Perfect Alignment: From 3D Design to the Final Bolt

By Akio
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Perfect Alignment Dassault Systemes

Imagine the possibilities if you could design buildings that combine the artistry of stunning craftsmanship with the science of building.

Over the last several decades, the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industry has required cost effective project delivery, while customers still demand high quality and advanced systems design. The fragmented processes across designers, architects, engineers and fabricators combined with traditional design tools, have contributed to this by constraining the possibilities for design.

The good news is that many leading companies have found ways to break down those barriers to seamlessly connect design to fabrication. As a result, they can unleash creative potential and standout from their competition, without sacrificing deadlines or budget.

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Combine Art and Engineering

A beautiful building stands out. It even creates a sense of awe that draws people to it. It inspires and creates an emotional connection that makes people feel better in the space. It’s the artistry of that building that shapes that emotion.

However, with that artistry often comes complex geometry, which is much harder to visualize in traditional 2D design tools. What’s exciting is that with 3D digital technologies, you can sculpt and craft surfaces, letting your imagination and creativity explore possibilities. With a 3D model, you now have immediate visual feedback on the overall aesthetic appeal so that you can optimize it.

As an example, A. ZAHNER Company, an award winning architectural engineering, manufacturing, and construction firm, has seen just this with the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform from Dassault Systèmes.

“3D digital technologies enable us to design more complex geometries; we are no longer limited by two-dimensional drawings,” says L. William Zahner, president and CEO at ZAHNER.

While artistry makes a building special, it must also be combined with building science. By using a platform that allows you to combine artistry and engineering, aesthetics become a natural part of the building design process.

Further, a platform that enables the seamless connection from design to fabrication provides true insight to support every design decision.

As you explore questions such as what shape should the windows be? Should they be recessed or flush with the exterior? Which trim options will work best? You not only have a perspective on the visual appeal, but as a platform, you can also factor other criteria into decisions such as sustainability, energy efficiency, maintainability, and even security.

As you evaluate different materials, you can understand not only the structural and budget impact, but also how colors and textures impact aesthetic appeal.

Build Better Buildings

A holistic platform must also allow for precision and control. It should provide features that support design innovation and flexibility, yet preserve design intent.

For example, template based design is a powerful feature that will support design and engineering by saving time. With it, engineers can define parameters such as requirements for the structural design.

The software then evaluates numerous scenarios to quickly arrive at an optimized shape that meets engineering criteria. An integrated, end-to-end platform will then preserve that design intent so that what is built, matches what was designed.

Another benefit is that as a collaborative, 3D environment, problems become easier to spot so that quality is better. For example, you can identify interferences between ductwork and plumbing and correct them during design rather than during construction.

As part of the platform, simulation capabilities also support better building and civil design. Simulation can look for potential structural or heating/cooling problems. You can even simulate building and civil construction to identify and correct problems before construction starts, ensuring the design is buildable. Another Dassault Systèmes’ customer, CadMakers, has found the 3DEXPERIENCE platform has helped with this.

“Roughly 30% of the problems or risks we identify in a given project result entirely from the fact that we’re able to view the building and its systems in an integrated, 3D model.” says Javier Glatt, co-founder and CEO, CadMakers.

Increase Velocity and Efficiency of Designs

With a traditional project, design is very iterative. One group completes their work and then passes it on to the next, limiting collaboration. This is much slower so the design work takes much longer to complete.

By connecting everyone on a seamless platform, everyone can work together much more easily. Work can be done concurrently; with visibility into how the work done by others may impact you. Overall, this leads to much greater efficiency.

Building Information Modelling (BIM), which is a 3D digital model of the structure, is one way to support this. It embeds all the required information to fabricate, build, and even support facility management in the model.

Everyone involved in the different design functions, such as architectural design, structural engineering, MEP, and civil engineering can collaborate on the single model.

Many companies find that it helps to improve efficiencies and reduce errors. For example, ZAHNER has seen a lot of value with BIM and the way the 3DEXPERIENCE platform supports it.

“Our company has been using BIM and digital definition to improve transparency that reduces errors through a leaner, more streamlined construction process,” says William Zahner.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) also helps. The American Institute of Architects defines IPD as a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures, and practices into a process to collaboratively harness the talents and insights of all participants.

This optimizes project results, increases value to the owner, reduces waste, and maximizes efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction. IPD supports lean construction.

Connecting everyone on a single platform, in a virtual environment, enables IPD.

In addition to engineering design, a complete end-to-end platform should also support key functions, such as engineering document management, construction document management, construction project management, and cost management.

Together, this will support seamless and efficient processes from design to fabrication.

Learn More

By using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, ZAHNER has been able to achieve truly remarkable work.

“The types of projects we’re doing today were not possible 20 years ago,” says Shannon Cole, senior project engineer at ZAHNER. “With the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, they now are.”

Find out how you too can do this and bring the craftsmanship back to design. Learn how ZAHNER designs their projects, and how they are constructed. Discover the advantages of seamlessly connecting your design to fabrication process to realize greater efficiency with fewer errors. Hear how companies like ZAHNER are using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform to manage their projects with great success.

Visit to learn more.

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Harnessing the Power of Cloud-Based Collaboration on an Architecture Project

By Akio
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of the Cloud in #Architecture

Botswana Innovation Hub

Expressing Innovation

For an architectural firm like New York-based SHoP Architects, expressing innovation means harnessing the power of diverse expertise in the design of buildings and environments to improve the quality of public life.

“Architects want to delight people with their designs,” Chris Sharples, founding partner at SHoP Architects, said. “This is why we focus on first understanding what our clients want, what function a building will serve and imagine a design that will help them achieve that.”

SHoP is also involved in public works, entire infrastructures, and cultural as well as institutional projects.

“We constantly seek innovative ways to build by using traditional materials like wood and prefabricated or modular systems for high-rise construction,” Sharples said.

“We are currently working on some exciting projects like a very tall residential tower in midtown Manhattan that we are dressing in beautiful terracotta and bronze. Another project is a complex of two adjoined buildings in San Francisco, California’s Mission Bay neighborhood that will contribute to transforming this developing stretch of Mission Bay into a dynamic, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. It’s our way of demonstrating how innovative architecture can play an important role in transforming a community.”

Iconic Symbol of Diversification

Another of the firm’s iconic projects is the Botswana Innovation Hub in Gaborone, Botswana.

“The Innovation Hub is a government-driven initiative to support innovation in research and development and entrepreneurship in the region,” John Cerone, associate principal at SHoP Architects, said.

“It is a huge investment for the Botswanan government to diversify its economy and to move from one primarily based on diamond extraction toward a more knowledge-based economy,” Sharples added.

“Our client expressed a desire for a timeless building that features the latest advances in green technologies,” Cerone continued.

One of the systems SHoP developed is an energy blanket rooftop that combines sustainable energy techniques and large overhangs to passively shade the building’s interior. The Innovation Hub is also equipped with mechanisms to collect and reuse water, and passive and active photovoltaic systems to harness solar energy.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced is managing the graceful, morphing shape of the building and the many different parts, which are fabricated in Cape Town, South Africa, that are required to achieving this flowing structure,” Cerone said.

“There are many variables and tolerances are very tight. It requires a high level of control and the ability to coordinate the fabricator and the construction site, both thousands of miles away from our design offices in New York.”

A Shared Experience Enabled by the Cloud

The Botswana Innovation Hub façade was entirely designed for construction with Design for Fabrication and the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform.

CATIA model of the Botswana Innovation Hub in Gaborone, Botswana

CATIA model of the Botswana Innovation Hub in Gaborone, Botswana

“We used the 3D modeling application CATIA and the collaboration application ENOVIA on the cloud for this project,” Cerone said. “We would not be able to attain the level of control and detail required to complete this project without the 3DEXPERIENCE technologies.”

Since the cloud operates 24/7, 365 days a year, it makes collaboration easier as stakeholders are on different schedules and time zones.

“We’re coordinating people across the globe in real time,” he continued. “It is a completely different way to engage a project as it contextualizes every aspect into a holistic approach.”

SHoP has, in fact, been using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud for years, and was one of the first customers to use the platform as part of Dassault Systèmes’ Lighthouse program. During that time, the firm realized the value of working on the cloud and decided to continue using it on new projects.

“On the cloud, everyone has instantaneous access to the most up-to-date information,” Sharples said. “It creates a sense of order because it’s not in somebody’s drawer somewhere; it builds a shared experience.”

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shared experience” @SHoPArchitects @3DSAEC

To continue pushing the envelope of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, SHoP receives services and support from Vancouver-based CadMakers Virtual Construction, a Dassault Systèmes certified business and education partner.

“CadMakers is much more than ‘resellers’ of Dassault Systèmes’ solutions – they are power-users that approach problem-solving with an intimate working knowledge of our industry,” Cerone said. “They feel like an extension of our team, and their support has been focused and impeccable.”

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of the Cloud in #Architecture

Related Resources

On any given project, SHoP Architects manages various disciplines and a vast amount of information. Using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud, including the Façade Design for Fabrication Industry Process Experience, SHoP designs and coordinates global stakeholders with a real-time, up-to-date view of project information. This enables stakeholders to make timely decisions, collaborate better and enhance innovation. Download the full case study.

CadMakers Virtual Construction. A Dassault Systèmes partner based in Vancouver, Canada, CadMakers is an integrated construction technology company focused on applying manufacturing and automation processes, people and technology to the construction industry.

Watch the SHoP Architects team explain how they think about using technology to evolve the practice of architecture and construction:

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See Also:

Industry Process Experience: Façade Design for Fabrication

Whitepaper: Technological Changes Brought by BIM to Façade Design

Using Digital Engineering to Capture Knowledge and Drive Innovation

By Akio
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clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Using #DigitalEngineering to Capture Knowledge &
Drive Innovation #AEC @CadMakersCo @3DSAEC

For Javier Glatt, CEO of CadMakers Inc., one of the chief benefits of digital modeling is the ability to capture knowledge that can be shared with collaborators and applied to future projects—whether or not those collaborators use digital tools.

In fact, he advised his audience in a presentation at the 3DEXPERIENCE Forum to find a business model that removes the burden on industry veterans of learning the latest technology, while still incorporating their invaluable knowledge.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: Remove the burden on #AEC industry veterans to learn the latest tech, but retain their knowledge @CadMakersCo @3DSAEC

For example, when working with mechanical contractor Trotter & Morton on a wastewater treatment plant, the CadMakers team was tasked with optimizing the workflow using digital modeling and improved collaboration, even though many of the individuals on the project didn’t use computers.

Glatt’s team worked closely with the project contractor to essentially capture his 30 years of insight into the digital project.

Through their combined knowledge, they were able to ultimately determine areas that could be prefabricated offsite and reduce the onsite labor from 20 people to 5.

Glatt points out that despite the focus on 3D, it’s important to use tools that can still deliver information in traditional ways. Being able to deliver a cut sheet and an automated bill of materials to fabricators reduces the barrier of entry for those shops.

“If we can provide information that’s really easy to understand, just about anyone can cut that pipe,” Glatt says.

More Reliable Innovation

Glatt also explored how digital design can help contractors innovate more easily than ever before.

When working with property developer UBC Properties Trust, CadMakers helped explore the use of mass timber in an 18-story building.

Because codes only regulate the material in the first six floors, the project team turned to a digital environment to demonstrate to code officials that mass timber could safely be used in this application.

The first step was a digital mockup that tested 16 different connection points. While Glatt says it proved helpful to later build a live mockup, the digital mockup helped the builder to immediately select a preferred connection. Once the mockup was complete, the project overall was 60% faster than a traditional build of a concrete building of a same size, Glatt says.

From there, the digital model would ultimately include details as specific as every nut and bolt and screw. That level of detail was absolutely necessary in this unique project. For example, in the design phase the team was considering using highly specific mass timber screws coming from Germany, at $2 per screw, posed a risk from a cost perspective.

Every floor was detailed down to every stud in order to provide fabrication data directly from the model. And given the fire risk for a timber building, the encapsulation layer was thoroughly detailed to communicate compliance with all fire regulations.

The mechanical room was another area that proved ripe for prefabrication—it holds a lot of complexity in a small area, and relatively few trades are involved in its production. The team used DELMIA to break down the room’s master assembly into each subassembly by system and then to the part level to integrate a manufacturing-like bill of materials.

According to Glatt, this process reduced work from roughly 1,000 labor hours to approximately 320.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: How @CadMakersCo reduced work from 1,000 labor hours to 320 on an 18-story timber project @3DSAEC

The ultimate benefit was speed to market. The under construction project, originally planned to build in 20 months, is projected to be complete 4 months ahead of schedule.

The model was followed exactly by the contractors onsite. Because the project was built virtually numerous times before ever being constructed, each part and process was finely tuned.

Data-Driven Certainty

CadMakers also helped developer Westbank (ICON Construction is their in-house General Contractor) to use data-driven decision-making to create a complicated glass facade.

The project called for a dual radius curve of glass for the windows, with dual radius curve extrusions for the top and bottom sills, and pre-cast concrete to match. Each component was produced in a different country, so precision was key.

Using numerical analysis to precisely determine the geometry essentially changed the way the project was bid, Glatt says.

“You used to go out to the market with a façade, do a few drawings, throw it out to multiple fabricators and ask, ‘How much does this façade cost?’” Glatt says. With that strategy, there are typically surprises, and change orders are the norm.

Instead, the team used CATIA to write a script that created 2,020 unique total panels and slab edge panels automatically.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: With @3DSCATIA, the @CadMakersCo team scripted >2000 unique panels automatically @3DSAEC

The geometry was exported so that instead of offering rough drawings out to multiple fabricators to bids, the builder or architect is able to tell the market with precision what was needed, and get more precise costs in return.

By precisely detailing the amounts of parts needed and the geometry of those parts in the conceptual stage, the designer can determine feasibility early on and get more precise bids from fabricators.

Paying Knowledge Forward

Glatt emphasized that every project presents an opportunity to learn and build new value through digital engineering. “We learn at scale, build use cases and automation tools to solve those problems, and incrementally get better each time,” Glatt says.

By capturing, digitizing and scaling knowledge through rules and catalog components, lessons learned on each project can be shared among the entire team and applied to future projects.

“As a business owner, I don’t want to lose the value of learning when I have someone work on a really interesting project,” Glatt says. “If we can capture that [knowledge] in a rule, as a reusable tool, then it helps me. I can have 10 people who didn’t work on that project get all the benefit of that learning from one individual, and then we can apply that to the next incremental project.”

Related Resources

Watch Javier Glatt’s full presentation

Learn more about CadMakers

Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

Optimized Construction Industry Solution Experience

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