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The benefits of parametric design for structural engineers

Two model of same winding footbridge under actual footbridge

Parametric design differs greatly from traditional 3D modelling and, of course, 2D CAD. It’s based on set rules and parameters, according to which the design is then generated, managed and modified. Modelling with parametric design has significant benefits that improve the design process and ensure that the ready design is of excellent quality. 

Increase in speed and accuracy

Instead of manually adding and controlling every part of the model, parametric design lets you define logical rules describing the model and the relationships between its parts, as well as a set of parameters to drive the logic. The design tool then calculates and creates a dynamic 3D model based on your criteria. Eliminating manual work gives a tremendous advantage in terms of productivity because the model can be created much faster. An automatic generation of the design as a whole also decreases the chance for human errors that can, at worst, accumulate into costly miscalculations.

Speedy iteration and flexibility in the face of change

Footbridge over river hugging the bank rather than spanning riverTekla Structures BIM model of widing footbridge snaking off into the background

The way the model is created also means that dealing with changes is much easier than with a traditional 3D model, not to mention 2D CAD. Any adjustments to the model are reflected throughout the entire design based on the set logic. Thus, it’s possible to iterate quickly while staying within the design’s criteria and constraints. The agile way to test opens the door to discovering new possible solutions that can make a project more cost-effective. Any arising new requirements for the model can be implemented with ease.

A new approach gives room for innovativeness

When the entire design can be created, managed and iterated as a whole, there are more opportunities to optimise the design process. Instead of having to spend time on manual calculations, additions and tweaks, it’s possible to focus on creating the most beautiful and functional design possible. Parametric design offers an entirely new approach to design because you can work on the entire structure from the get-go, and see it in a visual, as-built form.

A higher design quality with better productivity

With dynamic automation, increased accuracy, speedy iterations, and more resources for the design as a whole, the benefits of parametric design are undeniable. While it can be used for any project big or small, it’s especially advantageous in complex structures with unconventional architecture. Using parametric design takes the modelling process to the next level and makes it possible to streamline work, create high-quality designs and deliver successful projects. 

About the Author

Advanced BIM Consultant Sebastian works at Trimble Structures Division HQ managing and developing solutions for dealing with complex geometry in Tekla Structures. Currently, he's preoccupied with exploring parametric workflows using the link between Grasshopper and Tekla Structures, enabling rapid structural form iterations and design option investigations.

Profile Photo of Sebastian Lindholm