Are you confident in your familiarity with the finite element software your office uses to design masonry building components? Do you know what the program design defaults are within your software and how to make changes when necessary? With software programs being frequently updated, it is important to stay up-to-date on the changes and features available to any programs you routinely use, and be informed of what is available in other programs on the market.
In May 2016, Sam Rubenzer, PE, SE, with FORSE Consulting, gave a presentation on Masonry Analysis and Design with FEA Software for SE University. While Sam’s entire presentation gave great insight into the utilization of FEA software to gain a greater understanding of the behavior of masonry building elements, he also specifically addressed the capabilities of various commercial software programs typically used by structural engineers to design masonry walls. Each program uses different features to help design engineers accurately model masonry elements, and while these features are continually being updated and changed, Sam’s overview shows what is currently available. Although not intended to be an all-inclusive review of each software program, Sam does point out key features that are useful specifically in masonry wall elements.
Typically, it is important to know how to modify the stiffness of masonry wall elements, and where the programs allow the engineer to make changes for cracked or uncracked walls. Horizontal or torsional bending may need to be considered in some masonry walls. Also, the ability to modify element connection releases is important, as well as the program’s ability to perform wall optimization or consider partial grouting. In the following 6 minute video, Sam demonstrates many of these topics and their applications in each of the following programs: