Digital wood design with Calculatis – where an ancient building material meets innovative software

Published 15 September 2020
Combining one of the oldest materials in the world with the most modern digital technology enables wood construction to reach new heights. The timber engineering tool Calculatis by Stora Enso supports planning and static design in wood construction and now also offers a new acoustics module.

To design an outstanding wooden building, the material characteristics need to be considered at every step of the project. Therefore, designing efficient solutions with massive wood elements like CLT and LVL requires detailed calculations that take into consideration the specific properties of wood.

Engineers working with wood elements often solve this problem by using a range of spreadsheets for calculations and structural analysis, but the team at Stora Enso wanted to find a better way to support wood design and developed CLT Engineer, a timber engineering software that was renamed a year later when LVL elements were added, and became known as Calculatis. The tool is now available in six languages and has users all across the globe.

Thomas Demschner, R&D Manager, Structural Engineering, and the creator of Calculatis, explains how the development of the software started: “CLT as a building material has a load bearing behaviour that is rather complex to analyse – what was needed was a software to help engineers. We wanted to develop something that’s always up to date and rather universal, so we decided to offer a browser-based tool that can be used on any device.”

Detailed calculations for efficient design

With Calculatis, designers are better able to find the most efficient solutions for their input and export illustrative reports to be shared internally and with external engineers and contractors. In addition, the software makes structural calculations more straightforward. Modules for a wide range of elements allow for faster calculations and a smoother workflow with all the results in one place.

Reinhard Aigner, Technical Director at DMH in Austria, uses Calculatis daily and has been using the tool and sharing feedback with the development team since the beta version was first released. “We use Calculatis from the bidding phase all the way to detail planning,” Aigner says, explaining that Calculatis results are used internally in sketches and execution plans and sometimes shared with structural engineers and carpenters.

At the core of Calculatis are the ready-to-use modules that were designed to enable fast calculations for specific elements. “We use Calculatis module by module, depending on needs. My favourite and most used modules are the CLT floor panel, CLT column, CLT wall and cantilever floor/roof modules,” Reinhard Aigner says. Calculatis initially offered CLT modules, glulam and solid timber and has since then been expanded to include LVL.

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Thomas Demschner
Thomas Demschner, R&D Manager, Structural Engineering and the creator of Calculatis

User-driven development

Every Calculatis feature is the result of in-depth research and a collaborative process between the development team and Calculatis users. Susanna Kauto, Digital Product Owner, says that user feedback is a crucial factor in shaping the product roadmap: “New features are developed and prioritised from the user point of view. User input has been extremely important from the beginning when Thomas Demschner started developing the tool. We still have an ongoing dialogue with our users to ensure we understand their needs and develop features that help solve their problems.”

The growing popularity of timber construction, the high pace of product development at Stora Enso, and suggestions from users are the driving forces behind continued development of Calculatis. Ongoing development of new features is also a way to share specialized knowledge, Thomas Demschner explains: “With continued feature development, we can wrap all the knowledge and experience we have in house into this software and support design engineers and customers around the world.”

Entering into new feature territories – acoustics module added

Susanna Kauto highlights some of the features in this year’s release: “We have added suspended and simple support design for LVL rib panels, updates to the connection design module with supporting material from Simpson Strong-Tie, Sihga and Schmid Schrauben Hainfeld, as well as a brand-new acoustics module – the first ever of its kind in construction design.”

The new acoustics module allows Calculatis users to work with sound insulation performance in CLT floor and wall buildups. Niko Kumer, R&D Manager Building Physics and Fire Safety, explains: “CLT is still a very new building material and there is limited information available about its sound insulation performance. There is a handful of build-up libraries available online, but Calculatis allows users to predict the sound insulation in the frequency range from 50Hz to 5000Hz while varying several parameters of the buildups.”

Sign up free of charge at calculatis.storaenso.com and find out how Calculatis can support your next timber project.

Images

Susanna Kauto
Susanna Kauto, Digital Product Owner