Steel I-beams, sometimes known as the H-beam, Universal Beam, or double T, is one of the most used components in construction and in engineering. Its name derived from how it looks like in a cross section, these beams have been designed to offer sound structural support for construction. Each steel I-beam is comprised of two parts, the flange which is the horizontal element, 2 of this on each beam, and the web which is the vertical element. These elements offer resistance from pressures like bending and shear.
History of I-Beams
The industrial boom of the 1800s has paved the way for pioneers in the construction industry to design the I-beam. Eventually, they’ve figured out a way to roll out I-beams out of a single piece of steel, thus making production efficient and apt for the increasing demand.
This process was patented by a Belgian, Alphonse Halbou of Forges de la Providence in 1849. In the US, it was the company Bethlehem Steel that was the leading steel supplier especially during the mid-20th century, their wide-flange structural shapes offered greater resistance to tension and compression which enabled with more challenging designs, thus ushering in the age of skyscrapers.
Decades after, steel beam prices in the US have been considerably affected by steep international competition, despite strict import quotas by the government and export restraints, companies like Bethlehem Steel eventually closed down due to its failure to adapt newer technologies offered by other companies in the world and failure to adapt to newer design demands, mostly for low-rise buildings which did not require the higher grades that skyscrapers would.
What to Consider?
Now in modern days, there are more variations to the design of an I-beam offering varying resistance to all sorts of structural pressure. As most projects, I-beams are still preferred. Steel beams follow an international standard, it is the industry standard that requires steel to be produced from sturdier materials than in the past. A572 is the most common, offering yield strength of about 42,000 to 60,000 psi. The newest, ASTM A992 offers a yield strength of 50,000 to 65,000 psi. Steel beam prices are mostly regulated all over the world. One main consideration for the buyer before ordering is the size needed for the beam, the size and dimension are derived from the size of the project that will be constructed as well as the load that the structure would need to withstand. The heavier the load, the taller the I-beam’s web will be. To know more about the structural function of I-beams, you can check this link: The I-beam shape
Prices of I-Beam
I- Beam prices will be calculated according to its dimensions (width, length, height) through these the weight of an entire beam can also be derived which would pretty much determine how much the steel I-beam costs. Many steel companies offer a comprehensive service to their clients which will include determining the size and type of I-beam your project requires as well as calculating how much your steel I-beam cost. I- Beam prices might be cheaper if coming from local suppliers that have pre-existing steel in their inventory. Calculated by weight, these often cost around $1 to $1.30 to a pound, A six foot high beam that weighs 130 pounds can cost about $130- $169. There are also companies that provide steel beam prices’ calculators that can give clients an idea of how much their I-beams will cost per linear meter instantly. These prices can vary according to local taxes. You can check this link for trusted suppliers of steel beams in the US: Steel beams suppliers
When considering the types of beams needed for your project, it would be smart to note that I-beams have optimal resistance to vertical pressure and tension. The web supporting the middle structure of the beam helps in redirecting the tension applied from the top flange, easing this structural compression onto the bottom flange which deals with the pressure by way of compression. Engineers often calculate the amount of tension that an i-beam can withstand by the measurement of the beam’s flange and its web.
Typically, if you double the height of the web, you double the amount of tension the beam can withstand. Note though that although this time-tested structural soundness of an I-beam is ideal for vertical pressure, the beam is not as good with bi-directional bending and horizontal pressure, twisting, which is also called torsion.
The idea of I-beams were conceived centuries ago, it was when people wanted to build higher structures, and it did the job well, it offered sound structural support when engineers and architects wanted their projects to be taller. The I-beams helped us achieve the height of skyscrapers. However, the I-beams’ inherent weakness is its low resistance to horizontal tension and torsion. Throughout history, engineers have determined that a structure’s strength depends on its ability to bend to pressure. On the event of earthquakes for example, where the most extreme kind of torsion can be imagined possible, I-beams can fail to withstand this kind of pressure.
For this reason, many modern projects now opt for components that have hollow or tube-like structure, there are tube beams as well as square tube beams out in the market, these are said to offer twice the resistance of an I-beam as they have essentially twice the web’s force.
Modern day architecture offers its own set of challenges for engineers. Structures now not only aim for greater and greater heights, it is more a matter of shape and viability for the building’s purpose of design. With these considerations in mind, one can no longer ignore what the I-beams lack, more challenging modern design as opposed to the traditional cube of old buildings, would often require resistance to pressure from all sides.
Though steel companies still get demand for I-beams, more innovations in the engineering industry now demand sturdier beams that can offer more efficient deflection against tension and pressure both horizontally and vertically. With these there tube beams as well as square beams and even roll form beams that have been tested and proven to be twice as efficient than the traditional I-beam