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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
For a detailed look at each tool check out my video at the top of this post.
In each release of Revit we are now seeing a continuous trickle of new features and improvements to the Reinforced Concrete modelling and detailing capabilities. Most of the ‘standard’ features are already firmly established and now Autodesk move on to the reinforcement of complex concrete forms and cross platform workflows. As discussed in my previous post on the Revit 2018 steel detailing features, Autodesk have some stiff competition in this area and are quickly closing the gaps. Also an expected delivery of a BIM project is a complete 3D model and it may no longer be appropriate to issue flat 2D drawings and a bending schedules. Some of the new tools will be very useful in Civil projects such as Tunnels, Bridges and roadside structures where the geometry is likely to be curved and sloped.
I have tested all the new features and will start with the main function of the reinforcement of complex concrete features. In the image below I was able to add 4 L bars in plan and then create a varying range to the inverted truncated pyramid shape.
I also tested the varying distribution on other native Revit in-place families and did struggle with twisted and double curved objects but in general, this new function is very useful and saves a lot of time. In fairness I would image that you would need extra control over double curves and twists and likely have to use something like Dynamo to place ‘real’ reinforcement in a logical way.
Another refurbished tool is the Rebar graphical constraints. This tool enables reinforcement bar to be constrained in 3D views as well as the traditional 2D views. The user can selected the rebar plane or the end points of the bar and then constrain this to a relevant plane on the host element. In the image shown below you can see the bar plane constraint being set and then the end of the L bar to the front face.
The reinforcement bar also has Bar Handles that allows the physical leg lengths to be dynamically edited which is quite handy when you need to drag the bar around in the 3D view. The graphical constraints will still show the check box to snap the bar to cover.
You can now directly import a 3D solid from another CAD application (AutoCAD, Rhino, Trimble SketchUP & Bentley Microstation) and host reinforcement directly into the elements. This is a neat workflow when coupled to tools such as Infraworks. You can create a bridge and then export this directly to Revit and then add reinforcement.
In the example above a 3D ramp has been modelled in AutoCAD and then directly imported and reinforced within Revit. In practice this is only useful for single elements and not an entire bridge as you will need to import each solid separately and then set the correct Sub Categories and parameters.
In conclusion Autodesk continue to strengthen the Revit application and make the legacy 2D detailing a think of the past.
This year I have decided to review the new structural features of Revit 2018 in two separate posts, Steel Detailing and Concrete. The structural features have been quite interesting in the last few releases and have taken a prominent position over architecture and MEP. Autodesk have a very strong position in the Architecture and MEP markets but have competition in structures market with Tekla Structural Designer. Tekla has transitioned from a steel detailing tool, clearly aimed at fabricators to a multi material BIM modeller with integrated structural analysis (Trimble acquired CSC) that is useful for structural consultants, steel and concrete detailers and engineers. Autodesk are well aware of this and hence are bolstering the steel and concrete features and workflows within Revit. With the above points in mind it is difficult to guess where Revit may go in the future. We could see the integration of cloud based analysis that will completely replace Robot Structural Analysis and perhaps also a full steel detailing capability that would absorb AutoCAD Structural Detailing. I think we have a very exciting few years ahead and will be interesting to see what path Autodesk take. One great strength Autodesk have is a huge portfolio of products and technologies from a wide range of industries and I am sure we will see further integration and consolidation.
Revit 2017 introduced steel connections with just over 20 connections that you could apply to ‘approved’ steel members. Revit 2018 now adds over 120 connections that can be used on any steel section, a huge improvement. A Structural consultant can now show indicative connections and convey design intent to a fabricator with the inbuilt connections. Most of these connections can be designed to EC3 with forces and moments taken from a Robot Structural Analysis model.
The main advantages are to enable structural consultants to be able to produce models to a higher Level Of Detail (LOD 350) or LOD 4 in the UK. In my opinion the structure and drawings do look more complete with the connections added and can be marked for design intent/information only.
Another advantage is that the connections can be seamlessly transferred from Revit to Autodesk Advance Steel for full fabrication detailing and production data.
As mentioned above you can now add steel connections to any steel section provided that you add the required data. To place a connection, Revit needs to understand bolt spacing’s, section depths, fillets, shapes etc. This information is added to the family by clicking Family Category and Parameters. In the below image you can see a connection added to a custom purlin C section.
The section shape and parameters are added when you select the Section Shape from Family Categories and parameters. In the below example you can see an L profile with Lips selected. Revit will then add all the required parameters automatically allowing a connection to be hosted onto the section.
Certain structural connections can be placed in multiple rotations which will affect which members are cut. In the example below you can see that Revit 2018 now shows the order of the connection selection.
Hopefully you will get some time to play around with the new features and start to use them in your next project.
I have created a video that you may want to watch showing the new steel connections and drawings.