Bricsys: We’re Not Holding Back on DWG, Part 2

27 Dec, 2017 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Going head-to-head with AutoCAD, company upgrades general 2D/3D functionality of BricsCAD V18, as well as mechanical and sheet metal offerings.

Belgium-based software developer Bricsys is committing fully to the DWG file format for 2D/3D CAD and building information modeling (BIM) and pitting its flagship BricsCAD directly against AutoCAD, hoping to lure Autodesk customers who are grappling with recent licensing changes. At the Bricsys 2017 conference in Paris this fall, where the company hosted myself and several other members of the CAD media, the company described its DWG-centric software development strategy, outlined updates to BricsCAD V18, and introduced BricsCAD Shape, a free, simple-to-use DWG-based tool for 2D/3D conceptual modeling tool. (See “Bricsys: We’re Not Holding Back on DWG, Part 1.”) In this installment, I’ll detail the general updates found in BricsCAD V18 — as well as those for mechanical and sheet metal design. Part 3 of the series outlines updates to the BIM Module and the Bricsys 24/7 cloud-based solution for construction project collaboration.

BricsCAD — the Basics

Released in November, BricsCAD V18 supports general design, mechanical and sheet metal design, and BIM in one DWG-based product — in fact, BricsCAD is the only system that allows intelligent modeling of both buildings and mechanical assemblies in one system. As I described in Part 1, the company demonstrated an elevator model being updated inside the BIM model of a building. And because BricsCAD enables direct and parametric modeling, users have the freedom to push/pull when desired and mechanically constrain when required.



BricsCAD is available in Classic, Pro, and Platinum editions, the latter of which is required to support BIM and Sheet Metal modules and full-fledged mechanical modeling.


This chart breaks down BricsCAD functionality by edition: BricsCAD Classic (US$605–$840), BricsCAD Pro ($750–$970), and BricsCAD Platinum ($1,110–$1,330). Higher prices reflect All-In-Maintenance, which includes priority support and an upgrade to the next major version.

New repository-based design in BricsCAD V18 is the first fundamental change in DWG technology in 35 years, according to the company. It enables “blazingly fast Drawing Compare with a unique Visual Merge feature.” This tool scans two versions of a drawing and rapidly compares the history of all graphical entities. Changes display in contrasting colors in the Structure Panel, where users can select the entities to keep and automatically discard the others.

BricsCAD V18 generates block previews 50 times faster than competing CAD products, Bricsys claims. Enhancements to the graphics pipeline also provide smooth transitions between 3D views when navigating complex models, and switching between layouts gets faster with subsequent views thanks to caching. Collision detection can be 60 times faster that with other products — 8 seconds versus 8 minutes in one example shared. And BricsCAD is said to be 100 times faster on average than AutoCAD for object comparison.

Additional updates, aimed at simplifying the user interface and decreasing design time, include the following:

  • Clean Screen options enable toggling between your conventional BricsCAD workspace and a clean, graphics window–only view.
  • The Manipulator widget lets users rotate, move, mirror, or scale entities along an axis or a plane. Dynamic dimensions help to locate items precisely.
  • Section views can be clipped in real-time and can be set differently per viewport. Clipped section views can be printed, and the V18 content browser lets users drag and drop clipped views into layouts to document specific drawing details, for example.
  • Navigate helps users walk or fly through 3D models using cursor keys, toggles, and mouse clicks, much like the familiar experience of playing a video game.
  • Drawing Explorer brings all drawing metadata to one place. Users can easily preview layers, compare dimension styles and copy style data between drawings. Layers and materials panels can be docked separately.
  • Rollover Tips in V18 can be customized per entity type to show length, slope area, and volume of entities, and users can display properties from third-party add-ons.
  • The new Content Browser offers the ability to easily drag-and-drop blocks into a drawing, with full control over how they get inserted. Users can drag-and-drop dimension styles into drawings.
  • The Structure Panel in BricsCAD V18 offers new insights into data. With one dialog layout to learn, users can switch quickly between different sorting and grouping configurations. It supports tasks such as finding all zero-length lines in a drawing, looking for entities at extreme coordinates, and finding blocks inserted above or below the WCS.
  • The new Layout Manager is designed to make it easy to add, delete, activate, find, or rearrange drawing layouts.

BricsCAD V18 for Mechanical Design

BricsCAD implements all key toolsets you expect from a mechanical CAD system, Bricsys claims. Direct modeling combined with constraints and parametrics gives designers modeling freedom as well as the precision necessary to create complex parts and assemblies, while direct editing operations respect geometric and dimensional constraints — all history free. Users can now create detail drawings of solids/parts nested inside other components.



With BricsCAD V18 Platinum, users experience no difference between editing native or imported geometry; design intent is captured automatically. Users never have to recreate designs from scratch, and model changes are described as “fast and robust.”

Integrated in BricsCAD V18 Platinum, which supports the DWG 2018 format, updates for mechanical design include:


  • Parametric arrays and design tables make short work of both 2D and 3D families of parts. Users can easily create and design documentation.
  • Associative arrays can be driven by parametric expressions. Create fully parametric, table-driven families of parts in both 2D and 3D with this feature, in combination with the new Design Table functionality — “an exciting alternative to dynamic blocks.”
  • The Bill of Materials feature gains new power through the addition of associative balloons, which serve as associative number tags that label assembly components in model space. Balloons appear in associated paper space viewports and link back to specific rows in the displayed BOM.
  • The VIEWSECTION command now allows users to set a per-component property that will control the display of the part in associated 2D detail views.
  • BricsCAD Communicator, an add-in translator (starting at US$610), imports parts and assemblies from industry-standard CAD systems with full fidelity, including product manufacturing information (PMI). Users can export a variety of CAD formats from Communicator to improve collaboration with designers and manufacturers regardless of location.

Updates for BricsCAD Sheet Metal

Using the Sheet Metal module for BricsCAD V18 Platinum, which Bricsys dubs the most flexible sheet metal design system available today, users can create manufacturable sheet metal parts from scratch or from an existing solid — even from parts imported from other CAD systems — and can now export complex assemblies containing sheet metal parts and components. The system automatically creates an unfolded flat pattern, line-work DXF file, and HTML summary report for each sheet metal part in an assembly.

The SMEXTRUDE command creates sheet metal parts from any polyline boundary. In combination with BricsCAD V18’s ability to extract edges and loops from existing geometry, this feature “can take sheet metal part creation to a new level of ease,” converting linear segments to flanges and arcs to bends. Hard edges in flanges automatically convert to bends. SMRIBCREATE creates associative rib features from any 2D profile. Changing the defining profile updates the rib feature automatically.

BricsCAD V18 Platinum and the Sheet Metal Module retail for US$1,630–$1,940 as a package, with the higher price reflecting addition of All-In Maintenance. 

Finishing Details

BricsCAD V18 for Windows is available today in 17 languages, with updates of Linux and Mac versions to come. A cloud edition of BricsCAD is available as well. A free 30-day trial is available for BricsCAD, the Sheet Metal Module, and Communicator.

Bricsys software is made available through perpetual or subscription licensing options, via BricsCAD resellers and the Bricsys online store; volume, network, and rental licenses are available through resellers. For those considering a switch from AutoCAD, Bricsys offers an extensive comparison chart of BricsCAD vs. AutoCAD features as well as a free copy of Ralph Grabowski’s e-book, BricsCAD for AutoCAD Users.

About the Author: Nancy Spurling Johnson

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