Glass Structures

  Glass plate in test setup Copyright: © STB

Glass structural components are becoming increasingly important; due to the high demand for transparent and light-weight construction, the use of glass has developed considerably over the past 30 years. Glass is no longer merely a filling component; it can now be used to produce effective load-carrying elements. The pre-requisite for using glass in this way is the continuous improvement of the quality of products and the shapes which are available, so that a wide range of glass types with vast creative opportunities are offered. An increased knowledge of the load and strength behaviour of glass, its formation, and its structural physical properties, are allowing innovative glass elements to be created.

The Institute of Steel Construction has been working with glass since the beginning of the 1990s. The first systematic research work dedicated to investigating the strength and load behaviour of glass was carried out throughout Europe. Our Institute is one of several active national and international renowned research partners of construction glass.

The Institute also has many years’ experience in the development and planning of glass elements in façade construction and has already been recognised in several federal states as an approved testing institute for fall-protection glazing. Areas of responsibility include experimental testing for general building inspections and testing components for Zustimmungen in Einzelfall.

For construction glass in particular, it is important to analyse how the glass is designed so that its architectural advantages can be utilised while remaining robust. The Institute is currently implementing this in CEN TC250 SC 11 “Structural Glass”, the European Committee. This is chaired by Prof. Feldmann and is focused on developing the next generation of standards for glass design calculations.

A selection of specific topics in glass construction in given below:

  • Load behaviour of glass supports
  • Investigations into thermally pre-stressed glass panes
  • Photoelasticity
  • Spider glass
  • Glass connections
  • Glass as a bracing element
  • Stability of beams and columns
  • Composite elements of glass and steel
  • Quality assurance of curved glass panes

The Chair of Steel Construction is a member of various working groups and standards committees which are investigating glass. These include the “Arbeitskreis Stahl und Glas” at the German Committee for Steel Construction (DASt), the Fachverband Konstruktiver Glasbau e. V. (FKG) and the DIN Standards Committee Building and Civil Engineering (NABau) “DIN 18008: Glass in Building – Design and Construction Rules”. The Chair of Steel and Lightweight Metal Construction has been recognised by DASt as a test centre for the issuing of general appraisal certificate for fall-protection glazing.

An overview of ongoing and completed research projects in constructive glass can be found here.

Adhesive bonding in glass and steel construction

At the Institute of Steel Construction, a team is intensively involved with two types of adhesives. These include hyperelastic adhesives e.g. silicon adhesives or low-modulus polyurethanes, commonly used in constructive glass and façade construction, and elastoplastic adhesive e.g. arcylates, higher-modulus polyurethanes or epoxy resins which are primarily used in steel construction, or in combination with other materials like CFRP or GRP. In addition to conducting our own research projects in this field, we also develop solutions for unique cases e.g. for building inspections or as part of industrial research.

The focus is on the following areas:

  • Adhesive selection
  • Determining the material properties of adhesives and components
  • Testing small and large-scale samples and adhered components to bridge slabs and hybrid beams
  • Statics and FEM-based calculations
  • Conceptual design and specialist technical support and assessment of construction projects
  • Supporting companies in obtaining building approvals.

An overview of ongoing and completed research projects can be found here.