Structural steel is all around us, it's one of the most widely used materials in modern construction. Despite this, few are aware of the details involved when working with this versatile product. The purpose of this article is to help you form a better understanding of the industry and how it works by answering some commonly asked questions.
What is structural steel?
Structural steel products are manufactured using a specific profile or shape and chemical composition. The composition of the steel is mainly iron and carbon. Depending on the application, other elements can be combined to increase strength and durability. Engineers will use a particular steel profile or plate depending on the span, load baring requirements, and shape of the structure involved.
There are a number of reasons why steel is chosen over other construction materials for many projects.
What are the benefits of structural steel?
Cost - Steel has a high strength to weight ratio which causes reduced foundation costs. Faster construction saves on labor costs. Plus, long-term costs are reduced because steel structures don't require much inspection and maintenance.
Time - Apart from faster construction, prefabrication gives you more control over the project's time flow. This allows for more efficient project management.
Design versatility - Steel can be easily molded into any form. This gives the building's architects incredible scope for creativity in producing innovative designs. The strength of structural steel means that it's possible to build long spans without support columns.
Adaptability - Steel framing can be easily extended horizontally or vertically. Support beams can be strengthened without reducing floor space. This makes extending or converting the building much easier than concrete structures.
Health and safety - Steel is fire resistant and mold resistant.
Environmental benefits - 90% of all structural steel is recycled making it one of the most environmentally friendly building material.
What is structural steel fabrication?
Today architects and engineers use CAD to design complex structures with a lot of precision and detail. In order to meet these requirements, the steel has to undergo a fabrication process. This requires cutting, bending, and joining with the highest degree of accuracy. There are several ways in which each of these processes can be carried out depending on the material used, the size of the project, and the level of detail required.
What to look for when considering structural steel fabrication?
When taking on any project you need to work within your budget and complete the project on time. However, you cannot allow these factors to compromise the quality of the project.
It's important that your planning and execution be done correctly. So here are some pointers to follow when choosing the right people for the job:
Design has become incredibly complex with use of computer aided design. This means that cutting has to be done with a high degree of accuracy to meet tolerance requirements. In many cases, this means using sophisticated CNC cutting equipment. Fabrication methods are important. Using up to date methods ensures that quality standards are met while keeping costs down. Make sure that the company you use explains why they choose to use one method over another. You need to be sure that they have the skills, equipment, and workspace to deliver what is required. This can be of particular importance for large projects. Make sure they have a proven track record and can give examples of completed projects that match your requirements. Check if they have a reputation for completing work on time and meet the engineer's requirements.
What precautions to take with structural steel projects?
Corrosion - Structures that are exposed to harsh climatic conditions, like marine projects, require corrosion resistant alloys. However, other structures may also be vulnerable to corrosion. You should check whether the structure needs to be treated against corrosion with paint or other products.
Fire Resistant - Steel doesn't easily catch on fire, making it a safe choice. However other materials within the building may result in fires. Very high temperatures caused by fires can weaken steel, causing it to soften and buckle. For this reason it's advisable to insulate steel used in the structure against heat damage.
So let's look at the basic facts
Structural steel is widely used in the construction industry because it's economical, versatile, and robust. With the use of steel comes the need for fabrication - this can form a large part of the overall cost. It's important to carefully assess the fabrication methods you choose to use. This could be the critical factor in determining whether you complete the project on time, within budget, and to the correct specifications.