Let the family do the work

One of the biggest complaints I hear daily about revit, is that there isn't enough content (families) and the families that are provided do not do what the user wants. I always have the same answer, which is "create your own". This is normally followed by grunts and mumblings that "it takes too long" and is "too complicated", normally followed by "I already have CAD blocks, it would be quicker in CAD.

Lets take a door family for example, It is true that creating a intelligent family can take a little while, but the benefits once created far out way the time taken, once the family is created door schedules, ironmongery schedules, elevations, plans, costing and details can become an automated process as does any following revisions. This family can then be saved in your library and used in future projects.

Recently I was tasked with creating a set of door families for a door set manufacturer. This manufacturer produces door sets that include the door, the frame, the architraves, and ironmongery which are assembled off site and just placed in the opening.

There were a few unique challenges to creating these families some of which are below:

- Ironmongery selection varies depending upon the door type, fire rating and acoustic rating as does the panel width.

- Depending upon the doors use, various handles and locking mechanisms are available all available in 3 different finished.

- Over 50 different finishes available for the door face, and over 20 for the door lippings which varies depending upon the door finish and contrast ratio between the two.

- The door must have advanced clash detection features, allowing things such as swing detection

- The family is to include a NBS spec reference that matches the door configuration.

- The families 3D geometry must be dimensionally correct to the real product, and produce accurate details at 1:5.

- The family must include some sort of protection to prevent reverse engineering (locked parameters anyone?)

The manufacturer wants to include a door cost in the family which is calculated based upon above variables/selections and to complicate things further the manufacturer wants the family to pull this data from a web server in real-time so that they can update prices (caused a few headaches this one).

With all the different options above, there are 1000s of variations available for each door, however by creating an intelligent family, we can reduce this down to around 5 (one for each panel type), with the other options configurable in each family.

However because we want these to be intelligent families, some options will affect other selection options. An example is, if we tick the option to make the door fire rated, then the family will automatically show the correct signage, and only allow ironmongery selection suitable for a fire door preventing incorrect ironmongery specification and the cost will be updated automatically based upon all the variables.

In my next post later in the week I will show some of the techniques I used, along with a video tutorial to show the power that a 'true' intelligent family like the one described above can make to your project. If I find time I will also blog how to create a curtain wall system, based on chain link/snakeskin.

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About Me

I am architectural technologist working in Newcastle upon Tyne for a company called _space architecture. I am one of the people behind the Revitspace website. Hoping that this blog will be a less formal way of sharing my thoughts on parametric modelling techniques and any other useful brain farts I may have.

Revit Certified Professional