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FW: Cold-Formed Steel Design Software

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I've stayed out of the thread on this thread simply because I don't know of
one, and hoped someone else did.

This office does a great deal of cold formed work. We have yet to even find
a program which will compute section properties with reasonable accuracy,
let alone applies the AISI or other specs properly to structures made up of
these sections.

ACAD and their ilk can compute properties of a well defined area, if that's
what you need. However, they won't work for cold formed sections unless you
can accurately define the final shape. That is really the problem to begin
with. (You start with a flat strip and end up with a shape with known
dimensions. What you don't know is what happened in between, particularly
in the corners.) If you can cut the final shape, and digitize it, these
work well. Otherwise you have to estimate corner properties (mainly radii
and thickness througout the curve). We have developed our own software for
section property calculations which works quite well. However, we often
have to adjust it manually to obtain 2-3% closure to the original strip
dimensions which generated the final shape. From experience, it isn't easy
just getting just to this point.

For us, getting the rest of the way is tougher still. The AISI design
handbook has flow charts in it for design use. To the best of my knowlege,
no one has implemented them in any software. Several years ago I contacted
AISI, and they did not have any programs. Perhaps this has changed. If so,
they haven't publicized it, and I do get their mailings on many other

I suspect however there isn't one program which contains the complete
"engineer in a box" algorithm for cold formed steel. Come to think of it
there isn't such a thing  for any other material either.

Peter Higgins, SE