Published: February 1, 2023

Making the Transition from AutoCAD Fabrication to Revit



AutoCAD Fabrication, formally known as CAD-MECH is a powerful BIM/Detailing software that has been the industry standard for decades. However, as the processing capacity of computers and the complexity of construction projects grew, innovations in how we model projects have led us to Revit.

With Revit, detailers now have the ability to see projects fully rendered in 3D and to have all aspects of the project, from floorplans to MEP systems to spools all in one virtual space. These 3D models have become invaluable tools at every stage of a project’s life, from initial project planning to end-user maintenance. 

When it comes to creating these BIM models, Revit is now the industry standard. Making the jump over to Revit can be daunting though as it’s based on different modeling principles and has different interfaces and workflows than Fabrication. 

If you’re looking to take the leap from AutoCAD to Revit, our expert BIM detailers at ICON-BIM have some advice to make your transition as smooth as possible. But first, why even go through the hassle of switching? What does Revit offer that makes it worth the challenge?

Revit has a lot more functionality with your Fab-Shop as well. Adding more efficiency to your prefabrication efforts saves time and money. Now Detailing drives prefabrication and prefabrication increases profits. Read more about how Detailing drives prefabrication and 10 ways Detailing saves you time and money.


Benefits of Revit

Access to Bigger Contracts

Switching over to BIM software such as Revit can open doors for companies looking to get into larger projects or to work with contractors who require Revit as part of the construction process. More and more projects are requiring BIM to be eligible to bid. This is increasingly common for large, complex projects or government contracts. Having the ability to offer a BIM model as part of your process helps you stand out, win more work, and increase efficiency and profits. 

The Ability to Collaborate and View Live Models

Revit allows you to work collaboratively with other users so multiple people can work on the same model at the same time. The ability to work independently and then sync your changes to a central model allows for work on large-scale projects to progress more efficiently. Multiple detailers can work on separate areas while maintaining a fully updated model accessible to all team members. 

Big Picture Modeling

Revit is a more powerful software than AutoCAD Fabrication. With access to more RAM and processing power, Revit can render the entire project in one model. There’s no need to create separate models for different floors or rooms to keep AutoCAD from crashing. This allows everyone on the team to access the entire project making sure everything fits together seamlessly. When adjustments are needing to be made you don't have to open up every floor to shift a riser, as was the case in AutoCAD Fabrication. The shift can be made once and the entire riser will adjust in the Revit model. 

How to Make the Transition Smooth

If you’re ready to make the switch from AutoCAD Fabrication to Revit, there are some tips and tricks that can help keep the transition as smooth as possible. 

Don’t be Afraid of Revit

Embracing new tech is always a challenge. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be an awful experience. Before you even download the software, adapt a curious outlook and go in with an open mind. Yes, figuring out a new system will be frustrating at times but hundreds of people before you have made this work. You’ll get there. Approach learning Revit with AutoCAD fabrication in mind. The same ways we did things in Fabrication are done in Revit. It's easy to ask someone familiar with both software, I did this in Fabrication how can I do the same thing in Revit. 

Starting Thinking Like a Detailer

Revit is a collaborative BIM software, not CAD, so thinking about projects through a collaborative lens will help you work with the program and get the most out of what it has to offer. How Revit Detailing/Sketching professionals approach building design is different from CAD detailers so learning the basics of BIM methodologies and principles will help Revit’s workflow feel more intuitive. Plus, if you’re taking the leap to Revit, you’re probably looking to embrace a collaborative environment anyway. Use this time to get familiar with all that entails. Having field-experienced Detailers is an important aspect of building a high-caliber team. Here is a blog we wrote on just that. Click here


Be Prepared to Adjust Your Workflow

Part of adapting a Revit mindset is adjusting your workflow. Projects in Revit are not approached in the same manner as they are in Fabrication. To succeed with Revit, you need to change the way you work on projects. The sooner you can embrace how Revit progresses through the modeling process, the sooner you’ll be able to use it to its full potential. 

Go All In

Resist the urge to detail part of your project in AutoCAD. It may feel like a waste of time to spend an hour figuring out how to do something in Revit that would take you 10 minutes in Fabrication. But every time you fall back to your old ways you’re undermining your progress with Revit and wasting a hands-on learning opportunity. We internalize things when we have to figure them out for a real reason, not when we practice them from a tutorial. So take a deep breath, stay committed, and do whatever it takes to complete the task in Revit. After that, you’ll know how to do it more efficiently the next go around.. 


Take the Time to Learn the Tools and Interface

Before you dive straight into trying to model that huge project you have your eyes on, familiarize yourself with the layout, workflow, and tools Revit employs. Start small and see how all the functions in Revit fit together. Once you’re comfortable with the Revit environment, you’ll be able to navigate the program and find the right tools for the job. From that point, you’ll be better prepared to set up a project and begin modeling. 

Be Patient With the Process

Give yourself time to adjust to how Revit operates. Even if you’re a pro with Fabrication, Revit is an entirely new software based on similar detailing principles. Give yourself and your team generous lead times on any projects you’re hoping to model through Revit the first few times. Once you’ve mastered the program, Revit will cut down on detailing time, but you have to put in the hours to get there. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

Like anything in life, the more you use Revit and the more of its features you experiment with, the better you’ll get. No tutorial or training can prepare you for every real-time problem you may face during a project. The only way to learn is to do it. So grab a coffee, log yourself in, and see what comes your way. 

How ICON-BIM Supports Revit Learning

We at ICON-BIM use Revit modeling software and our detailing team is well-versed in all the ins and outs of the program. With our high level of experience, we often partner with companies that haven’t made the switch to Revit, but are capturing work that has a Revit requirement. We work with these companies to create a Revit model for their project and can offer a unique learning opportunity to their detailing team. 

On these occasions, we offer partner companies the option to have one of their detailers come work with us and learn how to model their project in Revit first-hand. This immersive opportunity allows for hands-on learning in a BIM environment with knowledgeable professionals. 

If you want to add Revit modeling to your company’s offerings and are looking at how to get your foot in the door, contact us to learn more about how we can support your team in learning Revit first-hand and building Revit models for your upcoming projects. To learn more about how ICON-BIM can support your next project, have a look at our services or get in touch for a free estimate.




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