The Advantages of Steel Beams

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Steel beams are used in the manufacture of skyscrapers.
Steel beams are used in the manufacture of skyscrapers. (Image: steel construction image by charles taylor from Fotolia.com)

Steel is a versatile, popular material used in the construction of everything from skyscrapers to housing. Steel beams are composed mostly of iron with some alloying elements. Two types of steel beams exist: cast iron and wrought iron beams. Cast iron beams are made by pouring molten iron into a mold and are strong in compression but brittle. Wrought iron beams are made by forming heated iron and are strong in tension.

Strength

Steel has a very high strength-to-weight ratio. This means that a steel beam of a given mass is capable of resisting much higher stresses without fracture than an equivalent mass of wood or stone.

Steel has a high strength-to-weight ratio, as can be seen from the thinness of these benches.
Steel has a high strength-to-weight ratio, as can be seen from the thinness of these benches. (Image: steel benches image by green308 from Fotolia.com)

Resistance to Corrosion

Steel can be manufactured in such a way as to be extremely resistant to rust and corrosion. Stainless steel is a mix of steel and chromium. Unlike wood, steel does not rot. Steel beams thus have a much longer life expectancy.

Steel can be made quite resistant to this kind of rusting and corrosion.
Steel can be made quite resistant to this kind of rusting and corrosion. (Image: corrosion image by jean claude braun from Fotolia.com)

Cost

Steel costs very little compared with other metals like aluminum or titanium. This, combined with its other mechanical and chemical attributes, contributes significantly to the popularity of steel beams as a construction material.

Steel is cheap compared with many alternative materials.
Steel is cheap compared with many alternative materials. (Image: dollars image by peter Hires Images from Fotolia.com)

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