Innovation removes welded joints worries
Telecommunications structures specialist Francis & Lewis International (FLI) has launched a patented, weld-free method of connecting tube bracing elements in steel frame buildings.
The bolted, pressed end connection is based on technology that has been used in communications towers for 30 years, and is formed by a mechanical process that generates a symmetrical fork end in the tube. Because the connection is symmetrical, all loading is applied axially through the connection without the need to worry about eccentric loading.
The idea was prototyped during construction of FLI’s factory in Gloucester. Since then five steelwork contractors in the South West of England have used the new connection in a range of portal frame buildings, including sports halls and sheds.
The new connection replaces the traditional method of weld ends and fin plates. FLI Sales and Marketing Manager Tony Parker said: “As an innovation, it’s been talked about for a long time. Fabricators are very keen to eliminate the hassle of welded joints.”
FLI has invested in a new CNC machine specifically to make the braces for the buildings market, and Mr Parker said the innovation could contribute to the firm doubling its turnover.