Simply put, SCIA Engineer goes further than the traditional structural analysis software.

Thanks to its intuitive and productive environment and its wide applicability, it will provide you several benefits:

  • Fast and efficient modeling
  • Advanced analysis
  • Multi-material design
  • Coordinated documentation and reporting
  • Interoperability and collaboration

Discover more about selected highlights of SCIA Engineer features below.

BIM-like Modeling

SCIA Engineer provides an intuitive way to work with structural objects. Unlike traditional software tools where you need to work with individual nodes and finite elements, SCIA Engineer allows you to define members with just one click or sketch complex curved shells just as easily as in today’s CAD and BIM authoring tools.

Curved Shapes

Curved beams and shells with constant or variable thickness, can all be easily defined through the modification of simple properties.  Additionally, intersections between surfaces can be automatically generated and used as a basis to create cut-outs. This makes it easy to model complex geometry compared to more traditional finite element design tools.

Grids & Stories

To facilitate the modeling of buildings and frames, SCIA Engineer comes with a wide range of 2D and 3D Grids:

  • Cartesian
  • Oblique
  • Cylindrical
  • Spherical
  • Arbitrary (Free) grid lines

Any number of grids can be used in the project, activated or deactivated, and freely rotated.

In the case of multi-story buildings, Stories will enable you to better navigate your model, quickly switch from one floor to another and to visualize results per floor.

Powerful Filtering & Selection Tools

All structural objects and additional data can be easily accessed via a number of filtering and selection tools, removing the dependancy on navigation within the 3D environment:

  • By selecting a single item, one can easily filter all other items in the model that share a similar property.
  • Work with just a portion of a project active on screen. This filtering can be done based on layers in the model, on proximity to workplanes, on clipping boxes, etc.
  • Selected elements can be saved, edited and reused at another time.

Table Input

When modeling a project in a 3D atmosphere may not be the most efficient, the table input can be used as a straight forward way to create geometry.  Some of the features included in the table input are:

  • Input for most of SCIA Engineer’s structural elements, loads and libraries
  • Import large data sets or functions from Excel
  • Filtering and sorting tools allow for the parsing of data
  • Link between table input and graphical window, so individual selections are easily identified
  • Support for parametrics and keyboard shortcuts

Parametric Modelling

Parametric modelling allows users to actively adapt the model in order to quickly create design iterations of either repetitive or complex structures.  Parametric models are generated by establishing parameters, which can include any model element or property (coordinates, dimensions, cross-sections, materials, loads, etc.).

Finally, parametric templates can be established in order to allow users to create or modify projects by utilizing predefined objects, thus creating great efficiency in the modeling process.

3D wind generator

SCIA Engineer will automatically generate and apply 3-dimensional wind loads to your entire structure according to the provisions found in the Eurocode 1 and ASCE 7-05/7-10.  For the ASCE, both the Directional (All Heights) and Envelope (Low Rise) methods are supported for automatic generation of load cases (including torsional cases) on enclosed and partially enclosed structures.

Furthermore, SCIA Engineer’s graphical interface allows users to easily review and verify the pressure coefficients and surface loads being applied to various locations of the structure.

Free loads

Free loading allows users to create loads which are defined independantly of the structure’s geometry or meshing, creating flexibility in a variety of load applications.

The range of uses for free loads includes: equipment load on slabs that will be perfectly mapped to the underlying mesh, hydrostatic loads on complex shells and user defined wind pressure.

Straightforward Load Application

SCIA Engineer lets you model all standard load types: concentrated and distributed forces, moments, support settlements and thermal loads visually as objects. These load objects can then be moved or copied to other members or other load cases while also easily being filtered and modified through the property window just like any other data in SCIA Engineer.

Practical Load Panels

Load Panels in SCIA Engineer are used for the specific task of distributing applied loads to the structural elements of the model.  In most applications, load panels represent façades or other non-bearing structural elements. SCIA Engineer utilizes these elements to distribute load using 1-way or 2-way action before analysis, allowing for a reduction in model size, improvement in calculation speed and an increased transparency in applied loads and results.

Furthermore, SCIA Engineer’s graphical interface allows users to review and modify the generated loads being applied to various locations of the structure.

Meshing with refinements

SCIA Engineer’s meshing will make sure that the transitions between complex surfaces or various mesh sizes is always smooth, guaranteeing quality results from the finite element analysis.

  • Automatic generation of finite element mesh, based on user defined global mesh settings that is consistent and error-free.
  • Local mesh refinements at specific locations including; around nodes, along lines or edges and on an entire surface
  • Option to apply Automatic Mesh Refinement, which removes the guess work of finding the optimal mesh and gives feedback on the quality of current mesh as well as the proposed refinement.

For more information on the Automatic Mesh Refinement, visit the article posted on

High-performance FEA solver

With full support for 64-bit processors and multiple cores, SCIA Engineer’s finite element solver is one of the fastest around.

Even complex structures or high-rise buildings that have large non-linear or dynamic calculations will not keep you waiting for long – allowing you to run more iterations of your design in less time.


In addition to standard eigenmode analysis to determine the eigen frequencies and mode shapes, SCIA Engineer allows you to run all standard types of dynamic analysis and then some: earthquake analysis through modal superposition, harmonic (sinus) loads, Von Karman wind on tubes and full time-history analysis with definition of time functions for loading.

Additionally, the Improved Reduced System (IRS) method vastly reduces the number of eigenmodes that need to be considered for an earthquake analysis, thereby eliminating local modes and increasing the overall speed and accuracy of the calculation.

Construction stages

Construction stages in SCIA Engineer allow users to understand the time dependant behavior of a structure:

  • Progressive construction of cross-sections.
  • Gradual application of loads and prestressing.
  • Changes of boundary conditions.
  • Removal of temporary structural elements.
  • Use of deformed shape from previous stage using nonlinear functionality.

In addition, the E-modulus of materials can follow a user-defined time function, to take into account creep or other long term effect.

Large displacements

SCIA Engineer allows for 2nd & 3rd order analysis to be executed on any structure type with any combination of 1D & 2D members. These analyses take into account deformations of the structure (P-δ and P-Δ effects) with or without imperfections assigned to members.  Additional features include:

  • Various iteration methods (Timoshenko, Newton-Raphson, Picard) and boundary conditions (tension only, initial stress, limit force and gap)
  • Ability to utilize Direct Analysis Method or equivalent notional loads through use of global and local imperfections
  • True cable analysis with ability to define as straight or slack (including definition of either self-weight or other load used to define cable slack)

Material non-linearities

Various types of material non-linearities can be included in the analysis:

  • Input of nonlinear hinges and springs by the defining of functions, both on linear elements and on surfaces (edge hinges)
  • Nonlinear material behavior (plasticity) can be employed through the use of plastic hinges on 1D members or by using general material plasticity for 2D members
  • Concrete non-linearity can be considered through a physical non-linear analysis taking into account redistribution due to precise behavior laws of conrete and reinforcement.

3D Displacements & Stresses

Deformations and stresses play a vital role in determining whether or not a structure was modeled properly and behaves as expected.  As a result, SCIA Engineer provides extremely precise visualization of these results, on the initial or the deformed shape, displaying results on each fibre of a 1D cross section and on both faces of a surface – thereby giving the user an in depth look into the performance of the structure.

Storey results

After running a lateral load analysis (wind, earthquake, etc) results can be summarized per storey to include:

  • Summary storey results: center of mass, displacements, accelerations, interstorey drift, storey forces
  • Detailed storey results: internal and resultant forces on individual load bearing elements (columns and walls)

Flexible Graphical Results

Since there is not a standard way to display results that is optimal for all situations, SCIA Engineer gives users unmatched flexibility in the display of results.  In specific, users can utilize results with: different types of coloring, flexible diagrams, filtering/selection tools and adaptable text labels/fonts in order display output that is unique to the needs of the project.

Results Tables

The ability to visualize output graphically is incredibly beneficial but sometimes, engineers need to review data in table format as well.  In SCIA Engineer, all result types can be viewed in a powerful table results tool complete with:

  • Customizable columns
  • Sorting and filtering of table values
  • In-cell color bars that give visual feedback on where min and max values are located
  • Support for direct selection and copy-paste to Excel

Transparent reinforced concrete design

Concrete member design in SCIA Engineer combines the best of an integrated FEA solution and straightfoward hand calculations in order to offer a high level of productivity without the need to worry about transferring data to other external software.

Thanks to the SCIA Design Forms technology, reinforced concrete design of columns and beams is:

  • Transparent: all code formulas are available in the report, showing original mathematical notation, intermediate numerical values and final results
  • Complete: all cross-section shapes and internal force situations are supported; including normal force, bi-axial bending, bi-axial shear and torsion
  • Fast: supporting all available cores for parallel processing

Structural steel design

Perform section design of steel members according to EN1993 and AISC 360-10 as well as a wide range of legacy codes. Member design includes Autodesign of a very wide range of profile library cross sections as well as built-up or arbitrary profiles.

Additionally, Open Web Steel Joist design is supported using the Steel Joist Institutes new virtual joist methodology, allowing engineers to incorporate member stiffness in the overall building model.

All necessary effects are also considered: section resistance to normal forces, bending, shear, buckling, torsional buckling, lateral-torsional buckling, local buckling, etc.  Additionally, buckling lengths are automatically determined and can be reviewed graphically and numerically.

Composite Beam Design

Fully integrated technique utilizing a true multi-model staged approach, allowing for the execution of construction and composite stage analysis and design without the need for modifications to the model.  Some features include:

  • Manufacturer libraries for steel studs and decking
  • Design and optimization of steel profiles and studs per Eurocode 4 and AISC 360-10 (LRFD & ASD)
  • Detailing checks for concrete slab, steel deck and studs
  • Serviceability checks (with respect to camber) for both construction and composite stages
  • Fully transparent output with rendered formulas and all calculation steps

Steel connections

SCIA Engineer provides users the unique ability to model steel connections within the 3D model.  Connections can be defined as either rigid, pinned or diagonal with various plates, bolts, stiffeners, haunches and welds defined.  Once a connection is fully modeled, its stiffness can be determined and then used as a hinge type in the larger building model.  Additionally, with the implementation of SCIA Design Forms, users can apply specific connection types to FEA nodes in order to execute a full limit state design with dynamic graphics and fully transparent output.

Timber, aluminum and scaffolding

SCIA Engineer’s unparelled support of the Eurocodes also includes:

  • Timber (EN1995): section and stability checks of timber beams. Includes special checks for creep, variable height and curved elements.
  • Aluminum (EN1999): standard and custom aluminum profiles can be defined and checked. Includes calculation of effective properties, influence of heat affected zone.
  • Scaffolding checks according to EN 12810 and EN 12811: tube & fittings or system scaffolds are fully supported.

Prestressing & Post-Tensioning

Fully integrated solution for modeling, analyzing, designing and reporting prestressed and post-tensioned 1D and 2D members.  SCIA Engineer allows users to complete both linear and time dependent analysis in order to accurately achieve results over the life of the structure.  Additionally, design checks according to EN 1992-1-1 & EN 1992-2 are included while design verification for ACI 318-14 is currently in development.

Cold-formed Steel

SCIA Engineer performs the analysis and design of structures containing cold-formed steel elements; the thin-walled members can be assigned both standard and elaborate (user-defined) cross-section shapes.

Supported design functionality:

  • Derivation of effective shape for arbitrary members, taking into account local buckling and distortional buckling of internal and edge stiffeners.
  • Overall design includes allowances for shift of neutral axis, use of average yield strength and steel core thickness.
  • Advanced design verifications include web crippling and shear under local transverse forces, also in the case of sections with stiffened webs
  • Specialized purlin design includes the derivation of free flange geometry, advanced loading determination, etc.
  • SCIA supports both the European standard EN 1993-1-3 and North American Specification AISI S100

Read a benchmark study by John Hopkins University here…

Engineering Report

The Engineering Report is an integrated documentation platform that allows users to create detailed calculation reports with table of contents, model input, loading, analysis and design results as well as model views and graphics.  Items added to the report are available in the navigator, allowing for simple user modification.  Additionally, since the report is dynamically linked to the model, all items will regenerate automatically to reflect recent changes.

Report Templates

Templates allow users to save custom report layouts (including all results and graphics settings) in order to accelerate the creation of everyday reports.

Report Templates

Templates allow users to save custom report layouts (including all results and graphics settings) in order to accelerate the creation of everyday reports.

Certified IFC 2×3 support

As a co-founder of the Open BIM Program, SCIA Engineer was the only structural analysis software to implement import and export support for the IFC 2×3 format.  Because of this, it is possible to exchange data utilizing IFC (Industry Foundation Class) files with over 150 different BIM offering tools, making the OpenBIM workflow the most rubust and flexible interoperability solution on the market.

More info

BIM Toolbox

SCIA Engineer includes a set of practical tools to support the reference-model based workflow of Open BIM:

  • TrueAnalysis: both the structural (reference) and the analytical models are handled
  • Member recognizer: to transform an imported solid into a 1D or 2D equivalent analytical object
  • Alignment: to connect and align members and surfaces properly at the joints/intersections
  • Revision management: to compare a new version of an imported IFC file with the current project data

Thanks to these tools, a workflow based on IFC becomes not only possible, but practical as well.

Revit link

SCIA Engineer is the perfect complement to anyone working with Revit.  The bi-directional link between Revit and SCIA Engineer means that you can start a project in either software and a change made in one software can be easily update the other.  The link supports:

  • All types of geometry and materials: slabs, floors, walls, shells, beams, columns and bracing in a variety of materials (steel, concrete, timber) either straight or curved.
  • Analytical elements: supports, hinges, loads and load combinations
  • Results back into Revit: Deflections, stresses and beam end reactions
  • Change Management.  All changes are tracked and highlighted so you can easily see the edits coming in from the other program

Interoperability with Rhino3D and Grasshopper

An emerging workflow, particularly among high end designers, is utilizing Rhino and Grasshopper to create complex geometry. There is a number of ways that this data can easily be plugged into SCIA Engineer.

  • Complex 3D geometries can be imported into SCIA Engineer where they can be easily converted into analytical members, loaded, analyzed and designed.
  • Text based output from Rhino can be copied and pasted into SCIA’s tables for automatic model generation. This can be be made more robust with the use of XML.
  • There are a number of Grasshopper plug-ins that allow you to connect directly to SCIA Engineer, as well as complete workflows for linking Grasshopper, SCIA Engineer and Revit through Dynamo.  For more information on these emerging workflows, feel free to contact (link sends e-mail)us.

Tekla interoperability

SCIA and Tekla are both part of buildingSMART alliance’s Open BIM initiative and promote IFC as the preferable format for data exchange of 3D structural models.  In addition SCIA Engineer offers a bi-directional link that makes it easy exchange of steel models.

Steel structures and components can be easily modeled in SCIA Engineer, analyzed and optimized, then sent to Tekla for final documentation and detailing. Reversely, models created in Tekla can be pushed to SCIA where the design can be optimized and then pushed back to Tekla for final documentation.

Allplan Structural Model Link

Based on the Open BIM workflow approach and with the high-level IFC support of both Allplan Engineering and SCIA Engineer, models can be sent to and from both software with ease. Furthermore, reinforcement can be designed in SCIA Engineer to be further detailed in Allplan Engineering, or modeled in Allplan Engineering to be verified in SCIA Engineer.

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