Tech Talk

.SAT to .RFA: Using an .SAT File Exported From Another Application to Become a Revit MEP “Smart” Family

Using a SAT file exported from another application to become a Revit MEP “smart” family.

I am always exploring ways to make the software at our fingertips work streamlined with one another. Sometimes, advancements in software might be overlooked, but I am here to show you how a few simple steps could save you time in the long run, and get more out of your readily availble software.

Answer “yes” or “no” to the following:

  1. Using applications like SolidWorks, Rhino, ProE, Inventor etc. for 3D modeling of Mechanical equipment, parts etc.?
  2. Do these parts created in the above applications need to be used in Revit?
  3. Are they just imported into the Revit Project making them “Dummy” objects?
  4. Not able to use the .SAT Models like the Revit families?

If you answered “Yes” to one or all of the above, check out this Tutorial to make use of the readily available .SAT files to become Revit families.

In this example, I will convert the .SAT file of Pump exported from AutoCAD, but any .SAT file would follow the same process.

Choose and open Revit family Template
Review these before you begin:

What units are used?

  1. Open family templates from the Metric or Imperial templates based on the units used for .SAT files.

 

Which family template to use?

  1. Choose the correct *.rft file according to the category in the project (eg. a pump will belong to Mechanical equipment, a Duct elbow belongs to Duct Elbow.rft).

OR

  1. Start with Generic Model.rft and then Categorize the family.
  2. Go to Application Menu > New > Family > Generic Model.rft
    fig1

Categorize the Family

  1. Go to Family Category & Parameters
  2. Select from the list the type of Category, in this case, Mechanical Equipment
  3. Check out the family parameters options available.
    fig2
  4. The Part TypeBreaks Into” signifies the parts that can be joined into the pipe segments or Duct runs (e.g. Valves OR pipe fittings category lists different types of fittings like an elbow, tee, cap etc).

Import .SAT File

  1. The next stage is to import the .SAT file. Go to Insert tab > import CAD > choose ACIS SAT file type & select the file > Open.
  2. A Message and a warning appear which can be ignored in most of the cases.
    fig3

Correct Orientation and Placement

  1. If the Pump does not come in where you expect it, you will have to correct the orientation of the Pump.
  2. Go to the appropriate view, example the Elevation views > Select the object > Use Rotate Tool to correct the orientation.
    fig4
  3. Use Move & Align Tools to place correctly on the Centre line & Bottom Reference plane as shown.
    fig5

Add Connections

  1. Adding the connectors to the model makes them the ‘smart’ Revit “MEP” families.
  2. Go to Create tab > Pipe connectors > place on face > select the face where the pipe must connect in the model.
  3. Select the connector and adjust its radius in the properties, create a parameter for controlling the radius in the project.
  4. Click on the extreme right of the radius parameter, add parameter.
    fig6
  5. Give parameter name, choose Type or instance, OK. Here, Suction radius of type parameter.
    fig7
  6. Similarly place another pipe connector on the other side of the flange, with the radius parameter as Discharge radius of type & having Hydronic Supply system classification & flow direction Out in the connector property.
    fig8
    NOTE: The two Connectors can be linked, select one connector > choose Link Connector > select the other Connector.
    fig9

Symbolic Representation in Plan and Eleveation
The object has to be viewed as it is in 3D view, but should have custom representation in Plan & elevation views.

  1. Go to top view, select the import object, visibility settings in the Ribbon, switch off the visibility of the object in all the views.
    fig10
  2. Go to Annotate tab > select Symbolic lines & sketch the plan view representation when placed in the project. Repeat the same in Front & Left views.
    fig11
    TIP: You can create a detail component family of all the views (Top, Left & front) & place them using Annotate > Detail Component tool in the respective views the respective component family. Use this method when you have the 2D views readily generated from AutoCAD or exported as *.dwg format from other applications. It saves time drawing the symbolic lines.
  3. Save the file & Load into Project & Test the family for the connectors & Symbolic line representations.

These .SAT files may not be parametric in nature but will save time in recreating in Revit, keeping the connector details to make it “SMART” enough to be used effectively in the project.

NOTE: To keep the family file size small, construct the geometry as simple as possible avoiding hollow sections, holes, threads, fins etc. where possible since Revit needs only basic geometry representation.


About the Author: Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson has spent more than 25 years’ applying MEP & AEC design solutions for large commercial companies, actively developing Autodesk® Revit® implementation strategies, techniques, and procedures for architectural and MEP companies. He is an Autodesk MEP Implementation Certified Expert and is a trusted advisor for many of today’s leading architectural, engineering and construction decision makers. Additionally, Bill has had the advantage of working as Lead Designer for several multimillion-dollar communication sites included structural, electrical, HVAC, conduit, cable plans and equipment layouts – making me an excellent problem solver, with intricate knowledge of BIM workflows and solutions.

Contact Bill Johnson

I have spent more than 25 years’ applying MEP & AEC design solutions for large commercial companies, actively developing Autodesk® Revit® implementation strategies, techniques, and procedures for architectural and MEP companies. My passion for, and deep knowledge of, the industry has lead me to work for multiple, well-respected companies including Autodesk, TEECOM Design Group, GTE/GTEL, Greg LeDoux and Associates, Scottish Power in England, Ideate, Inc. and now AEI. As an Autodesk MEP Implementation Certified Expert, I am proud to act as a trusted advisor for many of today’s leading architectural, engineering and construction decision makers. Additionally, I have the advantage of having been the Lead Designer for several multimillion dollar communication sites which have included structural, electrical, HVAC, conduit, cable plans and equipment layouts – making me an excellent problem solver, with intricate knowledge of BIM workflows and solutions.

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