Is Autodesk InfraWorks 360 a Replacement for Civil 3D?

September 9, 2016

If you’re a member of the civil engineering community, you may be wondering what Autodesk InfraWorks 360 is. For example, how does it differ from AutoCAD Civil 3D and when would you use one over the other, or even together?

On the surface, InfraWorks 360 looks like a conceptual design tool that lets you visualize infrastructure projects before they’re built – an exercise that can save time and money down the line, and also help communicate design intent with stakeholders. For example, the image below (courtesy of Autodesk) shows how teams can put together more effective proposals to help improve public engagement, gather feedback, and help speed the approvals process – in a richly rendered, animated environment.

But InfraWorks 360 has become more advanced over the years with options for site analysis, model creation, drainage design, and more.

These developments have raised many questions:

• Is InfraWorks 360 a replacement for Civil 3D?

• When would you use Civil 3D in the design process, as opposed to InfraWorks 360?

• How are the two truly different?

• Should you use them together?

These questions and more were recently posed by the civil engineering community to Autodesk’s civil engineering solutions team. And the answers are the perfect summation of the differences between the two solution sets that I’ve read.

In Autodesk’s BIM on the Rocks blog, Eric Chappell, a Community Evangelist for InfraWorks 360, provided a useful overview of the role that InfraWorks 360 and AutoCAD Civil 3D play in designing and engineering civil infrastructure projects. In a few remarks, Eric explained how these two products provide the perfect tag team solution for preliminary engineering and contextual design in a visual environment (InfraWorks 360) and then detailed design and documentation (Civil 3D). In Eric’s words:

“One of our biggest challenges is helping our customers understand where InfraWorks 360 “fits in”. People often assume that InfraWorks 360 is a replacement for Civil 3D so they want to take Civil 3D out of that box and put InfraWorks 360 in it. InfraWorks 360 is not Civil 3D – it’s really its own thing that does something that no other product does.”

For the full explanation of where InfraWorks 360 fits in, read: One User’s Question about InfraWorks 360 – “What’s it Really For?”.