Im sure its been covered before. But what is the best way to get a sw model into a building layout done in revit?
The last time I checked, the only 3-D CAD file format Revit could import from SolidWorks was ACIS (*.sat). ACIS files are based on solid modeling format produced by Spatial Technology, Inc. Information about Revit from AutoDesk is available on this link: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112&id=10275191
· Revit: Import/Export Capabilities - Revit Architecture supports a wide range of industry standards and file formats, including DGN, DWG, DWF™, DXF™, IFC, SAT, SKP, AVI, ODBC, gbXML, BMP, JPG, TGA, and TIF. In addition to transferring standard lines, arcs, and circles, Revit Architecture can also transfer complex 3D model geometry for use in programs such as Autodesk® VIZ or Autodesk® 3ds Max® software. This capability provides opportunities to create stunning photorealistic interior and exterior renderings.
To clarify, export the file from SolidWorks as an ACIS (*.sat) file, then import into Revit.
If you have VectorWorks 2009 onwards, export from SW as parasolid, then export from Vectorworks as IFC.....
Welcome to the great myth of Autodesk interoperability. Revit is being pushed hard as the BIM product of choice, but the import formats are dire. I have no doubt that in a year or two Revit WILL read Inventor files (or more likely Inventor will be able to export the Revit format), but until then......
One thing to watch. If you are exporting the sat files, make sure your SAT options are set to version 7 or less.
Also, you'll probably want to remove a lot of detail from the models before exporting via SAT. Otherwise, the objects in Revit are very heavy and will kill performance. (I got this from an Autodesk whitepaper on transferring Inventor models to Revit.) I just found another tech tip on a independent site stating the same thing.
The best option to export your SolidWorks model to Revit is try the BIMDeX SolidWorks to Revit Exporter. With their product, you can export your SolidWorks model seamlessly to Revit with all parameters and hierarchy maintained. You can export as a native Revit family/ project too. If you still face this problem, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. They would be the best to advice on this requirement.
Wow, this is an old thread! Somewhat superceded by the fact that SolidWorks has a fairly decent IFC export capability now. We export to all the AEC applications pretty much on a daily basis.
Prep work in SolidWorks - save assemblies as part files and outside surfaces only. Most (as in 99%) of SolidWorks data that is needed in AEC applications is so that AEC users can integrate a manufactured product into a scheme, or so they can do visuals, or both. So from the manufacturers point of view the models need only show the visible surfaces and the interfaces to the assembly so that the AEC user can introduce it into their model. All the AEC systems are single file modellers, so your exported 500MB model in SolidWorks adds a lot of "weight" to the AEC file. AEC systems are nowhere near as good at "lightweighting" big data sets as MCAD focussed systems yet. Even now we often export our cut down models and the AEC users request DWGs as their systems cannot handle the models.
Assuming they can though, in our experience, the best options for export from SolidWorks to common AEC platforms are:
Revit>ACIS or IFC
VectorWorks>IFC or Parasolid
ArchiCAD>IFC (we have tested this one a lot and IFC works perfectly)
AutoCAD (3D models)>ACIS
AutoCAD (2D)> DWG from drawings sheets (also applies to other 2D systems)
Yes there are lots of add ons that claim to allow mapping of various elements in IFC classes and the like but to be honest (in our experience in the UK at least) the AEC users do not want the added complexity of that and they prefer to organise their models the way they want.
In all the cases above, the SolidWorks data comes into the AEC application at 90 degrees (on its side). This is becuase the SolidWorks "up" axis is Y and most of the rest of the world uses Z! All the AEC user has to do is rotate the model....but you would be surprised how often that creates issues!!
Meant to also add, the ONLY guaranteed way to ensure your data gets into a AEC system intact and as you want it to, is to invest in that system. Fortunately most AEC systems are available on a trial basis so I recommend you trial them all and test the data path into that system. Only then will you really see what your recipient sees. If you do a lot of Revit work, get Revit LT. It imports IFC fine and allows you to prepare the data precisely for the Revit user in a way that now 3rd party plug in can do. I don't know the cost of that Revit SolidWorks plug in but I'd be willing to bet that Revit LT is cheaper.
thanks for the great explanation, it's a djungle figuring this one out.
I have followed your steps to export IFC files, but when I export IFC files from the part with outside surfaces only, the IFC file is empty. I have contacted Solidworks support and they explained to me that only solids can be exported as IFC. How are you able to export IFC-files?
Sorry should have made myself a bit clearer. We tend to knit the surface into a solid before moving it along the chain. We need the volumetric data a solid gives as we punt the files into Rhino and other applications for 3D printing (where you need a closed body). The sorts of thing we tend to export via IFC are enclosures or "closed" items.
If I'm honest I tend not to be the one doing this for this approach - the vast majority of the jobs I get involved with require the complete part or assembly (more complex systems that don't really lend themselves to the external surfaces only option). In these cases IFC works fine but the files are heavy, so we spend a bit of time removing as much detail as possible via configurations - so we remove all fasteners at assembly level, and at part level we simplify forms where approriate (like suppressing cosmetic fillets).
Ah, I see. I think we need to simplify our products as well before converting to IFC. We're designing furniture and when architects use our furniture in large scale models like new hotels, airport and so on the files are simply to heavy. I've got this tip from another person as well, so I'll gues we just have to dig in
Thanks again Kevin!
No problem Jonas. For what it is worth, we deal with a leading exponent of BIM in the UK (as in they have used BIM processes for over 10 years and they present at all the conferences on BIM). They said to us that they do not actually want our data for the "BIM" model. They only need our models for visualisation purposes. The actual construction documentation they use generic models they have set up.
The issue with BIM is that none of the modelling packages used in AEC have any form of lightweight large assembly mode that works. MCAD is years ahead in this respect.
Do you mean, that it is enough to simplify, rotate and export from SW to IFC, so that architects have all they need (in form of geometry, material properties, metadata)? Is it easier for them to add the properties they need to the IFC, than it is if all is propped in a model.
I have tried to import .sat file into a Revit family and assign parameters, that can be used in a schedule. But if an architect can do this in an ifc file instead, then that would be best? is that correct?
Another thing is- I have 100 elements that need to be exported to a Revit project and placed by hand, since SW and Revit do not share coordinates. Is it then better to:
1. send all 100 ifc files to the architect and let him/her deal with this or
2. link the arch revit model to a new Revit project (we have both SW and Revit), link the ifc models instead of the arch doing this and then send my Revit model to him/her? (I can't make a ifc of the final model with the 101 links in it, because Revit can only export links as separate ifc files- which in this case would be pointless) or
3. export my 100 models to .sat, make a Revit family from each and assign properties/parameters, the arch can use in a schedule and in a new Revit project link the arch model, place the elmenets where they belong and export
I just don't know how to create the most usable file...
I would recommend doing one of two things:
1. If you have revit or can access Revit, export your models from SolidWorks as ACIS. Import into Revit and assign all the BIM parameters there and save as native revit files so you can issue these to architects (requesting revit files).
2. If you don't have access to Revit, as the architect WHY they want the data - this is very important. If they need it for visualisation purposes only, then send them ACIS files (if they are bringing into Revit or AutoCAD). If they want full "BIM" then tell them to use a generic object and supply them with the data associated with your parts (part numbers/pricing/specifications etc). Worse case, supply them with a simplified object (ACIS) and get them to apply the data inside Revit (or whatever system they use).
I liken this to layers in AEC drawings. There are standards, but most companies use their own adaptations of those standards (so an air con unit will go onto BUILDING-FACILITIES_HVAC or whatever). In the same way, we have given up trying to issue models and linked data to architects and contractors. The ONLY way to do this is to apply the data to the model inside whateever system they are using. Trouble is, we deal with companies that use Revit, Microstation, ArchiCAD, VectorWorks, AllPlan etc. This is not practical for the supply chain, so issue the geometry in generic formats (ACIS/STEP primarily) and supply with relevant data they can assign to the model at their end.
It really depends on the products you are making/selling though. Some products are fully bespoke and some are standard. With standard products (say a range of bathtubs and basins and taps) you could create Revit parts for all and issue them. For bespoke stuff you are working at a higher level of Revit (or ArchiCAD or whatever) integration (and cost of doing that integration). It is a business decision at the end of the day. If you sell millions of pounds of product to contractors who need Revit data sets of your products then use a service to convert your data, or do it in house. If not, then just send them geometry and specifications.
The problem for the AEC supply chain is, in my experience, that architects and typical users of so called "BIM" systems actually don't know how to use the BIM part, or understand the BIM part. They want "Revit files" or "ArchiCAD files" or whatever primarily becuase it makes their life easier. In the same way that when the AEC supply chain tenders for projects they are pointed to some online project management system and told to "take what you need" from the hundreds of files available (rather than the contractor or architect preparing a proper RFQ with just the data you need). I have worked on both sides of the fence so I know the issues.
In short, there is no one solution to fit all scenarios. It depends what your company does and who your customers are.
"The problem for the AEC supply chain is, in my experience, that architects and typical users of so called "BIM" systems actually don't know how to use the BIM part, or understand the BIM part. They want "Revit files" or "ArchiCAD files" or whatever primarily becuase it makes their life easier. In the same way that when the AEC supply chain tenders for projects they are pointed to some online project management system and told to "take what you need" from the hundreds of files available (rather than the contractor or architect preparing a proper RFQ with just the data you need). I have worked on both sides of the fence so I know the issues."
I'm beginning to wonder about this issue, where there's absolutely no way to create a BIM because there are no standard components, and yet the customer is still asking specifically for Revit. In fact, offering a generic CAD in ACIS for a lesser cost is often rejected.
Chris the simple fact is that in the AEC sphere - in my experience - the vast majority of practioners wouldn't know a "BIM" model or understand the actual meaning of "BIM" if it came up and bit them on the nose. To most, BIM=3D model=native file format for what they are using (be that Revit, ArchiCAD, Microstation, AutoCAD or whatever). The other (in my opinion significant) factor is that none of the so called BIM AEC systems are any good at handling massive data sets. In the MCAD sector, the enterprise systems most systems have methodologies for lightweighting assemblies allowing you to open up massive data sets of fully detailed parts in realtime and work on them. Most AEC systems don't do this so you are always working on the whole model file (which also includes drawings in most systems). In practise this means that most systems grind to a standstill when you have models full of typical MCAD parts.
The get out of jail card for BIM is what they call "level of detail". It essentially means that your data switches to different levels of details depending on the activity you are doing. Some systems handle this better than others (ArchiCAD is pretty good at this). I'm not entirely sure of the background to this but I believe it was develeoped out of the need for drawings. It is good practice in AEC to change the level of detail at different scales. So a 1:100 plan, might just have schematic windows and doors. A 1:10 section might have a fully detailed window assembly and so on.
In pre 3D days this was done with symbols/blocks and you have different symbols for different scales. Applications like VectorWorks were particularly good at this as you created what was called a hybrid symbol that could contain multiple levels of detail for different scales in the same block. Other systems you had to manually swap them out and you had symbol libraries for the same parts at different scales.
So much of "BIM" is a hangover from those days. But the issue of that even now most BIM 3D platforms are fairly rubbish at doing this type of work, and file sizes start to grow to stupid levels for even smallish developments.
To get back to your comment Chris about customer rejecting non Revit files, I think it comes down to this. It is becoming more common for lead contractors on jobs to demand (as part of the award of the contract) that Revit (say) is the standard file format, and the master model file is maintained by the lead contractor. You can argue that this is no different to, say, Airbus, demanding that the supply chain uses CATIA. If you are building a New York skyscraper I could argue that if you want to join the party get Revit as it does make sense from a project management point of view. But if you are working on a £200k school extension, and you are supplying systems that cost £6k supply and fit, then that is a different matter.
"To get back to your comment Chris about customer rejecting non Revit files, I think it comes down to this. It is becoming more common for lead contractors on jobs to demand (as part of the award of the contract) that Revit (say) is the standard file format, and the master model file is maintained by the lead contractor. You can argue that this is no different to, say, Airbus, demanding that the supply chain uses CATIA. If you are building a New York skyscraper I could argue that if you want to join the party get Revit as it does make sense from a project management point of view. But if you are working on a £200k school extension, and you are supplying systems that cost £6k supply and fit, then that is a different matter."
I do understand this, and at the same time, where everyone is so budget conscious, why they want to pay perhaps 2 to 3 times more for the same information. We don't have a Revit license. As soon as we contract it out to someone who does, there's a huge price increase. Naturally the contractor has to charge additional because they do have a Revit license and need to support it, but they are not really adding any value beyond the Revit file format.
The end result is the same I think... ACIS solids in Revit and no BIM. I mean, the customer could import the ACIS model into Revit themselves. Either way they don't get any meaningful data in addition to the solid geometry.
To your point, I think that the people specifying deliverables on the receiving end often don't have a clue.
Your last sentence sums up the issue perfectly. They don't.
To trasfer all geometry and meta data from SW to revit, I suggest either the .sat export or the bimdex export. IFC export from SW still has a long way to go..
you can probably try the solidworks to revit conversion plugin that is offered by bimdex. i used a academic copy of the plugin and it work pretty well in carrying all the metadata from solidworks into revit and we also get revit family rfa files for all solidworks parts and assemblies. although there might be more options with the commercial edition, the academic edition was itself more than satisfactory for our project needs.
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