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ArchiCAD Insights: Creating Custom 3D Library Parts Without Using GDL

7 Sep, 2006 By: Angi Izzi

Learn the easy way to save 2D drawings and 3D models as library parts.


Users can save 2D drawings and 3D models made in the plan file with ArchiCAD tools as library parts. Plus, ArchiCAD users don't need to have any GDL (Geometric Description Language) knowledge to make such elements.

First, create the object in ArchiCAD's Plan view. You can create this object in a new ArchiCAD file or the existing project file.You may need to measure in your existing project file to get the perfect part. The following object is a stainless steel waste bin created with the following in the Plan window.

Front Plate -- created with ¼" slab

Flange -- 3½" wall inserted behind the front plate

3D Text -- created with the 3D Text tool found in the standard ArchiCAD Library. (Turned at 0 degrees.)

Figure 1 shows the object in the Plan window. Figure 2 shows the object in the 3D window.

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Figure 1. The sample object in the Plan window.

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Figure 2. The object in 3D view.

Once you have designed your custom object in Plan view, you are now ready to save it as a placeable object for your project and future projects.

1. Select all pieces of your intended object.

2. Right-click and choose the option to Show Selection / Marquee in 3D.

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Figure 3. Select the object then the Show Selection/Marquee in 3D command.

3. Go to View / 3D View Mode / 3D Projection Settings. This command brings up the Parallel Projection Settings dialog box. (Make sure the y is set to 0 as shown if you simply turned the object to view from the top.)

4. You will now see something like this in the 3D window:

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Figure 4. The 3D view.

5. Go to File / Libraries and Objects / Save 3D Model As

6. Once you select to save the object, a prompt asks what type of object you want to save. If it's an object, choose Object and always choose to remove the redundant lines from the symbol so that you get a clear 2D symbol as well. You'll want to select the button to enable you to edit the GDL script as well.

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Figure 5. Select what you want to save the part as.

7. Hit the Save button and save the object in a location where you can easily find it. It's important to have this item in your loaded library in order for you to use it or have it show up in the project in the future.

You can now go to the Object tool to place this object into your plan window. The window looks like figure 6 when you open the object tool and select the newly created object by name. Usually the Object tool remembers it as the last created object and brings it up automatically.

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Figure 6. The Object Selection Settings dialog box.

When you place this object in the Plan view, it looks like figure 7.

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Figure 7. The original and placed object.

Editing the 2D of your New Object:
You have now completed the object, but you don't want to show the symbol in 2D like it appears in your Plan view. These next steps will assist you in editing lines out of this symbol.

You can select the object in the Plan view once you place it. Then go to the File Menu / Libraries and Objects / Open Object.

Now you see a new window view of this object. Select the 2D Symbol view by clicking on the button next to the 2D Symbol in the side bar. This brings up an editable view of your object in the plan. You can now select lines and delete them as needed in the symbol. You can also add placeable hotspots so you have new insertion points.

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Figure 8. An editable view of the object.

Now the new symbol looks like figure 9.

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Figure 9. The edited object.

Once you have edited your object, you can save it from the File menu. Saving it overwrites your original object. The object automatically updates in instances where it was already placed.

Now you can create custom objects easily without learning GDL to create them.

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Figure 10. The custom object placed in a design.

Because this is an object that will be inserted into the wall, you may want to place a niche into the wall behind the object so you can cut a hole for the waste bin. Do this by going to the Archicad 10 Library using the Window tool. The window can be found under OBJECT LIBRARY 10.LCF / Object Library 10 / 04 Masonry 10 / Wall Extras 10 / W Niche 10. Insert this directly behind the object to cut a hole in the wall. Your finished product should look like this:

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Figure 11. The finished product.

This tip will be helpful for producing almost any custom object needed in your project.


About the Author: Angi Izzi


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