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Prolam PLX20 Beam



11. Innovative timber manufacturing & technology award

Photographed by: 
Tasman Bay Media

Designed and manufactured in New Zealand, the Prolam PLX20 Beam was released to the market in May 2021.

The glulaminated timber beam heroes home-grown design ingenuity and innovation, and the strength, durability and resilience of timber as the premier sustainable solution for the contemporary built environment.

Developed to fill the gap in the market for a high strength timber beam facilitated by the depletion in available high structural grade feedstock, Prolam PLX20 Beams are precision engineered from quality New Zealand radiata pine reinforced with steel for extra strength, load bearing capacity and spanning capability.

Central to its innovative nature, and pivotal to its effectiveness as a structural timber solution is the Prolam PLX20 Beam’s ‘hybrid’ design which comprises a steel flat bar inserted in the top and bottom timber laminates. This design eclipsed the only other comparative product on the market – a flitch beam (not a Prolam product) that is a steel plate with timber nailed to it from both sides. Feedback from within the industry was that the non-prefabricated flitch beam was heavy, and its structural integrity was often compromised by nails popping out – compelling the Prolam team to pursue prototyping and developing their unique solution.

The steel-reinforced Prolam PLX20 Beams allow designers to achieve spans of up to 6.6 metres with a 290mm deep beam, depending on wind zone and load requirements – a significant improvement on traditional timber beams. This ability to span further with smaller members delivers optimal flexibility for designing architectural features in residential and commercial buildings ranging from garage lintels, floor or ridge beams, and rafters.

A smart solution which simplifies the construction process, Prolam PLX20 Beams are compact and up to 40% lighter than their steel equivalents. This makes them faster, easier and safer to install, saving time and money with no extra assembly, equipment or extra labour required for installation. Prolam PLX20 Beams can also be cut to length on site to meet the exact requirements of a project and achieve a superior fit, and can be secured using a wide range of fixing options.

The Prolam PLX20 Beam also supports the industry’s quest for sustainable building products. The timber elements of the Prolam PLX20 Beam are made from renewable and sustainably managed New Zealand plantations using 14 times less energy than their steel equivalents.

Elevating the Prolam PLX20 Beam’s eco-credentials is the utilization of SG6 timber (previously a waste product) in the beam’s construction, made possible through Prolam’s state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and highly refined skill in machining of rebates, gluing and laminating of steel.

The durability of the Prolam PLX20 Beams is reinforced by the application of West System epoxy in the manufacturing process. The epoxy provides an effective water-resistant membrane and adhesive with a life expectancy of a minimum 40 years in a marine environment.