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What Is Beam Software?

Beam software can be useful in bridge design.
Beam software might be used for home construction.
A structural beam.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 27 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Beam software is engineering software for structural engineers that provides them with information on beam performance in hypothetical conditions. They can use the software in the process of designing a structure to develop appropriate technical specifications. It can also be useful during construction to check work and confirm that beams will meet the needs of the given conditions. In the event changes need to be made, software can be critically important for performing calculations to make sure they are done right.

Numerous companies manufacture beam software or include beam modules in their structural engineering software. The sophistication level can be highly variable. Some products offer a number of features and can perform a variety of calculations while others are more simplistic. More extensive software tends to be more costly, due to the increased development costs. Engineering firms that order custom software will pay even more, as the product is designed just for them.

It is also possible to use beam software online. Some companies have free services available for quick calculations while others may have a pay wall that only allows access to subscribers. Free beam software can be useful for contractors and homeowners who want to double check their math or explore some scenarios with a construction project. Some home improvement stores install beam software and other design tools in consoles around their facilities to allow customers to check on math, explore different configurations for a project, and select the right products for their needs.

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In the software program, the user enters the known specifications of the project. She can specify the shape of the beam, size, and materials used. In addition, she can discuss the overall projected weight of the structure and the conditions where it will be used. Beam requirements for a bridge, for instance, will be different than those for a private home. The software can evaluate the beam in terms of general performance as well as adherence to the building code and other guidelines.

The software can perform some calculations to determine how the beam will respond to bending, shearing, and compressive forces. Structural engineers want their beams elastic enough to rebound slightly under pressure instead of immediately failing. They do not, however, want beams that are so flexible they cannot support weight, easily bending or compressing in adverse conditions. Beam design requires striking a balance between these two needs. Beam software can help engineers play with different constraints and variables to determine the best beam for a given project.

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