Blog Published: 07/02/2019

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Autodesk Advance Steel – How to create a custom user section

Here at Excitech, we offer a wide range of Autodesk courses that includes CAD training in Autodesk Advance Steel. As part of the syllabus we cover the topic of creating a custom user section. A user section is a beam section that does not fall into the usual availability of beam section sizes. This could be an extruded Aluminium section used in a glass panelled baluster or a special rubber seals to help fit the glazing. 

It’s sometimes tricky to remember every topic covered within a training course, so I’ve written this blog to reference back to if you’ve taken a CAD training course in Autodesk Advance Steel and need a refresh on how to create a custom user section.

User sections in Advance Steel are created in a separate drawing and are basically polygon shaped objects which are assigned specific layers to define the section name, section type and section shape. It’s a good idea to save the user section drawing in a safe place so you can easily access again when new sections may be required. 

Let’s take a look at the steps required to create the new section:
•    Open a new DWG file
•    Set the Top view from the AutoCAD Views panel or viewcube
•    On the Extended Modelling tab, select User Section panel, use the change layer flyout to activate the corresponding layer and the tools flyout to draw the section components


Define a user section frame
The section frame defines the area where the user section will be created. This is just a space that can be easily identified where the section information is located. There is no set size or shape, but I tend to create these large enough so that all the section information can be located inside the frame.
•    On the change current layer flyout, click CAD2.png  (Frame). The section frame layer is activated
•    On the tools flyout, click CAD4.png  (Rectangle)
•    Specify the first corner point of the frame
•    Specify the diagonal opposite corner of the frame

Define a user section outer contour
The outer contour defines the standard representation of the section in the model and should not include too many details to avoid a complex representation in the model.

•    On the change current layer flyout, click CAD6.png  (Outer contour). The section outer contour layer is activated
•    Using the tools on the tools flyout, draw the outer contour. It must be a closed polyline, a circle or a rectangle

Define a user section inner contour
The inner contour is used to create holes in the section and is most commonly used in RHS and SHS section types. In this example I’m using the inner contour to create the Excitech Logo.
•    On the change current layer flyout, click CAD8.png  (Inner contour). The section inner contour layer is activated
•    Using the tools on the tools flyout, define the inner contour inside the exact outer contour. I’ve used a series of lines to define the shape I require

Define the user section class and name
The section class and name are used in Advance Steel to categorise the sections in the system library.
•    On the change current layer flyout, click CAD11.png  (Section class) or  CAD12.png (Section name). The text for the section class name will appear on the Section and Material tab in the Advance Properties dialog box
•    Using the tools on the tools flyout, select CAD13.png  (Single Line Text) to define both the section class and section name. This is the text required in Advance Steel when choosing the section from the drop-down menus
CAD14.png  CAD15.png

When creating a user section, please be aware that an exact outer and exact inner contour can also be defined within the drawing, these layers are used when the exact display type is used in the model. In this example I've not added these to the section.
Add system coordinates and reference axis
To define the coordinate system that represents the local axis select the outer contour. To access the Add coordinates command, select  CAD17.png (Add coordinates) from the Extended Modelling tab, User Section panel.

For example, to position the reference axis in the top-left, select the command and when the "Snap on the outer contour at the point to insert a reference axis" message appears, click to place, using the snap points. If you do not click the point where the reference axis should be inserted, then the axis will be positioned where the point is selected on the outer contour.
CAD18.png  CAD19.png

Save and create the user section
Verify that all contours and the section properties are inside the frame as below.
To save the section, use one of the following methods:
1.    On the Extended Modelling tab >  User Section panel, click CAD21.png  (Generate selected section)
2.    On the Extended Modelling tab >  User Section panel, click CAD22.png  (Generate all sections)
The following message confirms that the section was successfully created:


Testing the user section
To draw the new user section, choose any profile from the menu. In the properties dialog box, in the Other profile category, select the name of the user section class you created.


You can also watch this video to create the custom user section:

We are able to offer a range of training courses for structural related products including Advance Steel ranging from the fundamentals to advanced. We also offer other structural related products such as Autodesk Revit and Autodesk Robot, and their related training material.

If you need any more information on the CAD training courses we provide in Advance Steel, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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