What are RSJ Beams and What Are They Used For?

Posted: 26 Oct 23


RSJ beams, commonly known as Rolled Steel Joists, are a fundamental component in the construction industry. Their unique 'I' shape provides them with the strength to support large loads, making them indispensable in various projects.

Each type of RSJ beam, whether it's a Universal Beam (UB), Universal Column (UC), Parallel Flange Channel (PFC), or Tapered Flange Beam (TFB), has a unique profile tailored for specific structural needs. 

For instance, Universal Beams are often used for horizontal structures like floors and roofs, while Universal Columns are more suited for vertical loads like pillars

But how do they differ from I-beams, and where exactly are they used? 


Difference Between RSJ and I-Beam 

While both RSJ and I-beams have an 'I' shape, the term RSJ is predominantly used in the UK, whereas I-beam is more universal. The design might slightly vary, but their purpose remains consistent: to provide robust structural support. 


Industries Utilising RSJ Beams 

Structural steel beams have been a staple in construction since the late 19th century. Their design, influenced by the need for stronger and more efficient construction materials during the Industrial Revolution, has made them a preferred choice for a variety of structural applications. 

RSJ beams, with their robust and versatile nature, have found their way into a myriad of industries. Their ability to provide strong support and span large distances makes them integral to modern construction, providing the skeletal framework for buildings, bridges and boats, to name just a few. Their unique shape offers both vertical and horizontal strength, making them versatile and reliable. 

Here's a closer look at some of the industries they are currently utilised: 


1. RSJ Beams in the Construction Industry 

Overview: The backbone of many structures, RSJ beams are pivotal in the construction sector. The diversity in RSJ beam types showcases the adaptability and innovation in steel construction.

Whether it's supporting the floors we walk on or the roofs that shelter us, these beams play a pivotal role in shaping our built environment. 

Application: They are widely used in a wide range of construction projects, from small residential buildings to towering skyscrapers, RSJ beams are used in foundations, floors, and roofs.

Their strength allows for the creation of vast open spaces without the need for numerous supports. 

Benefits: RSJ beams are a valuable asset for the construction industry. They offer a blend of durability,  adaptability and are relatively easy to install, enabling innovative architectural design and helping to reduce contruction costs and time.

a new build construction site in the UK
Construction of a bridge and highway

2. RSJ Beams for Infrastructure Development 

Overview: Infrastructure projects are essential for economic growth, transportation, and connectivity. They help to develop communities, improve quality of life, and move goods and people efficiently.

Among the most important infrastructure projects are bridges and highways, which connect different regions and ensure efficient transportation networks. Major infrastructure projects demand materials that can endure the elements and time. 

Structural Steel plays a critical role in ensuring the safety, reliability, and efficiency of these large projects.

Application: Bridges heavily rely on RSJ structural steel beams to support decks and ensure stability. In highway overpasses and flyovers, these beams provide the necessary support to handle vehicular loads. 

Benefits: Structural steel is a vital material for the construction of major infrastructure projects. Its high strength-to-weight ratio, durability, versatility, and sustainability make it the ideal choice for projects that require strong, reliable, and long-lasting structures.

3. Structural Steel in Agriculture 

Overview: Modern agriculture relies on large and complex structures to store grain, house livestock, and support other farm operations. RSJ beams are an essential component of these structures, providing the strength and durability needed to withstand heavy loads and challenging environmental conditions.

Application: They provide the strength and support needed to construct large and complex agricultural structures, such as barns, storage silos, livestock housing facilities, and greenhouses. 

RSJ beams are used to construct the structural framework of large barns and sheds; reinforce the walls of storage silos, which are used to store grain, fertiliser and other agricultural products; support the walls and roofs of livestock housing facilities and construct the frames of agricultural greenhouses.

Benefits: They offer a number of benefits, including strength, durability, corrosion resistance, versatility, and ease of installation. They are resistant to bending and warping and their durability ensures that agricultural structures can resist the wear and tear of farm operations and changing weather conditions. 

a farm building constructed out of RSJ beams
a ship being built using structural steel beams

4. Shipbuilding With Steel Beams

Overview: RSJ beams, or rolled steel joists, play an important role in certain shipbuilding applications. While ships are made from a variety of materials, including steel, wood, and aluminum, RSJ beams are often used in areas where added strength and reinforcement is needed.

Application: They are used to support the weight of ships and boats in dry docks; construct the structural framework of shipyard cranes, and in the construction of certain sections of larger vessels that require added structural reinforcement. 

Benefits: RSJ beams offer the strength needed to support heavy ship components during construction and repair and provides durability, versatility, and ease of installation.

As a result, RSJ beams are widely used in a variety of shipbuilding applications, from small vessels to large ocean liners. 

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