Revit Tutorial – Back to Basics – Creating Structural Content for Revit

It’s always a good idea to review the basics of what we do daily just in case we are missing a trick! It is all too easy to do the same as we did last week, last month, last year… In this post we look at some basic structural elements and consider how custom Revit content could be created to save time and make detailing more consistent and robust.

I often think of Revit as a digital Lego set, you have a certain number of pieces to assemble a structure, but the limitation is the variety of ‘bricks’ that are provided. For example, the three bricks below can only build simple, box like structures.

Revit Lego Bricks

The great thing with Revit is that we can create our own parametric families that are either bespoke to a project or for use in many projects. The custom families give Revit the flexibility needed to create any type of family with fast and efficient placement into projects.

Revit Lego Bricks Complex

A simple example to start with is the humble pile family. All too often, the default out of the box single pile, Pile-Steel Pipe.rfa is used for most projects. Whilst this is perfectly functional for most applications it may not deliver the best output and placement options. For example, the two images below show some typical ways of depicting piling in a plan view. The first image is perhaps appropriate when showing a piling layout, ideal for scales 1:100 where the pile may want to be displayed as a symbolic symbol. The second is useful for general arrangement plans and shows the pile in hidden detail under the pile cap. You can also see the pilling on the third image displaying the hidden detail for the embedment and the break symbol to curtail the full piling length.

Revit Foundation Details

The default pile family, when opened in the family editor, shows us the default Reference Planes which only run through the centre of the pile. This means that you cannot dimension the pile in elevation in a project. The default method of placement is to place the pile on a plane which is quite slow when multiple levels are required. The other issue is that you cannot snap a spot coordinate to the centre of the pile! This is simply due to the default family’s behaviour.

Revit Pile Steel Pipe

Once the piles are placed you will need to detail these manually in a section or elevation with the break symbol. If the pile moves, you will need to also move the details! Whilst you may eventually get the model and detail created it is far more efficient to create better content.

So, how can we make this more efficient?

One method is to create a face-based pile with all the relevant detailing built in. This will mean that if the pile cap, ground beam or foundation slab changed level the piles will automatically move. The 2D details such as the symbolic view and pile break symbol are automatically added as the piles are modelled. You will also be able to snap a spot coordinate onto the centre of the pile with confidence.

You can start by creating a new family using the Metric Generic Model face-based Revit family template. There are quite a few steps when creating the family, so I have provided a video with step by step instructions for the creation of the pile family. Feel free to use this example as a starting point, obviously you can add your own functionality and graphics as required.

You can make improvements to many of the default families which will save time, increase your detailing efficiency and improve drawing consistency.

LawrenceH

Revit 2020.1 Update – Rebar Constraints

Released on the 21st August this update proves to be very useful for those using Revit for reinforcement modeling as well as some general tools to enhance usability and deliver more productivity. As always, I will not include non-structural features and just focus on the relevant tools for this sector. In this post we will focus in on the rebar constraint tools.

Rebar to Rebar Constraints

This is possibly one of the best new features for the Revit reinforcement tools for several years. The new rebar to rebar constraints allow you to set constraints between rebar objects, in previous releases it was only possible to set constraints to element faces or covers. This new command allows for much better parametric control when bar diameters are changed or when controlling lap lengths. In the image below you can see the B1 and B2 layers for a foundation. The B1 and B2 layers are constrained to the tangent faces of the rebar, if I change the rebar diameter on the B1 layer then the B2 layer and the column starter bars will automatically move! A major improvement.

Rebar to Rebar Constraints 1

In the image below you can see the beam bottom L-bars that are positioned relative to the beam top L-bars which are constrained to the Bottom and top layers in the beam. All these members are fully constrained and ‘intelligent’ and will update when members or bar diameters change.

Rebar to Rebar Constraints 2

Intuitive rebar constraints visualisation and editing

The method that you use to set rebar constraints have been improved and made more intuitive with simple icons and tooltips. Each of these can also have keyboard shortcuts assigned. The space bar will cycle through the various rebar constraints. A blue arrow now shows the positive side of the rebar which takes the guesswork away when setting offsets.

Revit 2020.1 Rebar Constraint Icons and descriptions

Revit Tutorial – Type vs Instance Parameters

Been a little while since I posted a tutorial but this month I am going ‘back to basics’ to talk about Instance and Type Parameters and where to use them. I still find that many people are using OOTB families that are not suitable for certain modelling workflows. I will focus in on two specific families, Structural Openings and Structural Framing. The structural Openings will be created with a Generic model family that’s face based, this will be ideal for rectangular openings in walls, foundations, floors, beams etc. Let’s start by looking at the instance properties of Structural Framing. In the image below I have selected the UB section, notice that the Structural Material is instance based.

Revit 2020 - Structural Framing Instance Parameters

It may be more relevant if we made this a type parameter as the structural material needs only to be set once per family type. To do this you can simply edit the family and change the instance parameter to a type parameter. With the Structural Framing Element selected, click the Edit Family button on the Modify | Structural Framing context ribbon.

Revit Edit Structural Framing Family

The Structural Framing element will now be open in the family editor. Select the Family Type button as shown in the image below.

Revit Family Types

You will now see the Family Types Dialog box displayed. Note that the Structural Material is shown. An instance parameter will always have the bracketed word (default) displayed. This is the easiest method to spot the instance parameters.

Revit - Structural Framing Material Edit

Select the Structural Material parameter and then select the Edit Parameter command by selecting the pencil icon in the lower left of the dialog box as shown below.

Revit Family Types Dialog Box

You will now see the Parameter Properties Dialog box as shown below. Select the Type Parameter radio button as shown below and then click OK.

Revit Parameter Properties Dialog

Click OK to the Family Types Dialog box, note that the Structural Material Parameter has the (default) removed as this is now a type parameter.

You can then save the family and set the type parameter. This will then update all members of the same family type.

A full video tutorial is available here, the video also covers the creation and use of structural opening family.

Revit 2020 – New Structural Features Review

This year Autodesk strengthen the steel detailing tools with some very useful tools to enable quick and efficient steel connection modelling. Revit is constantly criticised for a lack of model detail with fabrication elements. This release strengthens the 3D detailing capabilities for those that require higher Levels of Detail or fabrication models.

When using the Copy/Paste and editing tools the processing is 20x faster than the previous release and connections can now be automatically propagated. This is due to some smart background processing that calculates the elements that are being processed and allows you to continue with other tasks, the elements being processed are highlighted different colour. The background processing is for steel connections but also works when performing most editing tools. The Background Processing colour can be set in the Options dialog in the Graphics Tab as shown below.

Revit 2020 - Background Processing

Steel Connections now use types just like other Revit families. This means that you can create various types of base plates and then either select all instances and swap or edit the type parameters. This new feature makes controlling steel connections much easier.

Steel Connection Type Dialog Box

The Propagate tool automatically recognises similarly connected steelwork and adds the relevant connections which greatly speeds up the processes of adding connections. Simply select a steel connection, right click and select Propagate Connection.

Revit 2020 - Propagate Connections

Many new parameters have also been added to facilitate the efficient creation of fabrication details such as the new hole parameters dialog box. You can now also set the grip length for bolts to allow for accurate sizing and calculation.

Revit 2020 - Hole Dialog Box

The only missing feature is the creation of automatic fabrication documents and CNC code which I am sure we will see in due course. I would anticipate that this will be a cloud-based tool to take advantage of efficient processing times and could use the BIM 360 products to track versions and store the drawings and NC codes.

Concrete Detailing Tools

This release brings more stability to Revit whilst adding reinforcement bar with slightly different cover settings. Certain elements can cause reinforcement bar to constrain to the wrong faces when copying, mirroring or moving bars. The algorithm has been updated to ensure that rebars remember faces and covers from the original element.

Revit 2020 - Reinforcement Placement Improvements

Improvements has also been made to the multi rebar annotations to allow dimensioning to the formwork. Multi rebar annotations can now also be added to freeform reinforcement provided that the reinforcement bars remain parallel.

MRA to formwork

LawrenceH

Webinar – The AEC Collection for Structural Engineers

Just a quick post to let you know that I will be presenting a webinar session this Friday (28th September @ 10am). You will see some interesting AEC Collection workflows for the following topics:

  • Steel Spaceframe
  • Retaining Walls
  • Structural Steel details

Join us with the link below.

The Recording can be found here:

Once on the page click the  link marked in red and fill in the form.

Excitech Webinar Video

Here are some images of the workflows we will be using on Friday!

SpaceFrame

Retaining Wall

Structural Steelwork

Hope to see you!

LawrenceH

Revit 2019 – New Steel Features

Well, it’s that time of year again to review the new features of Revit, seems to come round so fast. As I did last year, I will review the steel and concrete features as separate blog posts and videos as we have a raft of new features to look at!

New Steel Detailing Ribbon

If you would like to jump directly to the steel video then here is the link.

New Steel Ribbon

Autodesk are further extending the Level of detail that can be presented by adding specific modelling tools to extend the power of structural connections and end treatments. You now have dedicated tools to create notches, saw cuts, holes and chamfers and rounds to steelwork. This allows for a greater Level of Detail when modelling and these features can be directly linked to Advance Steel for full Automatic fabrication documents.

Revit 2019 - Steel Detailing Ribbon

The use of these new tools will depend on the need for modelling to this level of detail. For example, bridges may require a greater Level of detail but a traditional steel frame modelled by an engineering consultant may not require any connection details, these will be added by the fabricator.

A particularly nice feature is the ability to use a standard connection and then break the connection into the fabrication elements such as plates, bolts, cuts etc. This allows for easy modifications to connections and the ability to create your own connections.

Revit 2019 - Customise and Break Connection

For a detailed look at each tool check out my video at the top of this post.

Enjoy,

LawrenceH