By Dennis Collin
The EXPLODE command allows you to convert complex objects to their constituent components. Multiline text can be converted to Text. Explode Polylines, Multi-lines, Hatches, Dimensions and Leaders into Lines, Arcs, Text etc. explode Blocks to their component parts.
Of course, just because we can do a thing, doesn’t mean that we should. Lines and arcs can be converted back to polylines (useful for areas and lengths) and text objects can be converted back to paragraph style multi-line text. Hatches, dimensions and leaders cannot be so easily repaired and as a rule should never be exploded. If these elements do need to be changed, then edit its properties to suit. I find the AutoCAD Properties Override, Match properties, Grip controls or Add Selected function resolves many of the arguments of why people use explode. For further guidance it may be worth consulting a more experienced AutoCAD colleague.
Exploding hatch objects seems to be common practice with untrained CAD users. It tends to make excessively sized drawing files, slow file performance and loss of productivity.
Exploding a block was the classic approach to edit it, although this can impact on possible schedules and the general quality of the drawing. Therefore, using the Block Editor might be a better solution for updating block definitions.
It is worth considering when using the standard Explode function on a Block that it can sometimes yield undesirable results. Often a Block is created from entities defined on Layer 0, so that it can be inserted on any Layer and thus inherit the properties of the insertion Layer. When exploding a Block of this type, all the components revert to Layer 0.
The XPLODE command (note the missing E) works similarly to EXPLODE except it permits users to override component entity properties. You can control the target Layer, Line type, Line weight and Colour, or Inherit all properties from the Block insertion. You can also control what you explode individually, or globally providing greater user control. This enhanced tool was introduced with the AutoCAD Express tools some years ago. The enhanced flexibility of explode options contained therein make this enhanced explode function a preferred choice.
Whichever method you use to explode objects in AutoCAD users need to consider:
- Can the object be repaired if needed?
- Does exploding the object impede the drawing file’s functionality?
- Is there a better way of changing this object?
The table below indicates common objects that are exploded, whether they should be exploded, alternative editing options and whether elements can be repaired without recreating them from scratch.
This table is not intended as an exhaustive list, but perhaps serves as a guide as to when an Explode command might be employed to create and modify drawings within AutoCAD.
Although Explode should be used with caution, it is still essential to use the command occasionally in the process of drawing complex forms where perhaps different sized offsets need to be applied.
Think of the Explode command as a hammer, it’s great for knocking in nails, but something of an overkill to open a window!
AutoCAD is a huge program and is a bit daunting to a new or untrained user. However, we do offer frequent training courses at our numerous training venues. These scheduled courses include training at both essentials and more advanced levels, but we also offer more bespoke training catering for individual needs or even provide training at client’s offices. For further details visit https://training.cadline.co.uk/ or call one of our team on 01784 419922.