The One About Revit to Real

Moving files from Revit to 3d printers is not a tricky process, but, as new technology always does, there are a few hurdles to jump through for predictable results.  This is the first of two videos that will cover 3d printing.  In particular, this tutorial will cover exporting a video from Revit, scaling the object in Max, and basic modifications to prepare for printing in ReplicatorG.  NOTE:  Skip to the 9.20ish mark if you are interested in printing at a scale (building design application process).

Part two later this week.  *UPDATE:  The TOM is down…sorry for the delay.  A new delrin plunger is on the way, and the next tutorial should be up late this week.


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9 responses to “The One About Revit to Real”

  1. Tzvi Friedman says :

    Thank you for this video, Our firm is considering a 3D printer to print 3D models from Revit so this will really help!! you mentioned that the stl exporter from revit gave you issues and so you used the 3DSMax workflow, can you describe what kind of issues you had? the code is open source so it might make sense to just fix the issues there .

    • davidrbeach says :

      Afternoon Tzvi!

      We had two issues – first, we (Hammons School of Architecture) are an academic institution – so we are trying to funnel as many people through a comprehensive process as possible…in other words – what one process will work the best for the majority. Scaling is difficult in ReplicatorG, and easy in 3ds Max. Since most projects coming from Revit need to be, say, a 1/16″, it is easier to accomplish this result in Max than RepG (my opinion). For instance, RepG is a 4″x4″x4″ work space – the initial import brings in an object at the building scale (hundreds of feet by hundres of feet) if exported directly from Revit. Second, we have had a bit of inconsistency, again, nothing that probably couldn’t be resolved with finding the right work flow – but any minor inconsistency translated to 200+ students can create a real mess. Revit to *.fbx to Max to *.stl has worked 100% of the time. Even thought it is an extra step, we like it. The main issue with the extrusion printers is figuring out how far you can push them in terms of thinness (mullions are particularly tricky), and the right way to work with gravity (building up from edges). Right now, they aren’t quite to the “design is done hit print and get your model” phase – but with MakerBot and Autodesk now officially collaborating, it is going to get there within the next couple of generations of hardware/software (again, my opinion). More to come on this topic soon – including a method of printing per room/space that we have gotten a big kick out of, that we think clients will really like.


      • Justin says :

        Hi Dave – thanks for the info. wondering what you mean when you say ‘including a method of printing per room/space that we have gotten a big kick out of’, can you explain this more?



      • davidrbeach says :

        Evening Justin!

        Absolutely – in fact, i just put it in my queue for a tutorial. The trick we have found that works great with extrusion printing, and really resonates with a client’s ability to understand and communicate about space/spatial configuration is to export a 3d model in a room by room, or space by space model of the design by: In Revit, open a 3d axonometric view and align the view to a section, or turn on the section box tool (in view properties). Use the section box to cut the walls at a height just below the door thresholds, and cut the sides at the spatial parameter of rooms or spaces while working within the dimensional parameters of the build platform (for us 4×4″). Print each room/space including the entourage elements (couches, chairs, millwork, etc.) and then put the individual pieces of the model together to form an overall spatial model. The great thing is being able to pull out the individual pieces and check views across rooms, out windows, down hallways, and so on. They take no time to export from Revit (couple of minutes), and a bit of time to print (maybe an hour or two a piece), but the process puts together a nicely detailed model that is almost impossible in a bill/hour office (as long as you don’t get mesmerized watching the print head zip around making things). Hope that helps! Video on the process with an example will come together soon…


  2. Colin Stanley says :

    We are working through our scaling methods on our Replicator 2 at this time. Perhaps you can confirm my findings, as this is what I *think* is going on.

    Revit (using the Autodesk STL exporter for basic stuff) is essentially exporting in a foot-millimeter equality. In other words, a model 100′ x 50′ is exporting to Makerware (and the Autodesk 123D 3D print ware) a model 100mm x 50mm. it’s a direct relationship.
    So I have this model that exported to an STL feet-mm equality. I then hit the Inches to MM button in Makerware and it scales to true size. In this case it’s 1270mm x 2540mm, life size. Extremely complex models really work my graphics card.
    Then i simply scale back down by percentage (1/4″ scale is 25%, 1/8″ scale is 12.5%, etc.)
    This seems to be coming out correct. Have you any similar experience? I’m certainly not trying to avoid Max, but I’m always looking for more direct routes where applicable.


    • davidrbeach says :

      Evening Colin,

      From what i have done, you are exactly right! We are reworking our process with a more direct link to Makerware (especially when we get our Rep2) for our students. Hopefully as 123D Make progresses there will be a few tools to scale, and verify with a set of measuring tools before pushing to both a 2d file for laser cutting, and for 3d .stl files. Right now, we still like Max for that ability to scale/measure/verify. Bringing in a full scale 1:1 model into RepG (when we are talking about something in the 40-50′ scale and up) has done some messed up stuff to us as well…

      In short, i think you are a good step ahead of where we are going – a more direct link with no (or minimal) middle ware (Max) to push Revit files to an extrusion printing system. I won’t mind using something like 123D Make as middle ware if it provides more options, but Max isn’t ideal…what it does do is allow me consistency of files from 200 students – it works the same way every time. This topic has generated a bunch of interest from the community, so i am definitely going to post some additional workflow items that we have discovered…thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts/experience!

      In related news – lets get model making back into the industry of Architecture! Only good things can come from this – better design, better communication with clients and communities, cooler looking design offices with iterative project models laying about.


  3. says :

    I was more than happy to find this great site.

    I want to to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!
    ! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to see new things on your blog.

    • davidrbeach says :

      Thanks very much!! Digital design is a big monster, and it takes teams of people to wrangle it. Please share the blog, and any exciting tips, thoughts, tools that you find.



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  1. Revit Tutorial – 3D Printing and Revit | BIM i praksis - April 11, 2013

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