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Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

(OP)
Hi everyone,

I've seen a few older threads on this topic but I'm looking for some up-to date info on affordable structural analysis software. I work at a small structural firm that does mostly residential and small commercial jobs. I will need it for basic analysis and design of trusses, frames, buildings, etc. I currently have Woodworks Sizer and it is good but I am not able to do anything with a truss or frame. I have done a bit of research and it appears as though RISA is quite popular. I am also wondering if all software now use the annual subscription payment methods? This appears to be a controversial topic based on older threads. Any info or recommendations you have would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

RISA, Visual Analysis by IES, or S-Frame would be my recommendations. Both still have non-subscription alternatives if desired. If you can get by on 2D, RISA might be especially cost effective.

I like to debate structural engineering theory -- a lot. If I challenge you on something, know that I'm doing so because I respect your opinion enough to either change it or adopt it.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

I agree with KootK, with a previous employer we use RISA and I think its a great program. RISA is powerful and easy to learn and use. Now we use SFrame and Lusas with Lusas being pretty expensive. SFrame is simple and would likely be cost effective although I find it hard to navigate in when comparing to RISA or Lusas.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

I'm a one-man shop and I use RISA. It's simple to use/learn, intuitive, and cost-effective. SAP is great and powerful, but has more bells and whistles than most engineers need for residential/small commercial jobs.

RISA did recently get bought out by Nemechek or something like that, so who knows if things will change or not...but so far they haven't...my guess is though that there will be major changes at some point in the future. But I hope I'm wrong!

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

Another one for RISA. Get a standalone version in the event Guastavino's predictions come true, but otherwise they're still probably the most bang-for-buck structural software out there.

Professional Engineer (ME, NH, MA) Structural Engineer (IL)
American Concrete Industries
https://www.facebook.com/AmericanConcrete/

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

Relevant thread over on the RISA forum: Link

Like many other software companies, they've transitioned to a subscription-only model and do not sell perpetual licenses anymore.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

Mastan 2 - http://www.mastan2.com/
is a good free option for general 3d frame analysis, no design

Skyciv - https://skyciv.com/
I haven't personally used it but have reviewed output as part of submittals and find the output easy to read and follow.

Will Echo everyone else on RISA being a good bang for buck.

RAM Elements is also a low cost of entry but I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone get into Bentley's extortion racket with how they "manage" licenses.

Open Source Structural Applications: https://github.com/buddyd16/Structural-Engineering

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

We use RISA as well.
I will add that RISA has by far the best tech support of any software company out there.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

If you have some down-time and/or are so inclined it's quite astounding what can be set up with Excel. Plus, if you write it keeps you closer in touch with the calculations than a black-box software package does. It's not a solution for everyone, or for all circumstances, but it's not to be taken lightly either.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

RISA 3D is a good product for the cost. And it allows a lot of flexibility in modeling.

RAM is not bad, less flexibility in modeling but very good post-processing of structural info that may be needed.

I have fooled around with Robot by AutoCAD, it's good and fairly inexpensive but you'll find somewhat less community support if you run into an issue

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

I like RISA for the wood shearwall panels module. This might be right up your alley with your focus on residential work. You can create wall panels and switch between segmented, perforated, force transfer shear walls. This is much simpler for me when designing multistory shear walls. I used to design these using an excel spreadsheet and hand calcs. It really sucked.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

I'm a STAAD addict......but for what you are talking about, RISA would probably fit the bill.....along with any spreadsheets.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

Another vote for RISA from me.

I only have two minor complaints with RISA. I wish the reinforced concrete interaction diagrams were larger and showed more detailed values on each axis. They can't be enlarged as far as I know. The other issue I have is that if you are using their foundation program you have to rebuild all of your load combinations in the foundation program even if you have them in the main RISA3D program. These aren't dealbreakers though, just annoyances.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

My primary beef with RISA is that it's a spreadsheet in/out based program by design but, in many instances, will tell me that "sorting is not yet available on this field". As a person with a modest amount of programming experience, I find that hard to accept.

I like to debate structural engineering theory -- a lot. If I challenge you on something, know that I'm doing so because I respect your opinion enough to either change it or adopt it.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

Quote:

(Kootk)

My primary beef with RISA is that it's a spreadsheet in/out based program by design but, in many instances, will tell me that "sorting is not yet available on this field". As a person with a modest amount of programming experience, I find that hard to accept.

Yeah, I remember that. I figured they would have solved that by now....but maybe not.

I also thought RISA was garbage when it came to dynamic loading problems. But it doesn't sound like the OP needs it for that.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

(OP)
Thanks for the input everyone! It looks like RISA is the favourite of most people. Has any participated in the RISA Training Courses they offer? The overviews for them look good.

I also have begun developing a master spreadsheet, I feel like it will take my whole career to finish!

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

It depends on your level of experience with the program, but the RISA training courses are (in my opinion) really valuable. Everyone who takes it should walk away being able to be more efficient with the program.

I'm somewhat biased, of course, because I helped to establish most of the content. The biggest challenge is that in each class you have a mix of experience levels using the program. The folks who are totally new to the program always say that the classes move much too fast. The folks who have been using RISA for a long time usually say the classes move too slowly. So, it's always a careful balancing act for the instructors to find some middle ground.

One word of caution though, I don't know that they have anyone to teach day three (structural dynamics). The only people who have ever taught the class are now gone (Roger, Mike, and myself). And, I don't know that there is anyone there who can pick up the baton. It takes a lot of knowledge of the program. Not just showing people what to do, but understanding why the program works the way it does. It also takes a lot of theoretical understanding of dynamics. Andrew (the new Josh) will get there eventually. But, he's never even got a chance to attend the course. Ideally, I'd want someone to take the course at least twice before trying to teach it.

RE: Affordable Structural Analysis and Design Software

I'll add that adding RISA FLOOR to RISA 3D has been a serious boon for me. It almost doubles the cost but allows me to efficiently automate almost everything to do with load take down, load casing, and live load reduction. Basically all the boring as sin accounting work. It sounds like a lame use of FEM but, over the course of just a few moderately complex buildings each year, I can justify the cost of RISA floor on just that basis. I also design at least one hollow core transfer slab each month. In under an hour in most cases, using one way load distribution elements, I can get very precise loads on all of my beam and column elements. These things are terrible for load takedown as their usually full of supported shaft walls, shear walls with reversible loads, and very heavy corridor and post loads. It's easy for quick and dirty to turn into way too conservative in a hurry. I use this as a check on hand/spreadsheet calcs and as a way to refine my loads when needed.

I like to debate structural engineering theory -- a lot. If I challenge you on something, know that I'm doing so because I respect your opinion enough to either change it or adopt it.

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