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Re: Glass Railing

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I don't know what the building code issues are outside of the basic OSHA
requirements, but glass is one of those wierd materials that you really cant'
use just by comparing ksi limits.  Metals assume a degree of toughness glass
doesn't have.  Hopefully, the glass is for ornament only, ie, not the retaining
structure but is just pretty so people can put their hands on it as they look
over a taller fence, hacking off the cleaning crew who will curse the
architect.  Looking at the ASM Desktop Reference for Engineered Materials,
strength ranges from 2.5 to 10.6 ksi, with Poisson Ratios ranging 0.17 to 0.33.
The rails' properties will also depend on the geometry.  I would find out what
the vendor is publishing as their particular materials' property and design
around that.

If this is a situation where there is no stock rail material and you have the
opportunity to design it from scratch, get to know your vendor/manufacturer real
well, dust off your old Strength of Materials books, and have fun.  Those are
the kinds of jobs I like best.  Like others, I'm not fond of "cookbook
engineering" with those magic constants and unexplained variables with the
"insert value here, dummy" mentality.

Bart Kemper, P.E.

Brad Friederichs wrote:

> Hello,
> Does anyone have an idea of how to design glass handrail.  The client wants
> to span 1/2" tempered glass 6 ft. between vertical balustrades.  The load at
> the top of the 32" high glass panel is 50 plf.  The panel encloses a balcony
> area.
> What is the allowable or ultimate flexural capacity of glass?
> Thanks for your help.
> Brad Friederichs
> VE Solutions, Inc.

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