Creating Custom Drawing Templates (Alibre Design Tips)

31 May, 2008 By: Aaron Arnold

Customize Alibre's existing templates by inserting new fields and graphics.

Editor's note: This tutorial courtesy of Alibre.

Alibre Design includes a variety of ANSI and ISO 2D drawing templates that cover many users' needs, but it also offers the ability to create custom drawing templates. Often times you will need to customize your template to include your logo, specific information fields, or additional title block space.

There are three ways to create a custom template:

  • Open a new, blank drawing and insert all borders, fields, and graphics.
  • Open an existing Alibre template and insert the new fields and graphics.
  • Import a DWG/DXF template, make the necessary changes, and save in Alibre format.

This tutorial will focus on the second option, so you will learn how to edit one of the standard existing drawing templates to add space for a company logo, a Product Name field, and a custom dimension style. We will also expand the title block.

Step 1: Create an Empty Drawing
In our case, the first step to creating a custom template is to open an existing template. Create a new drawing by clicking on the New Drawing button on the Alibre Design Home window. When the New Sheet Properties dialog box appears, select the ANSI A Landscape template, check the Create Empty Drawing checkbox, and click OK.

Create an empty sheet.

When the Fill In Text dialog box appears, leave the default fields blank for now and click OK. The drawing will be created without asking you to insert any standard views, since you specified an empty drawing.

Explode the symbol to edit the template.
Step 2: Explode the Symbol
Once the empty drawing has been created, it's time to start editing it to reflect the changes to be made to it. The first step to editing a template is to explode it so that all of the individual components can be modified. Right-click on the border and select Explode Symbol. The line and field elements in the template can now be edited individually.

Step 3: Insert a Company Logo
The first customization to make is to insert a company logo. Alibre supports a wide variety of image formats, including BMP, JPG, and PNG, so you should be able to insert yours fairly easily. From the Insert menu, choose Image, and in the Select Image dialog box, browse to the location of your image, select it, and click Open.

Insert an image for your logo.

Your image will float with your cursor until you click to place it. The logo will look better with a border around it, so enter sketch mode by right-clicking in the background and choosing Activate Sketch on Sheet, then draw two lines around the image with the Line tool.

The finished logo.

Step 4: Add a Labeled Custom Field
You can add fields to the Fill In Text dialog box, which is helpful if your designs have a lot of similar information to insert. In this example, a product name field should be added above the title block in the lower right-hand corner of the template. You should draw lines first this time to help you place the text fields, so select the Line tool and draw two lines above the block -- in essence we've just expanded the title block. Once you've done that, go to the Sketch menu and select Text / Field. Recalling the Fill In Text dialog box, fields are editable areas of text, whereas labels simply mark their location. When the Field dialog box opens, enter PRODUCT NAME in the Name field. You can add a default value that will be automatically suggested each time the template is used and customize the appearance of the text, but leave that alone for now. Before you click OK, click on the drawing sheet in the location where the field should be, which is inside the lines you just drew. Once you've placed the field, click OK.

Create Fields and Labels.

Once you've placed the field, click OK to confirm. You will also want a label to identify the field, so go back to the Insert Menu and select Text / Label. Enter PRODUCT NAME and position the label by clicking in the workspace above and to the left of the text field you placed earlier. Click OK to confirm after placing the label.

You should now have an editable text field with a label above it.

The finished labeled custom field.

Step 5: Create a Custom Dimension Style
A dimension style is a collection of settings that controls the appearance of your model's dimensions. You can have multiple dimensions styles in a drawing, but it might be beneficial to have a standard dimension style for your drawings to ensure consistency. In this example, you will want to change your dimension style from displaying in decimals to displaying fractions, with a denominator of 16, so select Dimension Styles in the Tools menu. First, click the New Dimension Style button, and enter Standard 001 for the name. Since there aren't any other dimension styles in this template, the only option in Copy From dropdown menu is the Default. In the current Units and Tolerance tab, click on the Format dropdown to change the value to Fractions. The dropdown menu below will then change from Precision to Denominator, so change the value to 16. Click OK to set these options.

Create a new dimension style.

Now save this template with the name Product Line in an easily accessible directory. It's time to create a drawing with the new template.

Step 6: Create a New Drawing
Open a part and create a new drawing. In the New Sheet Properties dialog box, click the Browse button to select your custom template, and then click OK. In The Fill In Text dialog box, you will notice that there is now a fourth entry in the list of tag fields -- enter a value for PRODUCT NAME and click OK. Accept the default views in the Standard View Creation dialog box by clicking OK, and place the views on the sheet. You will see that the value you entered in the PRODUCT NAME field is on the drawing in the appropriate location, and if you right-click on the front view and select Reproject Design Dimensions, the design dimensions will be displayed in fractions.

Overall, this technique can save you a lot of time and allow you to easily follow drawing standards of your company. Keep in mind that any drawing can be used as a template for another drawing -- so if you can sketch what you are after, you can just save the drawing and use it as a template for future drawings.

About the Author: Aaron Arnold