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Last edited 27 Nov 2019
Steel is an alloy of iron and other elements such as carbon. It is one of the most commonly used materials used in the construction industry due to its proven strength and durability. Steel construction has many advantages; an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, the ability to join metals together easily, the ability to form efficient shapes, and so on.
There are a number of different forms of structural steelwork. Some of the more common forms are described below.
Hot-rolled steel is commonly used to form steel beams and columns on construction projects. They are created by passing heated steel between large rollers, which deform it into the required shape, such as; H, I, W, S, C, angles, tubes, and so on.
- BS 4-1: 2005 – Structural steel sections. Specification for hot-rolled sections.
- BS EN 10210-1: 2006 – Hot finished structural hollow sections of non-alloy and fine grain steels.
- BS EN 10056-1: 1999 – Specification for structural steel equal and unequal angles.
- Flange: The top and bottom horizontal elements of the 'I'. This resists most of the bending moment experienced.
- Web: The vertical element. This resists shear forces.
- Root radius: The radius of the weld point at which the flange meets the web.
- Toe radius: The radius of the outside edge of the flange.
 Universal beam (UB)
 Universal column (UC)
Joists are used to support the floors or roof of a building. A steel joist must be designed to withstand forces and stress while minimising weight, space requirements, and material costs. Different types of joist designs are available based on loading and mounting configurations. Open-web steel joist (OWSJ) consists of two parallel members, or chords, with a repeating, triangular web structure located between the chords.
These are typically rectangular hollow sections (RHS) or square hollow sections (SHS). They are used less often than UCs and UBs because they are more difficult to bolt to other beams or members. Dimension specification example:
'250 x 150 x 5 RHS' – An RHS of nominal dimensions 250 mm wide, 150 mm deep, and 5 mm thick.
'250 x 250 x 5 SHS' – An SHS of nominal dimensions 250 mm wide, 250 mm deep, and 5 mm thick.
These can be either equal angles or unequal angles and are often called 'L-shape' sections.
Unequal angles have a longer vertical leg. They are used in many of the same applications as equal angles but are often also used as lintels as they have greater loading capabilities.
Compound sections are produced by welding together standard sections. They can be used for designs that specify very high loads and long spans that would be unsuitable for standard sections alone. Common variations include:
- Beam or column compound: A standard joist, beam or column section with a steel plate welded above and below.
- Channel compound: These can be either a standard channel welded back-to-back; back-to-back and welded with flange plates above and below; or welded toe-to-toe.
- Gantry girder: These are a combination of standard channel, joist and plate sections welded together.
These are commonly used for structures that require long spans with light-to-moderate loading. Deflection is resisted by the relative increase in depth, and structural dead loads can be reduced by the voids that are included in the web.
The different types of open web beam include:
- Perforated beam: A standard beam section with circular voids cut through the web. The voids are spaced to suit the required load.
- Castellated beam: An oxy-acetylene torch is used to cut a standard beam section in two along the web. Each section's projections are then welded together forming a beam that is twice as deep as before.
- Litzka beam: Similar to a castellated beam, but the overall depth is increased further by welding spacer plates to the projects.
- Plate girder: This is typically an I-beam made up from separate structural steel plates which are welded, bolted or riveted together to form the vertical web and horizontal flanges of the beam, filled with a steel bar laced web.
- Tubular lattice: This has top and bottom tubular booms connected by tubular bracing.
For more information, see Girder.
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- Failure of cast iron beams.
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- Guidance for construction quality management professionals: Structural Steelwork.
- Installing fire protection to structural steelwork (GG 85).
- Long span roof.
- Major cast metal components.
- Metal fabrication.
- Skeleton frame.
- Stainless steel vs. galvanised steel.
- Steel frame.
- Structural steelwork: a quality perspective.
- Super-strength steel structures.
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- Weathering steel.
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