Friday, July 21, 2006

Structural Steel CAD software comparison

At my work for Pharmadule Emtunga
(PHEM) I was asked to find a structural steel CAD software for one of the divisions. Now that I've resigned I guess I'm not going to do it unless they use me as a consultant.

Anyway it was interesting to read from Randall S. Newton, AECnews.com about
Tekla Structures 12 Gains New Open API.
An open API is a reason why applications like AutoCAD are so big. I've heard a
lot of good things about Tekla Structures so
I would really recommend them looking deeper on that CAD application. Before
Tekla Xsteel was evolved into Tekla Structures I evaluated the product but that
was at least five years ago. It was really a capable product at that time.

I've evaluated, implemented, supported, customized
ProSteel 3D
some years ago. It runs on AutoCAD as well as Inventor and is quite a good
application. Easy to use. It has a good API that I used to interact with an
Access database. I did the coding in VBA because the way the steel components
where numbered or tagged didn't follow our internal standard so I created a
solution for that as well as made custom BOM reports as well as some other
things to make the life easier for the users. It might be that PHEM will
continue using ProSteel 3D. When we used ProSteel 3D there where some problems
with the drawing production but they should be solved in the latest version so
it just has to be internally confirmed.

Then for some projects we used only PDMS
for structural design and drawing production. PDMS is highly customizable and
can handle really large projects and the drawing production was automated to a
high level with quite little manual work needed afterwards.

Then there are

Autodesk Revit Structural
that I would recommend that PHEM kept an eye on.
It seems to be something within some years but from what I've understand it
(correct me if I'm wrong) does not have the drawing production side of it that
automated as the other software's. The automation should include automatic
dimensioning based on set rules to minimize manual work. That would be a big
wish for future versions.

Things to consider are how easy it is to use the product, the level of
automation, API support, usage among other companies near by, knowledge among
the resellers on the product, how to get support, price, existing knowledge
in-house, interaction with other discipline's CAD applications, etc. I'm not going to do all the work for PHEM now...

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