Insert DGN files

Last updated March 12, 2019 by Tekla User Assistance

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Insert DGN files

Insert DGN files

You can insert DGN files as reference models to Tekla Structures.

You can view DGN reference modelmodel which the designer can use as an aid when building another model

A reference model is created in Tekla Structures or in other software and can be inserted to Tekla Structures. The reference model appears together with the model but it is not modified by Tekla Structures. The user can snap to reference model points.

For example, an architectural model, a plant design model, or a heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) model can be a reference model.

objects on different reference model layers according to the level settings in the DGN file. You can use DGN models for clash checking. Tekla Structures reference model insert supports V7 and V8 DGN formats.

A DGN file may contain one or more DGN models. A DGN model can be one of the following three types: a design model, an extrusion model or a sheet model. Design models are most useful in Tekla Structures as they contain appropriate structural data.

If there are many model types available in a DGN file, Tekla Structures selects the inserted model type in the following order:

  1. Active model is inserted if it is a design model.

  2. Default model is inserted if it is a design model.

  3. If DGN file contains design models, the first one is inserted.

  4. If there are no design models in the DGN file, the first model regardless of the model type is inserted.

DGN reference model insert does not support UDAs or change management.

To insert a DGN file, open the Tekla Structures model where you want to insert the reference model, and click the Reference Models button in the side pane.

For details about the reference model importimport of a model from another software to Tekla Structures

Tekla Structures supports several different formats to import models.

, see Insert a reference model.

DGN objects supported in reference models

Tekla Structures can display the following DGN objects in reference models:


Type no.




A collection of grouped entities with a common insertion point/origin, scale and orientation in 2D/3D space.



Line string


A series of interconnected lines.



Like a line string, but closed (first point = last point).

Text node


A multi-line paragraph/block of text.



A parametric spline curve.

Complex chain


A chained collection of other entities (lines, line strings, arcs, curves or b-spline curves).

Complex shape


Like a complex chain, but closed (first point = last point).







Supports TrueType fonts and text styles (bold, underline, italic, etc).

3D surface


Like a 3D solid, but not capped on the ends.

3D solid


The solid created by projecting or rotating from a boundary entity (line, line string, curve, arc or ellipse).



Actually a truncated cone described by two parallel circles; if the radius of both circles is the same, a cylinder is produced.

B-spline surface


See description of b-spline curves, which also applies here; additional data is provided by surface boundary entities (type 25).

B-spline curve


Can be rational/non-rational, uniform/non-uniform, open/closed; entity type 27 supplies header data and additional data is provided by pole entities (type 21), knot entities (type 26) and weight factor entities (type 28).

Shared cell definition


Similar to a DWG block definition; basically defines a set of grouped entities.

Shared cell instance


Similar to a DWG block instance; given a particular cell 'definition', numerous cell 'instances' can be created at differing locations, scales and orientations.



A set of parallel lines, which can be jointed (with or without visible seams at the joints), and have various types of end caps (rounded, square, etc).



Supports indexed face loops, quad list, quad grid, triangle grid and triangle list meshes.

Smart solid


Smart solids (solids created from embedded Parasolid/ACIS data) can be imported into Tekla Structures as wireframe outlines.

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