Understanding Firewalls vs. Fire Barriers

Understanding Firewalls vs. Fire Barriers

Firewalls and fire barriers are both designed to prevent a fire from spreading, but these often-confused structures are actually quite different. Ideally, firewalls and fire barriers are used together to make a structure as safe as possible. These are the key factors in understanding the use of firewalls and fire barriers in construction.

The Facts About Firewalls

Firewalls are strong walls built to resist fire for up to four hours, remaining erect even if other parts of the building collapse. These exterior walls are thicker than standard walls and stretch from the foundation up to the roof. Structures subdivided with a firewall between them are considered separate buildings.

Firewalls must be constructed with materials that meet the fire-resistance building standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Long, high firewalls may be supported with pilasters or buttresses. A standard firewall is made from concrete or masonry and does not have windows, doors, or other openings. Expansion joints allow the material to expand to withstand the fire’s heat.

Firewalls do more than just contain the blaze. They must also withstand force from other structures or items that collapse within the building, such as inventory or storage.

Exploring Fire Barriers

Unlike exterior firewalls, fire barriers are walls built within a structure. They can either extend from the floor to the roof or from one floor to the ceiling of the floor above. These subdividers can cover hidden spaces and are supported by floors, columns, roofs, and other interior structures. Fire barriers can resist fire for up to three hours as long as the supporting structures have the same level of fire resistance.

This design can allow occupants to safely evacuate the building while containing the fire to the smallest possible area. This can protect the building both from fire and smoke damage, as well as water damage from sprinklers. A one-way fire barrier withstands flames from one side only. Two can be placed together to block fire from both sides.

At Encorus Group, we specialize in designing fire protection systems for medical, industrial, and nuclear facilities. Get in touch today or call 716.592.3980 to learn more about our services.

Computer-aided Engineering and Its Advantages

Computer-aided Engineering and Its Advantages

Professionals in a wide range of industries turn to computer-aided engineering to assist with product design, development, and testing. Its ability to help resolve a number of engineering problems—including the simulation, optimization, and validation of products, tools, and processes—makes it an invaluable asset to businesses. Here are some of the advantages of computer-aided engineering.

Faster, Less Costly Product Development

Before computer-aided engineering, the development stages of a new product required many rounds of materials testing on physical prototypes, a time-consuming and costly endeavor. Now, thanks to advanced software, engineers can perform simulations, tests, and evaluations on new products in hours rather than days or weeks. It’s still necessary to test a physical prototype before proceeding with the serial production of a new product, but computer-aided engineering ensures that the first physical prototype of a design cycle has already been improved and optimized several times.

Simpler, More Accessible Capabilities

Engineering simulation used to be a much more complicated and difficult undertaking, especially for less experienced engineers who faced a steep learning curve. Thankfully, today’s computer-aided engineering tools help eliminate many of the barriers to mastery. This allows even inexperienced users without expert knowledge of physical testing to reach insightful, effective simulation results.

Many Fields of Application

The benefits of computer-aided engineering are wide-ranging and are applicable in a number of industries. Businesses producing automotive, aerospace, electronics, oil and gas, HVAC, and plant engineering products and services are just some of the possible beneficiaries of computer-aided engineering’s advantages. Thanks to advanced testing software, anything from cranes and bridges to racecars and power plants can make it through pre-production faster and with less expense.

Early Problem-solving

Sometimes, flaws in a product’s early designs aren’t realized until far along the development process. When computer-aided engineering solutions are applied to a product’s development process, engineers can gain insight into possible problems and design flaws earlier than ever before. Design changes can be implemented as problems arise rather than later down the line when changes would be more expensive and time-consuming.

Encorus Group has been providing businesses across industries with engineering design, environmental, testing, and inspection services for over twenty years. To learn more about our capabilities, contact us online or call 716.592.3980 today.

The Advantages of Finite Element Analysis in Mechanical Engineering

The Advantages of Finite Element Analysis in Mechanical Engineering

From aerospace to healthcare, engineers in every industry are constantly thinking of how to make improvements. Designing new components, materials, and procedures is a process of constant innovation. Before these designs can be used, they must be rigorously tested under real-world conditions to ensure that they work safely and effectively. Instead of testing prototype after prototype, it can be more cost-effective to subject designs to finite element analysis performed by a mechanical engineering service.

What Is Finite Element Analysis?

Finite element analysis involves breaking down the complex geometry of a mechanical component or system into an assembly of smaller (finite) and simpler elements. Each of these elements is modeled in a computer and subjected to mathematical calculations that test everything from the effects of electromagnetism on the component to its response to prolonged heating, physical stress, etc. These calculations are described using partial differential equations that are systematically applied to each element to demonstrate how it would react to real world conditions.

The Three Stages of Finite Element Analysis

Mechanical engineers begin finite element analysis by developing an “element mesh,” a breakdown of the test subject into multiple discrete elements. Then, each element is systematically analyzed in a computer simulation, applying any condition the engineering team deems important and solving equations at numerous data points to create a matrix of information. That range of data is then compiled and analyzed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the design.

The Benefits of Finite Element Analysis

Finite element analysis lets mechanical engineering firms test, re-test, and recalibrate designs for a new component, material, or process. Breaking down physical structures into groups of smaller elements allows engineers to subject them to a variety of simulated conditions without the need for multiple prototypes. Finite element analysis can be used to test components in situations that would be expensive or difficult to test in a controlled environment, such as a piston design’s response to extreme temperatures or the durability of components in an oil rig under fluid pressure.

Encorus Group offers nationwide finite element analysis as part of our broad range of mechanical engineering services. From municipal waterworks to nuclear power facilities, we can help you rigorously analyze, assess, and perfect your designs to ensure that they will perform as intended. We are proud to be a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) with decades of experience in the field. For more information about finite element analysis or our other mechanical engineering solutions, call Dana Pezzimenti, P.E. at 716.592.3980, ext.128 or email him at dpezzimenti@encorus.com.