A File-Linking Work-Around for FBX (Revit to MAX)

One of the best improvements over the last year or so was the introduction of the FBX file format.  Specifically, its application for bringing Revit data in 3DS MAX.  Previously we’d use the DWG format for exporting to MAX but there were certain inherent problems.  First of all, and I really thought this was the biggest problem, the material maps didn’t export correctly. The color on the Graphics tab (Shading group) is what would show up on the object in MAX.


Even if you attached a material map in MAX, the mapping would be wrong. Imagine the amount of time it would take to attach materials and UVW Mapping maps to every object in your scene (especially when your objects in Revit already have materials assigned). Anyway, since both Revit Architecture 2009 and 3DS MAX 2009 (Design or regular – sounds like regular or decaf), use a new material type called ProMaterials. These are highly photorealistic materials. Since both programs have it, the FBX file format is able to export the settings and materials maps from Revit to MAX. One of the great benefits of the DWG Method, however, is the ability to link it into MAX. Therefore, if the design changes in Revit, you simply need to re-export the file, saving over the original DWG. Then, in MAX, you can reload the file to bring in the changes. As much as there isn’t an explicit FBX Linking function (although, apparently Autodesk has been made well aware of everyone desire to have it), there is a work-around that will allow you to (kinda) do it.

This is sort of a quick description of how to do it, but take a look:

1.  In Revit, click “File –> Export –> 3ds max (FBX)”.
2.  Import the file into MAX and save it as “modelFile.max”.
3.  Use “File –> XRef Objects”.
4.  Click the “Create Xref Record from File…” button and locate the modelFile.max” file you just made.
5.  Select all objects and click “OK”.
6.  Create a new material and add it to all walls.
7.  Add a UVW Map modifier and save the file as “materialsFile.max”.
8.  Return to Revit and make a change to the design.
9.  Export it again over the previous FBX file.
10.  In MAX, return to the model file and erase all objects.
11.  Re-import the FBX file.

Please email me if you have any questions or would like me to exaplain this is more detail.

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