General cross-section editor (esa.07)



The esa.07 module contains the General Cross-section and the Profile Editor tools for cross-section modelling.

The General Cross-section Editor enables the input of any arbitrary cross-section shape in a graphical way, including sections comprised of multiple entities or 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.

A extensive library of shapes exist in SCIA Engineer and can be used as a template.
Entire manufacturer catalogues can be integrated in SCIA Engineer in this way and be treated as native library items in SCIA Engineer's design modules.

General Cross-sections

Definition of a new section

  • A well-organised GUI allows the user to work with common graphical entities when defining a cross-section - lines and curves, common geometrical shapes, polygons, with or without multiple holes, etc.;
  • Not only solid cross-sections, but thin-walled sections are drawn also. These are determined by a centreline and uniform thickness;
  • 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 are defined using the different methods mentioned above; the parts can then be combined to form a single shape; parts may overlap;
  • Different parts of a section may be assigned to construction stages; for example, in the case of composite bridge cross-sections or pre-stressed elements, the user can indicate which parts of the section will be activated in which phase;
  • Parameters can be assigned to dimensions, thus creating a parametric definition of the shape, while the real dimensions can be defined when needed.


  • 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.


  • The section is displayed accurately in the General Cross-section editor and Cross-section Library;
  • Colour settings are used to indicate the presence of multiple materials;
  • The graphical editor allows for dimension lines to be inserted into the cross-section image.

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.
  • In the case of class 4, effective section properties can also be calculated for General cross-section shapes.

Profile Editor

The Profile Editor allows editing the cross-section libraries in SCIA Engineer. The following features are included:

  • Use of existing profiles as templates for new shapes;
  • Tabular input for new cross-sections and section properties;
  • Support of Copy-Paste from external databases and spreadsheets;
  • Automatic calculation of section properties (including torsional) for new cross-sections;
  • Option to manually overwrite any calculated cross-section property for both new and existing cross-sections;
  • Checks of validity/consistency of user-defined data.

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

  • Bow imperfections are derived in the same way as for existing profiles;
  • Plastic checks can be performed for added steel sections of class 1 and 2;
  • Effective section properties are used for class 4 sections.
  • The user is able to overwrite buckling curves for each section.

Unlimited number of User libraries are supported. User libraries contain 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.

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;