How Computer Aided Design Can Help in Steel Detailing Process

20 January 2020

As a process that demands machine-like accuracy, it’s not exactly surprising that many structural detailing services lean on CAD software. Engineering drawing tools and architects pencils still have their place here as widely utilized drafting instruments, but Computer-Aided Design workstations are tempting those old-school engineers away from their boards. Ultimately, CAD software packages and computer workstations really are vastly superior to those hand-scribed drawing implements.

The Point-to-Point Process Adaptability Aspect

There’s no question about it, professional structural detailers create first-rate drawings. They’re accurate, clearly annotated, and densely packed with steel framing information. Down on the floor of a fabrication shop, equipment operators consult the drawings. On a construction site, erection services rely on the drawings as engineer sanctioned assembly plans. Even so, by switching over to a CAD system, yes, the workstations are expensive investments, but the work now gains access to new levels of dimensional accuracy. Measurement errors, already rare among the detailing drafters, fade away. CAD equipped computers simply don’t experience human errors.

Steel Detailing: CAD Software Packs an Inbuilt Punch

Let’s face it, digital measurements are more precisely plotted than those marked down by a human hand. Furthermore, CAD programs come preloaded with supplementary extras. Chief among them, there’s the option to convert the 2D drawings into a 3D format. From here, a virtual camera can fly through the various rooms. Various framework configurations can now be inspected. Better yet, if a dimensional change in a wall or room is introduced at the last minute, then that change flows through the entire plan. That’s a much harder feat to pull off on a drafting board. Frankly, such changes would require more than a few pencil strokes and rubs of an eraser. Built-in framework libraries and steel detailing templates streamline the service, too. Even the handling of logistics assignments, the program is right there to collate the parts and services used in a project. Using those calculations, conflict-free schedules and multi-page materials inventories are all automatically generated at the press of a button.

There are risks to consider when switching over from a tried-and-trusted project development system. Carried out by hand, every measurement stays under the control of a professional steel detailer. That’s a preferred course of action, especially when a contractor or steel fabrication service is working with hundreds of tons of heavy metal. Again, CAD programs are more accurate, but that software should always be sourced from a recognized vendor. Moreover, the steel detailing measurements given to the software must be viable and engineer approved. No worries, advanced CAD programs even include in-built project simulation tools, which implement load-bearing tests.