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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Session 5: Placing Members in a Structure


Objective:
By the end of this session, you will be able to:

Place linear and curved members individually using frame connections that maintains member
positioning design intent.

Prerequisite Sessions:

SP3D Overview
SP3D Common Sessions
Grids: An Overview
Structure: An Overview

Overview:
The concepts of member systems and member parts were introduced in the Structure Overview session.
After a member system is placed, you can split it into multiple parts. The procedure for placing splits is
described in another session.
A linear member system consisting of single part can be placed by using the Place Member System
command. The command allows you to position the ends of the member using frame connections. Frame
connections define the connection and positioning of the member systems relative to each other, to the grid
lines, to the surfaces of other objects, or simply to a point in space. The ends of a member system can have
different types of frame connections, which are created as you place the member. The frame connections
support effective initial modeling and define a structural model that will adjust appropriately as you move
the members and change member sizes.
When placing a member, select the type of frame connection that represents your engineering design intent.
Alternatively, you can let the software select the appropriate frame connection By Rule. For example, the
seated frame connection positions the supported member on the top or bottom of the supporting member,
regardless of the cardinal points used to place the members.
You can place a curved member system by using the Place Curve Member System command. A curved
member is defined by placing a curve of one or more linear or arc segments. The ends can be positioned only
by the Axis-Along or Unsupported frame connections.
Assembly connections are used to trim the connected member parts to the correct length. When a member is
placed using frame connections, no interference is reported between the brace and the supporting members.
The steel-detailing design phase assures that the members have the required end-cuts. Steel detailing can be
accomplished within SP3D by using customized assembly connections or executed using third-party
programs outside SP3D. Assembly connections are discussed in another session.

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Steps for Placing Linear Members with Unsupported Ends:


The Unsupported frame connection positions the ends of a member, relative to the Grid system, to the Grid
lines, or simply to a specific point in space. In this activity, you will place columns at the intersection of grid
lines.
Place a column at a grid intersection by using the following specifications:
Section name: W14x43
Cardinal point: 5
Material: Carbon-Steel
Grade: A36

The view of the structure after placing the column will be similar to that shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Final Output of the Placement of a Column

Note:

Use the grid system to position the structural members. Although grids are not absolutely
necessary, they help in the modeling process by providing a reference location for placing
columns, instead of placing them in free space. When a grid line is moved by changing the
location of the grid plane, all objects associated with that grid line move along with it.

1.

Define your workspace to include A2 > U04 and coordinate system U04 CS.

2.

Click the Structure command on the Tasks menu to switch to the Structure task.

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 2: Selecting the Structure Environment

3.

Set the Active Permission Group to Structural.

Figure 3: Making Structural the Active Permission Group

4.

Click the

Place Linear Member System button on the vertical toolbar, as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: The Place Linear Member System Button Highlighted


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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

The Place Linear Member System ribbon appear on the top, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Place Linear Member System Ribbon

Notes:

5.

In the Connection box, select a frame connection type to be used for positioning the member.
The last frame connection you used will be selected by default. The option By Rule allows the
software to automatically select a frame connection type based on the type of member being
placed and the start and end points selected. You can manually select the frame connection from
the Catalog using the More... option in the Connection drop-down list.
In this workflow, you will locate the intersection of grid lines for the two points that define the
member location. The frame connection selected by rule while locating the intersecting grid lines
is Unsupported, but has associative relationships to the intersection point. If you modify the
position of the grid plane, the position of the members will be updated.

The System option identifies the parent system for the member.

Figure 6: System Drop-Down List

Notes:

6.

In the System field, the software defaults to the system you used last.
The drop-down list for the control shows the systems you last selected for you to use.
If you want to use a system other than the last-used systems, select the More... option to browse
for the required system. The Select System dialog box opens, as shown in Figure 7.

In the Select System dialog box, expand A2 > U04 > Structural and select the Columns system to
indicate the location where the columns will be placed, as shown in Figure 7.

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 7: The Select System Dialog Box

7.

In the Type category drop-down list of the Place Linear Member System ribbon, select the Column
option. Figure 8 shows the option highlighted.

Figure 8: The Type Category Drop-Down List

Note:

8.

Member type categories are broad groups of member types defined in the Catalog. The default
Catalog has a member type category called Column. The Column type category contains the
Column and Stud member types. When placing a member, select a member type category and
then a member type. The member type is used for generating drawings and reports.

Type the section name W14x43 in the Section name box of the Place Linear Member System
ribbon.

Notes:

You can select the desired section from the drop-down list. The list of options you see are the
section sizes you used lastfor placing the member Type category and Type. This retention of
last-used member sizes is very useful since a given design typically uses just a few different
member sizes. This list of last-used section sizes is stored in the session file.
You can enter the full section name to identify the cross section from the Catalog.
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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

You can also look up the desired section by entering part of the name with a search character in
the Section name box and then selecting the section name in the Select Section dialog box, as
displayed in Figure 9. Enter W14* to get the following:

Figure 9: Section Name Selected by Name Search

You can look up the section by selecting the More option.

Figure 10: The Section Name Selected

9. Select 5-Center in the Cardinal point drop-down list, as shown in Figure 11:

Figure 11: The Cardinal Point Selected

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Notes:

There are 15 cardinal positions available. The location of the cardinal points 10 (center-ofgravity) and 15 (shear center) depend on the shape of the section. For example, the cardinal
point 5 is the center-center and the cardinal point 8 is the top-center.

Figure 12: Cardinal Points

The Angle option defines the angle by which the cross-section is rotated about the logical
axis of the column.
The Reflect option mirrors the cross-section about the local z-axis of the member. This
option affects both symmetric and asymmetric sections. You can use this option in
situations such as when you want the flanges of a channel section to point in opposite
directions.

10. Click the Properties option on the Place Linear Member System ribbon, as shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13: Properties Button on the Place Linear Member System Ribbon

11. The Member Properties dialog box is displayed. Click the Cross Section tab in the dialog box.
12. Select the properties Steel-Carbon and A36 in the Material and Grade drop-down lists,
respectively, as shown in Figure 14.

Figure 14: Member Properties Dialog Box


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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

13. Click OK to save the properties.

Notes:

If you set the Material and Grade properties before placing a structural member during a
session, the values of these properties are retained throughout the session. To retain the values,
save the session file in the existing SP3D. This allows you to typically define the material and
grade only once for a given session file.

)
14. Point to the intersection of two grid lines to indicate the starting point of the column. A glyph (
appears; to indicate the intersection of the two lines, as shown in Figure 15. Click the glyph to place
the start point of the column.

Figure 15: Intersection of Two Grid Lines

Notes:

SmartSketch points relative to existing graphic objects are located when you are in a smartstep
of any command prompting you to locate a point. You indicate what types of points you want
to locate by setting the options on the SmartSketch page of Tools > Options dialog box. In this
case, make sure you have elected to locate intersection points.

15. Point to the grid intersection at 25 ft elevation to specify the end point of the column and click on it,
as shown by the glyph in Figure 16. The column will be placed starting from the bottom and
moving to the top.

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 16: Placement of a Column

Notes:

After you enter the second point, the command cycles back and you are prompted to enter
the first point of the next member.
If you want to use the end point of the previous member as the first point of the next
member, click the second point smartstep. You are prompted to enter the second point of
the next member. The command will then continue to cycle, repeatedly prompting you to
enter the second point of the next member and using the value of the first point that you
last entered as the default. This action is repeated until you click on the first point smartstep
to indicate you want to identify a different first point. The command cycle to prompt only
for the second point sis useful for productively creating, for example, the outer frame of a
platform. This is called the Contiguous Placement method.

16. Place three more columns at the remaining grid intersections.

Steps for Placing Linear Members with Supported Ends:


The start and end points of members can also be placed so that they establish a frame connection with the
existing members. This is the most common placement condition. In this activity, you will place beams
between two columns by using the Contiguous Placement method.
Place beams between columns in Unit U04 by using the Contiguous Placement method.
Use the following specifications to place the beams:

System: A2 > U04 > Structural > Beams


Type category: Beam
Type: Beam
Section name: W16x67
Cardinal point: 8
Material: Steel- Carbon
Grade: A36

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

After placing the beams, the model will resemble Figure 17.

Figure 17: Final Output of Placement of a Beam

1.

Click the Place Linear Member System button on the vertical toolbar.

2.

Set the following parameters:

3.

System: A2 > U04 > Structural > Beams


Type category: Beam
Type: Beam
Section name: W16x67
Cardinal point: 8
Material: Steel- Carbon
Grade: A36

Point to the intersection of two grid lines to indicate the starting point of the beam to be placed. A
glyph (

) will appear to indicate the intersection of the two lines.

Figure 18: Start Point of the Beam Highlighted

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

4.

Click the intersection and click the middle mouse button while aligning the mouse along the
intended direction. This sets the elevation of the top of the beam. Repeat step 3 on the second
column where the beam is to be connected. This creates a relation between the column and the beam
and another relation between the beam and the grid elevation plane.

5.

Click the End option on the Place Linear Member System ribbon to activate the Contiguous
Placement mode.

6.

Point to the end location of the next beam and click to select it.

Figure 19: End Point of the Beam Highlighted

7.

The beam will be placed between the two columns, as shown in Figure 20.

Figure 20: The Placed Beam


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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

8.

Place the rest of the beams, as shown in the figure below, by simply clicking the second point for
each member.

Figure 21: The Final Output After All the Beams are Placed

9.

Repeat these steps to place beams at the top of columns.

Frame Connections:
Frame connections support effective initial modeling and define a structural model that will adjust
appropriately as you move members and change member sizes. A frame connection automatically calculates
the position of the end point of the member to achieve and maintain your positioning design intent. When
you place a member, the frame connection used can be selected by rule or manually. Your company can
customize the rule-based selection of the desired frame connection based on information about the objects
involved with the connection.

Notes:

You can select the frame connection of another member as the start or end location of the member
that you are placing if you intend the connection to be the logical end of the supporting member.
The ends of the member can have different connection types, including one end as Unsupported.
Set the Locate filter to the Member system and click a beam. The software will highlight all objects
related to the frame connections. This will confirm that an accurate relation has been established
between the columns and beams as well as between the beams and the elevation plane.
The frame connection is an optional relationship. When you copy-paste, you can elect to re-establish
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the frame connection relationship to members outside of the copy set or delete the relationship and
replace it with Unsupported relationship. See the session on copy-paste.
You will need to experiment with different types of frame connections to fully understand their behaviors
and the situations where they are most useful. The following gives a conceptual overview.

Types of Frame Connections:


There are three classes of frame connections:

Connections that require no supporting members. These connections are of two types:
Unsupported connection: Includes associative positioning relationship established
to grid lines.
o General Surface connection: Includes associative positioning relationship
established to the surface.
Connections that require single supporting member as input. These connections are of three
types:
o Seated connection: Includes member which lie on an exterior surface, above or
below the surface.
o Flush connection: Includes member with coincident surfaces that lie within the
depth of the member.
o Axis Along, Axis End, and Centerline connections: Includes member placed relative
to a selected cardinal point axis of the supporting member.
Vertical Corner Brace connections require two or more supporting members as input. Multiple
inputs can be found by the connection by selecting the frame connection between two members.
o

Frame Connections Available in the Catalog:

Axis-Along: An Axis-Along frame connection positions the end point of the supported member axis
at a point you define along the supporting member (with the option to have offsets from that point).
It does not matter what cardinal point is used for the logical axis of the supporting member. You can
choose to maintain this position after the connected structure members are modified, by using three
different behaviors: Intersection, Distance, and Ratio. The same Axis-Along positioning behaviors
are available for the Centerline, Flush, and Seated frame connections.

Figure 22: Axis Connection

Intersection: An Intersection frame connection maintains the connection by extending the


supported member in the same direction until it intersects with the moved supported
member.

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 23: Intersection

Distance: A Distance frame connection maintains the connection at the original distance
from the start of the supporting member.

Figure 24: Distance

Ratio: A Ratio frame connection maintains the connection at the original ratio of the
supporting member length.

Axis-End: An Axis-End frame connection is the same as Axis Along, except that it positions the
supported member at the end of the supporting member.

Axis-Collinear: An Axis-Collinear frame connection shows exactly the same behavior as Axis-End in
the current version. The type should be removed from the Catalog.

Centerline: A Centerline frame connection uses the centerline of the supporting member to position
the supported member, as shown in Figure 25, with the optional offset from the center.

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 25: Centerline Frame Connection

Flush: A Flush frame connection uses the top and bottom extent of the supporting member to
position the supported member. The supported member typically lies within the body of the
supporting member, as shown in Figure 26.

Figure 26: Flush Frame Connection

Seated: A Seated frame connection uses the top or bottom extent of the supporting member to
position the supported member. The supported member typically rests against the supporting
member, but can be offset as displayed in Figure 27.

Figure 27: Seated Frame Connection

Vertical Corner Brace: A Vertical Corner Brace connection positions a vertical brace that frames into
a column-beam corner. You can define offsets in the X, Y, and Z directions. You select one of the six
work points or the point through which the axis of the brace passes.
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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 28: Vertical Corner Brace

Surface: A Surface frame connection positions the end of the supported member on a selected
surface of any object type.

Unsupported: An Unsupported frame connection positions the end of the supported member in
space or relative to grid lines.

Selection of Frame Connections Existing in the Model:


You can graphically select the frame connections after they have been created by setting Locate Filter to
Frame Connections or All and positioning the cursor near the ends of the member systems. The graphic
handle for the selection is a hidden cylinder that highlights when you move the cursor over them, as shown
in Figure 29.

Figure 29: Highlighted Frame Connection

You can also select the frame connection by first selecting the member part and then selecting the end one
smartstep on the edit ribbon bar for the member part. Finally, you can select the frame connection from the
Workspace Explorer. First, select the member; the Workspace Explorer will automatically scroll to that
member. You can then see the frame connections nested under the member system.

Selection of Frame Connections to Use During Member Placement:


1.

Selecting Frame Connections Using the By Rule Option:

When placing linear members, if you select the By Rule option, the software selects the frame
connections. Frame connections are selected as the software connects to the supporting member, based
on the supporting and supported member type category, type, and geometry. These rules can be
customized by your administrator:

Surface-Default: This rule is selected when a member connects to a non-member object and the
software selects the unsupported frame connection, unless the non-member object is a surface.

Axis Along: This rule is selected when a member connects to another member.

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Axis-End: This rule is selected when:


o

Two members have the same type category, are parallel, end matched, and are in the same
permission group.

Two members have the same type category and are end-matched.

The member being placed belongs to the Brace category and the two members are endmatched.

Seated-Top: This rule is selected when the member being placed is of the type Girt or Purlin and the
two members are not parallel.

When placing a member, if you select the frame connection of another member as the end point, the
software reads both the frame connection's member and its optional supporting member. If the
member being placed is coplanar with those two members, the software selects Vertical Corner
Brace-WP2.

When placing a member, if you select a split connection as the end point, the software reads the two
members related to the split connection. If the member being placed is coplanar with the two
members, the software selects Vertical Corner Brace-WP2.

2. Selecting Frame Connections Manually:


When placing a member, you can select the specific frame connection you want to use on the ribbon bar.

Figure 30: Highlighted Frame Connection Drop-Down Box

With the connection properties displayed, you can edit the Frame Connection positioning properties before
you place the member.

Notes:

The Axis-Along frame connection created in the middle of the horizontal member is
currently created with the position rule as Intersection. However, this may not be what
you want for this type of connection. If the horizontal member moves up, you want the
end point of the brace to maintain its position in the center of the beam. Select the frame
connection and change the property position rule as Ratio to keep the brace in the
middle of the horizontal member as it moves up or gets longer.
When in the Finish state of member placement using the By Rule connection selection
option, you can review and/or change the properties of either of the frame connections
of the member being placed by activating the Connection properties dialog box. This
dialog box will display whenever you are in the Place Member command, until you
cancel it.

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 31: Connection Properties Dialog Box

Once you change the properties of a frame connection type while using the placement
command, the new property settings will become the default and will be used the next
time you place the frame connection. This feature allows you to place several members
with the same settings.

Steps for Placing Vertical Corner Brace:


Place a vertical corner brace from the lower end of the first column to the east end of the first beam in Unit
U04. Use the following specifications to place the vertical corner brace:

System: A2 > U04 > Structural > Vertical Braces


Type category: Brace
Type: Vertical Brace
Section name: L8x4x1/2
Cardinal point: 1
Angle: 180 deg

After it is placed, the vertical corner brace appears, as shown in the figure below.

Figure 32: Final Output of Placing the Vertical Corner Brace

1.

Click the Place Linear Member System command on the vertical toolbar.

2.

The Place Linear Member System ribbon appears. Set the following specifications on the ribbon:

System: A2 > U04 > Structural > Vertical Braces


Type category: Brace
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3.

Type: Vertical Brace


Section name: L8x4x1/2
Cardinal point: 1
Angle: 180 deg

Click at the lower end of the first column to the east end of the first beam to place the vertical brace,
as shown in Figure 33. To identify this location, use the frame connection.

Figure 33: Highlighted Frame Connection in the Second Column

4.

Perform the same workflow for the other side of the structure.

Figure 34: The Placed Vertical Braces

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Steps for Placing a Horizontal Brace:


Place two Horizontal braces on the first floor frame of Unit U04 in system A2. Use the following
specifications:

Connection: Flush-Top
Type category: Brace
Type: Horizontal Brace
Section name: L4x3x3/8
Cardinal point: 8 top center
System: A2 > U04 > Structural > Horizontal Braces
Angle: N/A (not active with a Flush connection)
Reflect: Off
Material: Steel-Carbon
Grade: A36

1.

Use the Clip by Object command to isolate the beams and the columns in the first floor of U03.

2.

Click the Place Linear Member System button on the vertical toolbar.

3.

The Place Linear Member System ribbon appears. Set the following specifications on the ribbon:
Connection: Frame Connections > Flush > Flush-Top
System: A2 > U04 > Structural > Horizontal Braces
Type category: Brace
Type: Horizontal Brace
Section name: L4x3x3/8
Cardinal point: 8 Top Center
Material: Steel- Carbon
Grade: A36

4.

Click the Connection properties button and set the properties of the frame connection as follows:

Offset: 0 ft 3 in
Edge: Bottom

Figure 35: Place Horizontal Brace with the Flush Frame Connection
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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Notes:

5.

You must set the connection properties for both ends of the member. The properties for the start
end are displayed by default in the Connection properties dialog box. After entering the
settings for the start end connection, click the end icon and enter the same property values for
the end connection.
Once you edit the frame connection properties using the connection properties dialog box of the
Place Member command, the new property values will be used, by default, the next time you
use the same frame connection in the session.
The Flush frame connection properties provide you the flexibility to place the brace oriented
with flange down and offset from the top surface of the supporting member. When the depth of
the supporting member is changed, the position will remain at the stated offset from the surface.
Use the Flush frame connection when the horizontal brace is not connected in a corner.
For horizontal corner braces, it is better to use a corner brace frame connection so that an
assembly connection can be placed that connects the gusset plate to both beams and trims the
horizontal brace properly. The current default Catalog does not provide a well-configured
horizontal corner brace frame connection. In that case, a vertical corner brace frame connection
is placed by rule. You must edit the parameters to position them as required. Your Catalog
administrator, however, can add this type of connection to the Catalog.
Click the Preview button on the Connection properties dialog box to see the graphic showing
the meaning of the properties.
Your Catalog administrator can add selection options for frame connections to the Catalog that
presets the parameters of the frame connection. For example, you may need to select a frame
connection in the Catalog that has already set the settings you entered.

Use SmartSketch to locate the center divisor point on the short beam and the quarter divisor point
on the longer beam to get the end result, as shown in Figure 36.

Figure 36: The Placed Horizontal Brace

Note:

Make sure that Tools > Options > SmartSketch > Divisor Point is set to 4 before performing
step 5.

Steps for Placing a Curve Member:


Place a curved member by using the Place Curve Member System command in Unit U04. Use the following
specifications:

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

System: A2 > U04 > Structural >Vertical Braces


Type category: Brace
Type: Vertical Braces
Section name: WT8X22.5
Cardinal point: 10-Centroid

After the curved member is placed, it will look like Figure 37.

Figure 37: The Final Output of Placing a Curved Member

1.

Use the PinPoint command and set the target to the center of the beam supporting the curved
member.

2.

Click and hold the Place a Linear Member button on the vertical toolbar and then, click the
Place Curve Member System button on the fly-out pallet that appears on the right. Figure 38
shows the command highlighted.

Figure 38: The Place Curved Member System Button

3.

Set the following parameters:

4.

System: A2 > U04 > Structural > Vertical Braces


Type category: Brace
Type: Vertical Braces
Section name: WT8X22.5
Cardinal point 10-Centroid

Click the end point of the first column to place the first point, as shown in Figure 39.

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Figure 39: The Start Point of the Curved Member Selected

5.

On the ribbon, select Path Type and select the Arc by 3 Points option, as highlighted in Figure
40.

Figure 40: The Arc By 3 Points Option Highlighted

6.

On the ribbon, select Plane and then select the Elevation Plane East-West option, as highlighted
in Figure 41.

Figure 41: The Plane Drop Down List

7.

Place the second point at a point 4 ft above the center of the beam, as shown in Figure 42.

Note:

Key in 4ft in the El field on the PinPoint ribbon.


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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 42: The Second Point of the Arc Selected

8.

Place the third point at the end of the second column.

Figure 43: The Third Point of the Arc Selected

9.

Click the Finish button on the ribbon. The system will now return to the Place Member ribbon.

Figure 44: The Finish Button Highlighted

The output will look like the figure shown below.

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 45: The Curved Member Before the Complete Transaction

10. Click the Finish button to complete the transaction. The curved member will be placed, as
displayed in the figure below.

Figure 46: The Curved Member After the Complete Transaction

11. Place a center vertical brace and two vertical braces from the center beam to the quarter-points
along the curved member. Use SmartSketch divisor (4) to get the correct quarter-points, as
shown in the figure below:

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SP3D Structure Tutorial: Placing Members in a Structure

Figure 47: The Other Vertical Braces in the Truss

Your view should now resemble the following graphic:

Figure 48: The Placed Curved Member

12. Repeat steps 1-11 to place curved member and vertical braces on north side.
For more information related to placing columns, refer to Working with Members: An Overview topic of
the user guide StructureUsersGuide.pdf.
For more information related to placing linear and curved members, refer to the Working with Members:

An Overview topic of the user guide StructureUsersGuide.pdf.

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