Define Tension Members? Explain different types of Tension Members?

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Tension members are structural elements that are primarily designed to carry tensile forces or loads. These members are subjected to axial tension, which means that the forces acting on them are pulling them apart along their longitudinal axis. Tension members play a crucial role in various structures, such as bridges, buildings, and mechanical systems, where they provide stability and support.

Different types of tension members can be classified based on their shape, material composition, and purpose. Here are some of the commonly used types:

1. Cables: Cables are flexible tension members made of high-strength steel wires or synthetic materials like carbon fiber or aramid fibers. They are often used in suspension bridges, cable-stayed bridges, and other structures where long spans and high tensile strength are required. Cables distribute the tensile forces evenly along their length, allowing for efficient load transfer.

2. Rods: Rods are solid cylindrical tension members made of materials such as steel or aluminum. They are commonly used in structural systems where high strength and stiffness are required. Rods can be threaded at both ends to allow for connections with other components using nuts and washers. They are often used in truss structures, bracing systems, and mechanical linkages.

3. Struts: Struts are compression members that can also act as tension members when they experience an axial tensile force due to bending or eccentric loading. In some cases, struts may be designed specifically to resist tension forces by using materials with high tensile strength. Struts can be found in various applications such as trusses, frames, and support columns.

4. Tie rods: Tie rods are tension members that consist of threaded rods with nuts at each end. They are commonly used to provide stability and resist tensile forces in structures such as roofs, walls, and bracing systems. Tie rods can be adjusted by tightening or loosening the nuts to control the tension force and maintain structural integrity.

5. Cable nets: Cable nets are tension members formed by interconnecting cables in a grid-like pattern. They are often used in lightweight structures such as membrane roofs, canopies, and façade systems. Cable nets distribute tensile forces across multiple cables, creating a stable and efficient load-bearing system.

6. Suspension cables: Suspension cables are large-diameter cables used in suspension bridges to support the weight of the bridge deck. These cables are typically made of high-strength steel wires bundled together to form a single cable. Suspension cables carry the majority of the bridge’s load by resisting tensile forces and transferring them to the bridge towers or anchorages.

7. Stay cables: Stay cables are tension members used in cable-stayed bridges to support the bridge deck from one or both sides. These cables are attached to the bridge deck at regular intervals and anchored to pylons or towers. Stay cables provide both tensile strength and stiffness, allowing for efficient load transfer and structural stability.

In summary, tension members are structural elements designed to carry tensile forces. They come in various forms such as cables, rods, struts, tie rods, cable nets, suspension cables, and stay cables. Each type of tension member has its own unique characteristics and applications, allowing engineers to design structures that can efficiently resist tensile forces.

Top 3 Authoritative Reference Publications or Domain Names Used:

1. American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) –
2. Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) –
3. The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) –


Arbaj Demrot is the founder of VideRime Online Learning, a leading engineering website. He did his BE Civil and M.Tech Structure from RGPV University, Bhopal and has been working as an Assistant Professor in a reputed college.

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