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Type of Structures:Steel, Concrete, Arches & Cables

Type of Structures:Steel, Concrete, Arches, & Cables
Types of structures
The materials used by a Structural Engineer are wide and varied. As a result, there are are many types of structures. However, the main components of most structures are Steel, Concrete, or. In most structures, the construction is a combination of these elements. A cable bridge, for example, will usually consist of cables (steel), attached to supporting beams (steel), supporting the bridge deck (concrete), sitting on a foundation at either end (concrete). What a beautiful ensemble!!
Steel Construction
Steel is a wonderful invention. It is very strong for its weight, and relatively inexpensive and available for its strength. Many Structural Engineers dedicate their careers to the design of steel structures. A large steel structure, with beams and trusses and girders of awesome proportions, is truly an inspiring site.
Steel is also the material of choice for commercial or industrial truss construction. A truss is simply a combination of bars linked together to form a series of small triangles. Because of this geometry, trusses can provide very high stability over long distances with relatively little weight.
Steel joint construction, whether within a truss or not, utilizes the properties of compression and tension to support a structure. Steel is one of the strongest materials available when in tension. A joint is said to be in 'equilibrium' when the sum of all the forces pushing (compression) and pulling (tension) the joint is equal to zero. This state of 'equilibrium' is what Structural Engineers design for within a structure - to make each and every joint balance to zero. If any of the joints aren't at zero, they will move until they either reach equilibrium or fail.
Concrete construction
Concrete is an Engineers modeling clay. It can be molded and shaped into beautiful, artistic, and useful structures. It has amazing strength in compression, and since it's basic components are water and sand or gravel, it is extremely inexpensive.
The use of concrete in construction dates back to Roman times, but the modern practice of using 'Reinforced Concrete' in construction is new to this century. Using steel rebar embedded within a concrete beam, column, or slab utilizes the tensile strength of the steel in conjunction with the compressive strength of the concrete to make a stronger, safer structure.
An excellent example of the use of concrete to revolutionize construction is the move towards using more and more reinforced concrete in the construction of long-span bridges. Concrete is so useful, lending itself and its strength to be formed in any shape a mold can be created in, and this ease of construction leads to some extremely attractive, strong, and useful structures. Bridges are now spanning record distances with higher safety factors than ever before, thanks in large part to the use of concrete.
As with steel, whole careers are dedicated to the development of new and improved concrete mixes, utilizing new polymer and fibrous additives, plasticizers, lightweight aggregates, and even recycled materials.
Cable bridges
Cable structures are some of the most beautiful and recognized structures in engineering. The Golden Gate Bridge, in San Francisco, California, has become a dominant image of beauty, strength, and engineering; it is also a cable supported (suspension) bridge.
Cables make use of the tensile strength of steel, and can support incredible forces for their size. However, they have no strength at all in compression - pushing on a cable is a little like pushing on a wet noodle - and so are used almost exclusively in suspension structures.
Arch Bridges
Arches have been, historically and in modern times, an industry standard for stable construction, though they are used as the main support structure most often in bridge spans. One of the enduring images of the great Roman empire in Europe is that of the great aqueduct constructed by the Romans 2000 years ago: it is a series of stone arches supporting a stone and mortar water channel. The aqueduct is still in use in some areas of Europe. Arches can be constructed of many materials - stone, wood, concrete, or steel.
Beam Bridges
Beam supported construction of bridges is the first and foremost style of bridge building; simply laying a straight member between two supports and traveling across the member.
Beam supported construction of bridges is the first and foremost style of bridge building; simply laying a straight member between two supports and traveling across the member.Today's beam structures are somewhat more sophisticated than the traditional 'log across the creek' approach, however. Utilizing pre-stressed members, new materials, and innovative reinforced concrete mixes, spans are becoming steadily longer and at the same time more safe and usable for the public.

Reference :Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Last update: 2009-06-01
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