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The Design Process

Requires: Design Level

This topic is a 30,000 foot look at "how" you do design in VisualAnalysis. It assumes you familiar with the essential design concepts.

Prerequisites: Setup Load Combinations and get "reasonable" Analysis Results!

  1. Switch to Design View
  2. Adjust Design Parameters
  3. View Unity Checks
  4. Optionally Design the Groups
  5. Synchronize Design Changes
  6. Iterate As Necessary
  7. Create Design Reports

1. Switch to Design View

The first step in the actual design process is getting a Design View. This window looks much like a Model View, but has a Filter, context menu, and design legend that will help you work with design groups.

2. Adjust Design Parameters

VisualAnalysis will normally automatically create design groups according to how the members are oriented in the model view, based on the setting in the Project Settings section in Project Manager.  You may wish to take charge of this with manual groups. Once groups are defined to your liking you need to enter appropriate design parameters for each group (bracing, deflections, size constraints, etc.). Use the Modify tab after selecting one or more members or groups.

If you set up design parameters when there are no analysis results, the unity checks will not recalculate with every change. This can be far more efficient!

3. View Unity Checks

Unity check results are calculated and displayed automatically in the Design View if analysis results are available when you switch to this view type. Unity checks may have a prefix (~ = approximate), or a suffix (! = warning; !! = error) see the Help Pane or design report to understand warnings or errors.

In a Design View, double-click on a member or plate to see a design report. 
Alternately include a Design Member Results item into any other report.

 

4. Optimize Design Selection

To perform a design search for a design group, you may select any one or more members in a design group and choose Design Selected Group command. The software will search for a least-weight design and present you with some options.  Available options may be limited by constraining the depth or width of Design Group parameters.

Your design member shapes are approximate! That is, your analysis-model has not changed and the member forces used were based on analysis using different member stiffnesses!

5. Synchronize Design Changes 

Changes are not official until you Toss All Results reanalyze or use the Design | Synchronize Design Changes command. If you Toss All Results & renalyze your model, design changes are synchronized automatically.  This is a 'feature' so you can work through all of your design groups without losing the analysis results due to design changes.

To verify that your design selections really do satisfy all the requirements you will need to synchronize the changes or rerun the analysis.

6. Iterate As Necessary

Whenever you change the relative stiffness of elements in your model, you may also change the moment distribution. Thus, unity checks are made using forces calculated on a different model and are flagged as approximate. A tilde (~) in front of unity checks to indicates the checks are approximate, based on results from a previous version of the model.

After you synchronize and reanalyze the model, the design groups are rechecked. If all the members in the group are the same shape, and all the members have unity checks less than one, then the group is considered as having a good design.

7. Create Design Reports

The Find Tool window and Report View offer a number of ways to view the design check results. If you want to really understand the unity-check value displayed, simply double-click on a member in the Design View.