Once upon a time, the structural engineer spent hours days and months pouring over architectural drawings and models to make sure the structure that he was erecting could withstand the needed load and be safe and aesthetically appealing.
All that changed with the advent of fast processing computers.
Today, most structural engineers use 3D integrated structural design software as part of their daily workflow. In fact, these tools which have made physical drawings and blueprints almost redundant are indispensable to the structural engineer.
The latest software helps the structural engineer in his job. They render a real-time model of the structure, profile the geometries of it and at the same time also analyze loads of each component and the structure much more efficiently. All of this decreases the time and effort needed for the structural engineer to make his finite element analysis.
Many of the more sophisticated and complex software’s can build a diversified profile of structural elements to be used in the final build such as analyzing foundations, slabs, columns, and walls. The Structural engineer designs them in a manner that they can even check for geometrical and structural errors and make corrections as well.
Although there are many design and structure software solutions available, we have listed the top structural design and analysis software that we feel have crucial and special features for design and analysis to help the structural engineer.
SAP2000 version 18 – Software for a Structural Engineer
This software is a boon for the structural engineer because of its 3D object based modeling features.
Most people will use it to design water tanks, bridges, etc.
It has a single friendly user interface and provides templates for predefined complicated structures. Moreover, it has everything you need for basic modeling and analysis, such as a library of section sizes and properties, inputs for the wind and seismic loads, functions that generate output reports and graphical results. The structural engineer could not have asked for more here.
RISA 3D – Software for a Structural Engineer
If you are a structural engineer on a budget then Risa 3D is the software for you.
This software strikes the right balance between price and features. Their top of the line product, Risa-3D, is a good all-around design/analysis package that is very popular in Australian design offices, big and small. RISA-3D is another great software for general structures, such as buildings, crane rails, arenas, industrial structures, and bridges.
SDS/2 – Software for a Structural Engineer
If you are a structural engineer who designs in steel, you need to have SDS/2 on your side. The software focuses mainly on design in steel and its detailed analysis. The SDS/2 software is, for instance, able to “create a model that is accurate to manufacturing standards. This software gives correct top-of-steel elevations and works point locations for any structure using steel. It makes designing in steel for the structural engineer a breeze.
One piece of advice with using structural and design software given to me by a mentor and one of the world’s leading structural engineers always double check after all the computer is a machine. My experience tells me he is right.