Lately, several people in separate conversations have told me that it's very difficult to find manufacturers’ objects for AECOsim.  When they search for files on the download websites , there is almost none in the AECOsim native format. I have even read some articles comparing different BIM design software, and in which it is said that from all these software, AECOsim is the one that has fewer objects available.

Well, I am writing this post to correct this common misperception. It is true that there are fewer manufacturers’ objects delivered in the native AECOsim parametric file formats of PAZ and BXC than in some other formats like RFA and RVT.  What is overlooked by most people is that AECOsim does not need objects created exclusively in a specific formats, to be used as part of a BIM model. AECOsim can read geometry in many file formats and to be able to add metadata to that geometry. I will explain it in detail.

Manufacturer objects, unlike generic ones, do not need to be fully parametric, as they depend on the availability of a catalog. For example, a table or chair does not require height or leg spacing to be an open value, as the manufacturer puts on the market a limited list of combinations. What we need is that the geometry that represents these objects is accompanied by all the information necessary for a correct use of them.

This gives us the possibility to use manufacturer objects with much more flexibility, since we do not force them to be made in a certain format.

As I said before, AECOsim can read geometry in many formats, and this includes CAD files (DGN, DWG, DXF), SKP (SketchUp), OBJ (Rhino), 3DS, IFC, RFA (Revit Families) files.  These file types can be read as full reference files or placed as cells. This has been common practice for Bentley users for several years.

If the geometry we need is available in one of the CAD formats mentioned and has no metadata, we can augment the element geometry by adding the metadata properties with AECOsim. The object may not have parametric geometry (we have seen before that this is not always necessary), but it will have all the necessary information to be part of the BIM project.

If the geometry of the object is in a parametric format (such as Revit's RFA files), it can also be used, since AECOsim can import these files, regardless of the Revit version in which they were created, and create Catalog elements with all their attributed information so they can be used and reported in similar fashion to all the other file types. In most cases the parametric parts of the Family are also retained for use. It is then reasonable to say that we are almost on a par with Revit in this sense.

In summary, if AECOsim is able to read manufacturer's objects in all of the formats mentioned above, and make use of them in BIM Models and as a part of BIM workflows, is it not more correct to say AECOSIM software has a similar quantity, if not more, of manufacturer objects available? Further, if we analyze the number of objects that can be found in those formats, we could make a good argument to say it uncommon to find a manufacturer object that cannot be used in AECOsim.

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