Steel beam profiles are used primarily for load-bearing structural elements such as beams and columns in building and civil engineering. However, they also find application in vehicles and machines. Beam profiles have high bending and axial stiffness, much higher than for example solid square or round sections with the same cross-sectional area. Common beam profiles can have two planes of symmetry as H- or I-profiles or only one plane as U-profiles (channels).
Beam profiles are usually manufactured via hot rolling but some special shapes can be produced by cutting steel plate appropriately and welding the pieces together. In the former instance, the steel, after melting and refining, is continuously cast to a fairly large square or rectangular section, called a bloom. This is then hot rolled, usually in an adapted medium-section mill in which pairs of horizontal and vertical rolls shape the beam profile appropriately. After rolling, they are cooled individually and cut to length.
The steel grades used for beam profiles are most often weldable, low-carbon constructional steels with an iron content of 98% or more. As with other steel products, beam profiles used in building and civil engineering constructions can at the end of their useful life be recovered and recycled to 100%.