“To meet the needs of event and show organizers, which are normally subject to tight time constraints, the use of lightweight, modular structures is essential to facilitate transport, handling, assembly, and disassembly.
However, this specific concept of modular structures, perhaps due to general unfamiliarity with the relevant technical aspects, often leads event organizers to assemble structures incorrectly or employ product materials of poor commercial quality, which are not guaranteed to meet the minimum requirements provided for under the applicable international standards, including those of the American Welding Society, ESTA, and the Aluminum Association. All structures, including the most basic, must meet at least two key requirements: resistance and stability.
Only a technical team of specialized engineers can provide this guarantee, in addition to appropriate guidance on the composition of lattice modular structures. In its ongoing effort to offer the best possible service, quality, and full product guarantees, Feeling Structures is at the forefront of the design, engineering, architecture, and manufacture of modular aluminum structures in Brazil.”
Engineer Hamilton Callegari
Aluminum structures may appear the same. However, there are differences in the design, manufacturing process, and materials used, all of which determine the structure’s resistance and performance.
A description of the essential features to take into account when planning an aluminum structure and how to recognize these is below provided, with a view to ensuring you have the necessary information to certify you receive the highest quality from suppliers at the time of purchase. A properly manufactured structure will ensure the full physical and material safety of your event.
1 - ALUMINUM LATTICES
Lattice structures were introduced in the entertainment field about 40 years ago. The technical definition of the concept is a modular structural unit manufactured with welded round aluminum tubes.
The tubes are used to build temporary suspended structures to support and hang PA, lighting, and related systems. Their primary characteristics are:
- Exceptional resistance and stability.
- Practical, fast and practical connection systems.
- Lightweight, compact and easy to handle modules.
- Effective for use, transportation, and storage.
- Versatile applications.
Various forms of crossing sections are employed in lattice structures, triangular, square, rectangular, flat, and others.
2 - ALUMINUM MATERIALS
Aluminum is considered a noble material, offering quality and conferring a modern look to products in which it is incorporated. With approximately 1/3 the density of steel, the forming limits of structural aluminum alloy are similar to those of common steel, thereby enabling the construction of resistant structures that are both lighter and easier to handle.
Structural Alloy and Tempering
Alloy derives from the addition of small percentages of chemical elements to aluminum, such as silicon, manganese, copper, chrome, and other metals, resulting in enhanced physical and mechanical quality and higher resistance. Among the elements that form alloys such as aluminum, few generate acceptable properties. Aluminum itself acquires specific hardness and flexibility properties through the use of hot and cold thermal treatments or a combination of both (tempering).
There are innumerable combinations of alloys and thermal treatments. Some types of alloys do not allow for these treatments, causing structural damage to the aluminum and adversely altering the respective structural properties.
Feeling Structures employs appropriate alloys and tempering for use in structures, strictly controlling the related materials from purchase of the initial raw inputs through distribution in the market.
Welding is a metallic and fusible substance used to connect metallic parts. Welding is as important for ensuring the stability of a given structure as the alloys adopted in the manufacturing process, to the extent it is responsible for connecting the structural tubes. If executed improperly, the structure’s power transmission and load capacity will be directly affected.
Aluminum welding is very different from steel welding, as it is subject to a greater range of restrictions, including the additive materials, not mention the welder, who must be fully certified to ensure a full understanding of the respective procedures.
When submitted to welding, the mechanical characteristics of aluminum alloy profiles are reduced significantly and require, as such, highly competent engineering analyses to determine the true capacity of the aluminum lattice.
Feeling Structures’ engineering department performs ongoing analyses and studies of the company’s structures with the support of the quality control department, which predetermines the specific steps to be adopted (type of welding, angle, and process).
In addition, the company adheres to domestic standards and standard AWS D1.2 of the American Welding Society, while conducting tests on manufactured structures at fully accredited laboratories, with a view to confirming the results obtained from the related structural analyses.
Quality Control of Welding
The application of quality control measures to welding is essential to assure that operators, procedures, and equipment are capable of producing welds that meet the requirements set forth in the applicable codes and standards and guarantee quality throughout the production process.
The process involves a set of shared responsibilities for all individuals engaged in the welding operation. This extends from appropriate storage and protection of manufacturing materials to final roll-out of a reliable product.
3 - STANDASDS
A standard is a technical document setting out regulatory norms and rules aimed at ensuring the quality of a given industrial product, rationalization of the production, transportation, and consumption of inputs, workplace safety, uniform expression and communication procedures, etc.
In this light, when standards are in place customers have parameters through which to verify quality and guarantee the specific product purchase. Without standards, confirmation of the respective processes would not be possible.
The focus of Feeling Structures’ ongoing efforts centers on enhancing the quality of its products and lowering final costs, while ensuring compliance with Brazilian and international standards. The company is also a member of two leading American associations in the entertainment industry: ESTA and USITT.
ESTA – Entertainment Services & Technology Association was established in 1987 by entertainment industry professionals, with a view to discussing and sharing their experiences and knowledge. Currently, the Association’s mission is to promote, represent, and intensify the interests of its members and the entertainment industry as a whole, for the purpose of professionalizing and standardizing the market. To this end, ESTA establishes standards for aluminum lattice structures currently recognized by American Standard, which Feeling Structures currently applies in its manufacturing unit.
The company is dedicated to implementing these and other standards in the Brazilian entertainment market, in order to increase and ensure the quality of products and services and eliminate additional risks.
The ALLOY + WELDING + STANDARDS convergence is but the start point for securing a reliable product.
4 - ENGINEERING
To be financially and economically competitive, aluminum structures must be lightweight and resistant. To this end, the pertinent structural calculations are necessary, taking into account planned loads and spans, the type of structure, and the specific characteristics of the respective materials.
Feeling Structures’ engineering department is staffed with qualified engineers, designers, and draftsmen. The department develops the company’s various structural product lines, worksheets, load tables, special designs, and all other information required for safe day-to-day assembly activities.
If you have questions about any structure (loads, assembly, inspections), the engineering department can provide assistance through its comprehensive and updated files on all product lines and the respective specifications, executed by a recognized software system employed by companies throughout the world that incorporate advanced technology in their product offerings.
Feeling Structures advises users on similar structures requiring supplier confirmation of the respective structural calculations and analyses, in addition to formal registration before the Regional Engineering, Architecture, and Agronomy Council (Conselho Regional de Engenharia, Arquitetura e Agronomia – CREA ).
Differences between product lines
Feeling Structures manufactures a variety of lines of aluminum structures, all subject to specified load demands.
In selecting the product line with the best cost/benefit ratio, the following information should be confirmed:
What is the load/weight of the projected equipment?
What are the dimensions of the free space on which the load will be placed?
With this information in hand, you must then check the corresponding load tables and determine which product line offers the optimal performance solution.
Each line of Feeling structures includes a load table developed by company engineers specifying the load/weight a given free space can support.
Free space and load capacity are two inextricable factors. The larger the space, the lower the load capacity of the lattice. By the same token, the larger the desired load, the smaller the allowable free space. Ultimately, it is essential to adhere to the respective load tables.
Any load value or span other than the listed values must be reviewed by our engineers.
If you are already a Feeling Structures customer, consult with us on the applicable load table for your specific structure and the available technical support.
Material fatigue is the gradual loss of resistance due to repeated use at variable load levels. Assembly and disassembly influence the future behavior of a structure.
As such, Feeling Structures employs highly resistant materials, including structural alloy aluminum and resistant bolts to increase the product’s useful life and minimize the need for replacing parts.
Periodic inspections and verifications of structures and bolts will help augment the performance and safety of your event.
5 - TECHNICAL RESPONSIBILITY
All metallic structure manufacturers are required to register with the Regional Engineering, Architecture, and Agronomy Council (Conselho Regional de Engenharia, Arquitetura e Agronomia – CREA ), the industry’s oversight body with primary responsibility for certifying the existence – or absence – of a lead engineer for specific products and project designs.
Lead professionals guarantees the quality and accuracy of information such as: specifications; load tables; designs; etc.
Further, all assembly work should be overseen by a CREA registered lead technical officer with primary responsibility for the Technical Responsibility Annotation (Anotação de Responsabilidade Técnica – ART) and the entire assembly process, pursuant to the guidelines set forth in the manufacturer supplied calculation manuals. These oversight measures serve to ensure the structural integrity of the design.
Note that one ART must be prepared for the product design and another for the product assembly. Feeling Structures only issues ARTs for special project designs calculated by its own engineering department.
6 - MANUFACTURE
The manufacture of a structure must adhere strictly to all existing standards and characteristics on the use of specific materials.
If these procedures are not applied, the aluminum will not be used properly, thereby compromising product’s the aesthetic and structural quality.
Conducting visits to the supplier’s plant is important for product assessment and verification of the implementation of all applicable safety procedures. Visits are recommended under ISO standards.
7 - TRACKING
To meet existing standards, Feeling Structures employs a tracking code to accompany each structure, ensuring that each material entering and exiting the plat is tracked.
In other words, if you have a problem with a structure, but it was used pursuant to the manufacturer’s recommendation, the issue may lie with the materials employed. The tracking code allows you to determine when the structure was manufactured, which materials were applied, the respective lot, and even the individual welder responsible for the corresponding work.
Tracking works to your favor, allowing you to check and confirm the procedures and materials used in the manufacturing process.
8 - RELIABILITY
All the aspects above should be founded on the reliability of the respective supplier. You have a right to certify whether guarantees are in place, how the specific load tables were prepared, if the manufacturer has a qualified personnel staff, and whether all applicable standards were followed.