What size profile?

One of the reoccurring challenges we face on a day by day basis lies in the question of “What size profile does my project require?”
While there’s no direct answer for every application, what I do tend to find through it all is that clients who are unfamiliar with using profile will always tend to over-engineer the project, and usually by more than a few multiples of safety. So to try and make the process a little simpler, and perhaps to address a question before it’s asked, I’ve tried to put together these few basic concepts as a guide.

Is the project about strength or simply structure?

To explain this a little further – we tend to encounter projects that are either, and rarely both. Those projects that do require a large size and a particular degree of strength are usually reasonably challenging and in most instances the design phase is tackled by us rather than the customer. For most others they are separated as such:

What is the weight that I am going to load on to this structure?

Starting with this will help work everything far more smoothly. If the answer is ‘next to nothing’ as it is in many cases, then the answer is self evident – you won’t need a profile that’s 60×60! Unless you’re starting with something that needs to be particularly small and lightweight then consider that a 30×30 profile will be a good starting place.
If your answer is something like 100kg on this trolley, or 85kg on this shelf, then take 40×40 as a better guide.
If you happen to have numbers that are higher than these, let us do the calculating as a project can quickly spiral into the realm of the confusing once it exceeds this kind of load.

What size will this structure be?

If you’re answer is a low weight and your sizes are relatively short, then as previously, you would use a smaller profile. Again, try using 30mm as a base, and if it is possible, and generally we can advise on this, then we’ll move downward to 20mm profile – but leave 30mm as a good basis to start.
If you have something that is going to be 500x500x500mm then it’s unlikely you’ll ever go over the 30mm profile size – it’s rare and requires some large loads to change this.
If you’re working in and around 1000x2000x2000 in some instances you’re still fine working with 30mm profile, but often 40mm comes in to use to ensure strength and rigidity over the longer distances.
Beyond these sizes you’re best bet is to just contact us and we can guide you with the right specification – we understand it can get complicated, so leave it to us we’ve done this before!