General cross-section editor



In the General Cross-section Editor, you can input any arbitrary cross-section shape in a graphical way, including sections composed of multiple entities and multiple materials.
Cross-sectional characteristics are calculated and used in the 3D analysis and design environment of SCIA Engineer.
The Profile Editor serves for the editing or adding of new profiles (with user-defined dimensions and material) that have shapes that already exist in the Profile Library.
An extensive library of shapes exists in SCIA Engineer and can be used as a template.
Entire manufacturer catalogues can be integrated in SCIA Engineer in this way; the profiles are then treated as SCIA Engineer's native library items.


General Cross-sections

Complex cross-section shapes can be defined via the General Cross-section Editor and later used in the analysis and design modules.

  • A CAD-like GUI allows you to work with common graphical entities when introducing cross-sections: lines and curves, polygons, geometrical shapes with or without multiple holes, etc.;
  • Both solid and thin walled (centreline & thickness) cross-sections can be drawn;
  • Sections from the Profile Library can be inserted and combined with one another or with other shapes;
  • DXF and DWG files can be imported;
  • Separate parts of a general cross-section may be defined using the different methods mentioned above; the parts can then be combined to form a single shape;
  • During  input, drag-and-drop and numerical editing of vertex coordinates are possible, as well as copying, rotating, mirroring, filleting etc.;
  • Various parts of a section may be assigned to construction stages; for example, for composite bridge cross-sections or pre-stressed elements, you can indicate which parts of the section will be activated in which phase;

General cross-section editor General cross-section editor


Parameters can be assigned to dimensions, thus creating a parametric definition of the shape.

  • Node coordinates or dimensions can be linked to user-defined parameters;
  • Parameters are either values or formulas, which means that various dependencies may be defined between the section dimensions;
  • General cross-sections are allowed in members with variable cross-sections (haunches and arbitrary members). The following picture shows a member with a variable profile, defined as a general cross-section.

General cross-section editor General cross-section editor

General cross-section editor Overlapping section parts

  • Mixed cross-sections (steel-concrete, concrete-timber) are defined, in which parts may completely or partially overlap;
  • It is possible to define a "priority value" for each section part; the part with higher priority would be taken as reference for the actual material in the areas of overlap;


  • The section is displayed both in the General Cross-section editor and Cross-section Library;
  • Colour settings are used to indicate the presence of multiple materials;
  • Dimension lines and additional text and descriptions can be inserted into the cross-section image.

General cross-section editor General cross-section editor

Calculation of section properties

  • The geometric properties of the section are automatically calculated (e.g. area, drying surface, inertial and section moduli, torsion properties, etc.).
  • Torsional properties determined using 1D or 2D FEM discretisation and analysis, depending on whether the section is thin- or thick-walled.

Classification for steel and aluminium members

  • Both thin-walled and polygonal shapes can be classified based on their slenderness.
  • For class 4, effective section properties can also be calculated for General cross-section shapes.

Profile Editor

General cross-section editor The Profile Editor allows editing the cross-section libraries in SCIA Engineer.

  • Existing profiles are used as templates for new shapes;
  • New cross-sections and section properties are inputted in tabular form;
  • Copy-Paste from external databases and spreadsheets is supported;
  • Section properties (including torsional) for new cross-sections are immediately available;
  • Any calculated cross-section property for both new and existing cross-sections may be manually overwritten;
  • Checks of validity/consistency of user-defined data are performed to avoid user errors.

General cross-section editor Due to the consistent use of 'form codes,' new sections are handled as built-in sections in design checks:

  • Bow imperfections, buckling capacity, effective sections are derived in the same way as for existing profiles;
  • Plastic checks can be performed for added sections that fall under class 1 or 2;
  • Effective section properties are used for class 4 sections.
  • You can overwrite buckling curves for each section.

General cross-section editor Unlimited number of User libraries are supported. User libraries have the same properties as the System library, but allow for customisation, e.g. per project:

  • User-defined fabrication methods;
  • User-defined library filters can limit the number of visible sections, in order to increase productivity;
  • A simple ASCII import/export allows transfer of sections from one section library to another.

General cross-section editor Additional description data can be added per profile type:

  • These may be stored in external files and called when needed;
  • Multiple languages for the additional data are supported;

Included in Edition: