AISC W10x26 in DECAsteel

Steel design software without accurate structural profile shapes is pretty much useless. It’s not enough for an AISC W10x26 beam profile to match the nominal height and width of 10 and 6 inches respectively.

For accurate design and connection detailing, we needed to take it a step further and develop a tool for importing an entire database of standard steel profiles into SketchUp while taking into account the profile area, weight, flange thickness, web thickness, k, and k1 values.

One of the first tasks we worked on was to create a Structural Shape Importer. I’m not sure yet whether this tool will be ‘internal only’ or if it will become part of the public version of DECAsteel, but it allows us to import accurate structural profiles into DECAsteel from any source / standard whether from CISC, AISC, British, Australia, German, Chinese, it doesn’t matter.

The only requirement is that the key properties of the shape are saved in an Excel spreadsheet. Here’s how it works:

  • Select your database Excel file
  • Choose the shape type you want to import (C, L, I, S, Tube)
  • Map the key shape properties to the columns in the spreadsheet
  • Click the import button

In a few seconds, the DECAsteel shape library will be imported and ready to use to create beams, columns, and bracing and you never need to question the accuracy as long as the original Excel file was created by a reliable source.

Importing C-shapes from the official AISC database
A portion of the database to be imported
After importing, each shape is saved as a SKP file which can be utilized by DECAsteel

With the shapes imported, I can now use them to model my structure and detail the connections using DECAsteel.

The newly imported C-shapes are used to model some beams.

There are a few challenges still remaining for us:

  • Tracking down and obtaining permission from various design authorities throughout the world to utilize their database with our software
  • Determining if there are more key properties that should be imported besides the ones shown above
  • Determining if it is important to maintain a consistent root radius when dealing with k and k1 values. It seems that radii can vary depending on the steel manufacturer so the actual radius value appears to be not a critical design element.
  • For C-shapes, the database gives the average flange thickness how is this actually calculated? Is it based on the standard bolt gage location? Or is it based on mid-way between the inside face of the web and tip of the flange? Or maybe something else?

If you have any insight into the items above or have any other feedback about this topic, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below or start a discussion in our Community Forum.

It starts with a shape

7 thoughts on “It starts with a shape

  • February 23, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    Great, will there be connections?
    Like separate components but linked to the main, same with holes, cuts
    Then you are on a winner

    Not just steel but engineered timber and composite….

    • February 23, 2021 at 9:18 pm

      Oh yes, steel connections are being worked on as we speak. But no current plans for engineered timber and composite

  • February 23, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    Dale, regarding the average flange thickness of channels (and S sections), my Canadian Handbook of Steel Construction includes the following text (in the chapter “Rolled Structural Shapes”:

    “S shapes and Standard Channels (C shapes) have tapered flanges with the inside face sloping at approximately 16 2/3% (2 in12). The tabulated thickness is the mean thickness.”

    So you could verify the flange thickness in SketchUp by holding the inside face of the flange at the specified slope and then adjusting it up or down to increase or decrease the flange thickness. If all the other geometric parameters are as specified, then the correct flange thickness will result in a total cross-sectional area that matches the listed value.

    Or it might be simpler to just talk to an engineer from a rolling mill.

    • February 24, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      That’s an interesting approach, David. Will consider it!

  • February 23, 2021 at 11:02 pm

    Great. awaiting it…..

  • February 24, 2021 at 7:31 am

    hello, personally I think the reference software for steel structures is Tekla Structures. A good software must allow to obtain automatic and distinct connections of the parts for the workshop ……………….
    i wish you good work

  • February 24, 2021 at 11:13 pm

    Everything is very open with a clear description of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
    Thanks for sharing!

Comments are closed.