Link: The FormZ Lab

Exciting news from the folks at formZ:

AutoDesSys has started a Tumblr blog called formZ LAB that is showing off new tech that they've been developing for a while now, and if we can glean anything from the first entry, this is going to be huge for architectural designers that use or are thinking about getting into formZ v8. 

A collection of profiles possible (but not limited to) in Profile Tools.

A collection of profiles possible (but not limited to) in Profile Tools.

Profile Tools is the first new tool that they are showing from what I assume will be a collection. The good news is that you can download it today and start using it yourself if you have formZ 8. It is a brand new extension for creating dimensional lumber and steel shapes (and more) in your model. They are parametric and retain their abilities to be updated in the future without having to do the typical extra work that we used to. This is a fantastic addition to the program and I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

  • Parametric control of profile shape, dimensions, and rounding. Adjust multiple profiles at once, after construction. Shapes include: Rod, Round Tube, Rectangular Bar, Rectangular Tube, Hexagonal Bar, Hexagonal Tube, H-Bar, I-Beam, Angle (90 degree), U-Channel, T-Bar, Z-Bar.
  • Dimensioning follows common industry standards. Tubes, for instance, are defined by O.D, I.D, and wall thickness.
  • Justification makes revisions easier. With justification, you can refine the profile shape and proportions and keep the profile properly justified to neighboring objects. For example, beam profiles can be justified to the underside of a ceiling. If the web thickness is later changed from 10” to 12”, the top of the beam will remain aligned with the ceiling; there’s no need to move them down “manually.”
  • Freely draw extrusions between any two 3D points. The bottom of the profile shape will remain aligned to the ground plane.
  • Profile Surfaces can be constructed, too. They work nicely as inputs to an axial sweep tool.

The announcement from AutoDesSys:

Welcome to the formZ LAB

formZ’s extensions provide a powerful set of technologies for 3D generative design, task automation, and interfacing with devices. Extensions currently include plugins and scripts, and a parametric visual scripting environment will be added soon.

The LAB seeks to unlock the potential of formZ’s extensions for architects, designers, and artists. The LAB was conceived in the spirit of invention and rapid innovation, but with a practical bent. We are developing a collection of resources that are both useful and inspiring. Our efforts are focused in three areas:

Production Tools
Production tools streamline or automate complex, tedious, or error-prone modeling tasks. Design professionals will find these useful to improve their modeling and rendering pipeline. We are building and maintaining a collection of production tools, which will be made available to the community for free. Production tools will be robust and fast, built as plugins using formZ’s powerful C-based API.

Generative Design
Generative Design is exciting territory. One of formZ’s core strengths is the shear breadth of modeling technologies it provides under one roof: polygonal and smooth (ACIS) geometry, surface and solid modeling, NURBS and subd’s. Hundreds of functions are available for generating virtually any form, and all can be leveraged for generative design. Currently under development at AutoDesSys are some exciting additions to formZ’s extension development portfolio, including a parametric visual scripting environment. When these are publicly released, we’ll be providing sketches and examples of what you can accomplish, with code you can freely modify. 

We’ll also put together some tutorials for how to use this new stuff. Let’s grow a community of like-minded 3D experimenters.

The LAB operates out of Los Angeles, independent of AutoDesSys’s head office. At the LAB, we focus on experiments in 3d tooling and generative design that can be rapidly developed, and which will benefit from user feedback early in the design process. Our releases will not be tied to major-release numbers; instead, we will release when a set of tools is ready for feedback. You can expect regular updates, so check this blog often.

We thank AutoDesSys for making the LAB possible. 

Welcome to the LAB. We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on.

Maxwell Render Plugin for Revit 2012 & 2013

Maxwell Render for Revit is out! Here’s the rundown:

  • Compatibility: Revit 2012 and 2013 (any edition)
  • Support for Revit lights, including IES
  • Support for many built-in Revit materials
  • Ability to override scene materials with MXM files
  • Maxwell Grass
  • Multilight read back: changes made to lights in Multilight can be imported back into the Revit scene
  • Easy access to the Maxwell material library and gallery from inside the Revit UI

This is a welcome addition to the designer’s workflow. I know I’ll be using this on my latest project which is starting Design Development in Revit this week.

Maxwell Render for formZ 7

The Technology Preview of Maxwell Render plugin formZ 7 ( is available to download now!

New features include:

  • Maxwell Fire support for real-time previewing views, lights, materials and objects
  • Possibility of storing image ‘snapshots’ of the preview as it is rendering
  • Dramatically faster export from formZ to Maxwell Scene

And more! For full details visit the Maxwell site.

I’ve been using this for a few weeks and the addition of Maxwell Fire alone is so awesome to have. Highly recommended.

If you are a current customer, you can download this plugin via your customer gateway.

Project Hummingbird - Grasshopper Components That Help Create Revit Native Geometry

Right on the heels of Chameleon, Project Hummingbird gives us yet another way to make more complex geometry and get it natively into Revit. I detect a theme here... obviously Revit has some modeling shortcomings, and there are people willing to fill those gaps.

From Tim Meador:

The Revit Model Builder add-in acts as a layer between the Revit modeling environment, including the Family Editor, and an Excel session.  (The Revit environment can include Vasari; however, this has not been tested.)

This is great news for users because I don't think Revit needs everything built in. It's nice to have an API that these other developers can hook into. Having smart, Revit native geometry for scheduling and costing let alone showing up with correct line weights and hatches in drawings is huge. Personally I still like and find an advantage to working in different applications that talk to each other. Each app has its own strengths and weaknesses.

(via Steve Bennett)

✱ Maxwell Render Plug In for Bonzai3d Released

Next Limit and AutoDesSys have worked together along with Pylon Technical to bring Maxwell Render to Bonzai3d. Bonzai3d now has the ability, through a plug in, to access all of Maxwell's photo real rendering technology without having to leave the Bonzai3d environment. I will be doing a series of tutorial videos on how this all works and teach you how to use the software to get some amazing, photo real renderings.


After you install a couple of plugin files and the Maxwell Render application, it simply adds a new render option to Bonzai3d. Your workflow doesn't change. You just have another, albeit very robust, option for rendering.

Maxwell Render™ is a rendering engine based on the mathematical equations governing light transport, meaning that all elements, such as emitters, materials and cameras, are derived from physically accurate models. Maxwell Render is unbiased, so no tricks are used to calculate the lighting solution in every pixel of a scene; the result will always be a correct solution, as it would be in the real world. Maxwell Render can fully capture all light interactions between all elements in a scene, and all lighting calculations are performed using spectral information and high dynamic range data.


Bonzai3d materials are automatically converted into Maxwell Materials, and you also have the ability to load the preexisting Maxwell Materials as well for those times when you need the extra realism.

Maxwell also plugs into Bonzai3d's lighting system, and gives you additional options such as Physical Sky, Sky Dome, HDRI's and IES Lights. All of these options make for even more realistic lighting in your renders. Additionally, Maxwell has a Multilight tool where you can render once and control light color and intensity after the fact. This powerful addition saves you time by allowing you to "re-render" the scene without actually waiting for another rendering to take place. 

I'm happy to announce that Method will be doing a series of video tutorials on the new Maxwell / Bonzai3d integration showing you just how easy it is to get great results with very little additional effort from what you already know. One of the great things about a rendering platform like Maxwell is that you buy a standalone license once, and you get to download all the plugins for the different 3d applications you use. Maxwell has plugins for 3ds Max, ArchiCAD, Bonzai3d, Form•Z, Cinema4d, Lightwave, Modo, Maya, Rhino, SketchUp, Solidworks and Softimage.

Get ready for the tutorials by downloading the software now:

Download a free trial of Maxwell Render here.

Download a free trial of Bonzai3d here.


on 2011-04-12 22:31 by Evan Troxel

Here is a link to the 4000+ free resources offered by Next Limit that you can add to the library once you install the software:


They include skies, HDRI's and MXM Materials. The materials alone are drool-worthy.

Terrain Modeling Plugins for SketchUp and Revit

I was looking around on the SketchUcation forums and found this link to an amazing set of plugins for SketchUp created by Vali Architects. They are geared toward terrain modeling and roof creation. They aren't free, but very affordable ($15-$25 each). Definitely worth checking out if you're using SketchUp for architectural, civil or landscape work. I've been wishing for something like this for a long time, and now in the past week I've found tools like these for both Revit and SketchUp.

Check out Vali's Instant Road, Roof and Site Grader Plugins here.

The Revit tool I found is called Siteworks by Eagle Point Software. It will cut parking lots, sidewalks, curbs & gutters, retaining walls, berms, swales and other things into Toposurfaces. It is full of features and therefor obviously costs a lot more. Watch the demo videos on their site to get a better idea of what it can do.