5 Best Free Bridge Design Software For Windows

Here is a best free bridge design software list for Windows. These freeware can be used by aspiring civil engineers to design and analyze different bridge types. For example, road bridges, railways bridges, and footbridges. These basically analysis your bridge design to find whether it is stable or unstable. For that, you need to specify location, geometry, partial factors, materials, load cases, etc. and get respective bridge analysis report.

The analysis report basically displays the suggestions to correct your design if it is unstable. You can also view analysis reports such as Load Test Results, Cost Calculations Report, Shear Diagram and Moment Diagram, Concrete Properties, Cross Beam Analysis Result, Cross Beam Live Load Result, Deflection History, Effective Prestress, Girder Properties, Girder Stability, etc. The report types vary from one bridge building software to another. You can print the fetched bridge analysis report in most of these. All in all, this bridge design software list will be helpful to aspiring as well as professional civil engineers.

My Favorite Free Bridge Design Software For Windows:

Bridge Designer is one of the best bridge design and bridge analysis software. It provides a unique feature of real-world simulation of created bridge structure with respect to truck driving across it. LimitState RING is also good as it is quite a simple yet effective bridge making software.

You may also like some best free Structural Engineering Software, Energy Modeling Software, and Race Track Design Software software for Windows.

Bridge Designer

Bridge Designer, as the name implies, is a dedicated bridge design software for Windows. Using it, you can create your own bridge structures and analyze them. The best part of this software is that it provides real life simulation of created bridge structure. It also comes with some sample bridge designs which can be modified accordingly. Some of these sample designs are Suspension Bridge, Pratt Deck Truss, Warren Thru Truss, Cable-Stayed Bridge, Combines Truss Bridge, etc.

How to design a bridge in this bridge building software:

As you start with a new bridge design, you have to input some parameters including deck elevation and support configuration, deck material and truck loading, and truss template. You can then add joints and members to the structure. Each element can have different material type (carbon steel, high-strength low-allot steel, etc.), cross-section (solid bar, hollow tube), size, etc. Member List and Member Details can be viewed from the right panel. There are various View options available in it, such as Member Numbers, Rulers, Medium Grid, Fine Grid, etc.

Bridge Structure Analysis Results:

It provides a dedicated Test menu using which, you can determine whether your bridge structure is strong enough to handle vehicles’ load or will it collapse. Here are the options provided in this menu:

  • Use Test > Load Test option for real-world simulation of created bridge structure with respect to a truck driving across it.
  • You can view Load Test Results with Compression Force, Compression Strength, Compression Status, Tension Force, Tension Strength, and Tension Status values.
  • It also lets you view Cost Calculations Report with type of cost, item, and cost calculations.
  • Load Test Results and Cost Calculations Report can be copied to the clipboard or can be directly printed too.
  • If your bridge structure is unstable, it displays suggestions to correct the design. It also provides an Auto-Correct Errors option.

The bridge design can be directly printed or saved in its own project format.

Bridge Designer is one of the best bridge design software as well as bridge analysis software for Windows. Its feature to simulate bridge structure in real time is not available in any other listed software.

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LimitState RING

LimitState RING is a free and dedicated bridge design software for Windows. It is specially designed to create and analyze bridge structures. It lets you design railway and highway types of bridge and then analyze them based on assigned loads.

How to design a bridge in this free bridge making software

To start with, it provides few sample bridge diagrams which you can use. Some of these are 2 span road bridge, 3 span road bridge, Bolton bridge, Salford bridge, etc. Apart from that, you can start with a new bridge structure by specifying input parameters. These input parameters are bridge type, effective bridge width, location, geometry (left abutment, right abutment, span, fill profile), partial factors (factors applied to loads like masonry unit weight, fill unit weight, track load, etc.), materials (masonry, backfill, surface fill), and load cases (assign loads using its vehicle database). You can then edit properties of elements used it bridge such as displacement, fill force, support movement, length, position, weight, etc.

After creating bridge structure and assigning load to it, you can run bridge structure analysis using Analysis menu > Solve option. It displays whether your design is correct or not and how you can correct the structure. It computes the load factor which causes the bridge to collapse, which is then displayed on the bridge design. A report with general bridge information, blocks information (position, area, support, fill force, etc.), contacts (position, points, loss, shear, moment, status, etc.), etc. is also displayed. The analysis report can be viewed from Analysis > Report.

Some general features of this bridge building software:

  • It provides 3D view mode to see through your structure. You pan, zoom, and rotate your bridge structure to view it.
  • It provides a Lock option to avoid unnecessary modifications to the design.
  • You can export bridge geometry as DXF file. It also provides an option to save the bridge design as a PNG, JPG, BMP, or PS image file. This feature didn’t work for me while testing.

This is another good bridge design software for Windows.

Note: In this free version, many features are locked such as you can’t save analysis report, Adequacy factor is not shown in the final report, etc.

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QConBridge is another free bridge design software for Windows.

How to design a bridge structure in this freeware:

  • Select number of spans and span continuity to create a bridge structure.
  • Next, you have to specify parameters for span geometry (left span/right span length) and boundary conditions (left support, interior support, right support).
  • Now, define cross section description including section properties and live load distribution factors. A Calculator tool is also available in this section.

After building up general specifications for your project, you can start designing each aspect of a bridge. You can add span/support by specifying limit state factors, insertion points, boundary conditions, hinge location, support data (height, density, offset, area, etc.), etc. A dedicated Loads menu is provided to assign loads to the structure and edit related parameters. For example, standard dead loads (DC/DW), pedestrian live load, dynamic load allowance, live load generation parameters, etc.

Using Bridge > Analyze option, you can specify a minimum number of analysis points and view Shear Diagram and Moment Diagram for selected loadings (DC dead load, DW dead load, live load envelope, pedestrian envelope, fatigue truck envelope, dual truck train + lane envelope, etc.). Additionally, you can select a loading and view its tabular result including Shear and Moment values. A whole report can also be fetched using respective option and can be exported as Report file (RPT) or Text file (TXT).

The bridge design or shear and moment diagrams can be directly printed.

QConBridge is another nice and easy to use bridge building software for Windows. It lets you setup display options for screen plot and printer plot styles.

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BridgeLink is another free software in this bridge design software list for Windows. It lets you design different kinds of bridge projects including Box Girder, Spectra, Curved, Prestressed Girder, I-Beams, U-Beams, and many more. You need to start with specifying input parameters to design a specific bridge structure. For example, for Curved Bridge, you need to define verticle curve data, roadway section and superelevation profile, and locations where elevations are computed.

It provides Bridge Plan and Alignment Plan sections to design a bridge structure. You can design respective elements of a bridge type such as girder, abutment, haunch, flange, slab, etc. You can assign point, distributed, moment, or an user-defined load to the bridge. Additionally, it provides Design Live Loads, Live Loads Distribution Factors, Construction Loads, Load Modifier, etc. features. From Project menu, you can select measurement unit, project criteria, environment conditions, effective flange width, structural analysis method, etc.

In this bridge design software, different view options are available including Bridge View, Girder View, and Pier View. Additional tools that help you design bridge structures include Hints, Labels (Alpha, Numeric), AutoCalc, etc.

From View menu > Graphs option, you can view different graphs including Analysis Result, Concrete Properties, Cross Beam Analysis Result, Cross Beam Live Load Result, Deflection History, Effective Prestress, Girder Properties, Girder Stability, and Stress History. You can also view different result reports such as bearing design parameters report, bridge analysis report, bridge geometry report, hauling report, lifting report, load rating report, pier reactions report, girder comparison report, etc.

You directly print above mentioned reports or save them as XML, TXT, etc. files.

All in all, it is a nice bridge making software in this list.

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ACoBri is the next software in this bridge design software list. It is a simple and easy to use bridge design software.

To start with a new bridge project, specify the type of bridge as road, railway, or footbridge. You can then use tools available on the main interface to edit various input parameters. These include superstructure parameters (type of beam, beam distribution, spans), slab characteristics, connection between slab and girders (connection definition, beam selection, etc.), reinforcement, material properties, connections at supports, concrete crossbeams, haunches at supports, support beams, diaphragms and changes in cross-section, steel section, lengths of cracked region, and footways and restraint systems. Additionally, you can specify superimposed dead loads, loads on footways, location of slow lanes, truck load models, support height adjustments and settlements, and national factors (weighting factors, SLS, ULS, etc.) as per your requirements.

In this bridge making software, you can create a preliminary design report. Its Post Processing button on the toolbar computes different calculations based on input data, such as geometry, diaphragms elements, crossbeam elements, etc. It also displays results in graphical form.

Overall, it a decent bridge design software. But, I would rank it at last because it’s not that user-friendly as compared to other software.

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