Architectural steel represents a huge part of the materials market and a good chunk of the steel demand in the United States and worldwide. Infrastructure is constantly growing and with it comes the demand for building materials that are ready to meet the rigorous demands of building codes and architectural expectations.
To understand the huge demand for structural steel, it’s first important to recognize the different shapes in demand from architects and builders. Here’s a semi-comprehensive list of the fundamental structural steel shapes essential for building:
- Flanged I beams: As their name indicates, these beams are shaped like a capital “I” and feature flanges at both the top and bottom of the beam. There are actually two distinct types of flanged I beams: wide flanges and bearing piles. The only difference between the two is that for bearing piles, the flanges and web (center) have equal thickness.
- American standard beams: A variation on the traditional flanged I beam, American standard beams actually have a sloped flange that works to add extra strength to the web of the beam. These beams are engineered to proportion weight closer to the center of the beam, where the structural integrity is strongest and most supported.
- Channels: Channels look like a vertical cross-section of an I beam, with flanges only on one side and a flat surface on the other. Like American standard beams, the flanges are sloped to help concentrate support closer to the web of the beam, allowing it to bear more weight consistently.
- Tees: Tees look like a horizontal cross section of a flanged I beam, with two top flanges and no bottom to the web. Because tees are cut directly from flanged beams, there are three distinct types: WT, ST and MT, cut from wide flanges, American standard beams and non-standard I beams.
- Tubes: Also called hollow steel sections, tubes are a curved rectangular section of cut steel that can be used for architectural support, as well as practical function. Builders often run plumbing, electrical and other utilities through tubes in order to protect them and hide them within infrastructure design.
- Pipes: Pipes are self-explanatory and come in wide variety of sizes and shapes. They can be fabricated from different materials depending on the nature of their use.
- Angles: Angles are simply a 90-degree section of metal that can be used to reinforce architecture in strategic areas. They can be fabricated in both equal and unequal capacities, depending on the installation.
- Plates: Plates resemble thicker sections of sheet metal and can be fabricated in all different shapes and sizes, usually starting at .5” thickness. Smaller plates are also referred to as bars. Plates and bars are used to reinforce architectural segments.
Each of these unique structural steel shapes serves a practical purpose in the construction of buildings. Because of this, there’s unique demand for structural steel overall, as well as each unique shape. Depending on the nature of the construction, having the right structural steel shapes and components is essential.
Want to learn more about structural steel varieties or inquire about your demand for a specific shape? Contact Quality Metals Inc. today for more information about availability!