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RE: PCA Mats Software

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What is the going rate for Safe at this time?  An all in one software that does Mat, PT Slabs, and Suspended Slabs, would be great to have in your bag of tools.


Marlou Rodriguez, S.E.

MBRodriguez Engineering Inc.

2355 Oakland Road, Suite 14

San Jose, CA 95131

Tel: (408) 432-4866

Cel: (408) 761-5013

From: Gerard Madden, SE [mailto:gmse4603(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 11:17 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: PCA Mats Software


Both are good programs like you said.

SAFE is more powerful for the reasons Jim mentioned.

One disappointment with SAFE, was when I was purchasing it about 4 years ago, I was told that the next version would have PT Floor design capabilities. Well, 4 years later, that's still not a feature.

But it's a good program none-the-less

On 7/19/07, Jim Lutz <Jim.Lutz(--nospam--at) > wrote:

I used to have access to PCA Mats at another company and found it EXTREMELY simple and user friendly. It was a pretty old version, and I have no idea how or if the current version might differ. It' s very functional for simple jobs.  The number of load cases and combinations were limited, and I don 't know how up to date their design algorithms are. I thought the software was useful but a bit on the primitive side —which is not always a bad thing. Output was not very jazzy on the older version.

I have also used CSI' s SAFE, which is also a good piece of mat modeling/design software, but more complicated and with a lot more features and more versatility in the design process. The nice thing about both of these programs is that they automatically create compression -only soil springs for you , but the number and spacing of the springs is all "under the hood" so it isn' t entirely clear how fine the actual analysis mesh is . They both generate required steel areas. My recollection of both of these programs was that they only told you about punching shear at concentrated load locations, and you were on your own to figure out what was going on with one-way shear in the mat. The only way I have ever figured out how to get that information was to set up a regular finite element model with my own soil springs using general modeling software , which is a pain in the butt. The other nice thing about SAFE is that you can use it for elevated slabs as well. I never used it for that, and I don' t recollect whether or not it was useful for anything but gravity loading. I do my elevated slab jobs by hand, because there is almost always some lateral load moment you have to consider at the columns .

In terms of what they do for the money, I think SAFE offers more , but I got along just fine for years with PCA Mats. CSI makes great software, but I found it took longer to learn how to run. A chimpanzee could run PCA Mats.

Jim Lutz, P.E., S.E .

720 3rd Avenue, Suite 1200

Seattle, WA 98104-1820

206 505 3400 Ext 126

206 505 3406 (Fax)