CAD or Revit? How does MEP Engineer Suggest Options for Your Work?

Anuj Srivastava
September 21, 2022
4 Minutes Read
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    MEP engineers are the backbone of building, renovating, and repairing structures all across the world. They have an incredible breadth of knowledge and are experts in the fields of plumbing, electrical, and mechanical engineering.

    Moreover, MEP engineers also work to ensure that buildings are energy efficient and sustainable. They use AutoCAD and Revit in MEP to create designs and plans for the construction of a building.

    Architects often wonder which is the better software of the two for their projects. The answer is not so simple. Both AutoCAD and Revit are extensively used by architects and MEP engineers. While AutoCAD is primarily used for 2D drafting and Revit is majorly used as a 3D modeling software.

    The latter is a BIM (Building Information Modeling) authoring tool, preferred for timely project deliveries, reduced risks, and high-quality designs. Before learning the differences between the two, let us understand them individually.

    AutoCAD Capabilities

    AutoCAD is a computer-aided design program that has been used by architects, engineers, and designers for more than three decades. It can be used to create both 2D and 3D drawings and has been updated to include a variety of features that allow for more creativity, collaboration, and flexibility.

    The AutoCAD software is available as a subscription service and can be used on both desktop and mobile.

    Listed below are the key reasons why architects and MEP engineers use AutoCAD:

    • Primary focus is on 2D drawings but also has some 3D capabilities
    • Familiar design environment for many MEP engineers and architects since AutoCAD was launched 20 years before Revit
    • Compatibility with old DWG files
    • Ability to customize the workspace environment
    • AutoCAD MEP works on the same commands as AutoCAD. Architects already using AutoCAD prefer AutoCAD MEP over Revit MEP
    • Can be used for designing and drafting mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems individually

    Revit Capabilities

    Revit is a 3D building modeler. It is a powerful tool for architects, structural engineers, contractors, and MEP engineers. Revit MEP is a specialized version of Revit that deals with mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems. Thanks to parametric modeling, Revit offers a complete viewpoint in 3D to MEP engineers.

    The following are crucial reasons why the use of Revit MEP has proliferated:

    • The software is user-friendly and is constantly updated.
    • Allows for real-time collaboration between architects, engineers, and contractors from concept to construction.
    • Enables the creation of detailed 3D models, complete with physical properties, specifications, and how different components of a design interact with each other.
    • Makes the design process more efficient.
    • Permits automatic placement of ducts, pipes, and joineries.
    • Integrates seamlessly with other tools like Navisworks for clash detection, thereby preventing costly construction mistakes.
    • Offers a vast library of generic components.
    • Displays 3D walkthroughs and high-definition animations.
    • Takes away the guesswork by helping teams determine precise material takeoff, cost estimates, and project schedule.
    • Facilitates MEP coordination by rendering BIM-ready designs.

    AutoCAD and Revit MEP, both have their advantages. But which is better?

    AutoCAD vs Revit

    Before reaching a conclusion, let us look at the downsides of both AutoCAD and Revit.

    Drawbacks of AutoCAD

    AutoCAD is one of the most popular and widely used CAD software in the world. However, just like any other software, AutoCAD has some drawbacks, such as:

    • It is not as user-friendly and intuitive as Revit.
    • There is a steep learning curve involved, which can be quite frustrating for inexperienced engineers.
    • Edits made to any part of the design are not replicated elsewhere, which necessitates manual corrections.
    • Lacks a repository of generic component information. Users have to type in the specifics every time unless they buy AutoCAD’s industry-specific modules that cover some industries if not all.
    • AutoCAD is not a BIM authoring tool. Although it has some 3D capabilities, those are also geometric drawings rather than detailed 3D simulations.
    • It does not have internal clash detection which can lead to MEP overlaps. MEP engineers and architects cannot open the Navisworks file in AutoCAD directly, but they can attach them as coordination models with the help of the External References palette.

    Now, let’s talk about Revit.

    Drawbacks of Revit

    • It is more expensive than AutoCAD.
    • Revit is designed for Windows, not Mac.
    • Compared to AutoCAD, Revit has a narrow industry focus and limited occupational reach. It is mainly used for city planning and construction.

    The disadvantages of Revit MEP far outweigh the advantages. For one, edits made by the team are synched across a design, which in turn, greatly simplifies upgrades and maintenance. Moreover, it offers complete building information, unlike AutoCAD.

    The Revit software is an industry standard for performance analysis of building structures. It is used for a variety of purposes, for example, to determine the energy efficiency of a building, to evaluate its environmental impact, and to assess fire resistance.

    Unlike AutoCAD, users don’t need to work in separate layers. Revit automatically generates multiple viewpoints of a 3D model and allows teammates to work on the same design simultaneously. Therefore, Revit is better for teamwork compared to AutoCAD.

    For these reasons, CAD to Revit conversion is prevalent in engineering firms. Not to mention, young engineers and architects find Revit much easier to learn and master.

    What’s The Verdict?

    AutoCAD overshadows Revit in two major aspects: compatibility with old DWG files and wide industry focus. And for those two reasons, MEP engineers may prefer AutoCAD software for your project. However, in all the other facets, Revit eclipses AutoCAD.

    Clearly, Revit is an incredible alternative tool and has better capabilities than AutoCAD. Not to mention, the CAD to Revit conversion is time-consuming and labor-intensive. If not a complete replacement, Revit can be used as a complementing design tool. The decision to go with either Revit or AutoCAD also depends upon the project’s objective and the core team’s expertise.

    NY Engineers is a leading MEP design firm that is licensed in 50 states and offers services like CAD to Revit modeling, hydraulic calculations, photonetric analysis, and more. Having delivered 1000+ projects across various sectors, Nearby Engineers has become a trustworthy name in the field of MEP design.

    Contact us today to get a quote/schedule a consultation!

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