Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Civil 3D Pipe Network to Revit; Epic Fail

As a full service firm with in-house surveyors and civil engineers, we have Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D files just a few folders away from our Revit models on most projects.

We always generate the Revit toposurface from  a C3D surface. I will save that workflow for another day.

However, there is another important feature in these files that is pretty much not accessible to us in Revit; it is the underground utilities such as sewer, storm water, water and gas pipes. In Civil 3D these elements are called Pipe Networks.

Over the last couple months I tried to get Pipe Network data into Revit and worked three...
different support angles with Autodesk support, our re-seller (CTC) and with some Autodesk developers I know (on the Revit and Civil 3D sides). All with no luck!

I thought I would share the struggle to possibly save some one a little time, or even better... if you have a workflow that works, you can share!

Smart Civil 3D Elements

In AutoCAD Civil 3D, a pipe network is composed of special data, not what I would call "plain" AutoCAD elements as shown here; notice the selected elements is a Pressure Pipe as listed in properties.

This file has a decent amount of detail that would be helpful in Revit for coordination and visualization. The next two images show some of that detail.

As most know, Revit can import "plain" AutoCAD DWG data (well, more on that in a minute) but it does not do as good a job with the "smart" elements from the AutoCAD verticals (Architecture, MEP and Civil 3D). If you try to import the above file directly into Revit you get a hot mess, as shown here...

Dumbing Down the Data

This can be a little confusing, but Civil 3D has a command to export your DWG to a DWG. A Civil 3D file has a DWG extension, but contains "smart" data. Use the Export Civil 3D Drawing command to dumb down the data to "plain" AutoCAD elements. This command is only available in Civil 3D. When that "smart" data is viewed in plain AutoCAD it becomes proxy objects,  which cannot be converted.

Now, the pipe is just a simple 3D Solid in AutoCAD as shown here...

The other elements still have their detail, but changed color due to layer and style settings...

If we load this new "simple" DWG into Revit we have even less geometry than our first attempt!

The fire hydrant did make it through... and the Enscape "Play" button is so tempting!

Ok, back on track... AutoCAD Civil 3D also has a subscription-based add-in called Convert 3D Solids from Pipe Networks; sounds legit. Let's give that a try...

Essentially the same results; 3D Solids AutoCAD elements...

The results are the same as preciously shown in Revit.

I have tried (as have those helping with support)  SAT, DXF and running the file through Microstation with no success.

The iamge below shows the closest I have been able to come. Funny thing is, I cannot recall the specific steps to get here at the moment (I will update this post later). As you can see, the deformed geometry starts in AutoCAD and...

then comes into Revit the same way. Close, but far from perfect.

Bringing DWG data into Revit is never ideal, but it happens. The projects we have been working on are way to complected, and constantly changing, to justify re-creating the data in Revit.

Autodesk has this one their website,but clearly does not work for the most part:
Autodesk Knowledge Network: How to import Civil 3D Objects into Revit

Fun stuff!

Update #1

I got a comment below from  infeeeee (that is a lot of "e's)... to try IFC. I am pretty sure I tried that, but gave it another go. I get a lot more into Revit, but still mostly garbage:(

and my poor IFC fire hydrant...

Update #2

I got a comment below from  Dmitry (from BIM2B.ru) with an idea to export from Civil 3D to Navisworks and then bring the Navisworks model into Revit. Still no luck.

The first two images below are from Navis, and the next two are the results in Revit. I did move the model next to the origin in Revit as the mangled model looks like a large coordinate issue. But that did not help. Moving pipes in Cvil 3D does not appear to be too easy; the pipes are geo-referenced in CAD, so they are starting far from the origin. However the Navisworks model engine looks fine in Navis, and that is the same  engine in Revit, so not sure why it is still not working.


  1. What about ifc? That way maybe other information could be accessed from Revit, not only the geometry. I don't know civil 3d, but according to this you can export ifc from civil3d: Help

  2. Thanks. Just tried that and posted the results. Still a no-go! Ugh

  3. Hi, Dan! I can't test my guess, but maybe you should try this: Civil - Navisworks - Revit (link coordination model).

  4. Good idea Dmitry, but that did not work. See update with images in the post.

  5. We've had some luck exporting to IFC from C3D.
    First, the pipes have to be made in to 3dsolids with the "convertto3dsolids" command.

    Our special objects are essentially 3d-blocks with common auocad objects in them like regions and surfaces.
    Most of that can be "dumbed down" prior to IFC-export.
    Usually by exploding, and running the command "thicken" which turns most of it into 3dsolids.

    For us, the goal is usually the IFC-file, for cross-dicipline coordination purposes, but I don't see why the IFC shouldn't import well into Revit, once it's been exported successfully.

  6. I am pretty sure the convert command does the same things as C3Ds export to DWG feature. Would love to see a before and after example.