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Archives for May 2008

Designing Earthquake Safe Buildings and Structures

Designing Earthquake Safe Buildings and Structures

Buildings and structures are susceptible to the ravaging devastation of earthquakes. Great amounts of research have been performed to determine what types of buildings and structures are able to withstand an earthquake and how structural engineers can design earthquake-safe buildings and structures for the future.

Flexibility is Key

One of the most important physical traits of earthquake safe buildings and structures is flexibility. A rigid structure will crumble and collapse during the movement caused by an earthquake. Taller structures are inherently more flexible than two or three story buildings and structures. Shorter buildings and structures require greater amounts of reinforcement to withstand the forces of an earthquake.

Materials Matter

The construction materials used in buildings and structures can significantly help reduce the amount of damage caused during an earthquake. Wood and steel have greater flexibility than stucco, unreinforced concrete, or masonry.

Earthquake Reinforcement

Buildings and structures can be created with additional strategically placed beams that help transfer the energy of the sway of the building during a quake to the base of the structure and the surrounding earth.  Reinforced beams and trusses can also help prevent warping and collapse of buildings and structures during and after an earthquake.

Earthquake-Proof Foundations

Specially designed foundations for buildings and structures can also help limit damage. Foundational plates can be layered to allow for a sliding movement during a quake, providing a stable base for the structure throughout the movement. Another type of foundational alteration is the addition of flexible cushions in the foundation. These flexible cushions absorb movement and energy during an earthquake allowing the structure to remain intact.

Soil Types Can Limit Damage

Softer soils and surrounding earth that contains a high amount of moisture are more prone to induce greater amounts of structural damage during an earthquake. This is partly due to the properties of resonance as energy passes through the soil during the shocks of the quake. Providing additional solid breaks in the soil surrounding the foundation and building on solid earth, such as bedrock, greatly reduces the likelihood of large amounts of damage to structures and buildings.

Saving Lives with Planned Failure

Some structures and buildings are designed to fail in a certain way in the event of an earthquake. These planned failings allow for protection of interior spaces where people are likely to be located. The structures are also designed to limit the amount of rubble and debris that is deposited around the foundation of the structure to keep from damaging nearby buildings.

As advances in structural engineering are made and new construction materials emerge, earthquake-safe buildings and structures may soon be a reality.

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Structural Engineering Software Features & Benefits

Structural Engineering Software Features and Benefits

There are many features and benefits of structural engineering software. It has revolutionized the building industry, making structures more stable and the engineer’s job easier. Structural engineering software is indispensible in today’s fast-paced world of construction.

The Must-Haves of Designing Software

The features of structural engineering software include rafter design, beam design, column design and placement, and footing calculations, to name a few. Structural engineering software eliminates tedious mathematical calculations. It also ensures that your calculations are accurate, creating a safe and stable structural design.

Structural engineering software provides on-the fly calculations for last minute changes in construction design. These quick calculations make structural engineering software a must-have attendee at brainstorming meetings and progress report conferences.

Structural engineering software helps the engineer identify any potential problems in the design of a structure before construction begins. The software never skips a step or forgets a calculation.

What Our Software Can Do For You and Your Clients

Structural engineering software performs calculations quickly and accurately, freeing up engineers, builders, and designers for other tasks. This also allows the engineer to concentrate on the analysis of the model, instead of the calculations required for construction and design. Structural engineering software also includes a massive database of local and regional building codes to ensure that each structure is up to code and built properly the first time. With built-in building code references, an engineer can even refigure building codes for another location if the project suddenly is moved across state lines. The included steel design values database makes industrial applications a breeze. This eliminates delays, revisions and fines from improperly coded construction.

Structural engineers armed with structural engineering software can leave behind those bulky manuals and books of tables. Structural engineering software offers immediate access to valuable information, on-site and off. Gone are pencil scratched calculations made on dusty scraps of paper at construction sites. Structural engineering software can easily become the structural engineer’s right hand.

Structural engineering software has helped bring the structural engineering and construction industries into the twenty-first century. Not only has structural engineering software made the engineer’s life easier, it has made created and revised structures safer. The investment in structural engineering software is returned often in the first use, with the resulting reduction in time and labor. Structural engineering software is an indispensible tool for today’s structural engineer.

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Types of Beam Design

Types of Beam Designs

There are many different types of beam designs and materials to choose from when designing a structure. Engineers can choose from various shapes, sizes, construction materials, and construction techniques. Deciding on the proper beam design for a particular structure can be a complicated process. Structural engineers and builders have many different beam designs and materials to choose from when attempting to create a sound structural design.

Cantilever Beams

Cantilever beam designs create a suspended effect. These beams allow the creation of a bay window, balconies, and some bridges. In cantilever beam designs, the weight load is distributed back into the main beams of the structure, allowing a portion of the structure to extend beyond the supported perimeters of the structure’s foundation.

Steel I Beam

Steel I beams are very popular choice in construction. The I beam is shaped like a capital I also know as a W shape. The I beam design is the most efficient use of structural steel since it moves the bulk of the steel into the portions of the beam actually resisting the loads. The I beam design is the most common foundational beam design found in commercial structures but can be used in Residential design.

Flitch Beam

Flitch beam designs are composite beams made from layering steel and wood to create a lightweight beam with adequate strength. The addition of wood elements allows the beams to be nailed to existing wooden structures.  Flitch beams are less expensive than solid steel beam designs. They are used to support heavy vertical loads while maintaining a strict construction budget.  Flitch beams are also very useful when adding additional load carrying capacity to an existing beam.

Hip Beam Designs

Hip beam designs are popular in roofing designs. A hip beam provides support for other load bearing beams branching off at symmetrical angles. This design is often used in residential construction.

Beam Materials

The various types of beams may be constructed of various materials as well as a mixture of shapes and sizes. Some beams are made of pre-stressed concrete, poured concrete, iron, wood, glulams, and other composite materials.
Beam designs vary so greatly that making the correct choice when designing a structure can be challenging. Structural engineering software can help take the guesswork out of the design process. Structural engineering software can also help an engineer decide if the desired beam designs are appropriate for the structure.

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