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Autodesk Navisworks: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by BIM Outsourcing
October 13, 2022

Are you confused about Autodesk Navisworks? Don't worry! We're here to enlighten you on what Navisworks is, who, and how we should use it. One of the many software included in Autodesk AEC collection, It plays a vital role in BIM workflow. Here we'll discuss everything you need to know about Autodesk Navisworks and cover all the most important details. We will further explain its uses and types as we go along.

We can use Navisworks to conduct comprehensive reviews of multi-disciplinary design data of BIM. Navisworks is not limited to BIM; it can review any digital porotypes made in other software.

You can coordinate, analyze and exchange design information and its constructability. Navisworks is famous for its clash detection features. Which anticipate and mitigate interference before onsite construction. Last but not least, it also provides animations and 4D &5D simulations.

The software has several helpful tools to review the model efficiently and save the particular view you need. It can easily make comments, measure distances between points, or even encircle certain parts of the locked view. Comments from these actions are sent out to others who want feedback on their projects, such as my teammates or clients. Fast review and instant feedback increase the whole BIM workflow much faster.

Clash Detection Report

Autodesk Navisworks Versions and How to choose between them

Autodesk Navisworks officially provides Navisworks in three versions. There is a difference in each version's features and cost. We will discuss each release's functionalities and use cases further below.

Navisworks Freedom

It is a free version of Navisworks product, and subscribers can view the design created in Revit or other programs. You can view files with the .nwd & .dwf extension and get access to model hierarchy, object properties, and a couple of review tools. (NWD files are discussed in section 2 below). Review tools include viewpoints, animations, redlines, and comments.

Apart from these, Navisworks Freedom gives access to view timeline playback (Schedule Simulation), but you can't create one in this version.

Navisworks Simulate

Simulate is the base-level version of Navisworks. It comes with added benifits like creating and saving copies of the project, creating design simulations, and creating 4D & 5D schedules. Moreover, you can publish NWD files and create walkthrough animations and renderings of the 3D design. Like the free version, it's possible to do real-time navigation and complete project reviews of the whole team and an individual participant.

There are a few features that Navisworks Simulate doesn't provide; they are clash detection and interference check in the 3D model. Secondly, we can't integrate Autodesk's construction cloud in this version. We must export NWC or other supported formats from the cloud server before opening them to perform the required activities.

Navisworks Manage

Navisworks Manage is a top-tier product in this category, offering all the features of both previous versions. At the same time, including a few additional services as well. Additional services include clash detection and interference check. It anticipates the clash between architectural, structural, and MEP models. Whether the clash is between two building disciplines or the component of the same discipline collides with each other (self-intersection). Navisworks will point out the location of the clash and open an enlarged view with the highlighted clashing component to get it fixed. Apart from viewing the collisions, you can also generate a clash report in XML, HTML, or TXT format. You can set a status for each clash instant and add comments with geometrical parameters and illustrative views.

Along with the clash detection feature, you can integrate BIM 360 (AD Construction Cloud) with Navisworks. It instantly provides access to the most recent project data via cloud storage or desktop connector. After performing the required activity in Navisworks, the model is pushed back to the cloud. It is immediately shared with other team members or clients.

Supported File Formats

Autodesk Navisworks can support more than 60 file formats. Even those from other software not developed by Autodesk, like Bentley's Microstation, Catia, ArchiCad, etc. Some 2D and 3D design files are directly exported to Navisworks format. While in a few cases, we need to convert them into IFC(international foundation class) format.

Supporting and optimizing that number of CAD file formats and converting them to an information-rich model is the real strength of Navisworks. You can convert and compress all the files up to 80%, drastically improving collaboration and the time required to share them. Native file formats which Navisworks use are NWD, NWC, and NWF.

NWD (Navisworks Document)

NWD is a native file type and contains all linked models and files. It binds all the information required to view and edit the project. Saving loaded models, environment, current view, and held viewpoints (including comments, redlines, etc.) into an NWD is called Publishing a Navsworks file. While publishing, you can specify metadata for NWD files, like adding password protection, setting an expiry date, or making the file readable only.

File with .nwd extension can be viewed on all versions of Navisworks, including Freedom, which makes it a perfect file to be shared with clients and contractors.

NWC (Navisworks Cache)

It contains cache files of the converted model that are generated automatically when a user appends or opens a support file in Navisworks. NWC files are nothing more than read-only files used to convert data from Revit or CAD file into a format that Navisworks support.

Opening a Revit or any other design file in Navisworks will check for the cache file. If it's not found, it will be automatically generated; either way, it will check if the design file has been modified since it was last opened in Navisworks. If it wasn't modified, it would read the cache and straight away open the file; this case will use less memory and require less to load the file. Navisworks will read the design file (Revit, CAD, etc.) and recreate the cache if the design file has been modified.

NWF (Navisworks File Set)

NWF contains all of the links on the NWC file and merges all the models in a single file. No 3D geometry is stored in this format. Along with links to the original file, it also holds information like viewpoints, comments, graphic overrides, and all clash detection instants. NWF file size is much smaller than NWC and NWD format; that's why it is recommended to use this format for enhanced productivity.

Only Navisworks Simulate or Manage can open NWF format if we have access to the original CAD files.

Navisworks and BIM 360 Integration

Autodesk provides the integration of its construction cloud with Navisworks Manage. The project file can be uploaded to the application or web interface of BIM 360, which allow project partners to save time with automated clash detection. This integration provides a common data environment for the entire coordination process.

BIM Outsourcing UK has been working to help UK construction projects (both commercial and government) with BIM, Revit, MEP and more. Check out our team and projects and feel free to reach out to us for an initial, free consultation call.

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