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It's an interesting distinction you draw here (see quote below).  If it is
an individual company, they pay to provide me with the information needed to
design with their product.  If it is an association formed by a number of
individual companies, then I pay to provide myself with the information
needed to design with their product.  I understand your point, but there is
a lot of subtlty there.  By your logic I guess that I hope that Trus-Joist
never forms a trade organization with all the other joist manufacturers, I
like their useful and free manual and would not like to have to pay for it.
I was thinking recently that the people who run Hilti are marketing
geniuses.  Many engineers I know specify their products because their
manuals are free, very easy to use, and have lots of useful information in
them.  Similar products whose manuals are not as clear or easy to use get
specified much less (from my narrow circle of aquaintences, anyway).  I once
had to repeatedly call one of their competitors (the contractor's choice) in
order to find out some failure mode information that was clearly stated in
the Hilti catalogue.  I'm not trying to fault AISC here by any means, I
think their information generally succeeds in at least 2 of the 3 criteria I
listed for Hilti above (and their local rep is very helpful) which is more
than I can say for some manuals I have used.  I guess the bottom line is the
easier to use and more accessible product information is, the more likely
the product is to be used.  As codes and other design information becomes
more expensive it will be interesting to see how it all plays itself out.  

Paul Crocker, P.E.  

"There is a difference between a trade organization AISC, ASCE, ASTM, APA,
AITC, ACI, SDI, SJI ad nausium (sp?), and manufacturers, Trusjoist McMillan,
Vulcraft, Verco, Simpson that latin word above.  The manufacturer's will
give their literature away so that we will specifiy thier product and they
make thier money that way."  

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