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All That You Wanted to Know about Universal Beams

by Guest Post on Feb 5, 2019

From bridges and railway lines to commercial complexes and residences, universal beams are used in pretty much all construction activities. An enhanced depth makes the universal beam far capable of handling greater loads than any other beam. Universal beams come in every shape and size and the way in which they are defined differs from country to country. If you’re in Japan, you need JIS regulations, while Europe follows EN or European Norms and in the USA, ASTM standards apply.

Some of the more commonly known universal beams are as follows:

H-section- there are three kinds of H-beams- heavy (HEM), intermediate (HEB) and light (HEA). Because their flange is wider and thicker, these beams are considered much stronger than the rest and therefore, great to handle higher pressure and load.

I-section- also known as IPE stainless steel beams, the I shape is a European stainless steel beam that is comparatively slender in size. It’s perhaps the most widely used beam. They are more tall than broad. The other variation of the beam is the IPN stainless steel beam which is a tad sloped and conical, rather than flat. Sizes are more or less the same. The IPN lends itself to fewer construction situations and so, the IPE is fast becoming popular.

W-beam- similar to an I-beam, it has a straight flange and is a common sight in residential construction. This is the American version of the H-beam that’s popular in Europe.

Girders-a commonly seen sight in construction, the girder is a horizontal beam that lends support to beams smaller in size. Girders are great to carry loading rolls.

Lintels-often used as a decorative element in a house or building, the lintel is actually a structural block that is placed between two vertical beams to support them. You’d have surely seen a lintel- over doors, windows, fireplaces, and so on. It might look pretty but it has a serious purpose too- to bear loads. Lintels come in all different material types, including wood.

There are many ways to make universal beams. The more coming ones are hot extruding and hot rolling. The issue with hot rolling is that it needs huge volumes to be undertaken. Hot extruding has a size range limitation. The other method is bolting, which means bringing two stainless steel channels together. This is done using a press brake or hot rolling. It’s not as popular now.

The effective method today is laser welding. It can be used for any number of steel beams and in any size, from large to small. There is no need for additional filler metal for welding flange and web which means the distortion of the steel is reduced immensely. There’s added flexibility too. Of all the methods, this one is the best for creating effective universal beams.

Standards are rigorously maintained because the industry is highly regulated. It has to be this way given how the safety of people depends completely on the strength of the universal beam. They support, protect and preserve. 

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