Revit 2021 and Inventor 2021 have introduced a new unified workflow powered by BIM 360 that enables bi-directional data exchange between the two applications. This workflow has vast implications for collaboration among the design, fabrication and manufacturing fields.
In the recent webinar, “The New Bridge from Revit to Inventor,” Applied Software Senior Solutions Specialists Jason Miles and Anthony Zuefeldt provided a real-time demonstration of this new Revit-Inventor interoperability.
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Using an architect’s Revit model of a townhome, the presenters demonstrated how that model can be shared with a product manufacturer, who then can use Inventor software to create a mechanical-type product, in this case modular balconies.
Anthony Zuefeldt explained how this data exchange process is facilitated by BIM 360 Design, allowing for direct collaboration on the project between the architect and product manufacturer.
First, both project stakeholders must be added to the BIM 360 project. Once this is done, the architectural model must be published to the cloud, which will then be added to the manufacturer’s BIM 360 Collaboration Cache via the Desktop Connector on their computer.
In Inventor, the manufacturer accesses the published Revit model within the Desktop Connector and places the model using the “Place Imported CAD file.” Jason Miles has identified two stable methods for configuring the imported file at this step:
- “reference” the model in and maintain the link with the architect’s Revit model, which would automatically update when the architect makes changes.
- “convert” to an Inventor model, which would break the link, and any subsequent changes by the architect would not result in any further updating.
It is important to note this importing functionality controls element filtering through dedicated views within the architecture model. The manufacturer will specify a specific view from the imported Revit model to use as the basis of data that will be converted into Inventor geometry.
When the manufacturer brings the model into their workspace, it will show all the Revit details, categories and parts of the selected view. The architect and manufacturer must coordinate to customize a view in the architect’s Revit model that is set to show as much or as little of the design as needed. Due to the differing base functions of the two applications, it is best to toggle off extraneous details and model elements not relevant to the manufacturer’s scope of work, so the performance of Inventor is not detrimentally impacted.
In this example, once the manufacturer places the balconies within the Inventor project, they can save the model out as an assembly file on BIM 360 available to the architect.
Part of what makes this new workflow so important is that it introduces an easy bi-directional data exchange between Inventor and Revit. Changes by the architect can be synchronized and then published to the cloud (two separate steps). This enables the manufacturer to receive the changes. When the changed model is published, it shows as the next incremental version in BIM 360.
The manufacturer then accesses the changed version and syncs to the model on the local workspace in Inventor. This triggers a dialog box notification: “Changes have been made to some assembly components since the assembly was last saved which may affect component size and position.” The linked Revit model geometry then updates within Inventor to reflect the changes made by the architect. Depending on how the manufacturer references the Revit geometry, the Inventor content can automatically change in a proportional relationship to the changes in the referenced geometry of the Revit model.
Note: The process for linking data and models between Revit and Inventor is not instantaneous. The Desktop Connector uploads the changed model from the architect to the cloud, then downloads it from the cloud to the manufacturer’s desktop. This process will typically take several minutes to upload and download data between computers. Larger and more complex models will take longer.
In conclusion, this new bridge from Revit to Inventor is a fairly easy workflow that opens up exciting new opportunities for collaboration in the design process. Since the new workflow is only possible in the 2021 versions of Revit and Inventor, the Applied Software technical department is still developing its list of best practices for using it. As it is further refined in the coming months in partnership with Applied Software customers, additional information and discussions with be forthcoming.
BIM and BIM 360 collaboration are the hottest trends in the industry today. To learn more about the workflow that’s right for your company, contact Applied Software today and talk to a BIM expert.