The ideal solution for planning cross-laminated timber projects

Article by Martina Nöstler (translated by Eva Guzely) | 27.07.2021 - 11:39

In recent years, software developer hsbcad from Kaufbeuren/DE has become a pioneer in solutions for timber constructions, especially in the cross-laminated timber industry. Many well-known producers and planners rely on hsbcad’s 3D CAD/CAM software. The Allgäu-based company does not rest on its laurels, though. Its experts are constantly working to improve the software together with their customers.

“Hsbdesign” is hsbcad’s 3D CAD/CAM software for the timber construction and prefabricated house industries based on AutoCAD Architecture and Autodesk Revit. After having recognized the increasing global demand for Revit-based timber construction solutions, hsbcad started developing a timber construction solution for this software as well. The company wants to continue to further develop solutions based on AutoCAD Architecture and Autodesk Revit. Furthermore, the software company also offers solutions for digital production control (hsbmake) and a cloud-based application for sharing project information (hsbshare). Gottfried Jäger, managing director of hsbcad, emphasizes, “The standard version of our software offers many functions.” He gives the SAT and IFC import/export (via AutoCAD Architecture), rectangular nesting and the hsbPainter as examples – details on this later.

From student dormitories in Melbourne …

One of the many companies who use hsbcad’s solution is Italian cross-laminated timber producer Xlam Dolomiti of Castelnuovo. “We have been using the hsbcad software since our company was founded in 2012,” Xlam Dolomiti Managing Director and President Albino Angeli explains and adds, “The main advantage is the fact that it is an AutoCAD-based solution which offers the possibility to communicate with all established software programs, such as Revit. The easy training in hsbcad is a big plus for all new technicians who start working for us.”

A very recent project in which Xlam Dolomiti was involved as CLT producer and supplier was the newly built student dormitory of La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. Two curved buildings with 624 beds in one, four, five and six bed apartments as well as common rooms offer students sufficient space. Construction started in 2019 and the project was completed last year. Xlam Dolomiti supplied 34,000 m² of cross-laminated timber and 200 m³ of glue-laminated timber for the new student dormitory. Xlam Dolomiti relied on hsbcad for the production planning of the new buildings. The Italian cross-laminated timber expert uses the software to create the digital 3D model and to generate all production data.

… to kindergartens in Germany

Another customer who has been relying on hsbcad’s expertise for a long time is Austrian planning office ZMP of Raaba-Grambach. When it comes to cross-laminated timber, the company works exclusively with elements produced by Stora Enso or does planning work for the group. “Stora Enso works with the hsbcad software, which was one of the reasons why we also opted for this program,” Stefan Ortner, chief engineer at ZMP, explains. One of the most recent projects which was realized by ZMP is the Otterberg kindergarten which was built entirely in wood. Around 2,820 m² or 355 m³ of visible quality cross-laminated timber were used for the walls, ceilings and roof. The kindergarten was planned by a German company and built by a Carinthian firm. ZMP did the entire 3D modeling and planning with hsbcad. Furthermore, data from hsbcad were used for the structural analysis.

“What makes this building special are its round windows and roof area. With hsbcad’s 3D CAD/CAM solution, the calculation worked flawlessly,” Ortner says. ZMP recently started using version 22. “This version offers numerous further improved functions, such as the implementation of several new connectors,” he explains.

Tracking of construction elements

Hsbcad also boasts a long-standing, good cooperation with the Hasslacher Group, which is headquartered in Sachsenburg. For several years, the company has been using hsbcad for its CLT planning work and transfer of data to production. For a few months now, Hasslacher has been inserting RFID chips in the CLT elements produced in Stall. “Hsbcad had the necessary digital and technical prerequisites for this,” Georg Jeitler, who is responsible for R&D, standardization, certification and product development at Hasslacher, says. The RFID chips are placed on the respective layer before the surface is glued. In order to avoid collisions between the chip and the tool during the CNC joining of the finished CLT elements, hsbcad installed a tool which prevents this. “We are currently using the RFID chip to track construction elements inside our production site,” Andreas Weichsler, factory manager in Stall in Mölltal, explains.

Mass Timber Solutions of Bad Kohlgrub/DE is also a customer of hsbcad. “We work with various cross-laminated timber producers. With hsbcad, it’s very easy to transfer data,” Andreas Wojciak, Managing Director of Mass Timber Solutions, says. With hsbcad, openings and steel components can be easily included in the plans. The software has a particularly good performance when it comes to various dynamic tools, such as butt boards, rabbets or lifting devices. Other advantages according to Wojciak: “Drawings of individual components and elements, which are updated daily, can be fully dimensioned at the push of a button, which means that plans can be updated fully automatically whenever changes are made to the 3D model.” Furthermore, hsbcad offers an ideal interface for IFC and SAT files. The hsbshare web viewer allows for an easy communication between companies and customers. “Hsbcad offers quick and easy support whenever questions or problems arise,” Wojciak adds.

New production sites in the starting blocks

The new cross-laminated timber plant of ante subsidiary HBS Berga is currently in the starting blocks. ante-holz has been producing CLT in Bromskirchen-Somplar/DE for two years. Hsbcad is already in use at the latter site, and the new plant will be equipped with it, too. “We use hsbcad because this software, and the company, is the market leader when it comes to CLT. Furthermore, the program offers big advantages on the market and in terms of machine control,” HBS Berga sales manager Richard Steindl explains. “Many big timber construction companies also work with hsbcad. This simplifies communication.”

Holzwerk van Roje’s new CLT production site will go into operation in April 2022. Hsbcad thus attracted another new customer. “Ultimately, we opted for hsbcad because their CLT solution is optimized for the production of cross-laminated timber and the planning of projects involving the material. It also offers more possibilities to prepare production with the CAD system. Consulting and the way we were treated as customers also convinced us, which is why we expect the service to be just as good in the future,” van Roje Managing Director Gerhard Hauschulte tells us.

Continuous further development

Despite the numerous references and the many practical tools, hsbcad’s developers do not rest on their laurels. One of the most recent developments is the hsbPainter, which makes it possible to display objects with certain properties with just a few clicks. “For example, you can highlight all panels with visible surfaces in color, which makes work much easier, especially when it comes to bigger projects,” hsbcad’s managing director explains. The “Validationmanager” is similar in this respect. Hsbshare also includes a function for planning the loading process as well as a further development for the conversion of solids into CLT panels. Additionally, hsbcad further improved the tools free text, milling groove, pocket, transport reinforcement for openings and order of assembly. A novelty, which should please everyone who is dependent on the efficient exchange of data, is the taking into consideration of the grain direction arrow in IFC. The nesting application now makes it possible to process several projects within one optimization run, while taking into account the respective order of production steps.

“We are constantly trying to further develop our programs by increasing user-friendliness and efficiency in order to be able to offer our customers the best possible support,” Jäger says, in conclusion.

Further development of the software solution for CLT


Hsbcad has been a partner in the European project “Build-in-Wood” since autumn 2019. As part of this project, hsbcad is pushing on with this development on the basis of Autodesk Revit © hsbcad

Hsbcad has been one of 21 partners involved in the European project “Build-in-Wood” since autumn 2019. It is a project which aims at creating standardized solutions for multi-story timber construction, thereby promoting climate-friendly construction. “Build-in-Wood” is funded by the EU research and innovation program Horizon 2020 with €8.6 million and runs from September 2019 to August 2023.

“Cross-laminated timber plays a crucial role in Build-in-Wood. This was and is an important criterion for our participation in the project – among other things because of our market position,” Gottfried Jäger explains. Build-in-Wood is also about other types of timber constructions, such as timber frame construction, which results in a separate requirement which the further development of hsbcad’s prefabricated house solution for Autodesk Revit needs to meet. “We have been developing solutions for Autodesk Revit for several years now, without neglecting AutoCAD Architecture as a basis,” Jäger underlines.

One aspect the project focuses on is the continuous flow of data from the architecture model to the machine – something for which hsbcad has been offering a leading solution based on AutoCAD Architecture for a long time. “As part of the project, we are now pushing on with our development on the basis of Autodesk Revit,” Jäger tells us. One approach of the project is to use the so-called Build-in-Wood BIM database to manage materials throughout the entire process and ultimately evaluate a digital 3D model with regard to the carbon footprint.