Recently I was asked by a customer to come up with a simple way to allow raised-faced (RF) flanges and flat-faced flanges to connect in AutoCAD Plant 3D. The way to do this is to modify the software to treat different values as being equivalent for the purposes of validating and making connections between components. Here are the steps to make these modifications:
- Open Project Setup within the project which is going to contain these changes
- Within Project Setup, navigate to "Plant 3D DWG Settings > Piping Connection Settings"
- Under "Simple Joints" highlight the "Flanged joint" and select the "Modify" button
- Within the "Modify Joint" dialog for the "Flanged joint", highlight the "Facing" property match in the middle of the dialog and select the "Matching Values" button. This will allow you to specify values for the selected property that should be considered equivalent by the software.
- Next, provide the matching values that you want to specify - in this case we want the software to treat RF and FF as matching property values so input them separated with a comma and then select the "OK" button.
If you wanted to allow two pressure classes to be considered equivalent (e.g ASME 125 LB and 150 LB classes) you would have selected that property and input the values "125" and "150" separated by a comma (note: a single space after the comma is acceptable).
- Now select the "Modify" button to close the "Modify Joint" dialog.
This will now work for projects where you have the choice of FF and RF flanges, but what if your spec also has a third facing choice like ring-type joint (RTJ)? With this third facing type, you do not want it to be treated as matching with RF and FF flanges but you do want to connect with other RTJ facings. As it stands with our current customization our facings must be either RF or FF to be considered matching. To add the extra validation to allow other facings to connect we need to modify the DefaultConnectorsConfig.xml file located in the project's root folder. I use the "firstobject XML Editor" (www.firstobject.com) for editing these files and always recommend to the person modifying AutoCAD Plant 3D project configuration files to make a backup copy of the file before editing it.
Warning: if you are not comfortable editing xml files it is probably best that you perform the steps below on a non-production test project before implementing in a working environment.
- Open DefaultConnectorsConfig.xml for editing
- Find the line that reads <Joint Name="Flanged">, below this are the lines which define how simple flanged joints behave.
- Several lines down there is a line that begins with <MatchCondition> and this is the line that we will need to modify. The default line simply checks for matching conditions between the NomimalDiameter, PressureClass and Facing properties of the two components (facing property match shown in red):
<MatchCondition>E1.NominalDiameter=E2.NominalDiameter AND E1.PressureClass=E2.PressureClass AND E1.Facing=E2.Facing</MatchCondition>
However, we modified this flange connection in steps 1 through 6 in the preceding section using Project Setup, so your line probably looks like this:
<MatchCondition>E1.NominalDiameter=E2.NominalDiameter AND E1.PressureClass=E2.PressureClass AND (E1.Facing IN ('RF', 'FF') AND E2.Facing IN ('RF', 'FF')) </MatchCondition>
Now, what we need to do is modify this line to be a hybrid of these two so that we have a conditional "OR" statement for the matching of the "Facing" property. The final conditional statement for the facing matching is shown in bold red below (be sure to note the extra parentheses surrounding the entire statement:
<MatchCondition>E1.NominalDiameter=E2.NominalDiameter AND E1.PressureClass=E2.PressureClass AND ((E1.Facing IN ('RF', 'FF') AND E2.Facing IN ('RF', 'FF')) OR E1.Facing=E2.Facing)</MatchCondition>
- Save the DefaultConnectorsConfig.xml file but leave it open for the next steps.
This completes the necessary modifications for a simple joint - connecting two components with a set of fasteners or a joint (like a Buttweld). Next, we need to make similar modifications to the "Compound joint" that is called "Auto flange joint". Compound joints are used when additional components are needed to make a connection. An example of this is when you "drop" a flanged valve onto a section of pipe. The software evaluates the compound joint options and will insert a flange in-between the ends of the flanged valve and the pipe.
- With the DefaultConnectorsConfig.xml file still open, search within it for the line that begins with <Joint Name="AutoFlange">
- Look several lines below it for the line that starts with <Filter> and reads something like this (note the facing match condition shown again in red):
<Filter>C1.NominalDiameter=E1.NominalDiameter AND C2.NominalDiameter=E2.NominalDiameter AND C1.Facing=E1.Facing AND C1.EndType='FL' AND C1.PressureClass=E1.PressureClass</Filter>
- Modify this line so that it not only checks for equivalent facings but also allows the RF=FF condition matching for this compound joint like we had in the simple joint. Your resulting line (facing match condition shown in red) should look like this:
<Filter>C1.NominalDiameter=E1.NominalDiameter AND C2.NominalDiameter=E2.NominalDiameter AND ((C1.Facing IN ('RF', 'FF') AND E1.Facing IN ('RF', 'FF')) OR C1.Facing=E1.Facing) AND C1.EndType='FL' AND C1.PressureClass=E1.PressureClass</Filter>
- Save DefaultConnectorsConfig.xml and exit the XML editor.
You will probably need to close the AutoCAD Plant 3D project and re-open it to reload the XML file and test your connections. Congratulations on successfully modifying the connection matching criteria using both the user interface (Project Setup) and by directly modifying the XML file. Note that if you make changes to these connections with Project Setup after modifying the XML file directly you may lose those changes so (again, and always) keep a backup copy of your customized files and document the changes you have made to them.