Sharing Autodesk Materials Throughout An Organization

Autodesk 2013 products allow you to create a library that contains the most commonly used and standard materials within an organization.  It can be daunting and confusing to users when they go to specify a material for something and there are many materials from which to choose.  Autodesk provides many materials Out-Of-The-Box (OOTB), companies will develop materials in-house, and materials may be downloaded, all of which creates a large collection of materials.  This article will describe how you can create a central library on the company server in 3 easy steps, from which users can select the preferred material.

The process involves creating a library on the server, populating it with the desired materials, and then having others access this library.  Autodesk Revit is used as the example software to describe the process.

Step 1 – Create a Library

  • In Revit, go to the Manage tab and select the Materials button on the Settings panel.
  • In the Material Browser dialog box, go to the lower left corner and select the drop-down arrow next to the icon as shown in the following image.
  • Select the “Create New Library” option from the drop-down list.
  • In the Select File dialog box, browse to a server location where the company material library is to be located.  (If the folder does not exist, create a folder to hold the new material library file.)
  • Provide a meaningful name to the library file and pick the Save button.  (The file will have an extension of “.ADSKLIB”.)
  • The new company library file will now show up in the list in the lower left corner of the Materials dialog box, as shown in the following image.  (The new material library is named “My Company Materials” in this example.)

Step 2 – Add Materials to the Company Library

The new company library does not contain any materials at this point, so you will now need to add materials to it.

  • In the lower left corner of the Material Browser dialog box, select either the OOTB Autodesk Materials library or the AEC Materials library in the list of available libraries.  (Other libraries may exist in this list and may also be selected.)  A list of materials in that selected library will appear in the box to the right of this library list.
  • From the list of materials that appear in the box to the right, select the desired materials and drag ‘n drop them onto your company material library on the left.  The following image shows copying 2 materials from the “AEC Materials” library to the “My Company Materials” library.
  • Continue to drag any desired materials into the company library.  Materials may be copied from any of the libraries listed on the left side.  Materials may also be copied from any document by opening the desired project file or family file and copying the material from the list at the top of the Material Browser dialog box.  (The materials at the top of the dialog box are contained in the open file.)

Step 3 – Have Other Users Access the Company Library

After the company library has been created, other users still need to be able to access these materials.

  • Inside a user’s Revit interface, access Materials from the Manage tab and the Settings panel.
  • In the Material Browser dialog box, go to the lower left corner and select the drop-down arrow next to the icon as shown in the following image.
  • Select the “Open Existing Library” option from the drop-down list.
  • In the Select File dialog box, browse to the server location where the company material library was previously added and select the library file.  Select the Open button.
  • The company standard material library will now appear in the user’s library list.

General Notes:

  • Depending on the security permissions on the library file or folder containing the file, users may be able to add additional materials to the company standard or only be able to utilize materials contained in the library.
  • Materials placed in the company folder are no longer linked to the original material and may be modified, resulting in a different definition of the material in the company library than the material in the folder from which it was originally copied.
  • The company material library and materials may be used across various Autodesk products.
  • This same process to create a company library can be utilized by Autodesk AutoCAD 2013 products, although accessing the materials can be done through the Materials command.
  • Materials may be organized by category, if desired, by selecting the “Create Category” option from the icon in the lower left corner of the Material Browser dialog box as shown in the following image.  (You must place the material in the appropriate category.)
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8 thoughts on “Sharing Autodesk Materials Throughout An Organization

  1. Doug,
    Thanks for the breakdown on the new materials – nice to see central access capabilities. Any way to access these same libraries with 3D Max?

    • Angelo, I am not sure about 3DS Max accessibility since I do not have 3DS Max. Maybe someone who has access to 3DS Max readily available to them can answer this soon. Otherwise, I will try to find out.

  2. Pingback: REVIT TIPS!

  3. Doug,

    We’ve set up a test case library and when accessing it from a second computer get an error about the library already being in use. Isn’t this the entire purpose of the library?! The folder doesn’t have any special permissions that I’m aware of. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Angelo,
      I am not seeing the same problem that you are seeing, so it makes it hard to troubleshoot. Some things to consider include… try seeing if a different user can access it, try seeing if the same user can access from different computers, try different locations for the file, not having anyone else with the Material library open when adding it to a user, only having one person access the custom library at a time.

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