What Bridge Design Holds the Most Weight?

By on July 27, 2007 -- Modified on September 14, 2017

What is the strongest bridge design?

This is the question I get asked the most.

Before we can begin to look for an answer, I need to know more specifically what you are looking for. Are you looking for the the strongest Type of Bridge, such as:

Bridge Types:

  • Beam
  • Arch
  • Truss
  • Suspension

Each of these has advantages and disadvantages. Each type could be the best for a specific situation, and there are a ton of factors that engineers must consider when choosing which one to use.

You can learn more about each of these by clicking the link above.

Perhaps you are asking about which truss design is the strongest. Since most model bridges are truss bridges, this is a great question to ask.

Truss Designs:

  • Warren
  • Pratt
  • Howe
  • Many More


Is the the Pratt, Howe, or the Warren truss stronger? Each of these designs, along with the host of variations, was developed for a specific reason or to make better use of existing or new materials or construction methods. Their history is fascinating, and you definitely should check out the articles about each of them.

Each truss design takes a load or force and spreads it out, eventually transferring it to the bridge abutments and/or piers.

So Which Truss is Strongest?

You really are going to pin me down to answering this question, aren’t you?

In my mind, none of these truss designs has an inherent advantage over the others in a very broad and general sense.

However, when we are considering small model bridges, I have a hard time seeing the Howe as efficient as the Pratt. But is one of these better than the most common, the Warren? You can explore my reasoning on this throughout this website.

Why don’t you take a look at each design and comment below which on you think is the best, especially in the context of model bridges.

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48 thoughts on “What Bridge Design Holds the Most Weight?”

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  1. I would like a bit more detail because I am doing an assignment on bridges and I have to make a model that can hold a lot of weight. The information wasn’t very precise but it was still very informational.

    By Anonymous -- August 22, 2017
    • I’ve reworked this article a bit and added more information, as well as directions for further study.

      By Garrett Boon -- September 14, 2017
  2. im doing a model truss bridge and was wondering which design would hold the most weight yet be made of the least amount of material. i was thinking the warren.

    By RJbeachrose48 -- April 7, 2017
    • It is hard to go wrong with any of the designs listed in this article. The key is in your implementation of the design.

      By Garrett Boon -- September 7, 2017
  3. Very interesting.. Good read!! #ubi #ulticon #ulticonbuildersinc

    By Ulticon Builders Inc -- March 7, 2017
    • So cool I wish I knew this before.

      By Donovan Weitzel -- May 17, 2017
  4. I am doing an EPQ about building the strongest bridge and was wondering which it would be? If it is a truss bridge, what materials would I need to physically make one roughly 1-2 meters long?
    Thanks

    By Jess Hodge -- January 3, 2017
    • Usually if it is a school project, they would give you balsa wood and wood glue. In that case, you would want to make a lot of triangle or crossing shapes, like a parker bridge or a double intersecting warren bridge. and these are just truss bridges! It all depends on what kind of bridge you are building. (if you do not know what the bridges are that I just listed, you can look them up online.)

      By Anonymous -- January 5, 2017
  5. I did a test between a warren and a string stayed bridge in the end they both broke at twenty five pounds .

    By goobster -- November 1, 2016
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