D a BIM application?

Civil 3D civil engineering design software incorporates BIM (Building Information Modeling) technologies to streamline the drafting, design, and documentation processes.

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Conclusion: Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Review 

This article is intended to provide a high-level overview of why AutoCAD Civil 3D may be the ideal option for your land surveying firm. When I made the conversion to Civil 3D, I took the chance to re-examine my whole business.

We mapped out each process step by step, including non-surveying related workflows, and minimized or eliminated redundancies, inefficient processes, and superfluous stages.

Then, to the extent practicable, we configured Civil 3D to function in conjunction with our new systems and processes, rather than the other way around.

Regardless of the surveying and CAD software you use, whether it is AutoCAD Civil 3D, Carlson, or another, you should also review and enhance your processes and procedures for optimal efficiency and accuracy.

Then, choose the most efficient and accurate software product that you can afford. AutoCAD Civil 3D, in my experience, is the ideal option for a large number of land surveyors.

Andy Thompson
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Andy Thompson has been a freelance writer for a long while. She is a senior SEO and content marketing analyst at Digiexe, a digital marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. She has more than seven years of experience in digital marketing & affiliate marketing too. She likes sharing her knowledge in a wide range of domains ranging from e-commerce, startups, social media marketing, making money online, affiliate marketing to human capital management, and much more. She has been writing for several authoritative SEO, Make Money Online & digital marketing blogs like ImageStation.

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