Simply put, structural steel detailing is a critical process of structural engineering and is a specialist area of structural drafting which involves the production of drawings for steel fabrication. Steel detailing is essentially the first step of steel fabrication which is paramount to any construction program.
Originally steel detailing was accomplished by a steel detailer using manual drafting methods and drafting tools whereas today, manual drafting has mostly been replaced by the use of computer drafting software such as CAD.
A steel detailer aka a detailer, is someone who has the ability and knowledge to interpret architectural and structural engineering drawings of an overall design of a building or structure and can generate a different set of accurate drawings for a steel fabricator to use to cut and weld all the necessary members or components together.
Structural steel detailing thus requires a basic knowledge of general engineering principles and methods of structural steel fabrication as well as skills in drafting, mathematics, logic, reasoning, spatial visualisation and communication. Computer skills and an understanding of CAD software is also a must.
A steel detailer also has a responsibility to generate the layout instructions to assist with the installation and erection of a steel framework and uses an architect’s and engineer’s plans to prepare two types of drawings for this purpose. Shop drawings and erection drawings.
Shop drawings are intended for use by a steel fabrication shop and are used to specify the exact requirements for fabricating each individual member of a structure. Shop drawings show member sizes, material specifications, required dimensions, bolting, welding, painting and surface preparation requirements and any other information that may be necessary to describe each completed member.
Erection drawings are intended for use in the field and all members should have already been completed by the time erection drawings are required. Erections drawings are used to guide a steel erector on a construction site and show dimensioned plans as to where to place the steel members and any work that must be done on site such as welding, bolting and installing of masonry anchors.
A steel fabricator is a company who provides and sometimes installs a steel framework for a construction project. The steel fabricator relies on a steel detailers shop drawings and erection drawings to fabricate all the steel members required to build and erect a structure, hence a good steel detailer can make even the most complex project very feasible for any fabricator.
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