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.

clicktotweetTweet: “Perfect Alignment: From #3D Design to the Final Bolt” @3DSAEC #3DEXPERIENCE https://ctt.ec/MTF6O+

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 3ds.com to learn more.


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For Efficient Facade Design & Engineering: Collaborate With Your Supply Chain

By Akio
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A new method of project delivery is emerging in AEC.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: A new method of project delivery
is emerging in #AEC @3DSAEC @azahner

Through new digital platforms, companies like A. Zahner Company are setting the example for how an integrated supply chain can significantly reduce rework on highly complex projects.

When the experts responsible for fabrication and installation can provide insight early in the design process, and all parties have the tools they need to collaborate closely throughout, construction waste can be reduced.

Owners are enjoying the benefits of collaborative project teams, which include:

  • reduced waste
  • stronger adherence to schedules
  • reduced costs

Collaboration is improving through the adoption of cloud-based 3D modeling solutions. Such tools assemble and empower teams across multiple organizations and geographies to create a single, live source for project creation.

By ensuring all project stakeholders are on the same page, from design through execution, owners gain tremendous transparency into a project’s feasibility, and all AEC parties have access to the knowledge they need to successfully speed projects to market.


To learn more, download the Dassault Systèmes whitepaper:

Supply Chain Integration and Collaboration for Efficient Facade Design and Engineering


clicktotweetClick to Tweet: For Efficient #FacadeDesign & Engineering:
Collaborate W/ Your Supply Chain @3DSAEC #AEC

The Chrysalis Amphitheater: Transforming AEC Through Collaboration

By Akio
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clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “#ChrysalisAmphitheater: Transforming #AEC Through
Collaboration | @Dassault3DS @azahner @THEVERYMANY

In nature, “chrysalis” refers to the metallic-gold shell that encases a butterfly’s metamorphosis.

Like its namesake, the Chrysalis Amphitheater in Merriweather Park, Maryland is making a bold transformation.

The futuristic band shell, designed by Marc Fornes of THEVERYMANY, features a dual-curved steel and aluminum shell over a concrete base.

From curved tubes to custom shingles, the project is a wide-ranging, geometric display made up of many unique panel-types.

Conceptual skin model from the architect MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY

(Conceptual model by architect MARC FORNES/THEVERYMANY.)


The manufacturer of this form is A. Zahner Company, an internationally acclaimed engineering and fabrication company based in Kansas City.

Earlier this year, we sat down to discuss the new Chrysalis Amphitheater with Shannon Cole, Senior Project Engineer at Zahner, who is responsible for transforming an artist’s design into a realized form.

“We’ve been using CATIA for modeling in some form or another for over a decade. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform brings CATIA to the next level,” says Cole. “What we love about the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is the way that it adds other functionality available to us through ENOVIA Project Management, to improve our ability to collaborate all the way through the supply chain.”

The company, along with the entire Chrysalis project team, has brought the amphitheater project to life in a virtual world.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: .@azahner & entire project team brought
#ChrysalisAmphitheater to life in a virtual world

Using collaborative modeling tools they were able to make decisions and have a big impact on schedule and budget.

To manage the complex geometries and ensure everything fits together in the field, the shell has been developed from the ground up in a 3D environment.

The Chrysalis will be the first major project for Zahner engineers to run on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Having used the company’s CATIA software for many years, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform brings multiple software packages together on a cloud-based system, increasing visibility for stakeholders, and empowering collaboration between teams.

Close up view of secondary fins used for geometry definition

(Close up view of secondary fins used for geometry definition.)


According to Cole, digital projects once constrained fabricators, since those tools were imagined with the architect in mind.

Zahner structural steel model and secondary fins

(Structural steel model and secondary fins.)


Coordinating Throughout

Cole notes that the Chrysalis project presents a challenge in that, even though Zahner is contracted by the owner, the subcontractor must coordinate closely with the project’s general contractor who is performing the site work and laying the concrete pad.

“Coordination between us will be critical,” Cole says. “It’s important to show them how we envision this being erected.”

For example, through a tab in the 3DEXPERIENCE dashboard, Zahner has been able to easily coordinate concrete embed locations with the general contractor.

“This way we get high level of agreement from the general contractor that, yes, that’s the concrete slab they’re going to build, and we can ask for base plates to be in those locations,” Cole says.

3DPlay Widget, showing concrete base model, being used to to resolve clashes between requested concrete curbs and steel base plate locations

(3DPlay Widget, here showing a concrete base model, resolves clashes between requested concrete curbs and steel plate locations.)


Improving Collaboration

“We’re giving access to the owner and architect to let them know where we are and how things are moving forward because design is a tricky process — it’s not always linear and straightforward. Decisions that seem relatively small can have big impact so transparency helps people see why you’re agonizing over, for example, a single clip and why it’s important to you,” Cole says.

Dashboard created for project stakeholders; Images show an in-process skin test

(Dashboard created for project stakeholders; Images show a skin test in process.)


For example, as the façade team explores how the shingled skin appearance will be achieved and how it might look in its finished state, Zahner is able to post photos on the dashboard to demonstrate what they’re aiming to achieve.

That helps bring new team members up to speed, and makes the owner a more integrated part of the team.

Transforming the Process

Between the Chrysalis’ limited reliance on 2D drawings and its high level of transparency, the project demonstrates the transformation taking place in the AEC industry.

“The interconnectivity across disciplines — upstream and down, from design through fabrication, installation and analysis — is huge for our industry,” Cole says.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Interconnectivity upstream & down—design, fabrication,
installation, analysis—is huge for AEC” @azahner @3DSAEC

This collaborative virtual design not only helps to engage all AEC team members, giving them all a high stake in the finished project, but it takes full advantage of all of the knowledge available from the full team throughout the life of the project.


Related Resources

Façade Design for Fabrication Industry Solution Experience

WHITEPAPER: Technical Changes Brought by BIM to Façade Design

Spotlight on Zahner: Improving AEC Efficiency Through Façade Design Integration


This post was originally published on Navigate the Future, the Dassault Systèmes North America blog.



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