Printing Standard Construction Details


As a private consultant on Autodesk software, I get a lot of tech support tickets over various topics. One that often comes up is printing issues, especially for a large set of engineering plans.  So, what is the best way to print construction details?

When working on engineering plans, most cities, counties, and state transportation departments provide PDFs of construction details. For decades, engineers and designers would attach these standard PDFs to CAD files and then print them to PDF.  Then, they would wonder why their combined PDF was so large. I first experienced this issue 10 years ago, and then I decided to do some testing to see what would be the best results for adding construction details to a set of engineering plans. 


Well, according to my testing, the best way to attach/include standard construction details is by using .png or .tiff files, which in turn produce the smallest PDF file. So, in my test, I created four separate CAD files. One using PDF details, tiff details, jpeg details, and png details. In the first image, you can see the size of the CAD files and PDF files.



As you can see, if you attach PDF files to CAD files and then print to PDF, it produces the largest PDF file. For just one sheet, it was 6.6 MB. Most engineering plans have  2-25 sheets of engineering construction details. That can add up quickly. The .png and .tiff image construction printed as PDF produces the smallest file size. The print DPI resolution for all four prints was set to 400.


As a CAD Manager for years, I instructed engineers and designers to use this method to reduce printing time. When you have a smaller PDF set of plans, the printing process can drastically improve. Hopefully, this tip helps your company with any printing issues.

Have a great week!