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Tilting Floors & Beams


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I have a couple problems to solve.

One is modeling with steel beams. Select Detailing (joist tool) steel beams then select the type of steel beam and draw.

Great tool, produces an accurate 3D model of the structure. But?, I cannot rotate the beam or slope it!

I have a project where I would like to model Wide Flange columns and beams rotated 90? from their usual upright position. (Handling lateral loads.) Some of the beams need to tilt down to create framing for ramps, roofs & ramped structures. Finally I'd like the beams neatly labeled in plan, labels "stick" to the object and data appears in the materials take off spreadsheet.

I have discovered that I can convert the beam objects to mesh objects, pick a view and rotate the mesh 90? to get the beam turned on it's side. I can either convert a horizontal beam (joist tool) and then roate the Mesh vertical /or/ I can use the beam profile tool, select the beam and plant it in plan view, convert to group and extrude to the column height. Great for modeling but the data and labeling are lost unless I make a database record and laboriously assign the data to each column (or beam)mesh object.

Sloping a beam also requires mesh conversion & loses data. Joist tool will not allow one end higher than the other. Only angle changes in the horizontal plane are allowed.

Anyone have similar problems? Are my solutions the only way to get the results? Is this an item for the wish list? Or - am I the only Architect making steel frame 2D/3D models of sophisticated structures?

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I've played around with trying to rotate objects around their x or y axis in 3d; the programs objects don't like this. Finally I created a 2d object, then extruded it to whatever length and could then have my way with it, pretty much. You might want to try this?

I realize your cross-section profiles would be more complicated than simple beams but wouldn't think they'd be too difficult....


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Try creating Beams as HybridSymbols using the profile >ConvertToNURBS and then ExtrudeAlongPath for the length. This allows rotation of the 3d portion as required and to show the Beam created from simple rect with length*cosine of the pitch with hatch&fill in the Planview.

Here are some examples:

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An OK idea. It can work as a work around until Nemetschek gets deeper into steel working and gives us some tools for using standard PIO steel shapes the way we use them in real life. Like ends at different heights and rotated 90? for side force resisting girts.

I'll have to continue to put up with attaching record info to the hybrids.

Thanks for the insight and example references.

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Anyone have similar problems?

Indeed. It is extremely difficult to do steel structures in 3D with VW. Even the relevant 2D tools are disappointing.

At one stage I considered adding standard sections to my Beam object and writing a decent Column object that could also be used as a brace, but I

- could not figure out a proper user interface (now I have an idea, but...)

- realised that just having the ends cut in one plane against the axis is not enough: one needs to be able to define the cuts in a rather complex fashion to model, say, a brace that is diagonal both vertically and horizontally (...so I've given up!)

Now, this is an area where ArchiCAD is a lot stronger than VW - but as I recently discovered while evaluating the latest version - not quite there, either.

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Indeed. It is extremely difficult to do steel structures in 3D with VW. Even the relevant 2D tools are disappointing.

Necessity ... being the Mother of Invention... VW provides all the requisite Tools to produce accurate quantifiable structural Steel components & assemblies. HybridSymbols ...Extrude, ExtrudeAlongPath, and Split with a dash of trig. work well for me.

My only complaint is the unbelievably funky 3D environment which requires significant knowledge, experience and the patience of Mother Teresa.

A good Rule of Thumb...if you desire to produce Steel work in 3D ... always plan at least 10 moves ahead.

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Islandmon. you can create complex structures when you are an experienced and motivated user, and can get your head around the "funky 3F environment". The problem is 99% of users don't fall into that category.

They just want to be able to do things. This is where the lack of a broad range of intelligent objects in VW bites them on the bum. There are too many gaps in the architectural modeling capability that have to be fudged with work arounds. When it comes to structural elements the gap is a chasm.

Edited by mike m oz
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Islandmon, I'm not suggesting it can't be done that way because it can. I think the issue is the lack of parametric objects for doing fairly simple structural elements such as columns and beams which connect together like they would in real buildings.

Columns and beams are fundamental building elements and parametric objects for them should have been included in the program long before now.

PS: And yes I am aware that the Joist tool has a range of options for steel joists, beams and a simple US wood truss. It cannot do these with a rise though.

Edited by mike m oz
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We can indeed do (almost) anything. (We can even create new people inside existing ones, as a builder friend of mine used to say when the word "impossible" was used.)

Quite obviously it is next to impossible to have user-friendly parametric objects that would cater for all fantasies, but surely we should be able to do steel constructions with a reasonable level of accuracy & detail with the Leading BIM-program! Unless the M stands for McMansions.

I don't expect VW to be a Catia or a Vertex. I hope it won't become a Revit or an ArchiCAD. I like the flexibility and arbitrariness, even the work-arounds, which some other programs just don't have.

you can create complex structures when you are an experienced and motivated user, and can get your head around the "funky 3F environment". The problem is 99% of users don't fall into that category.

Exactly, Mike! When I can't get something done easily, I have quite a lot of brute force at my disposal and I have quite often written my own commands & objects just for one project. The situation distorts my picture of reality as comes to the 99%.

Now, philosophically...

Necessity ... being the Mother of Invention...

...Homo sapiens is an animal who makes tools. In reality not all VW users are humans in this way but rather belong to the species H. ludens. Sometimes all this work makes me a dull boy.

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Columns and beams are fundamental building elements and parametric objects for them should have been included in the program long before now.

Way back ... at Moscone Center > MacWorld ...1992 next to the Graphsoft booth in the back was a Canadian company, COMPUneering ... promoting FRAMEmac & BEAMmac...Structural Frame&Beam Analysis Programs. The programs included Steel Section Tables . After purchasing v1.12 , I used it successfully for years.

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After posting this reply ...

Google> COMPUneering > http://www.compuneering.com/about_us.php

and on their Home page is this factual statement :

From 1993 to 2003 our focus was on the terrain modeling plug-in of VectorWorks (formerly known as MiniCAD; from Nemetschek N.A.; www.nemetschek.net). Their terrain modeling add-ons are still based on our plug-in.

So they hooked up at MacWorld on that fateful day in '92.

This begs the question why not plugins based on the FRAMEmac & BEAMmac modules ??

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Those were the days!


Whoops. That was a reply for The Mon's previous message.

Well... There were several firms with MiniCAD/VW add-ons. Yours truly among them. One beautiful day a Graphsoft staff member wanted to know what & why my add-on system does: they were developing their own. Oh, did I rush to give them all the details!

The Ugly Duckling they hatched is Landmark - the useless, pathetic, impossible to sell with a good conscience, "Industry Series" module. Could well be fine in the McMansion industry, though.

Edited by Petri
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Hi am deeply indebted to Erez Anzel of COMPUneering as I use his LANDesign program practically everyday since 1994 & I works perfectly in Classic mode. Petri if you can provide something better than Landmark I will pay you big bucks, just like I did to Erez. Using software that has not been updated in 13 years everyday because it is still the best & have tried others, come on Nemetschek lets try to expand beyond software for square 3D McMansions, it can be done if you step outside the BOX.

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Islandmon, most users aren't chasing structural calculation capabilities. All they want is some parametric objects for modeling beams and column.

Beams that can:

- Simulate the three different materials: concrete, steel, timber.

- Be flat or inclined.

- Have different end connections and angles.

Columns that can:

- Simulate the three different materials: concrete, steel, timber,

- Be vertical or slanted.

- Have different top connections and angles.

- Have optional pad footings under.

- Have optional shear heads over (concrete).

Each capability could be via a composite PIO or three separate PIOs for the three different materials: concrete, steel, timber. The steel options would need to cover steel RHSs, CHSs, I-beams and Channels.

Other stuctural needs are parallel chord trusses and portal frames.

Curved beams represent another challenge.

Edited by mike m oz
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Petri if you can provide something better than Landmark I will pay you big bucks, just like I did to Erez.

Please: Erez is a pro. You can't compare him & I. My DTM system was pathetic!

However, as comes to concepts, you can't compare some NNA staff members & I, either. In the scheme of things, I could not have competed with Microsoft Diehl/NNA.

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Gentlemen, (I don't think anyone who has chimed in so far is a lady)

I am glad I stirred up some discussion here. I hope that Nemetschek is eavesdropping in too. Mr. Andersen, Katie? Others?.

I am posting later today on the wishlist for including sloping beams, etc. Please join me in this.

Mike OZ, I really appreciate your work down under. And you really have made a lot of helpful posts to others in the past.

Petri, you too do a lot of help the novices, confused and assisting the frustrated posts.

Islandmon, I get a lot out of your posts and a lot of laughs too from your tongue in cheek comments.

Pete Cipes, Your insights are always rewarding.

So keep up the good work, and let us all gang up on Nemetschek to give us the tools we need and make it easier for the novices to do stuff us "old hands" know how to do.

Starting simply, adding differential beam ends and rotating beam sections about all three axis in the joist programs would be a big help.

Morphing the beam program to a column parametric which allows using steel shapes with some variation much as is possible in the current column tool which has a lot of features for modeling the "classic" style columns. e.g. take a WF shape and vary it's width to create a moment frame bent along a nurbs profile. I know I can, Islemon has posted examples - petri, Oz, can, but how many others wish they can, but can't put in the time to learn to use the flexible tools?

I Tinker - just like most of you do, and discover what VW can do. Then use that to get my job done. What about the ones who are unable to make the leap that results in "let's see if this works?", save the file open a copy under a new name and then try to convert a parametric object to mesh or 3D polys, etc. and create a work around?

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On the positive side - my world before VW was frustrated by what cold not be done.

In the pencil era:

I had to laboriously use orthgraphic projection techniques to do building sections to see if the roof intersections were going to work out.

In the MiniCad era I could do some angled section cuts to check. The redo the cut after changes were made to verify.

In the VW era, we now have live sections which simplify checking and verifying and illustrating to the construction crew that, yes the Blankety-blank architect knows what is going on and the problem is already solved by following the drawings.

By the way - I don't do McMansions, whatever they are. So Vectorworks doesn't really straightjacket me. Maybe it's because I think outta-da-box and try to use the VW tools in ways the programmers may not have intended.

This results in my discovering that they improve the tool one day and it stops doing what I found useful. One case in point - I used to be able to convert spreadsheets to line and text objects before exporting them to ACAD (for my engineers and to fit the delivery specs of clients that all facility drawings be in ACAD vxxy format). So they (NNA) "fixed the bug" and I had to do all sorts of work arounds to include tables of info in my output.

Well, I'm out of lunch time and haven't eaten a bite - so I stop ranting and raving here. (For now.)

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Cost cutting staff costs by combining architect and engineer in one person ? Is that the commercial pressure you're possibly alluding to ? Learn engineering or go hungry ?

Do you not see something circular in this ? Engineer/designers might well emerge as a new force in the marketplace, and lo' they set up in practice, and lo' they discover that some of the folk in the office are better at design than engineering, and lo' others are better at engineering, and lo' the Engineers start to hire separately for the design department and for the engineering department, and lo' design and engineering are distinct, and reflect different personal qualities in people.


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