Steel detailing techniques, software, and emerging technologies

The Construction industry is continuously evolving, and so are the steel industry and steel detailing services. With rising complexity in building structures, a new perspective in the steel detailing and its services are required to understand the build and engineering.

The advancement in technology has broadened the role of steel detailers in the construction cycle. Steel detailing has become an integral part of the construction cycle, from planning and design to fabrication, construction, and asset management. Steel detailers develop detailed structural steel drawings to ensure the accuracy, erection ability, and constructability of steel elements.

The evolution of the steel industry, technology, and design capabilities has supported the creation of several innovative steel structures across the globe. Denver’s historic Union Station and Circuit of the Americas Austin are the examples of steel structures with innovative architecture and craftsmanship. With the inception of advanced steel detailing services from structural engineering houses, many construction firms and realtors have been able to give their structural masterpieces to this world.

Steel detailing techniques making sustainable buildings

Steel detailing is the fundamental and pivotal step for developing any structure out of steel. Conventionally, the manual method got used for the steel detailing process. Drafting tools like the parallel bar, drafting machines were in use for developing the drawings. Paper, pencils, and templates like circles, triangles, and other shapes helped develop detailed drawings. Manual calculations got performed through mathematical tables, logarithmic tables, and other calculation aids.

Steel detailing techniques, software, and emerging technologies

A gradual transition in the process introduced hand-held calculators and practiced. And eventually, technology replaced the traditional manual drafting with CAD, i.e., Computer-aided drafting and 3D BIM modeling technique.

CAD technology enables steel detailers to portray their imaginations in 3D and create drawings. These drawings can be printed on paper in 2d or represented in 3D as required. For CAD detailing, the detailer requires CAD software knowledge, drafting skills, knowledge of general engineering principles, fabrication, and spatial visualization.

3D Modeling is one of the emerging technologies to meet innovation and sustainable strategy. The 3D modeling technique is an advanced form of 2D drafting that helps detailers develop an accurate virtual model. Software like Tekla and X-Steel generates a 3D model with better visualization and insight into the project.

These 3D models assist the steel detailers, create precise and accurate shop drawings with a detailed plan. Shop drawing details each structural steel element, with a specific shape, size, diameter, cutting length, location of connecting bolts and holes, etc. The drawings also generate fixtures with precise location and Bill of Materials. Fabricators use the shop drawings to produce the steel elements.

3D modeling also helps create erection drawings used in the field for the erection or installation of steel elements. As the detailing, fabrication, and erection team refers to the same 3d model, the chances of misalignment get reduced at the site.

CAD and 3D modeling techniques bring accuracy and precision in the shop and erection drawings, even for complex shapes. Steel detailers follow the steel detailing standards as per the project’s region and geography. It helps enhance accuracy and precision in their drawings and create sustainable steel structures. The technology also helps in reducing fabrication errors and saving time.

Prominent steel detailing software

The use of software in structural steel detailing has made the job of steel detailer easier and diverse. The Metal building software can accurately design, detail, and estimate the structural steel elements. A 2D print before the 3D rendering helps the team show the first draft to the client. The design changes and edits can get easily made and tracked. Also, dependency on manual calculation reduces, and feedback gives a better workflow.

Steel detailing techniques, software, and emerging technologies

The advantage of steel detailing software is lesser human error, reduced re-work, and high- accuracy. Some of the best steel detailing software’s are:

Tekla Structures

Tekla structures is BIM software used for 3D structural steel detailing and fabrication management. The software allows to design, detail, fabricate and erect the steel structures of any type, whether residential, commercial, or high-rise buildings.

Tekla’s intelligent 3D model enhances coordination within several departments, allows seamless workflow and information.

The software offers design and detail in collaboration with teams; and real-time fabrication management. Drawings fully integrated with the 3D model allow easy change management. The CNC report, shop floor drawings, and reports get automatically generated.

Tekla structures support the Windows Operating system and have more tools, settings, and customization possibilities. The primary plan cost of Tekla is around $ 7500 per year, in addition to the maintenance cost of approximately $1300.

Advance Steel

Initially developed by GRAITEC, Advance steel is now an Autodesk product. Advance Steel is a CAD software application. The software also runs on AutoCAD and supports AutoCAD concepts and functions like snap points, grip points, copy, etc. It is used for 3d modeling, detailing, and creating fabrication drawings of steel structures.

Advance steel has specific features like the library with over 300 parametric steel connections, joint design engine, dynamo extension for creating complex structures, and drawing styles for automatic shop drawings and 2d general arrangement. The automated tools support creating accurate drawings and fabrication. And repetitive tasks get automated with the intelligent design toolset.

The application is compatible with Windows, and the quoted annual cost of the software is $2,200.


Bentley’s ProSteel is a comprehensive 3D modeling software for steel detailing and fabrication design. 2D drawings can get quickly extracted with the updated changes in the 3D model. The application can create parametric assembly modeling for common objects, and interoperability helps in the easy exchange of information with another discipline.

The software also offers automatic documentation and can be easily customized and standardized. Open working environment optimizes the workflow.

ProSteel; is based on Microstation and AutoCAD. It enables the software to create 3d model for both concrete and steel. The vendors offer the software license, and the cost varies with region.


AVEVA’s Bocad Steel is a modern BIM and FIM solution for the AEC industry. The software gives detailed, accurate, and error-free steelwork design and fabrication yards of all sizes.

The latest version of the software integrates the steelwork design, detailing, and fabrication, offering integrated digital workflow in structural steel. Features like plate and bar nesting capabilities increase fabrication efficiency, design quality, and structural integrity. Weld numbering and traceability enhancement enable effective structural lifecycle management.

The get the license of Bocad, vendors can get contacted, but the price might vary. The software is easy to adapt and learn.


TecnoMETAL is a 3d BIM modeling solution for steel designing and verification. TecnoMETAL creates a 3d model of the structure and verifies the connections. 2D drawings, workshop sketches, and a cutting list of the steel materials can easily get extracted from the model in TecnoMETAL. And the model is easily shared with other software like Revit, Inventor, Solid works, etc.

The sketches in TecnoMETAL are CAM-NC files. They contain information for fabrication and also of CNC machines. The software has features like a safety command and automatic design that deletes the errors. It facilitates modeling work and automatically includes steel elements.

TecnoMETAL subscription is available on the company website and at a fixed price.

Emerging technologies – the future of steel detailing

The construction industry is adopting new technology and methods to modernize its process and workflow. These evolving and cutting-edge technologies benefit the industry in optimizing their process, developing the sustainable steel structure, and stay ahead in the competition.

Steel detailing techniques, software, and emerging technologies

Integration of these evolving technology with the Steel detailing process aids in handling several challenges. Such as accuracy in shop drawings, paperwork, chaotic communication, error-prone manual information input, fabrication management, etc.

The emerging technologies making the steel detailing process simpler and efficient are 3D BIM technology, Nesting software, and CNC Machines.

3D BIM Technology

BIM develops an information-rich model. 2d drawings can get easily extracted from the model, along with the list of raw materials, shop floor drawings, dispatch list, etc.

BIM benefits the steel detailing the process by -

  • Simplification of interdisciplinary collaboration. In BIM, architects, contractors, engineers, detailers, and fabricators share the common model and project data.
  • Ease in changes and modification of the design.
  • Reduction of errors.
  • Handle complex projects and different structural shapes and sizes.

Nesting Software

Nesting software optimizes the steel detailing process by effectively fitting different manufacturing parts into a sheet of raw materials. It identifies the best patterns or nest of materials by taking series of flat patterns of manufacturing parts in the form of sheets- cuts or rolls.

Nesting software helps in -

  • Getting the best cutting path for quick results
  • Reduction in wastage of materials.
  • Deriving NC files that get used in cutting materials in CNC machines.

CNC Machines

Computer and Numerical Controlled (CNC) machining is a manufacturing process; in which the movement of factory tools and machines gets identified with the help of pre-programmed software. CNC cold roll forming machines produce C/Z Purlins, roof, and wall cladding, with the help of auto pinching and shearing. CNC folding machines can manufacture trims and accessories, and some CNC machines can also manufacture anchor bolts, clips, etc.

Benefits of outsourcing steel detailing to the experts

Steel detailing is the specified area of structural drafting that demands expertise in interpreting architectural drawings. Accuracy is of utmost priority when it comes to steel detailing and creating shop drawings; for the fabrication and erection of steel parts. Because the sustainability, safety, and proper functioning of a structure highly depend on structural drafting and designing.

Steel detailing techniques, software, and emerging technologies

Outsourcing steel detailing to the experts helps overcome the roadblocks encountered in steel detailing. These are some of the benefits of outsourcing steel detailing to the experts:

Knowledge of steel detailing standards

The steel detailing service providers knows steel detailing standards, followed by organizations in different parts of the world. It enhances the quality and precision of the design.

Use of emerging technologies

The service providers are aware of the latest and emerging technology like 3D BIM, CNC, Nesting software, etc. They use these technologies to give the best services to their clients.

Skilled in using the best steel detailing software

The team is skilled and trained in various steel detailing software like Tekla, Advance steel, etc.

Accuracy in the steel detailing process

Service providers know and can correctly interpret architectural drawings. It brings accuracy to the steel detailing process and reduces error.

Expertise in handling complex structure projects

Steel detailing experts have vast exposure to handling large and complex structural projects.

Get ahead of your competitors with the Steel Detailing Experts

eLogicTech Solutions is a leading architectural, structural, civil, and BIM services provider for over two decades. We have expertise in steel detailing technologies and have been part of the industrial revolution and technological implementation for years. The structural engineering services team of eLogicTech can align your business with the emerging technologies of steel detailing and help you see the future. Contact eLogicTech to get the best and customized steel detailing services as well as suggestions on technological implementations for your next high-value project.

Stay up to date.

Sign up our newsletter for latest article and news.

Need Help?

Don't hesitate to contact us for more information about company or service