A closer look at concrete-filled steel tubes

There are a number of different options when it comes to stabilising structures. Concrete columns and pillars are very common. Steel tubing is also a popular choice. However, there is another option that combines both. Concrete-filled steel tubes (CFTs) are a composite of the two. They offer a number of advantages and can cater for various needs. However, they also have some drawbacks. As the leading ERW steel tube supplier in the West Midlands, we want to have a closer look at these products.

What are they?

As we said above, CFTs are a composite. The name says it all; what you have is a steel tube that is then infilled with concrete. The product can offer some really impressive characteristics, making it great for several needs.


ERW steel tube supplier West MidlandsOne of the most important things here is the CFTs have optimal strength and stiffness. This is because the outer steel perimeter can resist bending and tension. Concrete cores are known to be able to withstand good levels of compressive loading. However, the steel actually augments it too by confining the concrete and preventing spalling. At the same time, the concrete will prevent local buckling.

The concrete-filled steel tubes also provide economic benefits. A major thing here is the tubes arrive on site ready to place and then fill. They work as the formwork, so there is no need to assemble any. In turn that can save labour and material costs. It also speeds up the build time. The fact engineers can erect the steelwork quickly before infilling can speed up projects too.


Our place as the best ERW steel tube supplier in the West Midlands means we know a lot about the various uses for the tubing. CFTs in particular are great for many projects.

The most common application here is columns for various buildings. They can offer excellent lateral resistance for structures in earthquake zones. New builds can utilise them, but they are also great for retrofitting.

Another use for the CFTs is bridge piers. Again they are great here because they have high resistance to lateral movement. This is necessary to address the fact the structure can move due to vehicles, water flows, and other factors.


While there is a lot to love about the concrete-filled steel tubes, there are some limits. They mainly stem from the fact that the CFTs are still relatively new. As a result, there is not an exhaustive amount of knowledge when it comes to their behaviour. Testing can also be quite tricky. Most tests use small sections of tube because it is very costly to test longer specimens.

Another concern is it can be tricky to design with CFTs. The problem is that steel and concrete have different behaviours and stress-strain curves. Engineers have to consider these. Plus, they must think about parameters such as the bond, creep, residual stress, and the type of loading.

Get tubing from the best ERW steel tube supplier in the West Midlands

At Union Steel Tubes we do our very best to ensure we produce excellent tubing. We have quality management processes in place at every level. In fact, we are ISO 9001 registered. As a result, clients can expect first rate products from us every time.

So, if you want to work with the top ERW steel tube supplier in the West Midlands, come to us. We can supply round, square, rectangular or oval tubes. Our range is massive too, with options to suit most needs.