Revit 2023 – New possibilities for structural engineers

A recent change to the methodology of Revit structural analytical modelling has enabled new workflows and capabilities when representing the Revit design model. However, automation is now more relevant than ever, as the analytical model is not generated automatically while the physical model is being built.

The massive benefit of this new workflow is that engineers can now create early structural design models in Revit without having to worry about the actual physical members. For example, an early design of a building structure may need some columns and framing to support a floor. However, at an early stage the materials and geometry may not be known. As the design progresses, the analytical members can be associated with actual physical elements. This allows Revit to be used much earlier in the design process and, importantly, to reuse and develop the design model right to the completion and handover of the model.

When representing certain structural systems and configurations, the analytical model can easily be defined and edited and then associated with the physical element. A great example of this is when an in-place family has been used. Previous releases would not allow an analytical representation to be defined, however, you can now define an analytical model for in-place families which is useful for complex foundations.

In future releases we will hopefully see more Revit categories supporting an analytical model, an obvious addition would be the recently added bridge and infrastructure categories. It would also be useful to create panels from façade elements for wind loading.

In the image shown below, the Analyze ribbon is shown with the new member and panel tools to generate a structural analytical model that can be transferred to multiple design and analysis tools without having to invest time in modelling an actual physical structure.  

When defining the analytical members, there are different methods to model beams and columns, namely, top point definition for columns or start/end point definition for beams and braces. Of course, the members can be modelled in a 3D view using ‘enable 3D snapping’ on the options bar. The properties of each element can then be defined and set.

Revit provides two types of analytical elements, a member and a panel. The members can be used for beams, columns, and braces. The panels would be used for wall, floors, foundation slabs and similar planar elements. It is a good idea to create a series of view filters to differentiate between the various elements. In the image below you can see simple frame with columns shown in magenta, beams in blue and bracing in yellow. This has been setup with simple view filters that colour each element based on the structural role.

Another new feature is the ability to show the section on each member, very similar to Robot structural analysis. This is simply enabled by switching on cross sections within the visibility/graphic overrides dialog.

Of course, once the analytical model has been built you can transfer it to Robot Structural Analysis Professional directly from Revit or other analysis tools with dedicated interfaces.

The image below shows the model and results transferred back into Revit. Each load case and the various results can be plotted directly on the analytical model and presented in Revit along with other typical views.

So, in conclusion, Revit 2023 allows engineers to work with Revit at an earlier stage, define a flexible analytical model that is controlled by the engineer. The analytical model can be suitably simplified and has the potential to represent many more structural conditions than previous versions.

A great step forward!

Revit 2023 – What’s New

So here we are early April 2022, the New Year celebrations seems a distant memory, but spring is here, and we all look forward to longer days and some warmer weather! This year, Revit celebrates its Silver Jubilee, commemorating 25 years since its conception! Revit, a software product that originated way back in 1997 and was acquired by Autodesk in 2002, is now a very mature platform at 25 years of age and joins a collection of Autodesk software that we could have only dreamed of in 2002!

Much like the previous release, we have seen a bigger drive towards the core platform features of Revit which will certainly benefit all users. A fair amount of effort has been put into the actual creation of sheets, the placement of views on sheets and printing which is great for all Revit users. Automation is also featured within this release by utilising Dynamo player to automate steel connections and drive the new analytical modelling engine. Automation and Dynamo are becoming a significant requirement when combining the physical Revit model with a controllable, design driven analytical model.

In this blog we will look at some of the new platform features, some exciting Dynamo updates and, of course, the all the new structural features including the latest tools for rebar modelling and the definition and improvements around analytical modelling.

Reference Plane updates

Three enhancements have been added to Revit 2023 when working with reference and work planes. You can now simply access the ‘Pick a Plane’ tool directly from the ‘Set Work Plane’ pulldown menu. The ‘Pick a Plane’ tool also has a new keyboard shortcut added ‘PK’

When working with linked or imported CAD files you can now use a named reference plane to directly control the placement. This is a huge benefit when the CAD reference is not aligned to a plan or elevation. A good example of this is when working on a roof.

Revit will now also save the last used placement plane when placing families. Again, this saves a fair bit of time when using face-based and plane-based families.

Measure in 3D

You can now measure directly in a 3D view which is very useful. Previously you would need to generate a specific elevation or section to perform a measurement that is out of plane.

IFC Improvements

In previous releases, to define a good IFC output for elements within your project, you would have to add a series shared parameters to correctly classify each element. For example, in previous versions of Revit most of your structural foundations would be simply exported as
IfcFooting which is incorrect for many of the foundations.

In Revit 2023, each element now has 4 default IFC instance and type parameters for specific classifications. In the image shown below you can see the instance parameters set on a pad foundation along with the IFC predefined type to add an in-depth classification.

When setting the IFC predefined type you have a very useful dialog which first prompts you to select your IFC schema, then the IFCProduct type and then the predefined type. This saves you having to look up the format and definitions on external sites.

This is certainly a very welcome addition and will facilitate better interoperability between differing software.

 Print Order

When printing multiple sheets, you can now control the printing order of the sheets. There are three different options that you can use, browser organisation, sheet number or manual. In the dialog below the rebar drawings and bending schedules have been manually ordered.

Swapping views on sheets

You can now swap out views and alter the positioning on sheets. This goes hand in hand with the previous new feature of duplicating sheets with views. You would then use this new tool to replace the views. Very useful for rapid drawing creation and consistent looking drawing outputs.

The above image shows the previous functionality in Revit 2022 to duplicate the sheet with views and detailing.

You can then swap out the views on the copied sheets using the new tools in Revit 2023. Note that you can also filter the view list with a search string which will be crucial in larger projects with hundreds of views.

Project Browser views on sheets graphic

A new graphical symbol denotes views that are placed on sheets. This is a much easier method of determining if a view has been used within a sheet. Previously we would have to rely on the browser organisation. When a view is placed on a sheet, the view is filled with a solid blue square. In the case of a split schedule, if a partial schedule has been placed on a sheet this is represented by a half-filled square.

Revit 2023 Rebar Improvements

As with many previous releases, Autodesk continue to enhance the reinforcement tools, with particular focus on usability and functionality. In Revit 2023 we now have a significant tool called ‘Propagate Rebar’ which totally changes the way that rebar is placed within elements. In the image below, the Propagate Rebar command has been launched and you can see two different workflows, Align By Host or Align By Face. The Align By Host command will copy all the rebar within an element and attempt to place and constrain rebar to similar selected elements. In the example below, a columns rebar can be propagated to many of columns even if the column rotations and dimensions are differing.

This hugely improves the efficiency of rebar generation within all projects and allows for libraries of ‘typical’ reinforcements to be saved as utilised on other projects.

When working with rebar, you can now easily control the visibility state of rebar by using the level of detail on the view control toolbar. This simply toggles the rebar from a single line to a full 3D profile in a single click. However, you still need to use the view visibility states when you wish to show the rebar unobscured. Again, this greatly improves usability and efficiency with rebar modelling and detailing.

Revit 2023 Analytical modelling changes

Since Revit Structure was first conceived, the analytical model has always been associated and linked with the physical model, and you may ask, why would it not be the case?

There are many situations where the automatic updates and structural analysis process clash. A classic example is the accuracy of the modelling process. An engineer may make certain assumptions about a structural system to simplify the analysis process. In the image below, the analytical panel has been constrained to the column and beam grids.

This simplifies the FE process and, in turn, creates a better set of results. A similar situation is shown where the physical model of the column extends past the level for a splice connection. The analytical model would be simplified at the level.

It is worth noting that if you still require an ‘automated’ analytical model as a starting point then you can use Dynamo player and a pre-built script to automatically generate the various analytical elements based on their physical counterparts.

Steel Connection Automation

Steel connections can now by placed with a dedicated icon to launch the Dynamo Player and place connections by ranges of applicability or by loading.

In a future post I will focus on the new Dynamo tools and how these can be used with the analytical model and steel detailing!


Automating steel modelling with Revit & Dynamo

When modelling structures such as portal frames there is currently no built-in macros to aid with this very typical structural frame. If you are using tools such as Robot or Advance Steel, then this can be automated with the frame generator. In the image below you can see the frame generator integrated with Robot 2022.

However, if you want to stick with Revit for the modelling of these types of structures then you can use Dynamo to generate the portal frame system. Of course, the geometry for the portal frame can be generated using the standard out of the box nodes but to make the process even more efficient you can make use of the free Structural Design package for Dynamo.

The below image shows a simple dynamo script to create all the geometry for a portal frame structure. The nice thing about using Dynamo is the fact that everything is Dynamic and can be changed very quickly.

Take a look at the tutorial below to get a better understanding of the Dynamo workflow and the speed of modelling!

Revit 2022.1 – What’s New

Autodesk recently released their customary mid release of Revit 2022 with a host of new and useful features for the masses. In this post we shall investigate some of the new and improved features from a structural perspective. This article does not cover a definitive list of all the changes but what I see to be the most useful.

To get us started, let’s take a look at the new features and updates to reinforcement. As many of you will already be aware, in each release, Autodesk are continually improving the reinforcement tools.  When working with rebar couplers we can now change the rebar diameter and Revit will automatically match the transition coupler, in previous releases the coupler would be removed.

Naturally, you will need to edit the coupler type parameters to match the manufacturer’s dimensions and specification. If a coupler type is not available, then Revit will issue a warning and create a type name automatically.

Staying with rebar, we can now apply rebar constraints to multiple selections of rebar sets. This is a huge improvement and saves a considerable amount of time. For example, I have selected all the starter bars for the columns and can now set the lap by editing constraints on the entire selection. In previous releases you would need to edit each rebar set or rely on groups which was not the best approach.

Moving on to some of the general platform tools, another very useful tool is the ability to snap to the midpoint of 2 points. In the example below I want to mirror and copy the diagonal bars to the bottom of the next opening. There is no centreline to mirror around but I can now use ‘snap mid between 2 points’. Again, a small improvement but one that saves a considerable amount of time when copying and mirroring elements.

Another useful tool is the ability to copy sheets. This new tool allows you to duplicate an empty sheet (this will keep all the property information on the sheet and increment the drawing number).  You can also duplicate with sheet detailing which will additionally duplicate the placement of any detailing such as legends, schedules, text etc. The final option is to duplicate all of the above plus the views. (Revit will make copies of the relevant model views where appropriate).

Another day-to-day productivity tool is the category name search. This can now be found in multiple dialog boxes including the family editor. In the example below I have searched for rebar and can see all the matches on a single ‘page’ without scrolling, very handy.

The align tool has also had an overhaul and you can now align multiple elements and automatically constrain these by checking the lock tool.

Another convenient feature is the ability to load multiple family types, quite useful when setting up a model early in the project. In the example below, I am loading 3 different families simultaneously. 

This is not a definitive list of changes in Revit 2022.1 but I have picked out the top features that I consider to be most useful. Overall, again like the main Revit 2022 release back in April, this point release is packed full of day-to-day tools that will increase efficiency and is certainly worth downloading, installing and using on your next project!