What’s a Wide Flange Beam?

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Wide flange beams are used in building houses, bridges, and other structures. They have a central web connecting two parallel end units, known as flanges. They distribute loads over a large area and weigh less than a square beam of the same size. In the USA, they are the most commonly used beam type and are marked with a “W” followed by the depth of the tape and weight of the beam.

A wide flange beam is a type of building material used to build houses, bridges, and other structures. Like the standard I-beam, it has a profile resembling the letter “I” or “H”. A central web connects the two parallel end units, known as flanges. While the flanges in a standard beam are relatively narrow, those in a wide beam are much wider and can be equal in length to the web height. In the United States (USA), wide flanged beams are the most commonly used beam type, while standard I-beams are less common.

To understand how this type of beam works, a person can imagine a single sheet of steel lying on the ground. This sheet represents the lower flange of the beam. A second sheet of steel with the same dimensions as the first can be placed in the center of this sheet, positioned at a 90 degree angle, then welded or forged into place to form the web. A third sheet is then placed parallel to the first to form the second flange. In a standard I-beam, the flanges are usually narrower than the height of the web, whereas in a wide flanged beam they are often as long as the web is high.

This beam can be used in many types of building applications. In the United States, it is the standard for creating columns in domestic and commercial buildings. These beams can also be placed parallel to the ground to form floors and roofs. They also play a vital role in bridge construction and act as structural supports for highway ramps and overpasses. These beams are traditionally made from steel or aluminum, although wood and composite designs have also become more common, particularly for residential construction.

The main advantage of the wide flange beam is that it allows builders to distribute a load over a large area. This means it can support a larger or wider structure with less risk of failure. They also weigh less than a square beam of the same size, but can support a greater load, making them more efficient.

Throughout the world, beam sizes are standardized, making it easier for engineers, architects and builders to coordinate during construction. In the United States, dimensions are based on standards developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Other countries may also use these standards, although some have their own set of beam sizing requirements.

The dimension of a wide flanged beam in the USA is always preceded by a “W”. The numbers following this letter give the depth of the tape and the weight of the beam. For example, a beam marked W10x22 will have a web depth of 10 inches (25cm) and a weight of 22lbs per foot (33kg per m).

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