Modeling a Glass Railing | Recommendations for Input in RFEM

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Tips & Tricks

The architectural requirements for guard rails are still very high and railings usually require a high degree of transparency. Glass railings, where no other frame structure can be seen, represent a possibility for implementation.

Types of Modeling

The modeling is best done directly in RFEM. There are two different options available. On the one hand, a railing can be represented as a wall structure, on the other hand, it can be represented by a solid model. Both variants have their advantages. In the first option, fewer FE elements are generated, so a shorter calculation time can be expected, and the modeling effort is very easy. The representation by solid elements, however, makes it possible to represent an accurate structural behavior when using, for example, laminated glass (shear coupling). Both options allow for straight and curved shapes. Therefore, it is recommended to estimate the requirements for the calculation before starting the modeling and to select the modeling type then.

Options for Representing Supports

In the case of glass railings without further frame construction, the fastening type is usually carried out by means of a restraint or clamping in the lower area of the pane. This restraint can be represented by means of springs in RFEM. An arrangement of fixed line supports would also be possible, but could lead to the effect of an excessive load introduction in the support area. In reality, compliance will occur with this kind of restraint, which is why modeling by means of flexible springs is recommended.

Loading and Evaluation of Results

Loads from self-weight and external influences, for example, horizontal live loads, can be applied to the structural system by different load cases and combined with the corresponding safety factors. The self-weight is internally determined by the specific weight of the used material and applied by default to the self-weight load case. Additional loads can be assigned via point, line, or surface loads in the system.

The results are evaluated by comparing the tensile stresses occurring in the system. Glass has the property of having a very high compressive strength, but reacting very brittle when tensile stresses occur. Therefore, only tensile stresses are analyzed in the design. These have to be considered meticulously. Locations of singularity must not be disregarded or neglected. Furthermore, you should try to remove these locations from the system by means of FE mesh refinements or geometry changes in order not to generate any damage due to under-design.

Author

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Ulrich Lex

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Ulrich Lex

Product Engineering & Customer Support

Mr. Lex is responsible for the development of the products for glass structures and for quality assurance of the RFEM program.
He also provides technical support for customers.

Keywords

Glass railing Baluster Railing Glass parapet

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  • Updated 04/07/2021

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