Software developed by a civil engineering professor and now offered for free performs analysis of thin-walled cold-formed steel structural members to predict load conditions that will make them buckle or deform.

"It’s a great innovation," says Jim Crews, a structural engineer at Unarco Material Handling Inc., a rack-building company in Springfield, Tenn. He says it is superior to calculating elements separately. With a "C" section member, for instance, the current practice is to model the lip, flange and web independently, he says. "You don’t get the assembly. But with this you get one value for the section of as a whole. It’s really quite a neat thing," he adds.

The program, CUFSM, was developed by Benjamin Schafer, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. He says CUFSM gives a more accurate failure analysis because element-by-element calculations miss a lot of behavior that turns up in thin sections. "The software hits it right on," Schafer says.

Download the software at