CAD Digest, one of the most popular online sources for CAD, CAM & CAE articles and testimonials, reviews ADVANCE Steel, not as a design tool, but as a solution for accelerating the design process. James Finkel, author of the review (with experience in mechanical engineering, programming, custom design engineering, QA and software testing) explains why ADVANCE Steel is a powerful tool for all types of projects.
ADVANCE Steel introduces three versions of the software, depending on the scope and versatility of the project: Standard, which is a “light version”, limited to 10 tons of steel, Professional, which has no limits to the weight of the steel and can be tested for free as a 30-day Trial Version (this being the version used by James Finkel for his review), and Premium, which also includes the multi-user technology. Each of the available packages has been created to meet users’ business needs, depending on key software selection criteria: ease-of-use, interoperability, drawing output and, of course, cost.
For this review to be as accurate as possible, the author requested the assistance of Benoit Lalonde, a GRAITEC technician from our offices in Canada, in creating a model with a large variety of joints: beam-beam, beam-column, column with four beams of unequal sizes, plate work, column-to-concrete footers, and beam-to-wall connections. The creation of the model was the first step in determining the capability and efficiency of the software in handling unusual or complex requests.
Concerning input and output of data, ADVANCE Steel 2012 offers many solutions – use built-in CAD tools or import the model from AutoCAD or Revit and, as a result, generate reports in plain text, Word documents, XML, Excel spreadsheets, and so on, and issue a full suite of the projects’ drawings.
Throughout the modeling process, users are provided with an extensive library of smart objects, libraries of customizable automatic joints (more than 300 joints), customizable drawings, and generation of all detail drawings required by fabrication shops. ADVANCE Steel provides all the necessary tools to create, save and reuse simple or complex custom connections. “This flexible software handles a wide range of steel design situations”, states the author.
Regarding operability and features, James Finkel tested the customization of joints, the stress at joints, generation of reports and defining new and more complex shapes. His conclusion was that ADVANCE Steel 2012 offers a full-featured structural steel design system, with a wide range of output formats, according to customer needs. “Starting from an AutoCAD model, Revit, or working within the CAD supplied within the software, users have a wide array of tools for joint construction with point and click for individual or multiple joints. The software has an equally wide array of output formats and features”, James Finkel declares.