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Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 7, 2014 at 12:45 PM.
Measuring wide-flange sections in the field? There’s a Steel App for that. AISC has announced I-Search as the winner of its mobile app contest. Last summer AISC launched the contest, with a prize of $5,000, which tasked entrants with creating an app that could potentially improve the workflow of designers or builders of steel structures. The winning app, I-Search, is a free Android app (available on Google Play) that allows users to determine which wide-flange sections meet their search criteria.
Created by winning submitter Structurx, I-Search references members listed in the 14th Edition AISC Manual and 2010 AISC Specification. If you’re measuring wide-flange sections in the field, it lets you perform quick beam checks. If you have a damaged column, you can use it to determine the column section for analysis checks. It can even help you if you’re sitting in a design meeting and need to run quick calculations to estimate member sizes.
“Since I am a design engineer by profession, most of my ideas come from thinking of things that would help me in what I do,” said Kip Ping of Structurx, who designed the app. “I have had some other ideas but was waiting to see how successful our first app was before committing time, energy and money to them. Also, I think apps are better when they are simple, and at some point an app can become too complicated.”
The main startup screen shows a wide-flange with four search criteria options: flange width and thickness and web depth and thickness. The search criteria are entered in grey boxes to conduct your search. The more information you enter, the more specific your search results become, and you can set tolerances for all search criteria. The database from which to select members includes current and historic I-shapes, back to 1873, for domestic rolling mills.
“My firm works on old buildings quite frequently and I often wished that I had a means to quickly determine member sizes while I was in the field rather than waiting until I got back to the office,” added Ping. “In thinking about having a search app I realized that I could also include the ability to quickly calculate a basic column or beam load.”
After providing your search criteria and hitting “Search,” the wide-flange section(s) matching your criteria will appear in a list. You can then analyze one of the listed shapes as a column or beam with a user-specified applied load by entering the required information. For columns, this includes height, unbraced length in both weak and strong axes and material yield strength. For beams, it includes main span, top flange unbraced length, material yield strength, deflection limits and loads (dead and live only). You check the section as either a column or beam, then simply hit “Analyze” and the basic checks are completed. For columns, the checks include compactness, elastic buckling stress, critical stress and nominal capacity. For beams, they include shear, moment and deflection checks. You also have the option of designing with ASD or LRFD; this option is listed under the defaults along with the tolerances for the search criteria. In addition, the data is presented in basic text that can be copied and pasted and disseminated to other team members.
You can download the app at www.steeltools.org. It’s free and can be modified to make improvements and incorporate new features. For example, I-Structure currently only lists domestically produced wide-flange sections, though it could be modified to include angles, channels and HSS. Additionally, code checks per the 2010 AISC Seismic Provisions could be added. Another modification could be a check based on reduced sections by allowing the user to modify section properties. Applying metric conversions to the data is yet another possible modification. The coding for the app is available for modification at github.com/structurx/i_search and is licensed under GNU Public License.
AISC will post more mobile apps at www.steeltools.org as they are discovered or developed. If you have ideas or suggestions for new apps, visit www.aisc.org/steelapps or email email@example.com. To learn more about I-Search, visit www.structurx.com.