RFEM/RSTAB BIM link for connection design

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By following this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to design and code-check a structural steel joint using the BIM link between RFEM/RSTAB and IDEA StatiCa Connection.

1 How to activate the link

You need to have the COM module installed in RFEM/RSTAB to create the BIM link with IDEA StatiCa.

Install the latest version of IDEA StatiCa, get it in the Downloads.

Make sure you are using a supported version of RFEM/RSTAB – updates are published in the BIM section.

IDEA StatiCa automatically integrates the BIM link into your CAD/CAE software during its installation. You can check the status and activate more BIM links for other software installed later in the BIM link installer.

Open IDEA StatiCa and navigate to the panel BIM and open the BIM link installer. A notification "Run as administrator" may appear, please confirm with the Yes button.

Select the software to integrate the IDEA StatiCa BIM link, click the Install button and check the status.

Note: RFEM/RSTAB BIM link provides importing only under the Eurocode (EN) standard.

2 How to use the link

First, open the source file RFEM (EN).rf5 (bellow this tutorial) and open it in RFEM/RSTAB. There navigate to menu Add-on Modules then External Modules and run IDEA Statica Steel.

The Code-check manager opens and you can start the import process. Select a node and corresponding members in the RFEM/RSTAB model and click Connection to import the joint for the analysis in IDEA StatiCa Connection under the EN code.

The joint is added to the list and by selecting it the wireframe model together with the tab of members is displayed. In this step, you can manage the imported load cases or import additional dynamic load cases or merge separate members to continuous. Leave the default settings and directly click Finish.

Now the joint is ready to be opened in the application Connection by clicking Open. We can also reset the joint to original settings, delete it, etc.

3 Design

Joint geometry and load effects have been imported and you can start designing the connections.

First, define a set of manufacturing operations to model connections between members. Just right-click on Operation and add a new operation Cut.

Next, add another manufacturing operation, an End plate and modify its parameters.

Then add another Cut operation and set its parameters for the appropriate member.

And finish the design by adding a Fin plate operation to connect the last member.

4 Check

Start the analysis by clicking Calculate in the ribbon. The analysis model is automatically generated, the calculation is performed and we can see the overall check displayed together with basic values of check results.

Go to the display tab Check and there activate Strain check, Mesh, and Deformed and change the deformation scale in the ribbon to get a full picture of what is happening in the joint.

By default, you can see the For extreme results envelope of all the load effects, so the most unfavorable results are displayed all together. If you click on any item (e.g. the fin plate), it shows you in the ribbon which load effect is the most unfavorable for this item.

You can also display and browse results for each load effect separately by switching the For extreme option in the ribbon to For current.

5 Report

At last, go to the tab Report. IDEA StatiCa offers a fully customizable report to be printed out or saved in .doc editable format.

You have imported a joint from RFEM and designed and code-checked it according to Eurocode (EN).

6 Synchronize models

Save the project in IDEA StatiCa and close the application Connection. All structural details imported from RFEM/RSTAB project to IDEA StatiCa are kept on the list. The Code-check manager provides useful commands for further processing of the imported items.

To demonstrate the synchronize function, change the cross-section of one of the members.

Then, recalculate the project in RFEM/RSTAB and open the Code-check manager again.

Select the joint from the list and click Synchronize all.

The geometry and load effects were updated and you can click Open to check the project item.

IDEA StatiCa opens and you can see the updated geometry while the design operations adjust to the new state.

You can check and adjust the design, recalculate and code-check the joint, save and close it. Then you can continue importing and code-checking more joints or members.

Known limitations for RFEM/RSTAB

For now, the link works for a wide variety of connections/joints. However, please take into account yet unsupported functionality.

Limitation: RFEM/RSTAB BIM link provides only the export of connections and members under the Eurocode (EN).

Workaround:  N/A, other codes will be introduced in future versions of IDEA StatiCa.

Limitation: Exporting of multiple selections of nodes and/or members from RFEM/RSTAB to IDEA StatiCa doesn't work.

Workaround: N/A, only single selection of a single node and corresponding member or a single member is allowed for export on the side of RFEM/RSTAB.

Limitation: Export of a node when the display setting "Sets of member" is turned ON may lead to incorrect data transfer for some member cross-sections and import of extra members or an error message.

Workaround: Turn the "Sets of member" OFF and repeat the export of the node.

Limitation: Geometrical eccentricity – joint node is not in the central point.

Workaround: RFEM/RSTAB offers more ways of input of eccentricities. The eccentricity input using the Local x,y,z coordinates causes difficulties in transforming the data to IDEA StatiCa due to the variety of coordinate system options in RFEM/RSTAB. In case, please use the Global X,Y,Z coordinates eccentricity input instead.

Limitation: Exporting a beam with a haunched end or another type of conical or other shaped beam ends is not possible.

Workaround:  The haunch is neglected and can be modeled afterward in IDEA StatiCa

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