Revit / BIM and Construction / Fabrication


I've worked in Revit for about three years at an architectural office, but recently moved home for family reasons, and have begun working for my family's stone fabrication business. They've been approached by architects about working together in BIM / Revit, but since my family's company had no one on staff, until me, who knew how to use BIM / Revit, they've had to turn down those jobs or outsource to BIM consultants. I've gone through our records to see what sort of BIM / 3d information we may have gotten from our clients in the past, but there is none. Since we weren't using BIM or 3d, we specifically requested only 2d info. So now I'm trying to be proactive in figuring out how to go about getting us coordnated with our clients / architects via BIM / Revit, but have nothing to go on, in terms of what material we might be given to work with at some point down the line when we get another shot at working in BIM.
Has anyone out there worked in cut stone in Revit, including precision modeling, correct joints, anchorage, etc., and then successfully (or not) coordinated with a stone fabricator? Or, if not stone, then does anyone have any experience / opinions on coordinating BIM with manufacturers and fabricators in general?
This is new ground for me personally, and for my family's stone fabrication business. It seems to me this bridge will have to be crossed at some point, for both cut stone and pretty much all other material fabricators and providers, and if it's done properly and coordinated smoothly, it could be a nice benefit for everyone involved...

Hey heterarchy,

I think this a really interesting position you are in as far as coordination/fabricating from revit.
I would assume an operation you would need to complete inorder to fabricate singular panels etc. is to make sure they are using a smart form of modeling with the use of adaptive components etc. The technique readily seen in rhino to get singular panels to become planar on the XY would be to "Unroll" a similar technique can be done in revit and I would point you towards Zach Kron from Autodesk's blog:

I believe this specifically can relate to your needs and hopefully sheds some light. Than I would imagine you would need to translate each 3D geometry to whatever file type your machinery needs (i.e.CAM software). I hope this helps.


Thanks for the response and the link. I think this could and hopefully will be an interesting endeavor... I've worked in Rhino, using unroll, etc., and know grasshopper well enough that I've generated a definition that pulls every piece of a curtain system out, lays it out flat in a sequential line, names and labels it, dimensions it, etc. Fun stuff, and I'm definitely interested in utilizing similar techniques here in order to generate fabrication-ready documents for stone. However, it's precisely the first part of your suggestion that I'm most concerned about at the moment - "make sure they are using a smart form of modeling..." I'm interested in hearing what exeriences anyone may have had actually going through the process of design / documentation to fabrication, including coordination with the fabricator utilizing 3d / BIM files, especially Revit.
For instance, one of the most basic things - for anyone who has worked in Revit on a project with cut stone, how do you handle the placement of joints? It seems relatively clear that modeling individual pieces of stone separately is a bad idea and waste of time, so where is this information represented in the Revit file?
The issue is similar to those faced when working with an aluminum panel rain screen system, where individual custom panels will have to be fabricated. Two years ago, I worked on a Zaha project in Beijing with custom aluminum panels, and the only reasonable way for them to do it was using DP. As I'm trying to figure out how to help my family's company move forward in to the "brave new world", I'm wondering if we might not need to adopt DP, as I'm not sure if Revit will be much help in generating what's neccessary for fabrication purposes. However, our clients (architects) are working in Revit, not DP, and I'm familiar with Revit, not DP.. so that would be a dificult transition indeed.
Furthermore, we're not yet using any digital fabrication tools (though it's something I've been pushing for)... Everything is still done the old fashioned way, so to speak. The nature of most of the work we do makes digital fabrication more expensive than it's worth at the moment. However, we can't avoid or put off dealing with BIM in terms of coordination / estimation / and drafting for fabrication...
So like I said, definitely don't know the answers yet, but it seems like an interesting, relevent series of questions and challenges to pursue...

Right so it sounds like your alternative is shop drawings, and maybe you can introduce creation of section cuts at whatever constant interval would allow for low tollerance differences that way your sheets and the Architects sheets are about as onpoint as your going to get. I worked a bit as an intern for a large Architectural Fabricator but we delt with the majority in Rhino and Solidworks for metal works. So if its a manual process of mitered joints into the stone using what... water fed saw? maybe the answer lies in the shop guys work flow...How can you set up a workflow so that a jig or x amount of cuts will always be x amount of inches from 0 or in that case from whatever the stop is on the saw. This is exciting stuff, to me atleast...
I have a very good friend who is a CAM engineer in DC for a fabricator and they seem to have similar issues except their clients use ACAD, but with his knowledge in Rhino+GH he has been able to automate a bit of their process through the use of again digfab water jet cutting for large tile jobs and some metal bending.

I hope others post, I am eager in hearing their approach!
Excellent post!


We definitely always need to produce shop drawings for every project we take on. In the past, these have been done by hand and now in CAD, taken from PDFs and DWGs provided by the architect. However, many of the projects we're working on are being done in Revit, with the 2d info extrapolated from the 3d and sent to us. One of the things I'm most interested in accomplishing is working with the original 3d Revit model, and streamlining the estimation/shop drawing/fabrication drawings process by staying in 3d from beginning to end.
I've been working at different ways of accurately modeling cut stone in an architectural model, and then trying to see how best to work from there towards shop and fabrication drawings, but I'm just sort of making it up as I go - which is why I'm interested in seeing what some architects out there may have actually done...
This is definitely an exciting topic, and clearly applicable to far more than just cut stone. Besides the Zaha project in Beijing, I've been looking at work done by CASE, which is pretty interesting and cutting edge in terms of BIM/3d/fabrication/production/procedural streamlining...
Hope to hear from some other people out there who may be facing similar issues!

This is definitely an issue that needs careful thought. Is this for traditional/classical detailing or just wall cladding? Jointing in Revit is (perhaps) usually done as model lines or some other not-fully-3d element, but there is nothing stopping dimensional stone from being made using the so-called "curtainwall" tool in Revit, with joint thicknesses as the "mullion", joint centerlines as the "gridline" and stone blocks as the "curtain panels." I am curious to hear where this goes, and what you are intent on solving. If the fabrication requires 2d printed descriptive geometries in orthographic views, then the revit benefits may be more limited (extracting areas, profiles, etc) but there are so many ways of using stone that it will clearly vary. Thoughts?

dmfoxe - good call. 1 of the 3 techniques I've been pursuing is the curtain wall method, just as you described. It would work great for simple stone cladding, but obviously would break down and fail when it comes to more complicated, ornamental, or irregular pieces. The other 2 methods are "stacked walls with sweeps", and "lego block stacked individual pieces"... Part of the draw of this whole study is the possibility of having fast, accurate, and parametric scheduling/pricing/logistics/etc available through the "schedules/quantities" feature in Revit, and it's going to be pretty difficult to accomplish that if we're using multiple Revit construction methods for the stone pieces...
So far, I get the feeling that we will have to adapt to / develop entirely new methods for BIM coordination in each project / with each different architect we work with... Which might be unavoidable, but for obvious reasons, I'd like us to be proactive and organized on our end, with libraries, standards, and modus operandi in place so we can provide the best service and product, as well as maintain our sanity...

heterarch, what output file format are you using for the cutting machine (I assume it's a waterjet cutter)? How many axes of freedom does the cutter head have?
Back in the mid-90s, I did a project where we had a CNC waterjet cutter solely dedicated to the project and cut pretty much everything in the building using it, including all the stone. The majority of the design work was done in AutoCAD augmented by Mathematica, output to DXF files which were then sent to the cutter tech, who then optimized them for the machine and material. It all worked pretty well. I could design something in the morning and have full-scale prototypes to review by afternoon.
I guess what I'm driving at here is: is there a fundamental reason you're looking for a Revit-centered approach rather than a way to take inputs from all sorts of different modeling tools and get high-quality output from them in a streamlined workflow?

gwharton, good questions - first, we aren't yet using a cutting machine, unless you call a man with a saw a cutting machine... that isn't the reason for this line of exploration, though it's likely we'll invest in milling machines some time in the next few years. The reason I'm looking in to the Revit-centered approach is because we've had potential clients come to us, wanting to work with us, but who had to pass on our business because we didn't have BIM / Revit capabilities... So making sure we don't lose out on work because we don't have that capability is one immediate reason, but realistically, it seems clear to everyone involved that BIM capability is going to become an ever more important function for us to have. A decent amount of our work is government/institutional/civic projects, some of which are required to be done in BIM, and the rest are increasingly likely to be. In the last week, I've gone over the PDFs and DWGs for big jobs we've worked on in the past two years, and I can tell just by looking at the drawings that they were created in Revit.
So ultimately, our (potential) clients are asking us to work with them in BIM, they're already using it themselves, and unless I'm convinced otherewise, we need to catch up and be able to play ball. On top of all that, I'm convinced there are potential logistical advantages, cost and efficiency advantages, etc., for us as a business.

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