Some years back in 2015 I reviewed the Technology Preview of Autodesk’s new structural analysis package, React Structures, a fresh-looking ‘brother’ of Robot Structural Analysis with better integration with Revit and Dynamo. The main advantage was a cleaner, easier to use interface along with simpler workflows.
Autodesk React Structures was in Technology Preview for many years and recently seemed to be retired, so what could have happened?
Before I speculate on possible futures, perhaps we can take look at some recent trends in the construction industry and the use of design software.
The last three to four years has seen a quantum leap in the use of BIM models to communicate design ideas, transfer information, understand risk and manage costs within large projects. In parallel, projects have become more and more complex and clients are demanding better buildings, with reduced fees in less time!
This all adds immense pressure on Structural Engineers to react to design changes and create new designs with maximum efficiency. Many of us will use multiple software products to create design and 3D models and the biggest challenge is the transfer of data without loss and the learning of many complex software tools.
Many of you will already be aware of the cloud based analysis currently in Revit (if not see the previous post). This type of workflow allows data to be seamlessly transferred without conversions or the loss of data and is preferable to the two-way link currently used with Revit and Robot. When Autodesk React Structures was started it seemed a sensible method to take an existing analysis tool and refresh this for the coming years. The rate of progress with BIM processes and software overtook this initial idea which is why Autodesk abandoned React Structures.
I believe the future solutions will be completely integrated and use the same common interface to control the design and analysis models as one, truly unified model. To imagine an early preview of this toolset you could use Revit, Robot Structural Analysis and Dynamo to get a truly ‘live’ environment to develop and analyse structures.
Structural Analysis for Dynamo allows you to access many of the results and data from Robot and store these in the Revit BIM model. For example, you can store the bar number, the Bar Forces and Stresses in each element. You can then use these results to optimise the design within Revit.
In the above image you can see the Structure Analysis for Dynamo package and nodes that are creating loads, running the calculations and then retrieving the results. The image below shows the same space truss with a completely dynamic link from Revit to Robot. Panels have been created in Robot from Revit for the glazing and well as the bars and supports.
The optimisation is the interesting area here, this is where I think Autodesk can really use the power of cloud based computing to rationalise, optimise and design structures more efficiently. Perhaps other FEA tools can be integrated into the database such as NASTRAN for complex shapes.
I am sure we will all keep our eye on any developments from Autodesk in this interesting and exciting area.