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3D Coordination

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Training on 3D coordination.



Today, we are going to be looking at the pre-coordination with Design Master HVAC. I’ve got just a blank drawing here that we’re going to be working in. When working with 3D, the first thing that I always like to do when I’m doing it is I like to actually create two viewports so I can get a little bit better sense of what’s happening if I’m trying to keep track of my 3D stuff.

So this isn’t really Design Master-related, more of just AutoCAD. But I like to go to View and put together two viewports on my screen, and then set one of them to an Isometric. So you do that, and then when you’re doing your work, you can see the 3D model that’s being created and start to get a sense of where your pieces are a little bit easier.

The reason I always create two viewports is that you generally want to do all of your work over in the Planview. So you can use the 3D for viewing it, and for figuring out what the other things look like. But all of our commands and everything is optimized and is set up to work correctly when you’re looking at it from a 2D top-down view.

So you want to work in 2D looking down on it. That’s the assumption, that you’re working that way. But then, when you want to see what it looks like in 3D, you can go over to the other viewport and see it there. So I’m going to go ahead and put in a duct. And when you do that, obviously, you’ve got all the settings that you normally see.

And so since we’re looking at 3D, we’ll take a look at some of the 3D settings here. Specifically, we have our Elevations for the ductwork. So every duct, when you put it in, has a starting and an ending elevation. For projects where you’re not working in 3D, you can just ignore that for the most part, and things kind of workout.

But, obviously, if you’re working in 3D and you’re trying to do coordination with your architect, you need to set proper elevations for all of your ductwork. So we have the Starting and Ending Elevation of the duct. And then have the Vertical Alignment. And that controls where the elevation of the duct is being set. So does that 10 feet, is that corresponding to the center line of the duct?

Is that the top of the duct, or the bottom of the duct? Or if you’re using Hangers, which we’ll look at it a little bit later, if it’s at the bottom of the hangers themselves? So you can specify what that elevation should be. We’ll leave it at the center of the duct. So we’re going to put it the center of all of our ducts at 10 feet right now. The other thing that’s obviously important for your 3D is the size of all of your ducts.

So your width and your depth which we’ll be sizing for you automatically anyway, those obviously need to be correct. And then the Interior and Exterior Lining Width are also used. So when we put in a duct and we draft it in 2D, we’ll put those in with dash lines, and then in 3D, we just add it to the size of the duct so that it includes the interior and the exterior linings. So we’ll just put in one duct there.

And so if we draw that in 3D, obviously, we have the duct happening over here on the top-down view. And then also over here in the 3D. You’re seeing what some of those changes and settings do.

So if we add an interior lining width, I’ll set the three inches for that one duct there, you’ll see that that duct actually does get larger in size. So that’s obviously important for making sure everything fits when you’re doing your collision detection. I’m going to change this on both the ducts because it works best if you have all of your vertical alignments the same.

Right now we’re set up the center of the duct. I can set this to the bottom of the duct and then ask it to redraw the 3D. And it will put the ducts in with the bottom now at 10 feet. And we’ve got a duct here, and it’s having a little trouble making that fitting because it’s actually, kind of, in a awkward transition that we’re doing there, because of the change in size.

So if I come here and add a lining width to this one as well, it will be able to figure it out, and get that connection going. If you really wanted something like that to happen where you’re changing size after going around the current turn, you really need to keep the same size through the turn, and if we break the duct, then you could then, after that break, get rid of your lining, or whatever.

And it should put in a transition for us when we ask it to redraw the 3D. And you’ll notice that the transition there is Eccentric with a flat bottom. So that’s how you get Eccentric Transitions as well in 3D if you ever need those. On our 3D section here, we have the commands for labeling your elevations, because if you’re doing your 3D work and you’re trying to communicate this design intent, you need to have some way to label the elevations.

So you can put in a Top Elevation, a Bottom Elevation, a label that includes both the top and the bottom elevations for the duct and then a Centerline Elevation. So if we run that command, you select a duct, and it puts in the label that looks like this. T for top, B for bottom, and if you do both, you get a top and a bottom elevation there.

And then also, you can do a Centerline Elevation. So for labeling your elevations, you have those commands available to you so that when they’re actually trying to use all of this 3D modeling, they have it on the construction document somewhere, so they know where to actually locate the ductwork. All of these elevations are relative to the alignment point that we’re working with.

And so with the alignment points, you can set them with multiple different elevations so that you can actually do multiple floors in your project. So if we take a look at this alignment point here on this drawing, you see that the elevation is zero. So we’re basically saying that this little point here is at elevation zero. All the elevations we’re entering are relative to that.

So when we do 10 feet, it’s 0 plus10. So that’s 10. If we come over to another drawing in the same project and we put in an alignment point, now we can specify a different elevation. We could say, “Okay, this was going to be at 15 feet.” Now all of the ducts that we insert here are going to be relative to that 15 feet.

So if we want something up in the ceiling on this drawing, we only have to do the 15 feet plus the 10 feet and figure that all out. You’ll just say, “Okay, this duct is also up at 10 feet.” But the 10 feet on this drawing includes the 15 feet from the alignment point. So it’s, you know, 15 feet higher than the ductwork over on this drawing. So for each of your floors, you make sure you specify the elevation of the alignment point properly.

And then when you create your 3D model, all of your ductwork will be stacked nicely. You can do multiple alignment points on a single drawing, and then each one can have a separate elevation. So if we want to, we could come over here and say, “Okay, everything in this box is up to 30 feet.” So that’s the third floor of the building.

And so now if we put in some more ductwork over here…Again, we type in 10 feet and the software takes into account the fact that it’s up on that different elevation from the alignment point. The alignment point also is the insertion point when you export. So when you’re doing your coordination with your architect, you want to figure out what insertion point they are using for their models and have your alignment point match.

So you’re going to have to actually talk with them, and do some coordination, and try one of your models with one of their models, and see how everything matches up. And if your model’s offset, figure out where to move that alignment point so that it comes in in the right spot nicely.

And that’s just a matter of actually communicating with the architect and the other people on the project. So once you have some ductwork, you have your alignment points and all of your elevations set, we can then export all of the 3D from our software, from our model, to either an IFC file or to a DWG file and then that can be used for coordination with your architect, and the structural engineer, and the people on the project.

So there’s two different types of files we export, that is the IFC and the DWG. The IFC file works a little bit better when importing it into Revit. The IFC is intended to be this vendor-neutral, just file format for doing BIM projects that you could, in theory, do a whole project, and have an export there, and transfer it to other programs.

The reality is that you might be able to go from one architectural package to another and kind of have things work but the definitions on the NEP side are really lacking. So you can’t actually export a whole lot of information. So we don’t even try. We just export 3D solids. We’re not trying to attach any information to them, so you can’t open up the IFC and then click on and say that’s adaptive of this, you know, airflow or anything just because the format doesn’t really support exporting all the information that we have.

So instead, we use the very dumb 3D Modeler so we can just pull our stuff into Revit. The other file format we can use is the DWG file, basically, an AutoCAD drawing. And so when we do this, the reason you’d export to a DWG when you’re already working in one is that it pulls all of your DWGs together. So if you’ve got multiple alignment point areas on different drawings or the same drawing, it pulls them all together, stacks them all nicely on top of each other, and includes just the 3D components.

So you don’t have all the other stuff in that file, so that when they’re doing their 3D collision detection, you know, they don’t have to clean out a bunch of stuff through your file. You’ve got a nice, clean file for checking against. And so for both of those formats, we have three different options for the export. We can go to the project, we can export the whole project.

We can export everything in a drawing or everything in a specific area. So if we do area, it’ll prompt you, particularly if you have multiple areas in a drawing, it will say, “Okay, which area do you want to export?” And then you’ll choose an area and it will export that to an IFC file.

It’s going to default to the same project folder that you’re working in. And you can save that, and then you can pull that into Revit. There’s a question, do the labels export with the ductwork? And no, the labels do not export. So our export is the 3D model only. There is no text included in it at all.

So there is no elevation labels, or duct size labels, or anything of that nature, just 3D solids. So we can do the area or you can do a whole drawing, which would do both of these areas, but not the area over on this other drawing. And then you can also do the whole project. Generally, doing the whole project is what you’re going to be doing.

When you do the drawing with the area, you can actually choose a project file that you’ve already exported, if you’ve made just changes in one little area and it’ll update that just that little piece. When you update the project it’ll just kind of throw the whole project file away and re-create it, rather than trying to modify what’s already there.

So let me go ahead and export actually the whole project file. And then in Revit, I’m going to go ahead and open up a new project here in Revit, and then we can import that IFC file.

So Revit has the ability…They can link a CAD file, so you can bring in a DWG, but it tends not to work terribly well for 3D collision detection. So the IFC works better. So you can use the Link IFC command, or you can instruct your architects to use Link IFC command and pull in that IFC file that we’ve created.

It will do a little bit of processing to pull everything in. And then here’s our ductwork all stacked up on top of each other. As you can see, it used those different elevations to see that these are on different floors. We can also export to a DWG file.

So if I do that, it’ll ask you for the name of the DWG file that you’re going to export to. And the DWG file tends to be better to export or using a Navisworks. So IFCs work well with Revit. DWGs tend to work well with Navisworks, and typically Navisworks is actually where you going to be doing your collation detection.

You’ll see it flashed a bunch at the screen. It actually draws everything, and it basically uses the iCAD W Block command to create it. So you will see, kind of, the ductwork being drawn while it does all its processing. You can safely ignore it, or watch it, or whatever you want to do. And then if we open up that drawing, you can then view what’s actually being sent.

One nice feature of the DWG format is that you can then just open up and see exactly what’s being shared to make sure it’s got all your stuff in there, and that it’s looking how you’re expecting it to look. In the DWG format, we do export to the different layers.

So if you have Turn in Supply and other things on different layers, those are export and that’s maintained so that some that information does go along with your model. So far we’ve been looking at just the ductwork, diffusers, and mechanical equipment, both exports, as well, when you run these commands.

So I put a diffuser in. Actually, this is a brand-new project. They didn’t make any diffusers. So we’ll make a diffuser real quick. We’ll put our diffuser in. Again, the elevation is going to be matter for your diffusers, so you need to make sure to set that right.

And this is going to be the bottom of the diffuser. And then make my diffuser connection. So now we have a diffuser that’s going to export in 3D.

Now our diffusers, the ductwork is usually pretty straightforward. No one ever has any complaints about those graphics because ductwork just looks like what it looks like. The diffusers, we have a stylized diffuser. It’s not going to match necessarily exactly what your diffusers look like. Again, all of our 3D modeling, the goal is to be good enough for 3D collision detection but not better.

So we have a single diffuser model is enough to block out the space for your 3D collision detection, but it’s not necessarily intending to match a specific manufacturer, or brand, or anything. Mechanical equipment is the same way. Our software doesn’t really deal with mechanical equipment very much.

The one thing that we have is the ability to insert the equipment basically as a 3D block for collision detection purposes. So you can either insert it as a rectangle, or a box, or as a cylinder. And so we can put a box in the 3D model, or we can put a cylinder in the 3D model and then when it’s exported, it’s basically blocking out that space so that no one else puts their stuff in there.

It’s obviously not going to be an exact rendering of what that air handler or whatever looks like, but it’ll serve its purpose to make sure that you don’t have collisions. So if we make an air handler, you can specify your dimensions for the item here, specify the elevation, and then where that elevation is.

So you can specify if that’s the bottom of the equipment, if that’s the top of the equipment, if that’s the center of it, whatever you want to do. So you have control over that. And then we put it in. We’ll put in a nice 3D box for us. Nothing terribly fancy, just a box. You can use the same thing as a cylinder.

So those are the two shapes that we can export. If you want something a little more detailed, you can kind of piece that stuff together, if you want to go through that route. But then, when you export this, those pieces will get picked up and included in the export.

So if you just put in standard AutoCAD 3D stuff, we wouldn’t see it and include it in the export that we do. I’m going to close this drawing so I can overwrite it. So if I export everything to that DWG file, again, it’s going to take a moment to draw it all.

And it’s going to export the ductwork, that diffuser, and that equipment. There it all is. So that’s how you get the equipment to export together with the rest of your ductwork and diffusers.

Finally, let me show you hangers, which back five years ago when everyone was convinced everything would be done in 3D, the idea was that you would do your hangers in 3D as well to verify that your hanger locations for all of your ductwork didn’t interfere with anything.

And then if you were incredibly sophisticated, you could map out all of those hanger points, and they could put all the hanger connections in as they’re pouring the concrete so that you don’t have to go back and drill those holes to save time during construction. You know, that’s the brave new world that people were hoping to go toward. We haven’t gotten a whole lot of feedback on our hangers, which makes me think that not a whole lot of people are using them.

But the feature’s there if you ever get someone saying, “Hey, I want to have in my 3D model your hangers.” So that those don’t get in the way. You can put those on. So those are on a Preduct Setting. You have to go turn them on. We put in two different styles, a wrap and a trapeze. So just real quickly showing you what those two different ones look like.

Put different hangers on these two ducts here. Oh, and we actually need to specify…The ending elevation’s important because that’s where the hanger is going to connect. The ending elevation is the same as your duct, if not terribly interesting. Opens up to the 14th feet. And so there you can see the two different graphics that we have for the hangers.

Basically, the idea is the wrap has a single strut coming down and the trapeze has two on the sides. So that’s what those two end up looking like. We draft them in 3D. We also draft them in 2D. So if we get rid of the 3D here for a moment and put the 2D back on…you see that basically we do a line and a single dot for the wrap and then two dots for the trapeze.

When we put in the feature together…no one actually ever drafted wraps or trapeze hangers. So we actually got to come up with a graphic that we thought looked decent. This is what we did. So that if you actually were going to put these in and then the icon, you know, will start dimensioning so that they can actually get these in the right spot.

You could, in theory, do that if you wanted to. When you turn the hangers on, you get a number of different settings. You have the size of the hanger, which is the size of the vertical piece. The depth, basically how far your hanger drops down below the ductwork. The starting and ending offset, how far the hanger is from the start and the end of the duct.

The spacing between the hangers, so how frequently you have a hanger. So all the offset and the spacing is how we lay them out for you automatically, because the last thing you actually want to do is lay out each individual hanger, because that would be very tedious. So if you adjust these…we’ll adjust the number of hangers in there to make sure that we maintain our spacing. And then the left width and the right width are more for the trapeze-type, where if you have a hanger that is being used for multiple items, you can actually extend the hanger out, and then you can lay your other stuff on top of it without having multiple hangers on there.

So I set this to have a left width of 12 inches. You know, it extends out to the left. And then if we drew something else over here, it could look like it was sitting on top of that hanger as well. There’s a question from the chat, it’s are strut hangers available for electrical overhead conduit?

And the answer to that is, yes. So for the electrical people following along with us, we have conduits and cable trays. They were modeled on our ductwork. So we already have the ductwork as this nice 3D model. So we took that feature and we, you know, stripped out a bunch of stuff so that it would work nicely for the electricals, for their conduits and their cable trays.

And so since it’s running the same code, their hanger functionality looks exactly the same on conduits and cable tray as what we have here for ductwork. Conduits are an example of where we might want to use this extra width when you’ve got multiple pieces of conduit and you want to have a single hanger on it holding up that whole run.

You could do that. Yeah, so those are all the different settings we have for the hangers. Just to show you, if we change the size to six inches. There you go, those are six-inch hanger piece.

So that’s why it changes there. The other thing you can do with hangers is once they are in, you can actually move them around on the drawing. So you can run the Move Hanger, and you’ve got all the hangers.

There’s also the blue line there across the duct that’s representing where we’re going to put the hanger in. So you can select a hanger and give it a new location, and it will put it in there. If I get rid of my 2D, you can see what’s going on a little better there. So all of the single lines are the ones that we put in automatically.

The little X hanger there is the one that was manually put in. So we manually added this hanger, so it’s going to have shifted all of the other hangers past that down. But we still maintain our spacing, so even if you put a hanger in, we’re not going to get rid of other hangers if we need them. But then to get rid of that hanger once it’s in there, we have a corresponding Remove Hanger.

If it chooses on one of these ones if it’s an automatic hanger, it’ll say, “This is automatically inserted.” We can’t get rid of it because of these other settings, so go change those other settings. But the one that we manually put in we can remove and then it’ll adjust all the other hangers based upon that. And they also command just to put Hanger On. So if we just want to insert a hanger there, it’ll put it in, and then adjust everything else down based on that.

And that’s hangers. So that is what I have for you today on 3D ductwork, creating it, getting your elevation set right, getting your alignment point elevations set right, and then hangers, if you want to use them in exporting everything out to DWG and IFC files.

At this point if anyone has any questions, go ahead and throw them in the chat box. They can be related to 3D ductwork, 3D collision detection, or anything else HVAC-related. I’ll entertain…there’s questions right now. Question on the chat, when imprinting a sidewall grille, is the elevation the top, the bottom, or the middle?

And that actually gets pulled from the ductwork. I’m pretty sure. Let’s check that, see how well I know the answer to that question. I’m pretty sure that, since we don’t really have a place to set it for the sidewall grille, we actually pull it from the duct that it’s being connected to. So if I create a sidewalk grille here…I only need 12 x 12, put that on the drawing here.

I’ll put it up at 10 feet so it with matches the duct that we’re connecting it to. And then we will make a connection between the diffuser and the ductwork. And draw the 3D.

All right, yeah. So it does set it based upon the elevation of the duct that it’s connected to, that we decide that was the simplest way to handle that.

So we’ve got the elevation here at the bottom. It sees it’s got that diffuser. We’re just going to use that as the elevation for that diffuser. Is the equipment capable of having hangers? No. We do not have any hangers on our equipment. Let’s take this 3D one first, and then we’ll get to the ventilation question.

So the 3D question is, if I build an AutoCAD entity in 3D will it export in the IFC file? And the answer to that is no, it does not. So we only export ductwork, the diffusers that we create, those pieces of mechanical equipment. We don’t, otherwise, export anything. So if you do have something more sophisticated that you want to export, you’d almost need to build that as a separate drawing, and then export to drawing, and just show up at the meeting with two drawings, or something like that.

We don’t have anything built-in to export, just an arbitrary AutoCAD entity. And then we have, I think this is actually a feature request. Can you give us a good means of inputting the ventilation table on the drawings? So we could. That’s not something we’re working on.

So the ventilation table is part of our load calculations. Our load calculations get printed as they’re created as HTML files with the idea that those would then get printed to a printer or something. But they are little tricky then to pull back into AutoCAD. The HTML files do open pretty well in Excel.

So you can open up Excel, take the HTML file, and then you have an Excel file, and then you can pull that into AutoCAD. There’s also the suggestion from the chat to print the table to PDF and import the PDF. So those would both work depending on whether you want to pull on a PDF or an Excel file.

And you can get them into AutoCAD. It’s not admittedly as simple as a simple, just creating a schedule like all other schedules, like our diffuser schedule. But those are the workarounds we have available at the moment. Next week, we’re back to looking at more electrical stuff. And then end of the month, in October, we’ll be looking at 2D drafting techniques for HVAC.

So we look forward to seeing you all again probably in a month to look at more of the HVAC stuff. Then again, as always, if you’ve got any questions, need any help, feel free to call us, send us an email. We are always happy to help you out that way.

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How to Make Dashed Conduits and Cable Trays

You can set your conduits and cable trays to be drawn with dashed lines using the Layers customization command.


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