Sunday, 20 February 2011

Parametric Face Based Families

If you managed to get out to Autodesk University towards the end of last year and attended Phil Read’s fantastic class titled "Into the Void: The Zen of Creating Complex Sculptural Forms with Autodesk Revit".  You will have seen him demonstrating face based components connected end to end to create rather interesting randomised shapes.  If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out his website where he has compiled all his class materials for download here:
One of Phil’s comments was that it is quite hard to get the components to align correctly when attaching to the face of the previous object.

I had a play around with this technique and came up with a solution which means you can align elements accurately with no effort at all (well, without using align at all!).  To add to this; you don’t need the objects to be straight when connecting them together.

How do we do it? The answer is to add a pipe connector to the object.  Connectors are not limited to MEP so this can be done in any Revit discipline.

Here you can see I have created a Generic Face Based Pipe with parameters to control its height, branch length and branch angle.  I’ve added a pipe connector to the underside and also to the end of the branch.

When loaded into a project I can place the first Item in plan using the Place on Work Plane option.

Next, in a 3D view (or any other view) I can start adding more face based objects snapping to the connectors for ease of placement.  By pressing space I can also toggle the orientation of the components as they are placed.
One thing I have noticed is that if you want to add multiple components one after another you need to press escape after placing a component in order for it to find the snap point again.

Selecting one of the families and pressing space will completely reconfigure the shape to something new.

Ok so this just looks like a mangled mess of pipes. But what this does do is open the door to many more capabilities with face based families. And of course, with connectors involved, you can connect different families together as well.  Some examples I‘ve thought of are:
  • Rainwater Pipe and Gutter fittings & accessories.
  • Cable Trays (outside of MEP)
  • Segmented handrail design
  • Modular Staircase Design (without using the stair tool which has got to be a relief for anyone!)
  • Drainage pipework (outside MEP)
  • Climbing Frames
  • Tower Crane Modules (horizontal and vertical)
  • Parametric modular tall building design.
These are just a few ideas but I’m sure there are plenty more to be explored.  If you discover any more ideas please share them!


Anonymous said...

LOL! Brilliant use of connectors! Very nicely done. :) - Phil

Plumbing pipe said...

Making a parametric out of pipe connectors. Its nice! And very informative topics you are sharing.

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