We’re not very aware of it, but we live with steel. We drive steel cars, we live in houses built with steel, our chairs and tables use steel skeletons. The value of steel is undeniable, and its impact on society is vital despite it being largely taken for granted by the common citizen.
But what makes the steel very important? Let’s take a closer look.
Durability and Strength
The discovery of iron was a significant point in the history of humankind, and its further development was critical to the improvement of civilization. Its value is largely attributed to its strength, especially in comparison to its size. A single steel beam can support significantly more than a wooden beam can, reducing the materials required when creating structure while allowing a sense of freedom when it comes to design.
Modern steel products are considerably stronger and better suited for construction, and the research and breakthroughs are still continuous, making the future of steel in construction very bright and full of potential.
Flexible and Adaptive
Steel is highly adaptive, as not only can you bend it while keeping its strength and rigidity, but it’s also highly accepting of treatments to change its external nature. There are industrial coatings and agents available to make it more resistant to the elements, which is critical with industries dealing in extreme temperatures. It’s also a highly modular material, allowing it to be repositioned, manipulated, and combined to the needs of the design. Truly, steel offers a sense of freedom when it comes to structuring design, adding a layer of flexibility (and strength!) not otherwise available before.
Accessibility and Reusability
There are fewer raw materials needed to produce a single strong steel beam, especially in comparison to wood. As steel production research and technology continue to progress, materials required for steel production become more efficient and optimized. Scientists harnessed the power of alloys, mixing different kinds of steel to produce different results appropriate for different purposes.
This also reduces the need for the constant mining of natural ingredients, something that is relevant in this environmentally aware era. Add the fact that many steel materials are highly reusable, as even after demolition, the steel used to create structures can still be harvested for reuse.
Resistance to the Elements
On its own, steel is highly resistant to the elements. It’s highly resistant to high temperatures, even flames, reducing the risk of fire- something that has plagued non-steel structures throughout the history of humanity. It’s also resistant, if not immune, to insect attacks and burrowing animals. While steel isn’t exactly waterproof, there are many ways to treat or coat it so that it becomes so, with some types of steel alloy being almost immune to oxidation or corrosion.
Uses of Steel in Construction
We know that steel is heavily used in construction, but just how frequently is it used? Below are some of the most common steel structures, and why steel is the material of choice for them.
High Rise Structures
The presence of towering skyscrapers in any modern city is all thanks to how humans have harnessed the power of steel. Steel is resistant to different kinds of elements, be it rain, earthquake, or winds. It’s a relatively flexible metal, providing leeway when it comes to motion, but durable enough to not bend or break when pressure is applied.
Industrial Sheds and Warehouses
Warehouses and industrial structures owe their existence to structural steel. These very simple and basic structures rely on the structural integrity of steel, providing a comparatively low-cost and accessible method when it comes to storage and industrial-grade requirements.
Homes and Residential Structures
Just as skyscrapers need to survive and endure the elements, so do the houses that we live in. And because steel has become so easy to manufacture, they’re fast replacing wood as the primary choice for creating foundations for homes. Continuous research and development have led to better and more efficient uses of steel for home construction as well, making its value undeniable.
Bridges and Passageways
Because steel is a highly tensile material, its strength-to-weight ratio is high. In comparison to other materials, such as wood or soil, it can withstand weight much higher than its own. This makes steel perfect for bridges and other passageways, as engineers and architects can design according to function or ergonomics rather than having to design around an environmental trait or feature.
Steel is definitely among the most important inventions of humans. It has greatly impacted society through its ability to protect. In the future, steel will remain a viable option for construction, along with other environmentally sustainable options that are being developed.