What Are I-Beams? A Short Overview - rubiconsteel.com

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What Are I-Beams? A Short Overview

September 5, 2022

The I-beam is one of the most common types of steel beams that you can use for your project. Engineers use I-beams in many different construction projects. The I-beam is one of the most used materials in construction as it is integral to the structural support of buildings. We’ve covered the types of steel beams before, but in this article, let’s find out more about why the I-beam is so integral to many projects around the world.

The I-beam

Alphonse Halbou patented the I-beam in the year 1849. He worked for a Belgian steel producing company called Forges de la Providence. Today, it is one of the most used steel beams due to its properties and affordability. The I-beam, shaped in the letter I, has two horizontal flanges, and a vertical element in-between called the “web.” 

Many people frequently confuse I-beams with H-beams, also known as the wide flange beam. This is due to their resemblance in shape and also in function. However, the I-beam has tapered flanges and its flanges are less thick in comparison, and its vertical web is also thinner. Also, they are lightweight in comparison to the H-beam. 

The strength of I-beams

Structural steel commonly composes the material of I-beams. However, other materials can be used as well. I-beams resist bending, tension, vibration, deflection, and buckling due to their “I” shape. Because of their strength and load-bearing capabilities, they’re great for making support frames and columns. Engineers also use them in trailers, elevators, hoists, bridges, and buildings made out of structural steel. Often more than not, they’re more common in industrial structures, large buildings, and warehouses, although they find a lot of use in residential projects as well. 

Besides their strength, I-beams are also cost-effective. They don’t need a lot of steel to produce. Additionally, they’re highly versatile and resistant to aging. In case there are any changes to the project’s specifics, engineers can also easily adapt I-beams to suit the needs of the project. Also, I-beams can be used up to 100 ft or 30.48 meters. Because of their adaptability, and applicability to almost all construction scenarios that require load-bearing capabilities, they’re called the “universal beam.” 

The key takeaway

I-beams are strong, versatile, cost-efficient, and effective. They’re a great economical, yet highly effective choice for building the support of a structure. They’re practically indispensable due to their dependability and affordability. If you have a project that needs a strong, long-lasting support, such as warehouses or large buildings, then you’re likely to use I-beams – and most certainly, you’ll be making the right choice. 

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