Finding the Right Size HSS

How can you determine if a specific HSS section is commonly available?  Young engineers in particular may not know which sections are most commonly used in their region, and architects often require specific sizes in their drawings for architecturally exposed structural steel.  How can engineers avoid the back and forth with contractors who can’t source the sizes shown on the drawings?

In the July 2020 SE University session, Kim Olson, PE, from Steel Tube Institute, presented What Your Fabricator Wishes You Knew About HSS.  Kim clarified which HSS column shear and moment connections are most economical and reviewed the information required for cost efficient delegated HSS truss connection design.  She also explained tips for discerning availability of HSS shapes in the US and identified the aspects of AESS pertinent to HSS.

Specifying sizes that are readily available can save money by reducing special order items or having to redesign new sizes.  STI has explored domestic producers and offers a Producer Capability Tool on their website which can help you locate and specify shapes that are readily available.  Click on this link to the STI Capability Tool to locate sizes and material availability and which producers are making various sizes needed for your job.  

As you can see, the STI Capability Tool can search various shape sizes and material grades, and provides results to show which shapes are regularly produced, require special order, or are not available domestically.  This tool can be handy to preempt change orders and advise architects on which sizes could be used to reduce the costs of jobs using HSS shapes.  Additionally, engineers can assist contractors who may have trouble locating certain sizes by providing the applicable producer.  Other sizes may be available from international suppliers, however, it is more difficult to ascertain their availability and reliability.

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