Tech Tip: Advance Steel Orientation Symbols

13 June 2024Advance Steel, Autodesk Software, Construction, Structural designcompass, Model, orientation, steel, Structural, structural engineering, Tips and Tricks



Written by Aleck Giles, Software Technical Specialist, GRAITEC UK


In many structures, beams can be much the same on both ends. The beam may be almost symmetrical, so it looks much the same from either side. Without measuring, it can be hard to tell which end of the beam goes in which position on a structure. In addition, small detail differences might be difficult to see on a GA (general arrangement) drawing.

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To overcome this issue, some people like to use Orientation Symbols in their drawings. One end of the beam is marked in the assembly drawing (this is the end to mark the beam with the part number or other symbol). The same end of the beam is marked in the GA drawings so the erector can quickly see the correct way to install the beam.

Advance Steel orientation symbols


Advance Steel orientation symbols

Notice how the two B6 beams in the middle of the view are oriented in opposite directions. Many people think this is an error, but it is not. The beams have been drawn in opposite directions, so the “start” is at opposite ends of the beams.

It is extremely easy to implement this system in Autodesk Advance Steel. All you need to do is place a Compass in your model.

This is done using the Home > Objects > Compass command. When placed, the North direction of the compass aligns with our UCS Y axis. You can set your UCS first or rotate the compass as required afterwards. The position of the compass in the model does not matter, just the orientation. A compass North arrow will be drawn pointing in the correct direction in many GA-type views, but it will always be in a fixed position in the view.

Once a compass exists in your model, you should create or update your Assembly drawings. This will add an orientation symbol to each drawing at the “start” end of the front view. AFTER getting the symbol added to your assembly drawings, you can create or update your GA drawings. The orientation symbols will be added to the views as appropriate. Note that not all Drawing Styles include orientation symbols. Mostly they are only on 2D Plan views. You can check the view descriptions in the Drawing Styles palette or just experiment to see which ones will do what you want.


This 3:44 video shows the system in action.

Improve coordination, clarify design intent, and reduce rework with better collaboration between engineers and detailers – Autodesk Advance Steel 3D software for steel model design and fabrication. Contact GRAITEC Group today to get started.



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