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Types of Beam Design

Types of Beam Designs

There are many different types of beam designs and materials to choose from when designing a structure. Engineers can choose from various shapes, sizes, construction materials, and construction techniques. Deciding on the proper beam design for a particular structure can be a complicated process. Structural engineers and builders have many different beam designs and materials to choose from when attempting to create a sound structural design.

Cantilever Beams

Cantilever beam designs create a suspended effect. These beams allow the creation of a bay window, balconies, and some bridges. In cantilever beam designs, the weight load is distributed back into the main beams of the structure, allowing a portion of the structure to extend beyond the supported perimeters of the structure’s foundation.

Steel I Beam

Steel I beams are very popular choice in construction. The I beam is shaped like a capital I also know as a W shape. The I beam design is the most efficient use of structural steel since it moves the bulk of the steel into the portions of the beam actually resisting the loads. The I beam design is the most common foundational beam design found in commercial structures but can be used in Residential design.
Flitch Beam

Flitch beam designs are composite beams made from layering steel and wood to create a lightweight beam with adequate strength. The addition of wood elements allows the beams to be nailed to existing wooden structures.  Flitch beams are less expensive than solid steel beam designs. They are used to support heavy vertical loads while maintaining a strict construction budget.  Flitch beams are also very useful when adding additional load carrying capacity to an existing beam.
Hip Beam Designs

Hip beam designs are popular in roofing designs. A hip beam provides support for other load bearing beams branching off at symmetrical angles. This design is often used in residential construction.
Beam Materials

The various types of beams may be constructed of various materials as well as a mixture of shapes and sizes. Some beams are made of pre-stressed concrete, poured concrete, iron, wood, glulams, and other composite materials.
Beam designs vary so greatly that making the correct choice when designing a structure can be challenging. Structural engineering software can help take the guesswork out of the design process. Structural engineering software can also help an engineer decide if the desired beam designs are appropriate for the structure.

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