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Gain a competitive edge in structural design using cellular beams

Posted on in Steel Design

The popularity of cellular beams has been rapidly increasing in recent decades for many building types. Beyond the aesthetic fashion for cellular beams, they have many advantages for a building project.

A cellular beam is a form of beam with multiple regular web openings. They are made from longitudinally split and re-welded rolled steel sections such as UB or UC or fabricated from steel plate.

3D structural model with integrated cellular beam design

Using a rolled steel section as the parent section to form cellular beams provides an easy and cost-effective solution.

In general, the resulting cellular beam is 40-60% deeper than the parent section which gives, approximately, a 50% greater load capacity and a 100% increased stiffness relative to the original parent section with no increase of weight.

In the following example, we will show how the section properties and the loading capacity increase with different cellular beam geometry. We have a 10 m, simply supported, fully restrained beam. We optimised the beam to Eurocode 3 in four versions (one uniform and three cellular versions) to find the loading capacity and the weight-saving compare to the lightest alternative beam section.

Comparison of different cellular beam solutions

Comparing the analysis results from the four beams, we see that using the minimum recommended opening diameter (0.6 times the parent section height), already we have a 23% increase in load capacity and a 24% decrease in deflection.

If we use the upper recommended diameter of openings (0.8 times the parent section height), the improvement is more significant (30% and 30%).

We then re-designed all of the beams with the same loading to find the alternative lightest hot-rolled section for both ultimate and serviceability limit states.

We see that the alternative hot-rolled beam to carry the same load as the first cellular beam needs to be 10% heavier while the other two cellular beams need 18% less material than the closest hot-rolled alternative.

Competitive edge in structural design using cellular beams

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