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Howick Tools

Last updated July 27, 2015 by Tekla Structures Extensions UK tekla.extensions-uk@trimble.com

Software version: 
Not version-specific
United Kingdom

Howick Tools

Purpose and description

This extension contains a number of tools to aid construction of models using the Howick system and an export that produces a file that can be processed directly by a Howick framing machine.

Installing Howick tools

The Howick tools are available to download from the Tekla Warehouseservice for collaboration and for storing and sharing Tekla Structures content

In Tekla Warehouse the content items are stored in collections. Tekla Warehouse includes the Tekla Warehouse Service and the Tekla Warehouse web site.

Tekla Warehouse is one of the Tekla online services.

Howick Tools
Download the installer for your Tekla Structures version and install.

User toolbar 

To manually add an extension to a user toolbar in Tekla Structures:

  1. Click Tools > Customize to open the Customize dialog box.
  2. On the Toolbars tab, click New... A new toolbar with the name Howick Toobar appears in the toolbar tree. You can enter a new name for the toolbar.
  3. Search for the extension on the list on the left (see below for tools installed by this extension), click on it and then click the right arrow to add it to the toolbar.
    • HowickConnection
    • HowickDetail
    • HowickFloorCassetteCreator
    • HowickServiceHole
    • Macrosaved series of actions that includes instructions for a program

      Macros are located in the applications and components catalog. They are recorded or created manually and stored as .cs file in a folder defined with the advanced option XS_MACRO_DIRECTORY.

      Macros can, for example, be used for creating drawings or reports.

      Macros are sometimes used to run an application.

    • Macro:HowickExport
  4. Repeat step 3 if you would like to add the rest of the extension tool to the toolbar.
  5. Click Close.

The Frame Creator

Double click on the HowickFrameCreator in the component catalogue or click on the toolbar if it exists. Fill in the parameters for frame height, name assembly marks and numbering seriesset of identifiers defined by the user, based on which Tekla Structures compares parts, assemblies, cast units, or reinforcement with each other during the numbering and gives position numbers

Numbering series is defined by a prefix and a start number.

The user can, for example, allocate separate numbering series to different phases or part types.


The plugincomponent that is developed using Tekla Open API

Plugin is a .dll file and loaded inside Tekla Structures process.

Plugins can be started from the applications and components catalog.

will add in, by default, extra studs and bracing.  Three intermediate studs will be placed if no parameter is given.

Although the profile buttons will allow you to pick any section, we recommend “CC” sections as the programme looks for thickness of the section. Although the parts tab contains There is a set range of sections that can be produced by the Howick Machine. Discuss this with your local Howick office.

The frame created can be modified using the plugin after creation.  All the members are placed within the frame in the correct orientation, and the connections are applied with the correct cutback type setting.

The Howick Connection

Panels can also be created manually for window panels, door panels etc.

Using the HowickFrameCreator and exploding the assembly is one way of achieving this, or simply model in the required sections, studs and add the connection to the members.

The Howick Frame machines utilise the standard machine tools which produce the standard connections for use with panels and trusses.

Add  tracks and studs into the model using the create column and create beam tools

Prefix and start numbers can be applied as modelling is progressed.  Give the members the name expected to see in the piecebuilding object that is a basic element of a model and that can be modeled and detailed further

The main concrete parts are: column, beam, polybeam, spiral beam, panel, slab, pad footing, strip footing, and item.

The main steel parts are: column, beam, polybeam, curved beam, twin profile, orthogonal beam, spiral beam, contour plate, bent plate, and item.

The term piece is sometimes used to refer to part.

list on the assembly drawings. The Profile has a select button. (Recommended “CC” sections).

The classpart property that groups parts according to identifiers given by the user

The identifiers of classes are usually numbers. Classes can be used for defining the color of parts in the model, for example. Class does not influence the numbering of model objects.

is for colour representationthe way that the information included in a model is represented visually


In the model pick the two positions you require the member to go between.  Build up your panel.

Using the connection

From the component catalogue or toolbar select the HowickConnection.

There is one connection that applies all the cuts, notches, swages and dimples.

Currently there are three cutback types available in the connection, these are:

Std Cutback
The Standard cutback option cuts the secondary member back to the inside of the primary member’s web this would be used for connecting studs to tracks.

No Cutback
This option does not cut the secondary member. If the secondary member passes through the back of the primary member it will notchcut in one component object or input part for receiving another component object or input part

the primary member. This option would be used for notching and swaging.

User Cutback
If the standard cutback is not appropriate and a gapany space between two objects

The term gap is used in its general sense in Tekla Structures.

is required between the web of the primary and the end of the secondary member, the user can enter the distance to be used. The value is measured from the back of the primary member. The required distance should be entered into the Cutback Distance field on the dialog.

The Dimple Backmark field controls the distance from the back of the Primary member’s web to the dimple on the primary member’s flanges. If the field it left empty the dimples will be located in the middle of the primary’s flanges.

The Add Dimples option was added after user feedback and allows the connection to be applied without dimples. The consequence of selecting “No” for this option is that the Primary and Secondary members are not joined in an assembly.

The truss tool option cuts the corners off the end of the member that sits inside the other member. The truss tool allows sloping connections to work in more situations. Obviously this should only be used if your machine has this tool.

The truss cut is a 45° cut and with a length set by the Truss cut lengthbolt property that indicates the depth at which Tekla Structures searches for the sections of the bolted parts

Cut length determines whether the bolt will go through one flange or two, for example.


The tool sizes tab contains settings to control the sizes of notches, lip cuts etc. The connection has default sizes already coded in, however these may not be appropriate to your profile size or machine settings. It is important to ensure these setting are correct. Please discuss this with your local Howick office if you are unsure of your machine’s properties.


Examples of usage

For all the examples below you must first

  •  Locate the Howick Connection in the component catalog and Double-Click (Or click on the toolbar if present)
  •  Set the correct settings for the tool sizes, Cutback type and Cutback distance.
  •  Select the members as defined in each example.

Example 1 – Nog to End Stud

In this case the main part(1) part that exists in a building object and that determines the position number for the assembly or cast unit and the direction of assembly or cast unit drawings

(1) Main part can be an assembly main part or a cast unit main part.

(2) input part that the user selects first when creating a component

(2) Connections and details always have a component main part.

is the studbolt element that represents a metal rod or pin that is used to transfer loads

Studs and other bolt elements are listed in the bolt catalog.

A stud can be secured with two or more nuts and have threading at both ends, or it can be welded to steel parts, for example.

A stud is part of the bolt assembly.

. Standard Cutback or User Cutback (if non standard gap) option should be used for this connection.  The connection includes the lipcut to the stud and swages to the brace as well as creating the dimples.  To complete this:

  • Click the main part (blue member) followed by the secondary (red member).
  • Click the middle button to apply.

Example 2 – Stud to track


In this case the main part is the bottom track. Standard Cutback or User Cutback (if non standard gap) option should be used for this connection. The connection includes the lipcut to the stud and swage to the brace as well as creating the dimples.  To complete this

  • Click the main part (green member) followed by the secondary (blue member).
  • Click the middle button to apply.

In the case where there is a double stud simply click the main part followed by the two secondary members and click the middle button to apply.

Example 3 – Nog/Horizontal brace

In this case the main part is the stud (blue member) and the brace the secondary.  No cutback is selected in the connection.  This will notch the back of the stud and add in the swage and dimples. To complete this

  • Click the main part (blue member) followed by the secondary (red member)
  • Click the middle button to apply.

Example 4 – Brace

In this case the main part is the stud (blue member) and the brace the secondary. Standard Cutback or User Cutback (if non standard gap) options should be used for this connection. The connection may need to be adjusted to make the swage longer.  This is carried out in the connection Toolsizes tab page.  Add in a dimension and modify the connection.  The export will take this as a multiple swage and lipcut. To complete this

  • Click the main part (blue member) followed by the secondary (red member)
  • Click the middle button to apply.

Example 5 – Panel corner

In this case the main part is the bottom track. Standard Cutback or User Cutback (if non standard gap) options should be used for this connection.  The connection includes the lipcut to the stud and swages to the brace as well as creating the dimples.  To complete this

  • Click the main part (green member) followed by the secondary part(1) part that exists in a building object and that is connected to the main part

    (1) Secondary part can be an assembly secondary part or a cast unit secondary part.

    (2) input part that the user selects after selecting the component main part when creating a component

    (2) A component can have none, one or more component secondary parts.

    (blue member) 
  • Click the middle button to apply

Setting the assembly

As the connections have been applied to the members the system has created them into an assembly.  For the best output in drawings and correct functionality for the export the bottom track needs to be made into the main part of the assembly.

With objects in components selected on the select switches:

  • Select the bottom track of the panel
  • Right click select assembly
  • Set as main part of assembly.

With the select assemblies selected on the select switches.

  • Right click and inquire
  • The bottom track should be red in colour indicating the main part and all other parts yellow in colour.

  • Now double click on the panel to open the assembly properties.
  • Give your frame a prefix if needed and a start numberfirst number of a numbering series

    and name the panel.

The panel’s can be copied around to other locations and modified to suit new sizes etc.

Following the guidelines above will give you the correct output or the drawings and the export files.

Service holes

The service holesmall hollow open throughout a part or assembly that is usually used for fastening parts with bolts or other such objects

Hole is created in the same way as bolts and hole properties are defined in the bolt properties.

plugin places a hole through parts selected between two picked points on a panel. The hole can be any size that you have a frame machine tool for. Note the size will not be written to the export file, only a command for the machine to use whatever service hole tool it has installed. The size in the Tekla Structures should match that of your machine to ensure the model is correct for clash prevention.

To use the service hole plugin:

  • Locate and Double-Click the HowickServiceHole in the component cataloguser interface for displaying or modifying information in categorized lists

    For example, profile catalog and shape catalog are catalogs.

    (or hit toolbar button if present)
  • Set the correct setting for the Hole Size.
  • Select the members the service hole will pass through.
  • Click the middle button to stop selecting members
  • Select a start point followed by an end point define the path the hole.

Other tools


Sometimes Howick machines have extra tools that are not used by the standard Howick plugins. The HowickExtraTool was created to allow for this. If you want a non standard tool to punch a member at a specific location you simply need to create a standard Tekla structures bolt hole at that location. Then you use the HowickExtraTool tool from the Howick toolbar or the macros list and set the tool name to use for the hole. The centre point of this hole is important as that is the location written into the export file for the tool along with the tool name. You will need to know the name the control software uses for the tool so it can be written to the export file. If you do not know the required name you will need to contact your local Howick office for more information.

To use the HowickExtraTool plugin:

  • Locate and run the HowickExtraTool – either on the Howick toolbar or from the macro menu
  • Set the correct Howick Tool Name in the dialog
  • Select the required bolt hole
  • Click modify

Howick Detail

The Howick Detail plugin applies the Howick tools to a single member at the specified location. For example of you wish to add a lipcut to a standalone stud you can use this plugin to insert it.

Howick Floor Cassette

Similar to the frame creator this tool allows creation of rectangular trusses using Howick members and connections.

Exporting the frames to the Howick Machine

Now using the macro’s within Tekla Structures we are going to run a programme to export the panels to the .csv format that goes to the Howick Frame machine.
Note: The numberingprocess of assigning position numbers to parts, cast units, assemblies, or reinforcement

In Tekla Structures, the position numbers assigned in the numbering are shown in marks and templates, for example.

needs to be up to date before the export will create the files

Find and run the HowickExport macro in the macros list (or click the Howick Export toolbar button if created).

The export gives the option to create all the panels or just the selected panels. 

Note: The tool sizes should be adjusted to suit your machine setup.

All files are place in an output folder created automatically.

The .csv files can be uploaded directly to the Howick Frame machine for production.

Examples tested by Howick

Lattice Truss

Roof Truss

Simple Panel


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