Structural Precast for Revit – Configuration Settings

A few weeks ago I published an overview video for Autodesk Structural Precast Extension for Revit and now I think it is the right time to get up to speed on the latest Precast tools in Revit.

With this post I would like to start a dedicated series on this new app to help you get started with the tools and to share with you some useful tips and tricks.

Autodesk Structural Precast Extension for Revit 2018 was released along with Revit 2018.1 release.

The extension must be download from the Autodesk App Store and then installed on the top of Revit 2018.1

…or you can also access the installer from within the Autodesk Desktop App:

At this moment, the extension is available in English, French and German languages.

Once installed, several Revit families and templates are placed in a dedicated location… C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Structural Precast for Revit 2018\Families\en.

The installed files include:

  • Annotations
  • Custom slabs (sample slab families)
  • Mounting parts (lifters and other connection parts)
  • Profiles
  • Revit (rebar shapes)
  • Symbols
  • Title blocks

Here is what the Precast tab looks like once the extension is installed.

You must be wondering what the On/Off button does, an answer is pretty straight forward as it enables or disables the extension. You can use this tool to turn the extension off to replenish hardware resources and improve Revit performance if there is such need.

When you attempt to run the first command, you are presented with the following warning:

This is basically saying some content needs to be loaded for this extension to work properly.

That’s why it is a good practice to start working on a new project running the Configuration tool first.

Before you start using Structural Precast Extension for Revit you should configure these settings for walls, slabs and built in parts. The settings include position numbering, part information, segmentation rules, reinforcement definition, and project drawing defaults for walls and slabs, as well as settings for annotation and dimensioning in parts.

Once you open this dialog and click OK all necessary Revit families and templates will be loaded to the current project automatically and the warning message will not be bothering you anymore.

The Configuration dialog is organized in a tree view, each node contains options for precast concrete assemblies.

For example the wall node configures settings for solid structural walls. These settings include wall part information about lifters, bracings and connectors:

…segmentation rules:

…reinforcement definition:

…and project shop drawing defaults:

The similar groups of setting you can find for slabs (solid slabs and hollowcore slabs):

The Built in parts node configures settings for annotation and dimensioning in parts and the CAM Export node configures additional data specific to each CAM file type.

All these Precast settings are project related but you can maintain consistent configuration settings across similar projects by exporting them to an XML file which can later be imported into other projects. This gives you the ability to create different configurations for different manufacturers or sites.

To export/import your current configuration file just right click in the tree view and select Export/Import from the context menu.

In my next post of this series I will touch upon the topic of segmentation of walls.

For more posts on structural precast in Revit, check out these past articles on BIM and Beam:


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Registration now open for the MEP and Structural Fabricators Forum 2017

FAB Forum 2017

We’ve got your back at the MEP and Structural Fabricators Forum 2017

Are you a contractor, engineer, detailer, estimator, or fabricator? Then the fourth-annual MEP and Structural Fabricators Forum is a do-not-miss event, specifically tailored to your professional and educational interests.

In one day you’ll learn current and emerging trends in Building Information Modeling (BIM), network with your industry peers, and gain expert insight from leaders in the field. We’re constantly expanding and enhancing the Fabricator’s Forum to appeal to past and future attendees, and we’ve built another full program this year.

So, what can you expect with your pass to the Fab Forum?

  1. Network with 600 of your industry peers, in one place at one time. Don’t be surprised if a single conversation leads to a new business relationship.
  2. Learn the latest trends in BIM workflows by knowledgeable technical experts who really understand your business. Check out these classes from last year’s Forum.
  3. Plan your day to fit your interests. Choose from intermediate or advanced MEP Fabrication or Structural Fabrication tracks. Participate in lecture-style business industry talks, or take a deep dive in technical instructional demos.
  4. Take hands-on labs to increase your skillset in Autodesk Revit, Advance Steel, Fabrication CAMduct, Fabrication CADmep, and Fabrication ESTmep.
  5. Get an exclusive look into what Autodesk has planned for the future of our design and fabrication solutions to help you detail better, fabricate better, and build better.
  6. Drink, eat, and network with our growing list of sponsors to include DeWalt, Victaulic, and Graybar.

Join us on Monday, November 13th for the day, or add the Forum to your registration to Autodesk University to ensure that you’re getting the most value out of your trip to Las Vegas. And don’t forget to join the conversation and tag #AU2017 and #FabForum in your social posts.

We’ll see you in Vegas!

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Robot Structural Analysis in Autodesk AEC Collection

Structural engineers are using BIM to improve their design workflows and enhance collaboration with other stakeholders on projects. However, when it comes to performing analysis and design, structural engineers often face the following challenges:

  • Little time to explore the best design option due to the use of fragmented analysis and design methods
  • Insufficient coordination between engineers conducting analysis and designers/drafters modifying design models in Revit
  • Lack of integration between analysis and design models can contribute to inconsistencies in construction documentation

We also heard from our structural engineering customers that BIM-based visualization, structural analysis and fabrication capabilities have become “must haves” for their BIM workflows and for them to stay competitive.

To help address these challenges, we have added Robot Structural Analysis software to the AEC Collection. Now you can access a powerful set of tools for design, analysis, detailing and fabrication in one easy subscription.

The integration between Revit software and Robot Structural Analysis Professional facilitates the coordination of design information and construction documentation. The integration supports multiple workflows stemming from choices regarding initial modeling software and the use of multiple analytical models to split the workload. Additionally, Revit offers many tools and modeling practices to prepare a model for a smoother interoperability with Robot Structural Analysis Professional and other widely used structural analysis software applications.

The result of this interoperability is a more streamlined and productive design process, the opportunity to perform more analysis to help find the best structural design option, and a better understanding of design intent yielding less errors and omissions.

Watch the following video to learn more about this workflow:

Key Business Benefits of Robot Structural Analysis Professional in AEC Collection

Robot Structural Analysis Professional software provides structural engineers with advanced structural analysis capabilities, including for large and complex structures. Analyze models with powerful finite element auto-meshing, nonlinear algorithms, and a comprehensive library of country-specific design codes. Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional is fast and flexible, enabling faster and easier structural analysis. Complementing BIM workflows, Robot Structural Analysis Professional can help customers:

  • Explore more design options that are analytically modeled and checked and linked to design models
  • Improve collaboration across BIM-enabled design teams by analyzing and incorporating changes more seamlessly to all members of the structural team
  • Design a range of structure types more efficiently with country-specific design codes and support for multiple languages and units

Using a combination of Revit and Robot Structural Analysis software, the Buro Happold team has been able to take existing design models created in architectural modeling software and develop, analyze, and optimize the structural frame of the stadium. Learn more about this story.

Image courtesy of Buro Happold


We have thousands of customers worldwide using Robot Structural Analysis today. Here are a few examples of their projects:

Concrete Structure

Design: Balt Building Engineering (Belgium)

Project: Belgian Football Federation

Mission: Use of Robot Structural Analysis for the design of a concrete structure

Steel bridge with custom sections

Design: IB Kwant Ingenieursbureau (The Netherlands)

Project: Lateraal kanaal, Almelo (Netherlands)

Mission: Finite element analysis of mixed wood & steel bridge, including pile foundation design.

Royal Theatre Ireland

Design: GGP Consult (United Kingdom)

Project: Royal Theatre, Ireland

Mission: Finite element analysis of complex public building in mixed steel and concrete structure.

Scissor Structures

Design: V.U.B. University, Brussels (Belgium) PhD of Lara Alegria Mira

Project:  PhD Research: “Nonlinear Analysis of Deployable Structures Comprised of Optimized Universal Scissor Components

Mission: Develop an optimized geometry using Rhino, Grasshopper and Robot Structural Analysis for advanced non-linear analysis.

Wood Steel bridge

Design: IB Kwant Ingenieursbureau (The Netherlands)

Project: Steel bridge, Landgraaf (Netherlands)

Mission: Finite element analysis of mixed wood & steel bridge, including pile foundation design


Also you can see what customers are doing looking at other great examples of their work by visiting the Robot forum to explore a fantastic gallery of customers’ projects.

We continue to make updates to the Robot Structural Analysis software and have recently published a hotfix for our customers.  To learn more please go here 2018.0.1 Hot Fix.

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Advance Steel, Robot Structural Analysis, and Revit Live come to Autodesk’s AEC Collection at no additional cost

AEC Collection update

Now you can access a powerful set of tools for design, analysis, detailing and fabrication in one easy subscription.

We have some exciting news for structural professionals that subscribe to the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Collection. Starting today, we’ve made some significant additions to the AEC Collection software portfolio that support the next generation of BIM—and Revit-based—workflows for building and infrastructure projects from design through preconstruction.

A Year in Perspective

Last year Autodesk moved to address your challenges by launching the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Collection as a better way for you to access the software you need for your structural projects. Our intent was to give you a powerful set of integrated BIM tools so you could be effective in your projects now, and to easily equip you with the tools needed to be proactive about what the future of designing and building has in store. With a collection including Revit, AutoCAD, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Navisworks Manage, and 3ds Max, we provided a core set of essential tools needed to make any building or infrastructure project, large or small.

Motivation Behind Today’s Big News

However, we’ve seen a change in expectations from our customers in recent months—especially our structural customers. You’ve told us that it’s expensive to try new software in order to adapt to a changing structural landscape. Specifically, you’ve told us loud and clear that BIM-based visualization, structural analysis and fabrication capabilities have moved from “nice to have” to “must have” to implement the BIM workflows you need to stay competitive.

We Heard You!

Starting today, we’re expanding the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Collection with additional tools that extend its current capabilities to support structural design through preconstruction. With these additions, and with no price change, it will be easier for you to access and implement the powerful BIM workflows you need—when you need them—by subscribing to the AEC Collection.

AEC Collection Update

What’s New

Here are some highlights of what we’re adding to the AEC Collection and what these changes need for structural professionals.

  • In the new Collection, you’ll find Revit Live. Revit Live allows you to visualize your Revit steel and concrete models by turning them into immersive visual experiences. You can even take your designs into a virtual reality environment—in just two clicks of your mouse.
  • You can now access computational design software in a greater way.  Dynamo Studio standalone programming environment can help solve challenges faster by exploring more design options and automating routine workflows of your structural designs.
  • Also included is world-class structural analysis and design Robot Structural Analysis Professional and Structural Bridge Design which work with Revit to extend your capabilities to perform structural analysis for both buildings and bridges.  These two solutions, along with Structural Analysis for Revit, can all integrate structural analysis and design with BIM to help increase productivity for structural engineers.
  • Finally, the AEC Collection now extends capabilities from structural design to fabrication. Interoperable with Revit and Navisworks, we’ve added Advance Steel to the Collection so you can conceive, model and fabricate better structural steel systems on an integrated platform. With Revit already being used to do rebar and precast detailing, structural engineers and detailers now have access to a complete set of tools for BIM-based structural design to detailing for concrete and steel.

If you want to get a feel for what structural engineers can do with the new version of the collection, check out this video that describes the workflows you now have access to.

What’s next?

For more information on what’s available in the AEC Collection, go here:

Did you know that it’s also Revit’s birthday? You might enjoy reading Sylvia’s post on today’s announcement and what it means for Revit users too:

And finally, if you’re a subscriber already, simply log into your My Account page to access the new software described here, and start trying out the new structural workflows that the Collection supports.

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Properties of Aggregates Approximately 75% of the volume of concrete is occupied by aggregates, so quality of aggregates plays an important role in determining properties of concrete.  Aggregates are chemically inert, solid bodies held together by the cement. Aggregates come in various shapes, sizes, and materials ranging from fine particles of sand to large, coarse […]

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How to Manage Rebar Numbering with Dynamo

Before we move into the Dynamo part let me quickly highlight rebar numbering and partitioning in Revit.

In Revit, numbering allows identical reinforcement elements to be matched for schedules and tags.

Partitioning in Revit gives you the ability to define a common parameter for reinforcing elements within a certain construction sequence. Rebar elements are automatically given a unique number within same partition based on their type, shape & geometrical parameters.

Partitioning for reinforcement identification serves a number of organizational purposes depending on how a building is designed or how it will be constructed. Any rebar, rebar set, or fabric sheet instance in a model can only be assigned to one partition.

The number for a rebar or fabric sheet instance as well as its partition may be viewed in the Properties palette under Construction.

You can use the Reinforcement Numbering dialog to make adjustments to rebar numbering sequences.
Using this dialog you ran quickly and easily rename your partitions and renumber rebar elements within a specific partition.

The Minimum number of digits for reinforcement numbers option specifies the minimum number of digits to display in a sequence. For example, when set to 3 digits; rebar number 2 displays as 002.

Minimum number of digits for reinforcement numbers

The Remove Gaps option becomes active when one or more gaps exist in a sequence. The checkbox removes gaps in the numbering sequence of rebar and fabric sheets in a partition.

Remove Gaps

This is a very convenient tool to manage rebar numbering however sometimes we need apply some specific, more sophisticated rules for how our rebars should be numbered. This is a common problem for many structural detailers.

For example, let’s image a situation where we would like to have all rebars numbered within the same partition from the shortest rebar to the longest one…

If you have already started thinking how you could do this in Revit, I have to tell you to stop. This is an instance where Dynamo for Revit comes in handy and is the right tool at the right time!

Let me show you how helpful Dynamo is for this issue.

I made a few assumptions:

  • In my Dynamo script I want to select all rebars from a specified partition automatically (this is so there is no need to select any rebars in my model).
  • All rebars from the given partition will be renumbered from the shortest rebar to the longest one.
  • I want to be able define a starting number of the shortest rebar.

Because the Rebar Number parameter is read-only, first I need to create a project parameter which I call “New Rebar Number” and then I end up with the following Dynamo script:

As the first step I need to select all rebars from a partition I specify.

Next, it’s time to get information about the lengths of my rebars. Even though my project is metric I need to make a units conversion to have them presented in millimeters rather than in feet.

Knowing lengths of my rebars, now I am able to sort the list of rebars by lengths.

… and finally it’s time to renumber the rebars:

Now I can create a rebar bending schedule based on the New Rebar Number parameter!!

For more posts on Revit’s rebar features, check out these past articles on BIM and Beam:


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Steel and Stone: Autodesk Advance Steel helps structural steel company reduce schedule by 50%

3D Autodesk Advance Steel model of The Lucas

Several years ago, Lawton Welding Co. Ltd., a miscellaneous metals and small structural steel company based in Topsfield, Massachusetts, took on a project detailing and fabricating the steelwork for an old stone church that was being renovated and repurposed. The project was fraught with rework orders — largely due to the irregularities of the stone structure — and took nearly three months to complete.

More recently, Lawton tackled a similar – but much larger – project, detailing and fabricating the steel for a former church in downtown Boston. The late-1800s stone structure, which was being converted into eight stories of condominiums, presented many of the same challenges as the previous project. Lawton finished the newer project in around six weeks.

The difference? In the interval between the two projects, Lawton gained the ability to detail steelwork in three dimensions by adopting Autodesk Advance Steel detailing software.

“This project was probably ten times bigger than the previous one, and we got it done in less time,” says Derek Michaud, detailing supervisor at Lawton. “With this one, we had almost no rework. Before, I would get frantic phone calls from my install crews when changes were needed,” Michaud adds. “In the new system, you make the change, and everything automatically moves with it. It’s a much cleaner process. It’s night and day.”

The Project

The Lucas, an 80,000-square-foot development located in Boston’s South End and designed by Finegold Alexander Architects, is the transformation of an 1874 German Trinity Catholic Church into a unique residential development.

The Lucas

Before it was high end residential housing, The Lucas was an 1874 German Trinity Catholic Church. Image courtesy of Lawton Welding, Co., Ltd.

The design maintains the church’s existing puddingstone façade and exterior walls, but also places a new eight-story building in the center of the church’s footprint. The glass and steel rising up from behind the original stone creates a dramatic visual contrast, but it also presented formidable challenges for Lawton’s detailing team.

“The design makes things far more complicated, because we have to interact with the existing structure,” says Michaud. “On a new building, you control everything. If a column is off by a quarter inch, all my steel matches that column no matter what. In existing buildings, you don’t have that luxury. You have to be close enough to the walls, but not hit them. You can’t be too far away, because then you don’t get the performance of the design.

Rapid Return on Investment

One of the chief benefits of adopting 3D detailing software, Michaud says, is the dramatic time savings that the new method enables – at nearly every step of the detailing and fabrication processes. “It allows us to do more work in the same amount of time, without increasing payroll,” Michaud says.

3D Autodesk Advance Steel model of The Lucas

3D model of the steel frame for The Lucas residential development in Boston’s South End. The development is a renovation and reimagining of the original structure. Image courtesy of Lawton Welding, Co., Ltd.

Not only does the detailing work itself go more quickly in Advance Steel, but the software also prevents employees from having to double back over their work to fix mistakes. Additionally, Advance Steel automatically generates computer numerical control (CNC) fabrication files, eliminating another time-intensive step.

On The Lucas, Lawton shared its detailing plans with the project’s plumbing and HVAC contractors. These contractors then told Lawton where in the beams to put additional holes. Consequently, Lawton was able to cut the holes in the fabrication shop, rather than sending employees out to do the work in the field.

Improved Accuracy

One number, more than any other metric, illustrates the impact of Lawton’s move to Advance Steel: 10 percent. That was the firm’s average error rate on the steel it fabricated before making the switch. Today, Lawton’s error rate has dropped to under 1 percent. Michaud estimates that the firm has an error on only one or two out of every 250 beams produced.

“With so many human steps, holes would be off all the time,” Michaud says. “We would drill holes, check the layout, and then we would have to fill the holes back in and re-drill them by hand. That was a constant problem.”

“All of that is on us,” he adds. “Any fabrication error, any material waste, all of that is 100 percent on us. You can damage a profit line pretty quickly if you’re not careful.”

Before Lawton made the switch, Michaud says, there was little standardization in fabrication drawings, which contributed to the higher error rate – and to frustration on the part of the fabricators. “We had seven guys who drew seven different ways,” Michaud says. “Now our drawings all come out exactly the same. Our fabrication shop likes it better, and we no longer have errors being calculated by humans along the way.”

The software also helps prevent connection problems by allowing detailers to better see how their drawings will work in the real world. “Working in three dimensions allowed us to visually see everything, to make sure we had room for bolts, to make sure the plan was strong enough before we sent it to our engineer. We saved time on our engineering re-design work, and everything fit together smoothly.”

On The Lucas, detailers needed to draw around the existing walls, which bowed in and out at various spots. A field crew provided a three-dimensional survey of the interior walls, and Lawton imported that data into Advance Steel, allowing detailers to draw with precision down to a quarter of an inch. This level of precision, Michaud says, helped to drastically reduce rework.

The Power of BIM

On The Lucas project, architects didn’t provide Lawton with a three-dimensional design model from a building information modeling (BIM) software such as Revit. If the firm had started with such a model, Michaud says, the detailing would probably have gone even more quickly. “If we would have started with a Revit model, we probably would have cut about a week off,” he says.

Increasingly, Michaud says, BIM tools are becoming an industry standard. “A lot of the companies we work with now require BIM compatibility,” he says. “If you can’t draw in 3D, you can’t even quote the job. It’s definitely giving us an advantage.”

Kinked Beam in Autodesk Advance Steel

Steel detail of a kinked beam in Autodesk Advance Steel. Image courtesy of Lawton Welding, Co., Ltd.

Tools like Advance Steel not only help Lawton win more jobs and complete those jobs more quickly, but Michaud says that BIM solutions also reduce stress on him and his workers while increasing client satisfaction. On The Lucas project, for example, concrete anchors were placed an inch and a half off from where they were supposed to be, requiring Michaud and his team to make that same shift in the plans for the entire project.

“We had to move the whole building an inch and a half, right before we started fabricating it,” Michaud recalls. “With Advance Steel, we were able to do that in twenty minutes. In two dimensions, it probably would have taken one or two days, and then we would have had to hope that we didn’t make a mistake during the rush. We definitely would have missed our install date.”

“With BIM,” Michaud adds, “it’s amazing how smooth and how fast things can go.”

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