Robot Structural Analysis BIM link for the structural design of a steel connection (EN)

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By following this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to design and code-check a structural steel connection using the BIM link between Robot Structural Analysis (RSA) and IDEA StatiCa.

How to activate the link

IDEA StatiCa integrates BIM links into your FEA/BIM solutions during its installation. You can check the status and activate more BIM links for software installed after in the BIM link installer.

Please note that some FEA solutions require additional steps to fully activate their BIM link to IDEA StatiCa.

Open IDEA StatiCa and navigate to the BIM tab and open the BIM link installer (Activate your BIM link...).

A notification "Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device?" may appear, if so, please confirm with the Yes button.

The BIM link for the selected software (if found) is installed. The screen also tells you the status of other BIM links that may have already been installed.

How to use the link

We have two RSA models for you to use: EN (for EC3 and European sections) or BS (for EC3 and British Standard sections).

Open the model which best suits your region in Robot Structural Analysis, calculate and save it.

The BIM link is automatically integrated. You can find it in the top ribbon under Add-Ins -> IDEA StatiCa -> IDEA StatiCa. This will open the Checkbot application.

Select the New option with project type Steel and design code EN. Then select Create project.

The new Checkbot project is ready to import connections from Robot Structural Analysis.

In Robot Structural Analysis, select one of the inside columns with bracing making sure you also select the lowest node.

Import

Then in Checkbot select Connections.

This will import the column and its load effects into Checkbot - with the same coordinates, orientations, and section sizes as per the FEA/BIM model.

Please note that your node and member numbering might be different.

Please note the 3D workspace is designed to show an overview of the imported structure and not a detailed view of the actual connections.

For more information on Checkbot, see here.

For several FEA/BIM solutions, you can also import multiple connections into Checkbot in the same manner as above.  Instead of selecting one node and the connected members, you can select several nodes and members using the selection methods within the application.

We recommend not importing all of the connections at the same time but building up the connections incrementally.

Geometry

In the list of project items under Connections and with a connection highlighted in Checkbot you can either right-mouse click and select Open or click the ribbon command Open to start designing, code-checking, and reporting.

The settings of members are taken from the original FEA/BIM application. You can, however, change the section size of any member on the main Checkbot screen, but this will break the link with FEA/BIM application in this session unless it's synchronized again.

The imported connection is opened in the IDEA StatiCa Connection application.

You may see none or different Load effects from your preferred FEA/BIM* solution depending on how the load case combinations have been defined.  By default, IDEA StatiCa will choose the most critical for code-checking purposes. (* Some BIM solutions are not able to store the load case combination results)

For more information on Load effects see here.

Design

We are going to be using a single bolt connection for the diagonal brace. For this type of connection, we must also change the Model type of the brace member to N-Vy-Vz. Select the brace in the list of Members and modify the Model type in the drop-down list.

We are going to use the Connection Browser to generate a connection. Select Propose and IDEA StatiCa will put forward possible solutions for the current geometry.

Connection Browser shows you the possible solutions for the current geometry. Choose the template offered and press OK.

Accept the proposed values for the bolts and concrete block and press OK.

This is what the initial connection looks like.

With these default parameters for the Base plate.

These are the parameters for the Connecting plate.

That completes the design of the connection for the column base plate with a diagonal brace.

Code-check and Report

Now run a code-check using the Calculate icon in the CBFEM panel from the top ribbon.
Within IDEA StatiCa Connection, you can carry out many different types of analysis and code-checks. For more information, please see here.

The results might not be acceptable. In this case, the anchors fail because of their low design capacity.

You can go to the Check tab to review the results and take a closer look at the anchors by expanding the calculation using the '+' symbol.  You can see that the anchors are failing in tension in the concrete block.

We must optimize the design to find the passing solution. Go back to the Design tab, highlight the base plate operation and change the Anchoring length to 150 mm then run the analysis and code-check again.

Once the code-check is finished in the Report tab, you can create the report containing results and diagrams for your connection model.

The report can be printed or saved in several formats. For more information, please see here.

Save and Exit this connection back to Checkbot.

In Checkbot, you will see a green tick next to the connection. This means that the connection is valid and has passed all code-checks. In the Connection panel, you can also see a representation of the connection and a summary of the code-check results.

If multiple connections are present in Checkbot, then each must be opened, designed, and code-checked.

In the example below, you can see that both baseplate connections have passed their respective code-checks whilst the remaining connections are yet to be validated.

You can continue with the design of additional connections - See how to model the roof connection with braces

Synchronize model

Sometimes, there are changes to your FEA/BIM model, such as different member section size or loads. These can be synchronized between Checkbot and the FEA/BIM model.

There are two possible alternatives:

  • Synchronize the Current item (if one or more joints are selected)
  • Synchronize the whole imported Structural model

To test this feature, you can change a member section size or shape in your FEA/BIM application or amend a load case or combination etc: change columns to a smaller section. Remember to re-analyze the FEA model.

In Checkbot select the designed connections (there may be more than one) and from the Current item panel select Sync.

The Checkbot project will be updated, connection design is preserved, but the results will be invalidated. You can see that the column is now updated - matching the change in the FEA model.

Simply code-check the highlighted connections again by selecting Calculate from the Current item panel.  Please remember that bigger changes in the model might require additional validation steps with the affected connections (as above).

If the connections do not give the desired results, then you can open them again to optimize the design (i.e. strengthen if they fail the code-check or lighten if the utilization is too low).

You have successfully linked Robot Structural Analysis with IDEA StatiCa Connection via Checkbot.

Sample files

RELATED CONTENT

Checkbot – bulk BIM workflows

Structural design of a general 3D joint (EN)

Structural design leveraging the Connection Browser (EN)

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