AutoCAD® Mechanical: Custom Parts – Appending Pipe Lengths

Posted on November 21, 2013 by Darin Green, Product Support Specialist:


Using the Circular shape (ANSI ASTM) from Standard Content > Steel Shapes > Circular Hollow Section. During the placement of a side view, the properties of the Part Reference displays the pipe length appended to the end of the Name:

The length is also appended to the name within the BOM:

Since this is the default for Standard content, one would expect this to exist for custom content as well. However, just by copying the standard content and pasting it into your custom content directory, the name no longer contains the length.

This article will walk you through 2 different methods for getting the length appended to the part name. The first approach is a global change that will affect the bill of materials and all part references regardless of type, whereas the second (more realistic) approach will be independent of specific types of content.

Before we begin, make a copy of Standard Content > Steel Shapes > Circular Hollow Section > ANSI ASTM. Then paste it into your custom library.

First Approach: Global Change

This approach will effect all content that has a part reference regardless of its type. To configure this change, we start by navigating to the “BOM Settings” which can be found on the Annotate tab > BOM Panel.
Within the BOM Settings, we’re going to create a new property with the following information:

  • Property: NAME(LENGTH)
  • Caption: NAME
  • Data Type: Text
  • Value: =<NAME> – <DIM>

The “Value” field mimics the standard content name by using the dash “-“ between the two properties.

Once the property is created, we can now add it to the BOM and Part List by highlighting the row and click the button “Add to”.

Note: You can also add this property to your Component Properties if needed.

Once the property is added, you can move the property up or down the list to address your visual appearance needs. You can also replace the NAME property with the custom NAME(LENGTH) property.

For this exercise, I’m going to leave both properties NAME and NAME(LENGTH) in the Part List so we can see the differences.
Create a new instant of each, your custom pipe and the standard pipe into the drawing using the Right Side section. Next, create a parts list in the drawing and review the 2 NAME columns (The column names are the values for “Caption”).


The Custom Field has the length appended to its name. Notice Item 1 (Standard Content) has a double length value appended to its name. The reason for this is because the standard part has the length value baked into the content itself rather than being controlled through BOM Settings.
This approach will also attempt to add the length property to other content as well. Now, let’s add a fastener to the drawing and take another look at the Part List:

Since the fastener doesn’t have a length/measurement property, you’re only left with the dash. As you can see this approach will not work in many environments because it’s too broad.

Second Approach: Content Specific

This approach will apply to specific content which will not effect other geometry. To configure this approach, we’ll be working inside the Content Editor.

Select the custom pipe we’ve created earlier and right-click the pipe and choose “Edit in Content Editor”. Within the Content Editor, you will notice 2 attributes in the top left corner:

These attributes are reference component properties which are built into AutoCAD Mechanical. You can obtain a list of these properties using this link.

The two attributes that exist by default are GEN_INFO_12 and GEN_INFO_14. These attributes reference the ID’s shown in the image above (GEN_INFO_12 = 12GENST and GEN_INFO_14 = 14GENST)

We need to add the following reference GEN_INFO_28 (28GENST) which is the NAME property.

Now that we added the new reference, we should see this attribute in the Parameters Managers.

If the GEN_INFO_28 attribute expression differ than what’s shown above, copy and paste the following or manually type: =DESCR&” – “&STDRT&” – “&GEN_INFO_14

Now that we’ve added the attribute and provided the necessary expression to our custom part, we’re now able to generate a parts list reflecting the custom content information needed without effecting other geometry and without the need of tweaking the BOM settings.

Both (2 and 3) are the same part which is why the NAME information is exactly the same. However, if we compare to the custom column to the default column, you can see the duplication for pipe length.

HINT: Some component properties within the list above such as STANDARD will not work for an expression, so you’ll need to use STDRT which is a column from the Family Table. Here’s a list for your reference:

I hope that helps you with appending pipe lengths in an easy way.  If you have any questions, contact us.


Check out some of these additional posts by Darin:

Darin Green is one of our Helpdesk Leads and provides tips and information in our monthly Helpdesk Newsletter.  Darin has over 10 years of CAD experience and in his time at Synergis he has provided support for over 700 customers to help them stay ahead.  He previously worked with Ritter and Plante Associates where he performed various zoning, project duties, and hands-on field work, along with surveying.  Darin has a broad range of experience with many CAD applications including AutoCAD, Revit, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Map 3D, among others.

Have a question for us?  Contact us via email, phone (800.836.5440) or on our website.

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