In recent years, Parametric design gained enormous popularity. The AEC industry noticed all advantages coming from AAD – Algorithmic Aided Design. I dare to compare this revolution of the design method to the transformation that some engineers have already experienced. Namely, change from hand made design to CAD – Computer-Aided Design. There are lots of similarities in both revolutions. Besides learning the new concept of thinking, it is crucial to learn new tools. Thanks to Rhino.Inside® Technology, it is possible to be embedded Rhino within other software. That opened the possibility to run BIM in Grasshopper. In this article, you will find the list of live-link connections and plugins between Grasshopper and BIM software.
Table of Contents
Before we go to the list of Grasshopper live connectors and plugins, we should answer two crucial questions.
The first one:
1. Why use Rhino and Grasshopper inside other software?
First of all, Grasshopper allows engineers to unlock the full power of parametric design. Tasks that were impossible to perform before now are achievable. Engineers can automate repetitive design tasks, build customized workflows and handle complex geometries. Basically speaking, there is no such expression now as – Sorry, it is not possible to do that becouse of software limitations. Parametric design expends software capabilities significant, and instead of waiting years for the next software update or new release, it is possible to dewelope own feature.
2. Why to work with BIM in Grasshopper?
Grasshopper allows designers to create geometry based on input data or parameters. It is done by visually setting up logical and geometrical relationships in an algorithm. As an example, we can take a high-rise building.
Let’s add extra storey in the building. If we assume that the extra level will have the same geometry and properties as the lower level. we have to change just one parameter. The rest of the structural elements (columns, beams) will be inserted automatically based on the defined relations. Instead of manually inserting individual parts, an algorithm will do us all the work. This way of working can be highly efficient and consistent.
In addition, all BIM data can be added or updated together with the geometry changes. After adding an extra storey, the program manages to put correct BIM information into particular elements.
Worth mentioning is the main superpower loved by every architect. Grasshopper gives the possibility of using parametric design for complex geometries. The creation process can be significantly faster than traditional modelling together with assured accuracy.
Let’s go to the list of Grasshopper live connections with BIM software
BIM in Grasshopper – The software list
3. List of Grasshopper live connections with BIM software
3.1. Grasshopper with Tekla live connection
The first release of Grasshopper connection came already with Tekla 2016 version. I tested my first scripts in this version, and I fell in love at first sight. New possibilities opened my eyes. I have realized, that now I can create whatever geometry I can imagine.
What is essential with Grasshopper-Tekla live link is fact that it creates and manipulates native Tekla objects. This functionality was crucial to the great success of this connection. Together with geometry, all types of reinforcement can be created through Grasshopper. All data that defines reinforcement in Tekla can be manipulated from the Grasshopper level. Including creating reinforcement in tapered or curved form.
Not just creating advanced geometry and reinforcement was the key to success here. Grasshopper can query for all Tekla model information. BIM data, attributes and object placements can be changed in real-time. It is possible to extract all UDA (user-defined attributes) from Tekla to Grasshopper and another way around.
I was also impressed how it is easy to use all Tekla components and applications through the Live link. In the same way, you insert components in Tekla as in Grasshopper. It is just a matter of finding out correct points and elements in the proper data structure.
In order to download the connection, go to the Tekla warehouse and choose the version of Tekla that you work on. Here is a live link.
Remember to open Tekla first and then Rhino. If you make it another way around connection will be not established.
3.2. Grasshopper with Revit
Together with releasing Rhino 7 version came the official version of Rhino.Inside Revit. Thousands of Revit users have been waiting for this development for a long time – for a straightforward way of working with Grasshopper inside Revit. To be clear, back then, it was possible to work with these two programs. However, it was necessary to transfer data through other applications like Specle, which sends data from GH to Dynamo through another server. Worked quite nice. However, it was a need for a third-party application.
Rhino.Inside Revit allows you to streamline interoperability between Rhino/Grasshopper and Revit.
What doesn’t mean?
As with Tekla, geometry can be modelled in Rhino and used for geometry creation in Revit. Grasshopper scripts can also be used to create native models using actual Revit components.
Rhino.Inside.Revit adds over 300 Revit-connected parameters and components to Grasshopper to query, modify, analyze, and create native Revit elements. More functionality and features are added in each release to support more Revit native types.
On top of that, connection gives possibilities to use more advanced scripting. Rhino.Inside.Revit provides translation API to create custom conversion workflows between Revit data and Rhino geometry and metadata. The API is easily accessible from Grasshopper’s Python or C# scripting components.
This development project brought the power of Rhino 7 and Grasshopper to the Autodesk Revit® environment. Using Rhino/Grasshopper for geometry and computational design and Revit for building information modelling and creating reinforcement enables completely new design workflows and possibilities.
In contrast to other connections projects, this one was fully sponsored by Robert McNeel & Associates. So far an excellent work.
Is it Dynamo killer?
Not completely, but Rhino together with Grasshopper is definitely on a good way. The movement of architects and engineers switching to Rhino Inside is growing really fast. I am looking forward to further development.
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3.3. Grasshopper with Archicad
Most probably, Grasshopper connection with Archicad was established as the first one in the industry. On 15 of September 2015 – GRAPHISOFT®, has announced the public beta version of its Rhino–Grasshopper–Archicad connection. Architects and designers could finally use algorithmic design tools in combination with BIM software thanks to bidirectional “real-time” link. As in previous examples (Tekla, Revit), connection helps align the traditional design process with the computational design approach.
Key features and benefits
3.4. Grasshopper with BricsCAD
The Grasshopper connector to BricsCAD was released in 2019. It enables parametric modelling in Grasshopper with a real-time preview. It is possible to use BricsCAD geometry as an input geometry for Grasshopper and convert the Grasshopper geometry back into BricsCAD geometry. This geometry can then be used for further modelling in BricsCAD.
These custom components allow you to:
3.5. Grasshopper with Quadri
Trimble Quadri BIM software is a common data environment for the continuous sharing of models in production. The software offers a unified collaboration platform for infrastructure projects, such as roads and railways. Trimble empowers real-time collaboration in one central model while tracking changes and accessing the BIM model seamlessly anywhere, at any time.
In 2020, different Quadri Connectors were released that allow collaboration across design software solutions from multiple vendors. Among connectors, you can find Grasshopper connections as well. The live connector enables design with the parametric approach in the bidirectional workflow. Send data from Quadri to Grasshopper – mainly road lines and terrain as an input – and from Grasshopper to Quadri new created objects.
The connector is available to download from the Rhino package manager.
Open Rhino 7, write in the command package manager, search for Quadri and install the latest version.
3.6. Grasshopper with CADWORK 3D
RhinoInsideCadwork is a tool that allows you to embed Rhino 7 in Cadwork 3D. Combining the two software allows the strengths of the CAD/CAM software to be combined with the strengths of Rhino/Grasshopper.
Download live connection and make your parametric model production-ready with Rhino. Inside Cadwork.
LINK TO DOWNLOAD
To install this Connector and add your Speckle account, follow the instructions in the Speckle Manager section. Speckle currently supports both Rhino 6 and Rhino 7.
BIM in Grasshopper – The list of plugins
4. List of Grasshopper BIM plugins
We continue the list. However, it will be not external software as it was before but plugins to Rhino/Grasshopper that can generate IFC model directly from Rhino. Yes, you read correctly.
Rhino can work as a BIM software as well. Just with a little bit of help from additional plugins can be transformed to even more powerful tool. I see in the industry a big change.
If you have to deliver just IFC with 3D geometry. No drawings, no reinforcement model nor bending list. Pure 3D objects with BIM Informations. Why not just choose Rhino?
4.1. VisualARQ plugin to Rhino
VisualARQ is a Flexible BIM solution powered by McNeel’s Rhinoceros 3D. This combination of tools allows you to model any object with Rhino’s freeform modelling tools and turn it into an informed BIM object. This tool speeds up the process of modelling an architectural project in 2D and 3D.
VisualARQ also gives the power to automate many modelling tasks through the VisualARQ visual programming components built for Grasshopper 3d.
Once the VisualARQ geometry is baked, it turns into workable VisualARQ objects inside Rhino. Then you can use the VisualARQ features to create section drawings, floor plans, schedule tables, etc.
The biggest advantage of VisualARQ is the possibility to imports & exports IFC files. This option is missing in pure Rhino and it helps a lot in exchanging architectural BIM models between Rhino and other AEC software. You can tag any object with an IFC category and add custom information to geometry, which will be exported as ifc properties.
4.2. Geometry GYM plugin to Grasshopper
Alternative for Visual Arq is a plugin called Geometry Gym. Founded in 2009, started predominately around the idea of transferring information between a whole range of software applications. GeometryGym provides software in the form of plug-ins to a wide variety of industries within the built environment and is at the forefront of openBIM and IFC development.
The majority of the GeometryGym tools are built around openBIM platforms, primarily the IFC ISO Standard which allows efficient interoperability between CAD and engineering applications.
Geometry Gym turns Rhino and Grasshopper into a comprehensive BIM tool with Geometry Gyms IFC plug-in for Rhino and Grasshopper allowing the Import, Export and modification of IFC files directly from within the Rhino and Grasshopper environment.
Advanced importing options include:
To access the package manager go to the Rhino command line and type PackageManager. Write gg into the search bar to search for GeometryGym plug-ins.
or visit the website:
4.3. MKS BEAM plugin to Grasshopper
BEAM brings the power of BIM to Rhino as well and adds possiebielity export IFC 4 .
With BEAM you can create families, parameters, properties and move geometry across the platforms.
Below you can find the manual that will guide you throughout the main features of the program.
Visit MKS BEAM for more information. LINK
4.4. Grasshopper with Speckle 2 BIM
Speckle is an open-source data platform that allows you to transfer BIM objects and data between different software applications. Speckle supports a variety of formats, including Grasshopper, a visual programming language for Rhino, a 3D modelling software.
Speckle allows you to transfer BIM objects and data, create BIM objects and data, and map simple CAD geometry to more complex BIM data. For example, you can map a line and height from Rhino to a native wall type in Revit. Speckle’s BIM tab contains all the components you need to create generic BIM elements, which are the minimum amount of information required to make them work.
In simple scenarios, Grasshopper BIM works by assigning a new @speckleSchema property to a given geometry, such as a line. When these objects are received in a BIM-capable software, such as Revit, the Revit Connector will detect this special property and generate the corresponding Revit element instead of a model curve.
For example, you can create a floor using a rectangle in Grasshopper. When you expand the resulting polyline’s properties, you can see that the @speckleSchema property is present and its type is Objects.BuiltElements.Floor.
Rhino BIM manages BIM tags by assigning geometry objects an Attribute User Text property if they have been flagged as BIM elements while sending to a stream. Once they are added, remember to remove these tags with the Remove button if you wish to send the objects as plain geometry instead of BIM elements, or if you wish to assign them a different tag.
Check out my other articles about Grasshopper
Grasshopper Data Tree – Path Mapper is a BADASS
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Grasshopper is a plugin to Rhino that you can download HERE
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Excellent information on the integration of various BIM platforms or applications with the benefits provided by Grasshopper. The incorporation of the use of algorithms in computerized design not only increases productivity but also minimizes many design phases such as the verification stage and the possibility of presenting many functional or fabricable proposals. Nor is its integration limited to the AEC field but other areas such as industrial design, jewelry, CAFM and more. Congratulations for sharing this valuable material.
Thanks for your kind words. I totally agree with you. Especially this sentence about different industries and disciplines. All designers can take advantage of the parametric approach!