CATIA, Component Based Design, Research

High LOD Modeling – Template Instantiation

After creating the base model, the next step is to create a Engineering Template. It’s comparable to an adaptive component family in Revit, but with the main difference being that you can include alot more geometrical information.

Creating an Engineering Template

Clicking on the ‘+’ arrow at the top right corner of the window allows you to create new content. Searching for ‘template’ brings up the Engineering Template icon.

After clicking the icon, a separate tab opens. Click on the ‘Add Reference’ button to link the base model to the template.

The program prompts you to select the components to be added, so you click on the top of the tree, the ‘Glazing_Panel A.1’, which contains all the information needed.

Automatically, this portion of the model gets added. In order to add the other portions of the model, such as the Skeleton, click on that part under ‘Unchanged Components’ and then the arrow. This includes all the parts into the ‘Components to process’ dialogue box.

Next, the inputs created, such as the axis system and three points which make up the edges of the panel, need to be linked. Clicking on the Inputs tab, a small window will pop up. In order to be able to select the inputs, click on the ‘Glazing_Panel A.1’ within the tree. This loads all the available parts that can be selected. Then, clicking on the small right arrow moves the necessary inputs to the ‘Selected objects’ box.

The last step is to link in the ‘Offset’ and ‘Thickness’ parameters, in a similar way as in the last step.

Testing the Template

Within the Building and Civil Assemblies app, create a test building and add some test inputs.

Using the Engineering Template tool, we can then test to see if the base model has been properly constructed. So, if anything looks wonky, this test will show you what needs to be fixed!

The tool prompts you to select the Engineering Template that you want to populate. So, again, click on the main part of the tree, or ‘PLM_Template_Panel A.1’, in this case.

Now, this is the fun part. A new window appears, and asks for the inputs. You can either select them on the tree menu or directly on the 3D viewer. Then, you get a nice little diagram of the different parts and how they interconnect.

And, when you thought it couldn’t get better, you can actually preview the result before instantiating the whole panel. Definitely feels good when you get a idea ahead of time if your model will work after all!

And yes, the moment of truth— it works!!!!!!!!!!

In the next post, I’ll go over how to populate the panel on a real design.

CATIA, Component Based Design, Computational Design, Research

High LOD Glazing Panel Creation

It’s a constant struggle with most modeling programs to create truly high LOD models. And this is especially true if the shape or design being attempted is not rectilinear or a quadrilateral. Fortunately, there some great tools, such as xGenerative Design, Assembly Design, and Building 3D Design to help with this, as well as this super helpful video, which I highly recommend to watch.

The Design

Rhino model imported into xGenerative Design, with each reference surface

I used a design of a skylight done in Rhino; the model had the base surfaces which represent the glazing panels. In order to add more detail to this model, I looked at the detail drawings provided by the client, which gave important info such as the type of glazing, size of panels, and offsets for things like sealants — turns out, the glazing panel is triple pane with 1/2″ offset between panels for the sealant!

Creating the Panel

The glass panel was created using Assembly Design, and the Covering element type contains all the different parts of the panel.

Tree Structure

The panel’s basic structure within Assembly Design

The tree structure is made up of two parts: the Skeleton and Plate. The skeleton contains all the inputs and base geometry required to build up the panel, such as the axis system, points, boundary curve and surface. The ‘Plate’ mostly contains references from the Skeleton, in order to further build up the geometry which makes up the panel.


View of panel, highlighting the inputs which make up the panel

The inputs are crucial in order to create a template, which will be referenced in the overall design later on.

Panel Construction

The Thickened Surface tool, highlighting the linked surface

To create the glass panels, the surface from the Skeleton is copied into the Plate as a link. Then, using the Thicken Surface tool, the first glass panel is created. The rest of the panels are made in the same way, with the offset distances varying depending on its location.

One thing to note is that the ‘Offset’ of the surface is controlled by a formula, which has some associated parameters which can be changed. This isn’t so important as it’s unlikely that the glass panel type, and therefore thickness, will change after the design development phase, but it was a nice exercise in creating a more parametric model.

Plate Construction

View of a Sketch, for the profile for the sweep which represents the sealants

Another parameter that drives the overall shape of the panel is an ‘Offset’, which allows room to add a profile for the sealant. The boundary is constructed using a polyline, created using the input points. The profile is constrained by a point on the polyline, as well as the linked surface.

In the next post, I’ll go over how to create an Engineering Template from this model. Stay tuned!

Current Projects

Parametric Patterns – Scaling


The module is scaled and arrayed within the model to produce variations of the facade pattern. By moving the number slider, the scale factor of both the inputed reference curves are changed. These scaled curves are then arrayed according to the scale factor. For example, if the original pattern is an array of 15 hexagons in the X axis and 9 in the Z axis, a scale factor of .5 would reduce these numbers by half. The result would be a pattern which much more dense.


Initial Sunlight Hours Studies




Some screenshots of initial studies done with Ladybug’s Sunlight Hours analysis tools. Since this first set of studies, the pattern has increased in scale, which would change the amount of sunlight that reaches the facade during the day.

Note: Analysis done for the winter and summer solstices, during a 6 hour analysis period.

Current Projects

Creating Beam Stuctures with Karamba

In order to find the most optimal cross section for the structural members that comprise the facade, I used a modified version of Junghwo Park’s example file from Karamba’s website.  The example file and tutorial video can be found here.


Overall beam optimization results from Karamba






Karamba Example File

The main component used is the Optimize Cross Section component which determines where in the model structural members need to be thicker or thinner.