Highway Guardrail Uses Ribbon Strength

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Looking down the length of a used and new highway guardrail overlap where the strength of the ribbon is displayed

The strength’s in the ribbon…

How deep does a guardrail fence post need to go?

Most of us might imagine that the longer the posts are which hold up the fence, the better. Yes, but the effectiveness of extending the in-ground length of a used highway guardrail fence post only goes so far. Over the years, there’s been a decent amount of conversation about the proper length of a post used to hold up the guardrail barrier.

Used and New W-beam guardrail panel on used highway guardrail posts

New Livestock Steel guardrail is used here in a three rail fence, using the principal of ribbon strength. Impacts are passed along the length of the material, into the posts and panel in that leg of the system. Like kids playing Red Rover, a significant length of the entire system is actually engaged, spreading out the stress of the impact.



A guiding principalsof understanding the holding-back strength of used highway guardrail and/or its NEW counterpart – Livestock Steel Panel – comes from comprehending the ribbon strength of guardrail barrier. Yes, the in-ground depth of posts is a considerable factor. However, when looking at a guardrail installation, it is the entire system, featuring the used highway guardrail panel itself, that provides the ability of the installation to capture and/or redirect the impacting object.

 The impacting pressure against the guardrail panel, (whether used or new guardrail), is not absorbed only by that one panel. Rather, the impact pressure is transmitted both downstream and upstream to a much wider length of the run of the guardrail system – guardrail posts and guardrail panel included.

The simple way to look at it: It’s the guardrail’s job to hold one panel to another panel. The posts simply hold the guardrail in the correct place. The entire system, all the posts and panel working together, does the holding back.

Remember playing Red Rover? When your side was stopping the runner, you’d feel the entire chain pulling on you. It is not so much the strength of one runner against the arms of the two kids at the point of impact. Rather, (if they all hold tight), the runner’s energy is absorbed by the entire line of kids. It’s the same way with guardrail panel used to contain livestock.

So, when we look at a guardrail panel installation, we don’t only look at the strength of one panel, but rather the strength of the entire ribbon. 

Additionally, when this ribbon is strengthened by adding two, three or more ribbons of used highway guardrail to the same posts, as is done in most beef and dairy cattle applications, the strength of the installation is all the more significantly increased.

Its yet another reason that used highway guardrail is making waves. It combines incredible strength, tremendous durability and excellent affordability into one bulletproof system.

Call us today and we’ll personally bring this amazing product home to you and your business.


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