It would be really slick if there was a way to convert bar members to built up elements made from plates or panels. I was playing around with doing a base plate design in Robot and in order to transfer the loads from the column into the base plate, I needed to model the column as plates with the correct flange and web thicknesses. Would it be reasonable to consider this as a feature request. I can think of all sorts of uses for it.
1. Base plate design with random bolt locations or off set member locations on the plate.
2. Modeling panel zone deformation in moment connections.
3. Modeling additional drift due to Reduced Beam Section (RBS) moment connections.
4. Checking affects of holes in steel members.
5. Checking affects of stiffners in steel members.
6. Any other situation where the physical geometry of the member would be needed instead of just the members analytical properties.
Into shells (panels) or solids? How accurate your analysis (and the geometry of a profile) has to be? What if you have an end plate at the end of a beam which is bolted (or welded) to a column flange - would you still model this as a shell model?
So, two requests - convert into a shell and into a solid?
Seams for normal steel shapes, a panel would work fine. I would then add a panel to represent the base plate and account for the hole locations with supports. The plate could be assigned a compression only support condition.