What are the ASCE 7 Load Requirements for Fiberglass Structures?
Fiberglass is used in the construction industry because it has outstanding properties, such as its durability, high strength-to-weight ratio, and resistance to many environmental effects. To provide coordinated loading provisions for general structural design, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published minimum design loads and load combinations (ASCE 7) that must be considered when designing structures. ASCE 7 provides loads, load combinations, and associated criteria to be used with design strengths or allowable stress limits. In this article, we will take a brief and introductory look at the ASCE 7 load requirements for fiberglass structures, including load factors and load combinations.
The Benefits of Fiberglass Structures
Fiberglass is manufactured by melting glass and turning it into thin glass filaments, often referred to as fibers or threads. These glass fibers can be arranged into strands, scattered randomly, woven into a glass cloth, or flattened into a sheet, depending on their intended applications. Once the arrangement is complete, a resin binder is applied to the glass fibers to set them into shape, resulting in a fiber-reinforced composite material that is lightweight and strong.
Other key benefits of fiberglass that make it such a favorable construction material include the following:
- Highly resistant to most acids, corrosive gasses, oxidizing agents, and salt
- Temperature resistant
However, the many benefits of fiberglass do not excuse the need for ASCE 7 provisions, and we will look at those in more detail in the next section.
ASCE 7 Load Requirements
The ASCE 7 provisions are implemented by all professionals involved in the construction industry through designing, altering, or maintaining structures. This includes architects, material suppliers, and structural engineers, who all play a crucial role in ensuring structures can safely support factored loads and load combinations.
The technical aspects of ASCE 7 are easily-accessible hazard data and risk mapping tools that correspond to real-world situations and environments, such as dead and live loads, atmospheric ice, earthquakes, rain, snow, soil, wind, and more. ASCE 7 also provides support for designing structures that can withstand different load factors that occur simultaneously, such as wind and rain or soil and floods.
What to Consider When Developing Fiberglass Structures
Any construction work is no easy feat, but several aspects must be considered when developing fiberglass structures to ensure the project meets ASCE 7 standards.
Structural Analysis and Material Selection
When designing any structure, an in-depth analysis must be conducted to ensure the most appropriate materials are used and to determine the loads the structure will have to withstand. One option for doing this includes Finite Element Analysis (FEA). It is equally important to consider any external factors that could negatively impact the structure’s stability, such as ice or wind, or seismic loads.
In terms of material selection, there are different fiberglass composites available for construction applications, each with its own set of properties. Aspects such as corrosion resistance, strength and thermal expansion can differ, thus making it essential to choose the right fiberglass material for the structure and its load requirements.
Testing and Quality Control
Once the structure has been designed, the materials and components must be subjected to rigorous testing so professional personnel are confident the structure design values. This stage includes environmental and mechanical testing to evaluate the material’s resistance to environmental factors and strength. Quality control is also crucial to ensure the final product meets standards.
Correct installation is crucial for the safety and stability of any structure and usually requires following specific standards or regulations. Aspects to consider include how FRP components are bonded or joined together, how connections are sealed to prevent air or water infiltration, as well as other relevant regulations.
Strongwell and Fiberglass Products
At Strongwell, we ensure all our fiberglass structures are designed and fabricated to meet ASCE 7 guidelines. Contact a team member today for more details about ASCE 7 and fiberglass structures.