Tekla Structural Designer Integrator for ETABS

Tekla Structural Designer
2021
Tekla Structural Designer
2020
Tekla Structural Designer
Environment
Australia
British Standard
Eurocode
India
USA
Not environment-specific

Introduction


The ETABS/Tekla Structural Designer plugin allows the user to easily transfer structural model data from the Computer & Structures Inc. ETABS software to Tekla Structural Designer.
The plugin works by exporting structural objects from ETABS to a CXL file which can then be imported into Tekla Structural Designer.

Pre-requisites


You need to have ETABS 18 installed.
 

Setup

To download the plugin to your computer

  1. Download the zip with the required files from Tekla Warehouse.
    • Make sure you download the package targeting the (installed) version of ETABS you'd like to work with.
  2. Extract the content to a folder on your computer. We suggest you create the following folder for this purpose:
    • \Program Files (x86)\Tekla\Structural\ETABS Integrator
  3. Open Windows File Manager and browse to the folder you specified above.
  4. Unblock EtabsTsdPlugin.dll if necessary as follows:
    • Right-click EtabsTsdPlugin.dll and click Properties
    • Under the General tab, if there is an Unblock option select it
    • Click OK (you will need to provide administrator permission to change this attribute).  

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To add the plugin into ETABS

  1. Open ETABS
  2. Open a model (or create a new one).
  3. Select Tools > Add/Show Plugins... from the upper menu.

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  4. The dialog External Plugin Data will open. In it, select Browse.

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  5. Navigate to the plugin .dll file and click Open.

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  6. The <Plugin Name>, <Menu Text>, and <Plugin Path> are displayed. While the plugin name and plugin path must not be changed, optionally you can choose to modify the menu text that will be shown in the ETABS menu if required. (In the example shown here the menu text has been changed to ‘TSD Integrator’.)

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  7. Click on the Add button. The plugin should appear in the list below with the status OK.

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  8. Close the dialog by pressing the OK button at the bottom of the dialog. The plugin is now installed.

     

  9. If you want to launch the plugin, simply go to Tools > <your plugin text>.

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  10. ETABS will show the plugin starting window. If you do not want to see this window each time you use the plugin, simply check the checkbox Do not show this message again in this session, then click Yes.

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Export from ETABS

  1. In ETABS open the model to be transferred.
  2. To launch the plugin, click Tools > <your plugin text>.
  3. Click to acknowledge the Plugin Warning message.

    The first page is displayed:

     

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  4. Click Next to continue.

     

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    You will be prompted to choose the element types to export along with options for openings where applicable. The default is for all items to be exported.

  5. Click Next to continue.

      

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    The Integrator will now start processing. In this preliminary stage the data is assembled and any relevant messages are displayed. Each message is categorised according to its severity as: Information, Warning, Error, Critical Error.

  6. Click Next to continue.

     

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  7. Click [...] to save the data to a file. Choose a location and a file you want to save the data to then click Save.
  8. Click Finish.

     

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  9. Click OK.


     

First time import to Tekla Structural Designer


To import into a new Tekla Structural Designer model proceed as follows:
  1. In Tekla Structural Designer, click File > New.
  2. Click Home > Structural BIM Import.
    This launches the import application which shows several dialogs in a wizard process.
  3. Click [...] to browse and select a CXL file.

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  4. After selecting the CXL file, click Next.

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  5. The next screen shows the settings related to the file allowing the user to choose Metric or Imperial for the units, a design code and the default level type. The level type defaults as shown to T.O.S. - for concrete models it is suggested that you change this to S.S.L.

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    Please note that the Update Existing Model option cannot be used as this time. For changes to existing Tekla Structural Designer models, please refer to the next section - Update an existing Tekla Structural Designer model.

  6. Click Next.

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    The Relocate Import Model dialog allows for models to be moved relative to the global coordinate system in Tekla Structural Designer. The extent of the model can be seen from the information displayed on the right hand side of the dialog.

  7. After entering suitable values, click Next to continue.

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    The integration filter will now be displayed. The five options shown here allow you to verify if grids, levels etc. are to be imported.
    Please note that the settings held in the Delete Existing… and four Update… columns should not be used when performing a First Time Import and are only used when synchronizing changes into an existing Tekla Structural Designer model.

  8. Click Next.

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    Mapping of materials to recognized grades will be shown now. Here you can view the different materials recognized in the incoming CXL file and also map materials that aren’t recognized to suitable grades.

  9. Click Finish.

    The data from the CXL file is imported into Tekla Structural Designer.

  10. In the Project Workspace > Status tree, you should always check within the BIM group to see if any warnings or errors occurred during the import.

Update an existing Tekla Structural Designer model

To update an existing Tekla Structural Designer model proceed as follows:
  1. Open the Tekla Structural Designer model.
  2. Click Home > Structural BIM Import.
  3. Click [...] to browse and select a CXL file.

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  4. After selecting the required CXL file, click Next.

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  5. On the next screen select Update Existing Model, then click Next.

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  6. The remaining steps are the same as those described in the previous section -  First time import to Tekla Structural Designer.

Information Transferred

The following information is transferred from ETABS to Tekla Structural Designer:
  • Grid lines are transferred.
  • Levels are transferred as unique construction levels with floor flags set.
  • ETABS materials are transferred if a directly equivalent material/grade exists in the Tekla Structural Designer database, materials not located in the database can be manually mapped during the import process.

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  • ETABS concrete beams and columns are imported. Their alignment, orientation, end releases, material type and grade are maintained. The section size is maintained in most cases, (see ‘Limitations’ in the next section for when it is not).
  • ETABS steel beams, columns, and braces are imported if their section names can be mapped to an equivalent section in Tekla Structural Designer sections database. Where this is not the case they will be imported as analysis elements. Their alignment, orientation, end releases, material type and grade are maintained.
  • ETABS beams, columns and braces in any other material are imported as analysis elements. Their alignment, orientation and end releases are maintained, but the section size will always have to be re-applied in Tekla Structural Designer.
  • ETABS vertical walls are imported as concrete cast in place meshed shear walls. Their thickness and alignment are maintained.
  • ETABS horizontal slabs are imported as two-way spanning slabs on beams, (with certain restrictions - see ‘Limitations’ in the next section).
    • Vertical alignment is maintained.
    • ETABS Diaphragm Properties are not imported, consequently the slabs imported to Tekla Structural Designer all have their diaphragm option set to Rigid.
    • Circular and rectangular holes in Floors are imported as slab openings.
    • Sloping Floor objects are not imported. 
  • There is no suitable mapping between Joint Restraints in ETABS and Supports in Tekla Structural Designer. Supports are therefore imported as follows:
    • Pinned supports are created at the bottom of every column unless a supporting member can be detected.
    • Supports pinned about the minor axis are created at the bottom of every wall unless a supporting member can be detected.
    • All other ETABS Joint Restraints are removed.

Limitations

The following limitations exist in the current release:
  • Round-tripping is not possible. Models can be transferred from ETABS to Tekla Structural Designer but can’t then be transferred back to ETABS.
  • Loads are not transferred.
  • Only concrete sections, and steel sections (provided their section name can be mapped to a equivalent Tekla Structural Designer section) are transferred. Steel sections that cannot be mapped, and sections made of other materials are not currently transferred. In these cases, members are transferred to Tekla Structural Designer as analysis elements. The member characteristics and the section size have to be reassigned manually in Tekla Structural Designer.
    The method for reassigning section sizes manually is as follows:
    • Click Project Workspace>Structure>Members>(Material Type) Analysis Elements
      • ETABS section names are listed, but prefixed with a $
    • Right click on the first $section name and click ‘Select in visible views’
    • In the Properties Window assign the correct ‘Characteristic’ (Beam, Column, Brace etc.)
    • In the Properties Window assign the correct section size.
  • ETABS Trusses are transferred to Tekla Structural Designer as analysis elements.
  • There is no suitable mapping between Joint Restraints in ETABS and Supports in Tekla Structural Designer. Supports are therefore imported as follows:
    • Pinned supports are created at the bottom of every column unless a supporting member can be detected.
    • Supports pinned about the minor axis are created at the bottom of every wall unless a supporting member can be detected.
    • All other ETABS Joint Restraints are removed.
  • ETABS springs are not transferred.
  • Inclined concrete members always import as beams.
  • If a non vertical concrete member in ETABS has a section shape that is not permitted for beams in Tekla Structural Designer it is converted to a rectangular section during the import process.
  • ETABS curved beams are imported to Tekla Structural Designer as straight beams.
  • ETABS walls must be vertical and rectangular.
  • Sloping ETABS slabs are not imported.
  • ETABS slabs with curved edges are imported to Tekla Structural Designer with straight edges.
  • Opening shapes outside scope of Structural BIM import are simplified to rectangular openings during the import process.
  • All ETABS slabs (both one way and two-way) are transferred to Tekla Structural Designer as two-way Slab on Beams.
  • Thickened slabs areas can be created in ETABS by overlaying a thicker panel on top of the original panel. In this situation both panels would be transferred to Tekla Structural Designer but would result in a slab overlap error during validation. The affected panels would require some degree of remodelling in Tekla Structural Designer.
  • Diaphragm properties associated with ETABS Floor objects are not exported.
    • When imported to Tekla Structural Designer rigid diaphragms are assumed.
  • ETABS panel zone assignment to a joint is not transferred.
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