The WD_M Drawing File in AutoCAD® Electrical

Posted on November 15, 2013 by Todd Schmoock, Synergis Manufacturing Solutions Engineer:

AutoCAD® Electrical uses a drawing file called WD_M.DWG to make an AutoCAD Electrical schematic file smart, which then allows you to access the tools in AutoCAD Electrical.  This file is located in the project’s library and will be placed in a drawing automatically if it doesn’t initially exist.  You should place this in the AutoCAD Electrical template(s) you plan to use to avoid being asked every time.  Additionally, you should make sure your template(s) and the WD_M.DWG file modifications are the same.  This will avoid having drawings being different if you do start with a template, or use a file that does not have this block in it.  The WD_M.DWG is placed at 0,0 and is hidden.  AutoCAD Electrical communicates with geometry in the model tab through blocks with specific attributes, layers, and the properties identified in this file.

When using an AutoCAD Electrical schematic tool in a template, or drawing, that doesn’t have the WD_M.DWG file in it you will be presented with this dialog:

Note: If you were using a panel tool you would get a similar message for a WD_PNLM block, but this document will not be discussing panel drawings.

Here are the categories the WD_M block controls:

Drawing layout Fan In/Out
Ladder defaults Cross-reference
Component tagging Referencing
Wire number tagging Styles
Layer names Miscellaneous

Using the “Styles” from the above list as an example you will see how to make changes to the WD_M.DWG file.  The categories under “Style” are as follows:

PLC_STYLE                        PLC module style code (default = 1)

ARROW_STYLE                 default signal arrow style number

After opening the wd_m.dwg file located in the library being used for the active project you will have a list of attributes in the model space of the drawing.  If you zoom to the PLC_STYLE and ARROW_STYLE attributes and double-click to open them you will see the default values are set to 1.

This means the arrow style in the drawing properties will use option 1.  After accessing the Drawing Properties and clicking on the Styles tab you can see they are set to 1:

Change the values to 2.  Then start a new drawing file that doesn’t have the wd_m.dwg block in it.  Click on the Drawing Properties tool to force the wd_m block to be placed in the drawing.  Click on the Styles tab, and the arrow style in the drawing properties will be set to option 2:

If you already have drawings completed in AutoCAD Electrical, after you make changes to the wd_m.dwg file, you can update the older drawings to the new standards by using the ‘Update to New WD_M Block, Values, Layers’ tool (located on the Project ribbon under the Other Tools section) to update the drawing’s layers and settings to the symbol library’s wd_m.dwg file.  Here is where the tool is located:

Modifying the WD_M block can be confusing so another approach is to create the template(s) you will be using when working in AutoCAD Electrical and modify the layers and settings in the template file.  After you make all the changes to your template, or any AutoCAD Electrical drawing, that satisfies your company requirements, use the ‘Update Symbol library WD_M Block’ tool (located on the Project ribbon under the Other Tools section) to update the wd_m.dwg file in the symbol library.  Here is where the tool is located:

Whether you define your standards in the wd_mdwg file first, last, or during the creation of the project, you have the tools to keep all the templates, drawings, and the library symbol’s wd_m.dwg file the same.  The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the layers and settings match in all your files so you do not constantly have to adjust them.  This will ensure your drawings are consistent with your company standards.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Thanks,
Todd

Check out some of Todd’s previous posts:

Todd has over 25 years of experience in the mechanical engineering field. Ten years of his time was spent as a documentation specialist/designer at Honeywell, Inc., working on several government contract which required strict drafting and design documentation in accordance with government standards. Todd joined Synergis in 2003 and he regularly presents classes as Autodesk University.  Todd is a graduate of Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa. He has over 20 years experience in the mechanical engineering field. Ten years of this time was spent as a documentation specialist/designer at Honeywell, Inc. where he worked on several government contracts which required strict drafting and design documentation in accordance with government standards.

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