Shipping container design criteria in container home – Structural system
  • 09 Jun 2017

The cargo container’s steel construction provides the strength to stack containers upwards of 7 high. That strength, however, is dependent on the entire steel frame/supporting walls intact. Many cargo container home designs require the removal of entire sidewalls of the container, which has an obvious effect on the strength and safety of the containers. Someone performed a container model analysis using SolidWorks, Hypermesh and Abaqus/CAE to collect information on the effects of removing steel sections from cargo containers. Their computer analysis compared 5 different loading scenarios on both unaltered and altered containers. Their results validated the claim that containers with walls removed yielded before the required capacity specified in ISO standards. Also, they determined that the roof had little structural significance, and that the end walls were the strongest load resistive components when subjected to vertical loads. Their research will hopefully lead to standards and specifications for the use of cargo containers being used in non-standard applications, following full scale testing.

Figure Deformation and prevention for cargo containers.

While there is very little literature currently available that discusses the statistical data and requirements for reinforcing cargo containers for residential use, there are many common methods that are used to both reinforce and secure the cargo containers in a safe and effective way. In regards to reinforcing, one concern is that the removal of major walls will cause sag. Figure 4 depicts both the potential deformation involved with the removal of walls, and a potential solution to the problem. Steel guardrails can be welded to the interior of the structure to provide additional support and stability for the container. The amount of reinforcement needed.

depends on the amount of material removed, and as previously stated, there are currently no set guidelines or building codes in regards to this issue. Along with the structural reinforcement, the connection of the modular units is a concern. Vertical connection is relatively simple, due to the nature of the container. Every container is designed with a fitting on each corner, originally intended to secure the containers in organized stacks during shipment. Those same corner connections prove essential in multi-story cargo container homes and can be used to secure the modular units together. This methodology is applicable when the containers are oriented in similar directions, as in Figure 5. Because the cargo containers are constructed from steel, welding can also be used to secure containers together in a permanent fashion. Securing the containers to the foundation is often successfully done by welding the containers to steel brackets cast in the foundation to provide a solid base for the home.

Cargo container home secured with original corner fittings

The series prepared by Modo Container consists of four articles in total. This is the third, structural system. Previous is dimension, foundation, will follow infill system.

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