What to know about the structural steel detailing process


With cities becoming more and more congested, the need for higher buildings and creative structural solutions is becoming increasingly vital. To make these safe and secured, the structural steel detailing process is included in the planning phase. Keep on reading for more information about this technique.

What Is The Structural Steel Detailing Process

The structural steel detailing process is an important aspect of structural engineering. It consists of providing technical plans, drawings, and documents for manufacturing and fabricating steel materials. These may include steel columns, handrails, beams, trusses, and braces. It is a vital process in the construction of buildings, factories, and ships. These technical drawings are utilized by steel manufacturers and steel fabricators as their reference.

Importance Of Structural Steel Detailing Process

The structural steel detailing process, as a part of structural engineering, ensures that buildings are structurally sound. As both internal and external factors are present to induce wear and tear into buildings, it requires meticulous planning to guarantee their longevity and durability.

Some of the external factors include natural calamities, weather, and environmental conditions. On the other hand, internal factors involve the structural load and capacity. Steel has always been the recommended choice when it comes to utilizing tough and lightweight materials, but an expert’s plan is what guarantees that a structure will stand the test of time.

Structural steel detailers assist engineers, architects, and contractors in their job. It requires coordination with different people to make a project successful. Each party needs to communicate about a structure’s design and discuss vital things such as building with materials that fit the load-bearing requirement.

Steps In The Structural Steel Detailing Process 

The structural steel detailing process requires several steps to ensure a complete and well-thought-of final drawing:

  • Drafting the plan

In this first step, steel engineers finalize the structural steel detailing plan according to the architect and engineers’ drawings. A rough draft is made with the layout and fabrication instructions.

  • Making the Shop Drawings

The structural detailers make the actual shop drawing, where the specifications and requirements for each steel fabrication—from column, beam, braces—are stated. These are used as the main reference by the steel fabricators. The important details that are included in the drawing are as follows:

  • Size
  • Material description
  • Surface preparation
  • Bolting
  • Welding
  • Painting directions
  • Special instructions for fabricators
  • Designing the Erection Drawings

After the specifications for each material is stated in the shop drawing, an erection drawing is then made by a structural detailer. This includes the details about the erection of the fabricated steel materials into the site itself. It involves instructions on how to properly install them into place.

Structural Steel Detailing Techniques

To accurately produce useful drawings, structural detailers use a variety of computer-assisted design (CAD) programs. These are useful because most projects nowadays require 3-dimensional plans. Instead of manually sketching with a pen and paper, this software has made the lives of structural detailers more convenient.

Structural detailers will benefit from using CAD programs because it will lessen the work when it comes to mathematical computations. Instead of memorizing all the formulas, a computer will help solve the geometry and trigonometry calculations for them—which also makes it more accurate.

This also makes editing and revision much more efficient, without the need for a structural detailer to redraw everything from scratch every time a client suggests changes.

Steel Detailing Standards

Apart from understanding the engineer and architect’s plans, a structural steel engineer must also keep in mind the existing regulations when drafting their drawings. Steel detailing standards vary in each country, but all have the same purpose.

A structural detailer submits the final drawing for approval to the engineer and architect, who are responsible for the integrity of a structure and compliance to building codes. After this, it will be given to the steel fabricator as their reference.

Responsibilities Of A Structural Steel Detailer

Because this job entails the safety and integrity of a structure, a professional structural detailer must carry the following responsibilities:

  • Ability to use computed assisted design (CAD) software to draft the structural drawings
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, and steel fabricators in the project
  • Produce drawings within the deadline specified to ensure the timely completion of the project
  • Have an understanding of construction, structural, and fabrication concepts
  • Gather information about the site’s environmental conditions
  • Have communication skills to discuss plans and understand requirements properly
  • Know the different steel detailing standards in the country

Key Takeaway

Structural steel is customized by steel fabricators according to the steel detailer’s instructions. This ensures that the steel products are manufactured specifically according to a building’s requirements, with considerations given to building codes, load, capacity, and environmental conditions.

A structural steel detailing process requires many steps and collaboration between the architect, engineer, and steel fabricator is vital to create a final plan that will both satisfy the client and prevent structural accidents.


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