With the addition of the Advance Steel connections in Revit, the line between the two software’s have become even more blurred. I often encounter users who ask: Which one do I use? Do I need both? What are the differences? The quick answer is level of detail you need, but I want to get a bit deeper into the specifics that separate these steel design packages.
Before we jump into the differences, I first want to talk about some of the similarities.
- Steel layout:
A Revit structure model is a common deliverable requirement for clients. It matters less where we do our steel design because of the Advance Steel Extension in Revit.
Meaning if Advance Steel ends up being the steel software better suited for your work, but you are still required to deliver a Revit Structure model, the Advance Steel Extension allows us to export our Advance Steel objects and import them as Revit family objects and vice versa. So, start in Revit and take your model into Advance Steel or do your work in Advance Steel and push that into Revit. For purely steel layout functionality these tools are fairly evenly matched, especially since we can push and pull the data from one side to another. Cutting the requirement to model everything twice.
- Parametric Steel Connection:
In Revit 2017 the Steel connection tool was released where a few of the most common Advance Steel connections could be placed directly into the Revit model with the same parametric control and interface that we had in Advance Steel. In 2018 this got even better, where over 130 of the Advance Steel connections can be placed through connection tool. These connections can also be pushed and pulled from Advance Steel through the Advance Steel Extension.
- Structural Analysis:
Both Advance Steel and Revit will export and import to most structural analysis software. The tightest integration is obviously going to be with Autodesk’s Robot Structural Analysis software.
See what I mean about that blurred line? Those are the three major similarities that typically get identified first. So that we can better understand what divides these two software’s lets get into what makes them different.
Advance Steel is a steel fabrication documentation power house. Where as in Revit we are limited to the typical plan, section, and elevation views. Advance Steel has those plus it allows users to pick a drawing style that does things like grab all of the plates, members, or assemblies and pre-determines through drawing setup how they are going to be displayed and annotated. One view per sheet or multiple, it all depends on the drawing style you select.
The above picture is an example of an out of the box drawing styles for plates. There is a large library of existing drawing styles that can modified to meet a user’s standards. The documentation is also flagged and updated when changes to the model are made.
- Miscellaneous Steel
While Revit can represent some miscellaneous steel objects like railing and stairs, the level of detail is not to fabrication level requirements. This is another area where Advance Steel shines. It allows users to create miscellaneous steel items like stairs, railings, ladders, custom folded plates, and create that fabrication level of detail. Users can specify where and how items are being welded or bolted, are the members coped, are the treads different and then through the documentation tools mentioned above automate the documentation of these items.
So, if you need to create steel models, place connections for representation and clash, document the layout of your members and simply just show some of your miscellaneous items then Revit is likely going to be the solution for you. But if you need that next level of detail and automated fabrication documentation then Advance Steel is likely going to be the solution for you. If a consultant has already done the layout in Revit or the deliverable is a Revit Structure model than the combination of both pushing and pulling the data to sync it up on both sides may be your solution.