January 19, 2012

ACA Structural Member Styles - Part 1

AutoCAD® Architecture provides a number of ways to create Structural Member Styles. This series of articles will take a look at the various options.

Structural Member Catalog
If you are trying to create a Structural Member Style for a standard steel section, or for a typical concrete or timber member, you will want to make the Structural Member Catalog your first stop. The parameters for standard structural members, both Imperial and Metric, are already stored in the Structural Member Catalog, waiting for you to make use of them. Access the the Structural Member Catalog on the Manage ribbon tab, by selecting the title of the Style & Display panel to expand the panel and choose the Structural Member Catalog tool on the flyout.
The Structural Member Catalog is composed of three main sections.
  1. The upper right pane will display an image related to the part of the catalog you are currently viewing.
  2. The left pane is the navigation pane. By expanding the appropriate nodes in the tree structure, you can drill down to the part of the catalog that contains the member of interest.
  3. The lower right pane displays the data associated with the node selected in the left pane. While in the upper level nodes, you can also double-click on an item in the lower right pane to open that node and see its contents.
For example, suppose you needed to model a W24x76 steel beam. In the left pane, expand the Imperial, Steel, AISC and I-Shaped nodes, and then select the W2n, Wide-Flange Shapes item. You will see a list of the AISC wide-flange steel shapes from W21x44 to W27x258 in the lower right pane. Scroll down in that pane until you see the W24x76 member.
Now comes the really hard part. Right click on the the W24x76 member, and choose the only item on the context menu, Generate Member Style.
In the Structural Member Style dialog, give the Style a name. The name defaults to the designation for the member, in this case W24x76.
Once you are satisfied with the name, click OK. You can create as many additional Structural Member Styles as you need. When you are finished, close the Structural Member Catalog by clicking on the "X" in the upper right corner.

You can check what was created by opening the Style Manager (on the Manage ribbon tab, on the Style & Display panel, select the Style Manager tool). Under the current drawing in the left pane, expand the Architectural Objects node, and then expand both the Structural Member Shape Definition and Structural Member Styles nodes. You will find that a shape definition and a style using that shape definition have been created using the name you specified and the geometric information stored in the catalog.
Next article in the series (Structural Member Wizard)

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