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In the modern era, more and more architects and engineers are starting to use Revit in their design process and as a crucial tool for creating construction documents. About a year ago I jumped on board and began using Revit on a daily basis. Of course like all programs that a person uses for the first time, there was a steep learning curve. I kept comparing it to AutoCAD, which was my first and biggest mistake. Comparing Revit to AutoCAD is like comparing apples to oranges. After months of learning how to use the program from my mentor – as well as a lot of patience and dedication – I became the Revit “guru” for the structural engineering department at my firm. In this article I will show you how using Revit as a structural engineer has made both me and my department more efficient.
Prior to our introduction to Revit our firm went about the design and creation of construction documents like most firms. We used the following steps:
Create background drawings from vendor drawings that we receive from our clients.
Design all of the structural components of the project by using design software and running calculations by hand.
Mark-up all of the preliminary drawings as well as create hand sketches of sections and details.
Produce all construction documents in AutoCAD from the mark-ups and hand sketches.
As most of you are aware, there is always a change or a revision at some point after your set of drawings is “complete.” So, as the changes came in, we would update our drawing set, adding sections and details where necessary. We would then go back through all of the drawings making sure that every change was picked up on each individual drawing, and that everything corresponded appropriately.
This process as a whole was considered normal, but was also very time consuming.
Today, the use of Revit in my company has streamlined the design process as well as the creation of construction documents. The first step in the process remains the same. However, the next three steps, as well as any revisions after the “completed” set of drawings is issued, have become far more efficient.
After the structural engineer has designed the structural components using 3D structural design software, we integrate the design model directly into Revit. By doing this, we don't have to worry about the accuracy of our drawings with reference to the design model. This process is performed using an Integrated Structural Modeling (ISM) viewer. There are numerous ISM viewer plug-ins that are compatible with Revit, however, you must choose the one that is compatible with your design software.
Now that the designed model is in Revit, all we have to do is produce plan drawings by telling Revit what “level” (elevation) we would like a plan to be created at. This process eliminates the 8 hour task of creating each plan in AutoCAD by drawing individual lines.
Once the plans are set up in Revit, you can instantly produce a section for the design engineer to mark up with just one click of a button. This saves time by eliminating the process of the design engineer sketching all of the sections by hand.
When it comes to typical details, Revit also saves us time when compared to AutoCAD. It has pre-saved 2D “detail components” that you can bring into your drafting views. For example, if I wanted to draw a section of a masonry block in AutoCAD I would need to draw 4 vertical lines (exterior and interior face of the shell), 2 horizontal lines (top and bottom), and then hatch the shell of the block. Also, I would have to make sure all of the dimensions are correct. Using Revit, all I have to do is go into its pre-made library and select what size masonry block I would like - that’s it!
Lastly, the major advantage of using Revit over AutoCAD deals with making revisions to your drawings. Revit makes this process very easy and accurate. Unlike in AutoCAD, where you usually have to make the revision required on multiple drawings, you only have to make the change once in the model, and then each drawing is automatically updated to reflect the revision.
In summary, I believe that AutoCAD will always be in the life of an architect and engineer. However, I encourage everybody to take a leap of faith and try out Revit when given the opportunity.
Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments. And remember: sharing is caring!
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