Structural technology is maturing and providing the industry with applications about which past generations of designers could only dream. Aluminum, wrought iron and various plastic combinations have been added to the list of materials used in towers and poles. There are researchers experimenting with nano-material for future applications, but the combination of advanced materials with powerful computers has really impacted the structural world. The computer has taken over control of the fabricator’s factory, and now engineers are tinkering with 3-D design programs, which are linked directly to the factory’s production equipment, reducing fabrication time and eliminating measurement errors.
All of this effort has had many positive changes on the structures. They are stronger, they are cheaper, they have longer lives and their production time has been reduced. It may seem nothing is safe from technology, but is that bad?
The traditional engineer may be very uncomfortable with these unorthodox approaches, but as Thomas Edison said, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” The industry needs these advantages.
Images presented here are featured in "Supporting Today's Power Delivery System" from the November T&D World Structures supplement.