Revit

Posts about Revit

Catch Jeffrey at today's San Francisco Revit User's Group

Catch Jeffrey at today's San Francisco Revit User's Group, hosted by Ideate, where he'll be speaking with our good friend Doug Smith on using BIM for large-scale Burning Man projects.

Doug, a BIM manager at Woods Bagot and prior to that SOM, and Jeffrey from BecauseWeCan, have both volunteered their time and technical skills to help with building Burning Man's yearly Temples. The Temple is a non-denominational place for reflection and remembrance that is a large part of the Burning Man tradition, a big project, and a huge team effort of many people who come together to build something that will only live the duration of the event, to be burned at the end.

Here's the link for the invite for today's event in San Francisco.

If you can't make the San Francisco event, there's the same event next week in Oakland. Here's the link to the Oakland event invite.

Hope to see you there!

We're giving a talk tomorrow at the SF Dynamo User's Group

We're proud to be giving a talk tomorrow at the San Francisco Dynamo User's Group, where we'll be showing off our recent series of Nodes for Fabrication called 'BecauseWeDynamo'.

Thanks to HOK and Ideate for inviting us. The event is free, and you can register here.

Hope to see you there!

BecauseWeDynamo, a set of Fabrication Nodes for Project Dynamo and Revit

We here at Because We Can love leveraging technology and creating our own unique way of working to make great things. While we’ve developed a decent amount of in-house software to help our work over the years, I’m very excited and proud to begin sharing some of that work with you, with the initial release of “BecauseWeDynamo”.

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It’s a set of custom-made Nodes for Project Dynamo focused on fabrication. You can find it in the Package Manager in Dynamo under BecauseWeDynamo and the open-source code is hosted here on GitHub.

A wonderful example of what this is all about is shown with the complex triangle walls of our recently completed Shipping Container Lounge project. The organic, flowing interior walls are made up of hundreds of unique triangles joined together to make a fluid, undulating, expressive (yet affordable!) surface.

Making something like this without some automation is almost impossible; the complexity can be hard to manage both in the design and in the building. So we used what’s called in our industry “Generative Design” where the combination of parametric 3D models and intelligent functional programming are used together to have the computer generate the design for you. You set up the rules and the smarts, and let the computer figure out the rest.

Autodesk Revit is wonderful at producing parametric models. We used it to made a special triangle object or ‘Family’ as they are called in Revit that you can flex using math into whatever size and configuration you need. You set the location of it’s three corner points, and the Family produces a flat triangle with radius tips, an offset ‘gap’ between it and the triangle next to it, and even proper placement for the joining hardware and more. This let us ‘hang’ these Adaptive Families off of 3D splined curves, making it easy to control the complex surface of the wall. Rather than model every triangle, we simply can push and pull control points on the splines, and have all the triangles model themselves.

However, just having a nice model of something is only the first 1/3rd of actually getting it built. Managing the production and assembly of hundreds of unique parts can be very daunting! This is where automation via functional programming is a huge help. We needed some way to export every triangle in a format that works with our CNC Router, and we need to label every triangle for ease of assembly. Doing it manually would take forever and is error-prone. Much better to produce a ‘script’ and let the computer automate that task for us!

Project Dynamo is a ‘functional visual scripting language’ for creating, manipulating, and automating all sorts of design data by non-programmers. Rather than write code from scratch, or call on existing libraries, and produce a stand-alone application like a software developer might, tools like Dynamo let us easily create one-off workflow solutions to automate small repetitive tasks and model impressively complex objects. It works fanatically well with Autodesk Revit, and thus was an obvious choice. Plus we really dig it, and dig the people working on it, so it was a joy to use.

Rather than write code, where the ‘flow’ of the program is abstract and non-visual, tools like Dynamo let you ‘draw’ your program. Perfect for visual designers like us! By connecting various Nodes together, you ‘wire’ together a solution for your project-specific problems, iteratively working your way through it as the code runs live and you see the immediate results.

Now, Dynamo is rather new, and it didn’t have all the Nodes we needed for this project. So we decided to create our own custom Nodes to scratch our own itches, and shared them openly for other designer-fabricators to make use of. For as we have for years now we release most of what we do under a creative-commons license.

So one thing our custom Nodes help do is parse the Revit model, label every triangle, lay them all out flat, and then export them to our CNC router for production. Every triangle is not only labeled, each edge of the triangle is labeled so you can easily figure out what edges go together. It made short work of this problem, and helped us make this wonderful and complex design efficiently and effectively.

Within BecauseWeDynamo you’ll find Nodes for part labeling, DXF exporting (with proper true curves!), mesh topology walking, edge labeling, and even our own custom old-school line-based pen-plotter style font suitable for CNC production. We’ve also got some auto-sectioning tools ala 123D Make, and are currently working on Nodes to help automate shop drawing production and development of complex surfaces. You’ll find on the GitHub site some great working examples, and we’ll be developing more samples, how-tos, and actual physical case study objects as well.

Our ongoing goal with this project is to make the fabrication of elements in Project Dynamo and Revit easier and more efficient; thus empowering all designers to be able to make great things like we do.

Come see us at Autodesk University 2011. Because we're keynote speakers!

We're very proud to announce that our own Jeffrey McGrew will be giving one of the keynote presentations at this year's Autodesk University.

With over 9,000 people attending, this is very exciting news indeed! We'll be briefly sharing the story of Because We Can and some of the work we've done. Buy a robot and change the world!

We're also giving a more formal hour long presentation on 'The Five Myths of Digital Fabrication'. We'll cover the five most common mistakes (and how to avoid them) that we see people make when they first get into making things via Digital Fabrication.

We'll also be doing a bonus talk, more informal, in The Lounge about how we made the tails for the Serpent Twins (that we made a recent Instrucable for).

We hope to see you in Vegas!

Instructable on the Serpent Twins Tails

Our good friends over at the Instructables asked us if we wouldn't post up how we made the Serpent Twin's tails. So here it is!

Enjoy! It's our first big instructable so we'd love for you to go there and leave us a comment on it.

Also, if you want to see the Serpent Twins in person, there is a big party this weekend at Jon's shop. All are welcome!

No EatFoodTalkShop this month, instead let's meet in Los Angeles!

We're going to be speaking about digital fabrication at the Revit Technology Conference later this month. So we're going to have the first-ever BWC L.A. meet-up while we're out there. We're very excited about it! If you're in the area for the conference (or the wonderful Dwell on Design show), we'd love to see / meet you.

So no June EatFoodTalkShop, instead it's a L.A. Meet-up. EatFoodTalkShop returns next month!

We'll have details posted to our blog and twitter feed later this month. We'll see you in beautiful Los Angeles! Thanks everyone!

Jeffrey McGrew wrote a chapter for Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011, which is now out!

The wonderful Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture series is one of the standard books on Revit. Highly recommended. Put together by this crew of knowledgeable folks, it's currently available from amazon and soon as a downloadable version.

In additional to all the BIM basics, there are extra chapters on all sorts of great work being done via Revit. The one on Revit in the movie industry for set design is stunning! We got to help out on this one too, in that we wrote the extra chapter on BIM-to-CNC fabrication.

So go and grab your copy today!

Trade Show booth for Unity Technologies at GDC 2010

There is only one more day left of the 2010 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
If you get the chance to go, check out the booth we made for Unity Technologies.
It's hard to miss them on the trade show floor, as they are front and center!

And their booth looks a little differently from everyone else's.
Instead of the hard plastic and pop-up look of the booths around it, we made them a booth with inviting wooden furniture and a dramatic feel. It's all sustainable materials too!

The main elements included:
A big big wall with Unity Logos and Flat screens
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A podium
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A Standing Reception Desk
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A Triangular counter table for 3 iMacs
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A station for 4 iphones
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Two Long Counter tables for demo stations
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Six cabinets with signage for their affiliates (shown here standing back to back)
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Thirteen little stools
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And a lounge area!
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Because We Can at the Winter BIM Forum

BIMForum was amazing. We were honored to be included! The presentations were all great. It's certainly wonderful to see the newest developments out there within our industry.

As always, the steel fabrication guys are way ahead of the curve. We got to see a presentation from Chris Fischer of Schuff Steel where they talked about going from BIM models (Tekla, in this instance) to their fully automated steel shop, where huge CNC plasma machines and automated conveyer systems process massive steel beams all day long. It's just like we do, except a whole lot bigger and heavier!

We also got to hear from my old boss Ken Sanders and a fellow Gensler friend Shawn Geile with a stunning presentation on the epic towers Gensler is working on. One of which was just finished at the LA Live! Center. It was great to see that building complete, as I helped out in the early stages of it years ago when I was still at Gensler. A very complex project that could only be done via BIM, yet a complex project to do with BIM!

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When it came our turn to talk we focused on our in-house process we use for fully leveraging CNC and BIM together for creative interiors. Happy to say that it went over very well and that we hope to get a video of it up soon.

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Best thing about the conference was all the new friends we made. There are some amazing people out there doing simply incredible things. Specialty contractors making mountains for Disney, civil engineerings using automated robotic grading machines, huge contractors coordinating whole skyscrapers, to programmers developing totally new ways of collaborating together: across the board, everyone we met was up to something mind-blowing and awesome.

We're sad that our schedule won't allow us to make the next one in June. But we certainly hope to go again soon!

See us at the AGC's BIMForum Conference in Phoenix, AZ later this week

We're honored to be included in this year's BIMForum conference in Phoenix, AZ! We'll be giving a talk about BIM-to-CNC fabrication on Thursday afternoon, January 14th, at 3:15 pm. We'll be focusing a lot on our in-house process we use to go from BIM to Digital Fabrication. We'll also be talking about the big changes that have been recently happening in that space. With a few fun things to show off, we've got high hopes that it will be a great talk!

In the past, CNC machines were used to solve one of two problems: either you needed to make a whole lot of something quickly, or you needed to make something that wasn't easy to make by hand. CNC machines were all about high production rates. And they had to be, for they were ungodly expensive, and the software and know-how even moreso. But now with CNC machines getting cheap enough, and the knowledge widespread enough, so that anyone can use them for almost anything they can think of, well, it really changes the whole game. And that's exactly what were going to be talking all about!

The BIMForum conference is held twice a year by the Associated General Contractors of America, an industry group akin to the AIA or AIGA but for builders. With a focus on emerging technology and it's use in the building industry, BIMForum looks to be wonderful conference of AGC people. People who are really making changes and making things work. So many of these technology-focused building industry talks can wander into the tall reeds of theory. So we're rather interested in talking to a bunch of people who are more about the day-to-day realities of getting things built! We're really looking forward to meeting everyone.

Hope to see you there!

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