Design and Manufacturing solutions through Digital Prototyping and Interoperability

Tag Archives: Structures

Sheet Metal | K-factor

K-factor; what is it, and why does it matter to me? Design & Motion is all about digital prototyping. For digital prototypes to be most effective, what we produce digitally (in the form of models and drawings) needs to represent the finished product as closely as possible. In my experience, the area of manufacturing where this need for accuracy seems to be most neglected, is in sheet metal design.Continue Reading

Civil 3D | Do you use Civil 3D for As-Built data?

Civil 3D is the king of the hill for Civil Design, and can develop elegant and detailed construction plans. Using Objects provided by the application, such as Surfaces, Pipes, Structures, Gradings, etc, revisions that would have taken a week can be performed in a day’s time. I did say ‘can be’. However, what happens after the plans are released, and the site is constructed? We need a CO, and what often stands in the way are As-Built plans that reflect the site improvements AFTER the construction.

As-Built Civil 3D Objects

In the past Engineers everything in the construction plans were line and text, and the only way to show the final as-built conditions of a development was to edit all the text. Today, Civil 3D uses dynamic Objects that automate the line and text process and updating these is actually easier than re-texting everything. The formatting and conventions are already taken care of by the styles in use, and calculations such as slope and length are dynamically updated. All we have to do is edit the Objects. Seriously, it’s so much better. One main reason is that we can then reference (and re-use) the As-Built Pipe Network in future designs and renovations.

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There is however one problem: When companies and agencies want to see Finished Grades vs Actual data (and similar situations). What do you do?

Most of the companies I deal with will add text to represent the final conditions adjacent to Civil 3D Object Labels. Unfortunately, that results in additional calculations that Civil 3D would have done, and now they will need to handle that themselves. I like the text, but instead use the adjacent text to represent the original design information. When I edit the Civil 3D objects, the original design information as for a reference. The main benefits in this method are the reuse of the Civil 3D objects, as well as no-frills text that you can move however you like.  To accelerate the process I copy the objects and labels to the side, explode the labels, and move the resulting MText objects back into place. Then erase all the left over object trash.

In the example shown in the images above, I copied the Pipe Label (so that two were attached to the Pipe), and edited the text. We can do that with Pipe Network Labels. I simply changed the style to one that had built in strike-throughs, and selected ‘Edit Label Text’. Then I use these to reflect the design information. This is a bit tedious, but no more-so than manually calculating and re-texting everything. I prefer the Copy – Explode to Mtext option for a number of reasons. Either way, this process is straight forward… until we get to tables.

Tabular Data

imageThe Civil 3D Tables are formatted with Object Design information, but have no place for editable text. What do you do in this situation?

We can expand the table and and left a blank section for a column of MText. It would be quite beneficial to have similar capabilities to edit texts as we have with the Pipe Labels. Unfortunately this is not the case since the tabled data is driven and created dynamically, where as the individual Pipe Labels are created by the user. Perhaps a free text option in the Table Cell Components might be nice, and related to the ‘Structure All Pipes’, or other Pipe related texts. These populate dynamically for each pipe – so we’d have a free text field for each pipe instance.


Split Network is your friend

This workflow is a bit odd and definitely not ideal, but will cut the additional time spent with this process to almost nothing. COPY THE NETWORK and KEEP IT SAFE.

image I can’t say how large a network you can copy before disaster will strike you, but give it a try. Select all the Network Pipes and Structures, and copy them to a safe out of the way location. Unless you have to show old Alignment References, then there is no reason keep it ‘one on top of the other’ (In fact I’d very much recommend against it). The next step is to use ‘Split Network’, and choose the Create Network option. BAM ! it’s done, and now you have the original network and a new one (off to the side) to HOLD the Original data. Split Network is awesome, so here’s a shout out to Dana Probert (who first showed us) and the AEC design team for this great tool.

Here is the best part – The Surface FG references in the Structures will retain their design state elevations in the sudden absence of a Surface to reference (won’t go to zero).

In the image above I simply copied the table, and assigned a new ‘As-Designed’ style with wider offsets, and tagged it to the components in the New Network. Each Structure in the table now has the As-built data to the left, and the original design data to the right.


What’s your method or thoughts

Do us all a favor and add a line or two on how you get through this process. Would you like to see a solution within the Civil 3D package? Make a suggestion so we can get some useful ideas, and maybe even a product solution.

Civil 3D – Pipe Structure dragging and elevations changes

When Dragging Pipe Network Structures you may notice that the Rim Elevation Changes. Sure the Rim elevation will change if set to Surface elevations, but they can change even if the Rim elevation is set manually.

In this example, I was cleaning up an as-built utility plan. I already had the Rim and Sump elevation data from the field entered in, but I lacked the horizontal locations.  I recently received the remaining data, so I am adjusting everything accordingly.


The Rub

If you drag the structure to a Node Osnap, the Rim elevation will change.  It may not be the Point elevation value, but it will likely change. I wish I had specific exacting details of how and why, but finding the reason does not justify the time needed.


Instead just drag the structure free to the node location. You should find that the structure Rim and Sump elevations will remain unchanged.

Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 7

Back to Part Builder Part 6

In the last session we created the Structures in the Civil 3D environment.  In this session we will modify the configuration to add the slopes to a list, in order to change the structure to be consistent with the corridor side slope.

Open up Wingwall Sloped in Part Builder.  Since we have something that hopefully works, let’s save a new part.  This way we have both.  “If it aint broke, then don’t try and fix it”.  Let’s try Wingwall Variable Slope.

Pick the ‘Save As’ button on the toolbar. The ‘Save Part Family As…’ dialog will appear allowing us to change the Chapter, Part Name, and Part Description.  Leave the chapter as Inlet-Outlet-Custom, cut change the Name and Description to Wingwall Variable Slope.


Hit OK.

Right Click Size parameters and select Edit Configuration.

image Continue Reading

Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 6

Back to Part 5

Backup your model

Before we begin, I seriously and strenuously suggest you back up your model.  Don’t do the saveas (which is fine I suppose), but instead use Windows explorer to copy the .DWG and .XML files to a backup location. The VISTA path to these items is C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\C3D 2009\enu\Pipes Catalog\US Imperial Structures\Inlet-Outlet-Custom\

Map the User Parameters to the Application

You may remember the parameters that were handed down when we verified the structure a few sessions ago.  These ‘handed down’ parameters are those that the application uses in it’s controls, and were assigned when we used the Part Configuration Undefined Bounding Shape.  Without these, the structure cannot be modified. These parameters are SHBTh, SHBW, and SVPC, which are the Thickness, Base Width, and the Vertical Pipe Clearance respectively. We used the user parameters (like bThick) to buffer our equations from the application controls, and to make it easier to understand when reading the parameter list.  When we go back to make changes, we can disconnect the application parameters, and toy with our user parameters, and then attach them when we are done.

Let’s set these values before we proceed farther.  Edit the Model Parameters as follows:

SHBTh = 6

SHBW = 24

SVPC = 24

Now we have given something solid to these values, we can map these to the user parameters we created.

bThick = SHBTh

bWidth = SHBW

Now that the parameters have been set, we need to change the bounding shape to be a box.  Right now, the application will only display the structure as a 3D solid, and many styles will not display

this.  To simplify your model in some cases, we need the bounding shape to be a box.

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Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 5

Back to Part 4

Ok, it’s been awhile.  Everyone knows I am studying for the test, but I feel so bad for all the people who have been emailing me about the series.  I will run through the ‘Homework’, and then complete the configuration session soon hereafter.


Homework Review

We left off with your homework, which was to transfer the Toe plane out, and complete the transitions. I’ll recap it as I run through.

Create the Toe Plane, Offset from the Right Plane a distance of ‘(bHeight-bThick)*bSlope’.  Insert the Anchors.

Don’t forget the model parameters for the offset distances.


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Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 4

We will pick up where we left off from Part Builder Part 3. Open our saved part “Wingwall sloped” from the last session.  Adjust the view so that you have something similar to the following image: It’s time to speed things up a bit, so as I refer to procedures, I will once again detail…Continue Reading

Civil 3D – Part Builder Part 3

We will pick up where we left off from Part Builder Part 2. Open our saved part “Wingwall sloped” from the last session.  The image below should be representative of what we had before. Model Parameters The Model Parameters are the nuts and bolts variables that control the size of the part. The parameters are…Continue Reading

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