Pipe Runs and Pressure Pipe Updates in Civil 3D 2021

Having been a long time coming, Pressure Pipe Networks and associated behaviors have been updated for Civil 3D 2021. This is a feature that I have found many users bypassing, due to the perceived (and somewhat real) gripes or difficulty in using the tools. By “bypassing” the tools altogether, I mean that gravity pipe tools are being widely used to layout pressure networks. That workaround comes with its own set of difficulties, but we will not get into that…today.

One feature I do want to point out is the idea of Pipe Runs for Pressure Pipe Networks. Essentially, this terminology of ‘pipe runs’ is reflective of how it is used in the industry: It is merely the layout of the pipe system. With that, any references to the Pressure Pipe layout are now called out as Pipe Runs. Also, where some commands, panel layout and overall structure of the command ribbon were pretty bunched up in previous versions, 2021 sees a revamp that splits out the creation, modification, profile, and other pipe tools.






Initially, when creating a new Pressure Pipe network, you will see a small change in the dialog box:


The name provided in this line will also create a pipe Alignment of the same name and it will be categorized as a Miscellaneous Alignment outside of a site.

During the picks and clicks laying out your Pressure Pipe network parts, you should notice that the previously restricting compass is gone! You are no longer constrained to the predefined angles of 11.25-,22.5-, 45-, and 90-degrees. Instead, the layout goes in as entered, with the pipes being inserted with any allowable deflections in place.

For instance, I laid out a pipe run with a bend that is closest to a 90-bend. However, the bend as I drew it is actually closer to 82 degrees. The 90-degree bend is still inserted but zooming in shows us the deflection that is allowed by that part, at both ends.



Totally reworked from previous versions is how parts are selected, whether individually or as a group, for information, part swap, deletion, etc. Now, when you hover over a single part, it highlights as usual, but click on any part of a pipe run and only the Alignment that was generated is highlighted. With the Alignment highlighted, editing the geometry of the pipe run is controlled by the Alignment grips (this is where things get interesting).

In previous versions, when you selected the ‘move’ grip on a fitting (because that was the only real way to move the ‘PI’ location), the attached pipes would also move or stretch as expected. However, the part remained the same. That is to say that a 90-degree bend would remain as such even if you straightened out the angle between the pipes.

The before-and-after sequence of such a grip-edit move would show that a 45-degree bend would stay as-is, giving a false layout. It would require more cleanup, part swap, et cetera when done in the previous versions.

Now, in 2021, when you perform a similar task, something different happens to the layout.

05Here is a small (and fictional) layout that I will make a more extreme change to…

First, here is the grip edit:


Now let us move a grip. I will choose the middle ‘move’ grip on the last pipe segment:


The parts automatically get swapped out for those that are closer to the new geometry layout!

Note: I could have saved that trick for a ‘Swap Parts’ section, but I could not wait any longer on that one.


So, what change does the new feature layout apply to Swap Parts then? Since you cannot simply select an individual part anymore, you must access Swap Parts in the command ribbon.


With that, you can now select multiple parts to swap at once! Simply click the icon, select the parts to swap, make the desired changes, and there you have it. Multiple swapped parts!

‘Break Pipe Run’ does as one would expect and now adds a PI to the associated Alignment.

Now, this next new feature is a much needed one: Add Branch Fitting. When you have two pipes that form a junction, it was previously a bit tricky to get them to properly connect once you get the fitting in place. Now, this command allows you to simply drop in a fitting where a pipe branches off.

Below, I have a pipe that I ‘teed’ into another with no fitting. Now, clicking ‘Add Branch Fitting’ then selecting either the main or branch pipe segment first, and then the other (the command apparently does not care which is selected first), a fitting is inserted. The command also recognized that it was a tee that was needed because of the geometry involved.


When I removed the tee and extended my pipe, the command automatically recognizes the difference in the geometry and added a cross once I executed the command again.


Lastly, about the Alignments… two new icons are added to allow adding and removing bends/PIs to your pipe runs. This additional functionality automatically adds or removes any necessary pipe geometry when executed. How cool is that?

There will be more to come as we expose the awesome changes in pressure pipes for 2021!

About the Author

Bryant Quinney

Civil Solutions Applications Expert<br><br>Working with clients to implement various technologies and techniques within civil engineering disciplines. With my travels, I teach/train, troubleshoot, solve, configure, and implement solutions based on client needs. Drawing on many years of experience across various types of projects, I continue to enjoy doing this type of work.

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