Possible Uses of the New Jumbo Tubes in the Steel Market

Jumbo Tubes are here.  HSS (hollow structural sections) are now available in the United States in a variety of square sizes from HSS10 x 10 x 3/4 up to HSS22 x 22 x 7/8 and in rectangular sizes from HSS16 x 12 x 3/4 up to HSS24 x 12 x 7/8.  For more information on dimensions and properties see the AISC listing.  (American Institute of Steel Construction.)

Their typical application will be as columns in buildings with clear spans, including “big box” structures.

But it might be interesting to speculate what other uses these large jumbo tubes might have.  There might be applications for component parts of machinery and equipment.  With the advances in tube lasers, certain parts might be created from a single cut-out tube that otherwise might require excessive welding.

The virtues of HSS in construction (according to the Steel Tube Institute) may serve the equipment industry as well:  aesthetic appeal, high strength-to-weight ratios, uniform strength, cost effectiveness and recyclability.

Furthermore, it should be possible to put a camber in, or otherwise more greatly curve, these large sections.  The resulting curved jumbo HSS tube sections could be used in buildings, bridges and other structures as well as component parts of machinery including tractor frames.

Large Tubing Bent for Tractor Frames
Large Tubes Curved for Roof Supports

No doubt the machinery to bend these large sections cold would have to be able to provide significant tonnage.  But companies are already bending large HSS, e.g. 24in diameter pipe with a 1in wall cold.

Over recent decades companies have developed ever greater capacity to form steel tubing cold on a variety of machines.  Structural steel, including tubing, is most often curved on machines called “section benders,” “structural rolls,” “pyramid rolls,” or “angle rolls.”  As the market develops greater capacity for bending ever larger HSS, architects and engineers will, no doubt, design using these new capabilities.


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