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Structural steel detailing guide (Updated 2018)







What is “Structural Steel Detailing”?

We see construction sites around us when we travel. Houses, apartments, factories, bridges, skyscrapers… How they are done? Who are involved in these processes? What stages are required to complete a project? What is the relation of structural steel and structural steel detailing within the whole picture? We will give answers to all your questions.

What is permit? Who gives it?

Local council areas across Australia have differing rules when it comes to building and planning permits. You might need to submit several documents such as architectural drawings, written reports, application forms etc and lodge them with the local council of you are undertaking a town planning application. In the case of a building permit assessment you might need to see a building surveyor. Some applications may need more information and council might require additional documents which you will have to provide from your architect.

Stages of a construction project

Buildings are constructed using plans and drawings.The whole process starts with an architect. Clients refer to architects to draw the desired building for them. Architects need to involve different parties to make sure that all external and internal factors that effect the building are taken into consideration. Therefore they involve structural engineers in the process. Structural engineers design the structure of the building. Once the structural and architectural plans are complete if there are steel structures included in drawings they need to involve fabricators. Structural steel fabricators need steel detailers to understand both architectural and structural drawings to model beams, columns, t-bars, lintels etc.

Who is a Steel Detailer?

Wikipedia says “A steel detailer is a person who produces detailed drawings for steel fabricators and steel erectors. The detailer prepares detailed plans, drawings and other documents for the manufacture and erection of steel members (columns, beams, braces, trusses, stairs, handrails, joists, metal decking, etc.) used in the construction of buildings, bridges, industrial plans, and nonbuilding structures. A steel detailer’s projects are usually commercial, residential, public, industrial or municipal; low-rise residential projects..

Steel detailers (usually simply called detailers within their field) work closely with architects, engineers, general contractors and steel fabricators. They usually find employment with steel fabricators, engineering firms, or independent steel detailing companies. Steel detailing companies and self-employed detailers subcontract primarily to steel fabricators and sometimes to general contractors and engineers.”

Any Requirements for Steel Detailers? Certifications etc...

In Australia, AISD (Australian Institute of Steel Detailers) is the body that leads steel detailing industry and sets standards. Steel detailers may choose to become a member of AISD with a fee. Then clients can seek and find detailers through the website. They also provide certification for the members.

When we come to the question of required training and certification they say: “Tertiary Qualifications specific to structural steel detailing do not currently exist in Australia and are in fact rare anywhere in the world. More general degree and certification programs may be found with curricula pertaining to design, manual or computer-aided drafting in general, or specific computer-aided drafting software. A qualification is not required to become a steel detailer in Australia. Training is usually provided on the job, with a new trainee usually needing about four years of practice under an experienced detailer to become proficient with all of the requirements of the trade. Practitioners of this occupation may range from degreed, and possibly licensed, civil/structural engineers to those with little or no formal academic training who nevertheless possess extensive industry experience.”

Basically, anyone can perform steel detailing work with the required experience.

Steel Detailing Guidelines

AISD in Australia also published a handbook called Australian Steel Detailers’ Handbook which has been revised a few times through it’s life. This handbook seems to be the guide that everyone follows in the industry. Technical drawing standards as well as steel connections. Th book is available for online purchase using AISD website.

Which software to choose?

There are a few BIM (Building Information Modeling) in the market. Some very common software are Tekla, Prosteel, Advance Steel. In terms of pricing there are perpetual licences and monthly-yearly licences. It all depends on the user. A person coming from an Autocad background may choose Advance Steel whereas a steel detailer from a 3D software background like Solidworks will feel more comfortable with Tekla. Tekla tends to be an expensive outlay in the beginning but it is a perpetual licence which is forever. Autocad has changed it’s policy and decided not to provide perpetual licences any more. So if you are planning to desing on Advance Steel you should go with a monthly-quarterly-yearly subscription.

Interoperability between softwares

Big projects involve many engineers and architects coming together. BIM software allows 3D models to be exported and imported between different packages. An engineer who is suing Revit can import a 3D model from Tekla and see if any of his components interfere with the imported model. This flexibility gives opportunity for different software to be used.

Workshop drawings

Once the 3D model is complete steel detailer prepares workshop drawings. Structural Steel Fabricators follow the instructions in 2D drawing. Since some projects are very complex numbering items become crucial. Some parts may repeat themselves within the design. They should be numbered with same numbers. Generally the main drawings are called GA (General Arrangement) drawings. These show the general layouts of gridlines, beam layouts, column layouts etc. Then there are the assembly drawings which show assemblies that are put together to eract the structure. Also these assembly drawings are made up of individual single part drawings which are the last step in the process. Steel detailers provide drawings for every detail for the fabrication.


Steel detailers also provide reports about the material requirements to the structural steel fabricators. These may be assembly and part drawing reports. Material reports, bolts reports, purlin-bridging reports… These come very handly when fabricators or builders are planning the project as well as in quoting stage. They provide very valuable information to asses the end result even from very beginning. BIM software automatically extracts this information from the model and updates as revisions are done to the model.

CAD files

One of the requirements today for structural steel fabricators is the CAD files. Steel detailers can generate CAD files for beam coping purposes or plate cutting. CAD files are extracted from the main model and could be updated as changes occur in the model. These files are then used in the special machinery that machines or cuts parts. This approach guarantees the parts to come to the fabricator for assembly to be exactly as designed.

Summing up

In essence, steel detailers play a very critical role in building sector. At Invetive we have many services related to steel detailing. We do 3D modelling using Tekla Structures, we generate workshop drawings, we extract reports and CAD files. Our software can talk to any other software which makes everyone’s life easy. We also provide onsite measurement services within Melbourne city. We help you to transform your ideas into reality to build your future by bringing design-build-maintain-market processes together. Thus having a benefit and impact on the whole world.

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