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Understanding Tekla for Structural Design: A Comprehensive Guide

Hello, fellow engineers and enthusiasts! As a Master Degree Structural Engineering graduate from the Bucharest Technical Construction University, I've had the privilege to use a wide array of software tools for my research and projects. One software that stands out for its versatility and robustness is Tekla. If you're new to the field or just starting to explore the various software tools available, this article is for you. Let's dive into the world of Tekla, exploring what it is, why it matters, and how you can become proficient in it.

What is Tekla?

Tekla is a software suite geared toward structural engineering, offering tools for designing and modeling complex structures in 3D. Developed by Trimble, it is a global standard for structural engineers. The software allows you to create accurate, detailed, constructible models of everything from steel and concrete structures to piping and bridges.

Why Tekla?


Tekla isn't just for one type of structure or material. Whether you're working with steel, concrete, or timber, this software has got you covered.


One of Tekla’s strong suits is its compatibility with various design software platforms. This makes it an excellent choice for collaborative projects where different engineers are working with different tools.


Tekla's strength lies in its ability to generate extremely accurate models. This level of precision is invaluable when it comes to both designing and constructing structures.

Getting Started: The Basics

Begin by downloading and installing Tekla Structures, which offers a student version for free. Just follow the setup prompts, and you'll be up and running in no time.

Understanding the User Interface

The Tekla user interface consists of menus, toolbars, and side panels. Spend an hour or so navigating the interface to locate key features, such as the model viewer, drawing tools, and property panels.

Your First Simple Project: A Beam - Practical Example

  1. Creating a New Model: Go to File > New > Model to initiate your first project.

  2. Project Settings: You'll be prompted to input settings like units and grid parameters. Make sure to get these right as they will affect your entire project.

  3. Drawing the Beam: Use the toolbar to find drawing tools. Select a "straight beam" and draw it by clicking two points in the workspace.

  4. Dimensions: Input the dimensions to specify the size of your beam.

  5. Viewing Your Model: Once you've drawn your beam, you can view it in 3D by selecting the 3D view option from the view settings.

Intermediate Skills

Working with Materials

  1. Assigning Material: You can go to the properties panel on the side and select the material type you want to use, like steel or concrete.

  2. Material Grades: In Tekla you can also specify the material's grade, which affects its strength and other properties.

Adding Loads

  1. Load Types: Tekla offers options for adding various types of loads such as point loads, uniform loads, and more.

  2. Applying Loads: After playing with load types you can navigate to the loads section and select the type of load you want to apply, then input the value and the position where the load should act.

Analyzing Your Model - Important for dynamic effect and final checks

  1. Internal Tools: Tekla offers built-in analysis tools that can provide a basic understanding of how your structure will behave under the applied loads.

  2. Safety Checks: The analysis tools also allow you to check if your structure meets the relevant safety codes.

Advanced Techniques

Software Integration

  1. Import and Export: Tekla allows you to import models and data from other software like AutoCAD and Revit. You can also export your Tekla model to be used in other software. By this way you'll be able to connect the most popular tools to each other.

  2. Collaboration Tools: Utilize Tekla’s built-in collaboration tools to coordinate with other engineers working on the same project but using different software.

Designing Custom Components

  1. Component Designer: Tekla comes with a built-in component designer that allows you to create your own components.

  2. Usability: Once created, these custom components can be saved and reused in future projects.

Automation and Scripting

  1. Creating Macros: Tekla enables you to develop macros that can perform repetitive tasks automatically.

  2. Scripting Languages: You can write scripts in languages like Python to make your workflow more efficient.

Long story short, Tekla offers a broad spectrum of functionalities that can empower you to bring your structural designs to life with precision and efficiency. By starting with the basics and gradually progressing to more advanced features, you'll become a Tekla pro before you know it. Go ahead and dive into Tekla to start your journey toward mastering this incredible tool. Happy designing!

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