In the world of structural steel, camber denotes a curve in the vertical plane; sweep denotes a curve in the horizontal plane. Steel members produced in a steelmill have at least some camber and some sweep.
There are occasions, however, when camber and sweep are required in a structural steel application. For example, cambered beams may offer superior support in a building by reducing any sag from the weight of a concrete floor. A canopy may be supported by a beam with sweep that creates an edge curved the “easy way,” i.e. against the weak axis.
Camber can be induced in a structural member in several ways. Probably the most common is cambering on what is called a “cambering machine,” a device that holds a steel section at two points and then applies pressure through one or two hydraulic cylinders to a point between the two points.
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