This part will introduce the capability of exporting the proposed road drainage model into final MAGNET model. Please note that you should have modeled your pipe networks already in 3D, using AutoCAD Civil 3D tools before following the current tutorial. This is a different methodology from a rule based export, as we start from 3D models directly and convert those into final MAGNET sub-models. If you are looking a 2D conversion into 3D, please check the section: 04 Utilities/Rule based utility data.
For the current workflow you can use two different alternatives:
- All major design packages can export your pipe network models (that are already in 3D) into LandXML file (open data format) and use that as a reference for a proposed road drainage model inside Explorer.
- If you are looking an optimized workflow to export your 3D pipe network data into final MAGNET model, and not all of you components inside a design package are supported by LandXMLformat, you can alternatively use Modeler tools inside AutoCAD Civil 3D. This section describes the procedure in more detail.
Tutorial file location (folder)
From the 02_Design\04_Utilities folder you can see the sub-folder structure that is explained below:
- LandXML - From here you find one LandXML file that describes the proposed road drainage model and is a direct export from AutoCAD Civil 3D. If you have designed it in some other package, your should be able to export it also into LandXML format and use those files directly inside Explorer.
- VM - *.vm file format is used for Modeler generations. In that way you can convert AutoCAD Civil 3D pipe network (as well as pressure network) into *.vm format. From this folder you will also find a *.dwg file as well as already generated *.vm file. They both share the same name. To generate a *.vm file you also need a definition file that is saved with an *.ini extension.
Because we want to generate a *.vm file, we concentrate to a sub-folder VM. Let's concentrate onto Proposed_RoadDrainage.dwg file.
You start from that *.dwg file. You also find special definition file with an *.ini extension that are automatically opened when you use Modeler tools inside AutoCAD Civil 3D. You also have completed versions in *.vm format that can be directly used inside Explorer. A given *.dwg file represents proposed road drainage network under VT7 road surface:
- Proposed_RoadDrainage.dwg - proposed road drainage network model under VT7 road surface (created with AutoCAD Civil 3D pipe network tools).
Step-by-step guidelines to export a sewer network into a final VDC model
Open drawing Proposed_RoadDrainage.dwg inside AutoCAD Civil 3D. You should see a similar picture:
Using AutoCAD ribbon tab, go to Modeler and click on Rules. Modeler main toolbar opens:
Note: Modeler toolbar is the place where you create different rules that are applied to AutoCAD objects. All defined rules are kept in a separate file with an *.ini extension. Although it is possible to have only one *.ini file throughout your whole VDC project, where you define each and every rule that you want to use in separate drawing, in this tutorial we use the second method - we have separate *.ini file for each and every *.dwg file that we gonna use for generating data for VDC model. Using the latter method, please ensure that *.ini file is with the same name as your *.dwg file, then it will be selected automatically when you open up Modeler tools in your active *.dwg drawing session. Because with the current tutorial the proper *.ini file is already created, it will be automatically used. All rules are defined and we take a quick look to those rules that are important for each sub-task.
Next to each node, you will see a "+" icon if it holds some rules. And vice-versa, you can click on "-" icon, if you want to close that node. Also please note that in some nodes (ex Materials) you may have several rules. But those that are applied to current drawing are in bold. That feature is controlled through a menu: View > Gray Non-Existing Items.
Before we start MAGNET model generation, let's take a quick look into AutoCAD Civil 3D Toolspace.
You can see that we have one pipe network, called STRM_VT7. It has 51 pipes and 52 manholes. This pipe network was generated under the VT7 road surface. It has been removed after pipe network generation. Therefore you can see anything under Toolspace > Surfaces node. To convert AutoCAD Civil 3D pipe network into VDC sub-model, add a new rule under Civil3d node. Using the current definition file, it has been already created for you, therefore we take a look to those main settings. Double-click on Proposed_RoadDrainage rule.
Typical workflow inside Civil3d dialog is:
- Add a Main group. This is for a healthy project structure. You can also add different components into different sub-groups. Just select one (or multiple rows), right click and pick Sub Group. Our current main group will be: Design/Utilities/Road drainage
- Select objects (object groups) that you want to pick from AutoCAD Civil 3D drawing. Just click on a respective row, box Selected. In the current example, we have only one row, that follows the network name STRM_VT7 (as showed earlier from AutoCAD Civil 3D Toolspace).
- Group is automatically filled in, based on AutoCAD Civil 3D object name.
- Material defines the visual appearance of pipe network model components. Keep: <Object Color>
Once you have read (filled-in) all the parameters. Click OK to close the dialog. You are now ready to generate your corridor sub-model with road surface materials. Click on a button: Generate and View Model.
This will generate your model and also opens up a Explorer as a viewer package for your *.vm file. Please also note that your *.vm file is automatically placed to the location where your *.dwg resides. Your sub-model should look similar to the following image:
After checking your pipe network sub-model, you can close the Explorer window. Later you can open those *.vm files directly with Explorer and you do not need to follow Modeler workflow again. Of course, when the design changes, then you recreate the *.vm file. As you have successfully generated pipe network sub-model, it is also good to save your Modeler *.ini file. For that, just select from the menu: File > Save Configuration...
You can re-select the location and name for your *.ini file, but in this tutorial it is recommend that you always keep the same name for your *.ini file as you have named your *.dwg. And also ensure, that both files (*.ini and *.dwg) are saved to the same location. You can close the Modeler dialog. It will warn you, if you want to save your settings. Because you just did it, you can simply dismiss that warning. Click No (or Yes, if you think that you need to re-save your settings).
Close the AutoCAD drawing file.
You have the same pipe network exported in two different formats:
(a) LandXML and
(b) Modeler *.vm file.
It is good to understand the advantages of both formats. Therefore, do a quick test. Open up a Explorer, and import a generated *.vm file. You then use Explore > Object Info tool to select one of the manholes.
Please note that you have extra information available for each of your manhole (as well as for pipes). In that way you have carried over more information about your design objects that can be followed by any project partner.
If you would have imported the same *.dwg file into Explorer directly, you probably end up with a model that doesn't have correct manhole/pipe shapes, because all those objects are special AutoCAD Civil 3D objects and before you can get meaningful results, you should convert those AutoCAD Civil 3D objects into AutoCAD native 3D objects first. This is an extra step, where Modeler helps you to save some time while generating that *.vm file.
There are some cases when you get design information in 3D general formats (solids, meshes). Of course you are able to import that data directly from *.dwg into Explorer. But even if your shapes look correct, you do not have extra information on those converted manholes/pipes. Take a look to the following image. One of the manhole was selected (solid object) and you do not have any information of that manhole.
The best option would be to use open standards as much as possible. Because in this way you can carry over all the information that is defined by that standard. For example, if you import LandXML file (from the folder: 02_Design\04_Utilities\LandXML) into new Explorer session, and use the same tool as before (Explore > Object Info), you will get more useful information about that manhole/pipe.
As a conclusion for this practice yourself section, you should use that kind of workflow, where you lose less information. In the final VDC model we use LandXML version, because it includes more information about our manholes/pipes.
Note: When you work with Modeler and save your *.ini files, system automatically creates backup versions of the previous file. Sometimes it is good to think that you have some previous definition files still available. In this tutorial we have not kept those *.bak files as well as no separate backup folders. If something goes wrong, you can extract (copy) needed definition (and *.dwg) files into your current working folder and start again. Therefore in a clean system (with no backups, no *.dwg backups as well) you folder may look like this: