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Ecotect Tutorial : Material Assignments Panel

Synopsis

This tutorial describes the various settings found in the material assignments panel in Ecotect.

Duration

You will need about 10 minutes to complete this tutorial.

Training and Accreditation

Successfully completing this tutorial fulfills one of the practical skills required for completing Level 2 of the Geometric Modelling training module.

Resources Required

You may wish to have one of the Ecotect example files open so that you can practise assigning materials to objects.

Tutorial

Material Assignments Panel

This panel is located in the main application window. It displays information about the element type and material assignment of selected objects. But before launching into a description of the workings of this panel, it is very important that you understand why there are two lists - for primary and alternate assignments.

Primary Materials

The top list displays all materials of the selected type currently loaded into the model. The highlighted material is the one assigned to the selected object(s) as its primary material. If no material is selected, then this varies between objects in the selection set and will remain unchanged. To assign a material, simply select one and click the Apply Changes button.

If the selected material is enclosed within <<>> brackets, this means that the object is assigned a material of a different type. For example, you may wish to assign the CEILING the same material as the FLOOR above. For accurate thermal calculations, however, you should avoid inappropriate cross assignments, such as assigning a WALL object a WINDOW material. This will not make the WALL into a WINDOW, it will simply generate a warning and mean that values for alternating solar gain are erroneously used in place of thermal lag and decrement properties.

Having said that, most opaque building fabric types make sense when cross-assigned, such as WALLS, FLOORS, CEILINGS, DOORS, PANELS and PARTITIONS. However, transparent types such as WINDOWS and VOIDS may not, and APPLIANCES, SOURCES, POINTS and LINE types definitely won't.

Alternate Materials

This list also displays all materials for the selected object type currently loaded into the model. The highlighted material is the one assigned to the selected object(s) as its alternate material. If no material is selected, then this varies between objects in the selection set and will remain unchanged. To assign a material, simply select one and click the Apply Changes button.

By default, the alternate material is the same as the primary material, and the effect of selecting different alternate materials depends on the element type.

For objects such as WALLS, ROOFS, FLOORS, and CEILINGS the alternate material is used whenever the object overlaps another object belonging to the external surface of another zone. For example, if you have a wall object with a primary material of DoubleBrickCavityPlaster and a alternate material of BrickPlaster, this allows you to reposition the wall in relation to the walls of other zones without having to worry about how much of it will be external cavity-brick, and how much will be internal single-brick. This 'overlap' will be automatically determined during interzonal adjacency calculations.

For WINDOWS, DOORS, PANELS, VOIDS, APPLIANCES and SOURCES the alternate material is used when the object is activated. For example, an object can be activated to simulate the opening of a WINDOW at a particular time, or turning on a heater. During the activation period, the alternate material replaces an object's primary material during time-based calculations. You can set up activation times for a selected object under the selection information panel.

The same issues regarding cross assignment apply to alternative assignments as apply to primary materials.

Element Selector

Use this selector to set the element type of the current selection set. If it is blank or says <<Varies>>, the element type will remain unchanged when you select the Apply Changes button. For more information on the meaning of element types, see the Element Types and Material Assignment help topics.

Material Menu

You can invoke this menu by left-clicking the arrow button immediately to the right of the Element Selector, or by right-clicking in either material list.

Apply to Selection
Select this item to apply any changes you have made to the element type or material assignments. These changes will be lost if you do not use this item or the Apply button below before changing the selection set.

Select Primary Material
Use this item to select all editable objects in the current model that have the highlighted material assigned as their primary material.

Select Alternate Material
Use this item to select all editable objects in the current model that have the highlighted material assigned as their alternate material.

Search for Materials...
Displays a Find dialog that allows you to list all materials in the current library that contain the string that you enter.

Material Properties...
This item displays the Material Library dialog, allowing you to edit materials in both the current model and your main library. When is is first displayed, it shows the properties of the currently highlighted material.

These items allow you to control when a redraw occurs when setting multiple properties at once. This is not normally an issue, however in very large models the redraw time can be noticeable.

Automatically Apply Changes
When this item is checked, any changes you make to assigned materials are automatically applied. Thus, to re-assign an object with this checked, you simply select the object in the model and then click on the material you wish to assign - that's it.

Apply Changes
Select this button to apply any changes you have made to the element type or material assignments. These changes will be lost if you do not use this button before changing the selection set.

Show All
This button displays all loaded materials in the current model in both list boxes. This allows you to make element cross-assignments if necessary. You should note the restrictions on cross-assignments discussed in the Primary Material section above.


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