What is a Metal Truss?

Malcolm Tatum

A metal truss is a framework or structure that is created utilizing a series of triangular units connected with straight units that are connected at joints along the framework. A truss system of this type is typically constructed with a single metal, such as steel or iron, but may be created with the use of components made with different metals or metal alloys. Both the design and the selection of materials used in the construction have an impact on the overall stability and strength of the truss.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

There are a number of construction projects in which a metal truss is preferable to a truss structure composed of wood. Bridges are a prime example. Use of metal components that are coated and sealed to increase their resistance to changing climate conditions helps to make the truss system stronger and able to support more weight for sustained periods of time. The use of triangular components along with the support of the straight components attached at strategic points along the truss framing allow for slight contractions and expansions in different weather conditions without undermining the integrity of the overall framework.

A metal truss is also commonly used in the design of various types of commercial buildings. In some cases, the truss is utilized as part of the support system for the main roof of the building. This is because a metal truss system is often more space-efficient while still offering sufficient support to comply with local building codes. For example, hangars for airplanes are often constructed using a this type of system, making it possible to enjoy more open space overhead while also maintaining the integrity of the roof.

While less common, a metal truss network may also be used in some types of residential construction. This is especially true with home designs that are more elaborate in terms of interior space and a more open design to that space. Use of a metal truss system makes it easier to provide adequate support for the roof even if the shape of the space underneath is somewhat non-traditional.

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One of the key advantages of a metal truss is the ability of the framework to absorb shock with greater efficiency than other types of framing devices. Part of this is due to the connections that are formed at each location where sections of the truss are joined together. Referred to as nodes, these points help to distribute the shock in a manner that alleviates pressure that is applied to any one area of the framework, making it easier for the truss to withstand the shock.

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