What is truss? The ULTIMATE buyers guide to lighting truss!

by Shannon M on September 13, 2023

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about lighting truss and how to make the right choice for your needs. We’ll navigate the 9 essential steps to choose the perfect truss for your specific application. You'll also learn how-to build basic truss structures. Plus, you’ll get an exclusive look behind the scenes as we delve into the truss safety testing conducted by our team of structural engineers. But let's start with the basics...

What is lighting truss?

Lighting truss, also known as stage lighting truss, serves as a robust framework for creating awe-inspiring displays. You can hang lights, speakers, signs, projectors, and screens from truss, and the best part is, it's modular and dynamic. Picture it as a giant LEGO® set for constructing adaptable structures. 

Lighting Truss Structures built in Australia. Event Production, Shop Fitout and Virtual Reality spaces.

Truss is...

MODULAR

Structures are assembled by connecting pieces of truss together for quick installation.

CUSTOMISABLE

Whether you're going big or small, trussing can adapt and evolve with your changing needs.

PORTABLE

Crafted from lightweight aluminum, truss provides a portable display solution.

STRONG

Truss made with 6082-T6 aluminum alloy can support substantial weight.


Titan AV 290mm Box Truss Structure

9 STEPS to choosing the right truss!

With numerous options available, selecting the right lighting truss can initially seem overwhelming. However, it won't take long to grasp the basics. Let's dive into the crucial steps to find the perfect truss for your current requirements and future possibilities!

1 What do I need truss for?

It’s critical to consider the intended application/s for your truss. Ask yourself “What do I need it to do? What kind of equipment will it need to hold? Lights, speakers, signs, decorations, cables, TVs, screens or video walls? Do I need the truss installed or free standing? Do I want the truss to go outside? Do I need to transport the truss in a car, van or truck?”

Your answers will determine the type of truss required to safely create your display. For example, large outdoor structures need heavy-duty truss with extra supports to withstand unexpected weather elements.

 

Truss is popular for Event Production

Events of all kinds, from concerts to corporate gatherings, rely on the versatility and reliability of lighting truss to create stunning visual displays. The modular nature of truss allows event planners and designers to craft unique structures that enhance the atmosphere of any occasion. Its lightweight yet robust construction ensures that truss can support the weight of lighting rigs, sound systems, and other equipment while remaining easy to transport and assemble.

Titan AV 400 Truss structure from High Impact Lighting
Titan AV 290mm Box Truss Structure

Whether you're organising a music festival, a trade show, or a wedding reception, lighting truss offers endless possibilities for customisation. It's no wonder that event professionals across the world turn to truss as an essential tool in their repertoire, ensuring that every event is a visual masterpiece.

Truss is not only for events

Lighting truss has always been popular for live events, but nowadays, you can find truss just about everywhere. In places you may not expect, like retail stores, churches, food trucks and virtual reality venues. Businesses are using truss to uniquely showcase products and services, whether they own or lease a premises.

Examples of how to use box lighting truss in a retail store and car workshop in Brisbane, Australia.

Retail stores and car dealerships use truss in their showrooms to highlight a product line with lights and signage. Gyms use truss to hang TV's from the ceiling and create ninja warrior courses. Galleries and museums use truss to mount lighting and hang exhibits anywhere in a room. 

Take an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at XGolf Brisbane's innovative commercial fitout. In the video below, discover how their Titan AV truss lighting system cleverly tackles the unique challenges posed by high ceilings while providing adaptable mounting solutions for TVs, lights, speakers, projectors, and sensors.

 

If you'd like to see more examples of Titan AV truss in action, checkout our 'from the community' post showcasing some of our customers handy work.

2 What truss size do I need?

Different sizes of lighting truss exist to serve different purposes. Midweight (200) truss - barely taller than a bottle of Bundaberg Ginger Beer - is ideal for retail, exhibition and small touring displays. With heavy-duty (290 & 400) truss made to rig large amounts of weighty AV equipment. The higher the number, the bigger the truss, the more heavy-duty its application.

200 Truss
200 TRUSS
most portable

Portable & sturdy, 200 truss is a great entry-level display truss. Hang small lights, signs & banners in commercial fitouts, shop front displays, exhibitions and small events.

290 Truss
290 TRUSS
best all-rounder

Future proof your trussing needs with 290 truss (also known as F34 truss). This great all-round standard truss can create very strong structures indoors or outdoors.

400 Truss
400 TRUSS
heavy-duty use

Strong, 400 truss is popular with event production companies. Theatres and large music festivals use 400 truss to hang professional AV equipment.

Truss by numbers

The truss numbers refer to measurements. For example, 290 truss is 290mm x 290mm from the outside of each large tube that defines its shape, known as chords. 

Truss sizes and shapes

3 Which shape of truss should I use?

Truss comes in 5 different styles or shapes: tube, flat, tri, box and 5 chord truss. Each shape offers varied functionality based on strength, design, and budget. You can easily identify which truss shapes are capable of heavier loads by counting the number of chords (largest tubes) on a truss. The more chords, the greater weight the truss can hold. 

Titan AV Tube Truss
TUBE TRUSS
great for bracing

Great for bracing, often used to brace bigger truss structures and support lightweight jobs alike.

Titan AV Flat Truss
FLAT TRUSS
most portable

The most portable option, flat truss (aka ladder truss or i-beam truss) is often used in combination with other shapes of truss. This versatile truss will hang banners, decorations, curtains or lights. You may have seen a flat truss archway at a finish line or displaying a food truck menu.

Titan AV Tri Truss
TRI TRUSS
multipurpose truss

Tri truss has 3 chords that make a triangular shape. An affordable alternative to box truss, popular for lighting and decorative use in commercial fitouts, gyms, and exhibition stands.

 

Titan AV Box Truss
BOX TRUSS
most popular

The most versatile and popular style, offering a stronger and more versatile design than tri or flat truss. It has 4 main chords & plenty of space along the truss to attach clamps and equipment. 

Titan AV 5 Chord Truss
5 CHORD TRUSS
hang LED screens

Want to hang an LED wall? Invest in 5 Chord Truss. Designed to sit atop your truss structure, 5 Chord truss is used to safely hang heavy LED walls and screens. A balanced central chord distinguishes 5 chord truss. It provides the extra strength necessary to hang heavier LED screens, display panels, lighting & signs.

 


Titan AV 400mm Box Truss LED Wall Frame (suitable for use outdoors)

 

4 How much lighting truss do I need?

The length of your truss depends on your design and the size of your display. The more lengths of truss you have, the bigger your display can be. Truss lengths - also called sticks of truss - can range from half a meter (500mm) to three meters (3000mm) and beyond, allowing you to build structures of various sizes.

Make sure you have the right truss lengths for your project, and don't forget the spigots, pins, and clips (included with every piece of Titan AV truss) to securely connect them. 

Titan AV 290 Box Truss 1 Metre

5 Can you be creative with truss?

Truss is more than just a practical framework; it's a tool for your creativity. You can design structures in various shapes using truss cubes, corners, and circles. As the name suggests, 6-Way truss cubes enable you to connect lengths of truss in up to 6 directions. Each cube comes with spigots, pins & clips for two sides of the cube. Extra spigots (also known as conical couplers or eggs) can be purchased.  

Truss Cube
Tri Truss Corner Piece
Flat Truss Corner Piece
290 Half Circle Truss

Corner truss pieces create junctions for unique designs. There are varying degrees (45°, 60°, 90°, 125°, 135°, 180°) of truss corners & circle truss. These form the foundations for designing creative truss structures. 

6 How do I secure my truss structure?

Base plates are vital for ensuring the stability of your truss structure, particularly for outdoor events or free-standing displays. The base plates mount to the bottom of standing truss and provide a sturdy footing for the structure. Consider using top plates for added mounting points for speakers and lights. Available in different sizes and shapes, larger base plates have laser cut handles for easy transportation. For additional stability, sit sandbags atop your base plate.

Titan AV Base Plates made in Australia from aluminium

Tip: Look for base plates with multiple mounting options. These will enable you to hide or tuck away the base plate for a cleaner setup. This feature can make a huge difference in fitting your truss structure into place. 

 

7 What truss accessories do I need?

You wouldn't build an epic structure without mounting fun stuff to it!? Accessories can take your truss setup to the next level. Clamps, shelves, brackets, adapters, and mounts allow you to securely attach audiovisual equipment, decorations, and signage to your truss. Here are a few of our favourite truss accessories:

Attach with
CLAMPS.

Titan AV Lighting Truss Clamp

Truss clamps come with weight ratings to support a variety of equipment. Attach lights, TVs, fog machines, fans & banners with clamps.

Connect with
SPIGOTS.

Titan AV 50mm Truss Lighting Spigot with Pins & Clips

Spigots, pins & clips connect truss lengths together. Specialised half spigots connect cubes & base plates with lengths of truss.

Secure with
MOUNTS.

Titan AV 50mm Lighting Flat Truss Adapter Mount

There’s a mount to hang almost anything. Moving head lights, TVs, speakers, projectors and even laptops atop a truss shelf.

Cover with
SCRIMS.

truss scrim

Hide cabling or older scuffed truss with scrims. Better yet, make truss glow with a white fabric scrim, box truss and an upturned light inside.

Titan AV Glow Totem with White Scrim, 2m
Titan AV 2m Glow Totem with White Scrim & small colour changing light hidden within.

50mm or 32mm?
Size matters with truss accessories!

It’s important to note that truss accessories are fit for 50mm (290 & 400) or 32mm (200) truss. These measurements refer to the diameter of the main chords (largest tubes on the truss). They will ensure that you match the right sized clamp, spigot or mount for your size of truss. For example, 290 truss has 50mm chords requiring 50mm accessories.

Titan AV 290mm Truss Shelf, Made in Australia.

8 Add colour to your truss!

Lighting truss comes with a standard mill finish. A mill finish is the surface texture of a material (aluminium) as it exits the factory where it’s processed. While this natural appearance suits most projects, truss isn’t always about functionality. Sometimes it's nice to have things that look cool!

5 Chord Truss powder coat colour examples

Adding a custom colour powder coat to truss is an effective way to stand out, stay hidden or be creative. The powder coating applies as a free-flowing dry powder, then cured under heat. It provides a stronger finish and is more resistant than paint. You can choose a variety of matte and gloss powder coat colours to personalise your display.

Because powder coating covers the truss, it's thus possible to scratch off. Powder coated truss is ideal for applications that need little to no transportation. Theatres and convention centre's often powder coat truss to blend installations into the ceiling or backdrop out of sight.

9 Which truss is the safest?

Not all truss is created equal. Cheap truss made with lower grade aluminium (like the 6061-T6) are weak in structure and unable to safely hold heavier loads - buyer beware!

Quality truss is constructed from strong aluminum alloys like 6082-T6, designed practically to accommodate your equipment, and professionally welded for safety. Do your research first to ensure you’re investing in quality truss that will last for years to come.

The 3 ingredients of quality trussing:

One

STRONG ALUMINIUM

Quality truss requires a strong grade of aluminium alloy, such as 6082-T6, to hold heavy loads safely above people.

Two

PRACTICAL DESIGN

How the truss is designed can affect your options for hanging equipment. Ask yourself, “Where can I attach TVs, speakers, signs etc…?”

Three

PROFESSIONAL WELDERS

The integrity of welding plays a critical role in establishing safe quality truss. Checkout this article on how to spot a good weld vs bad weld.

Truss Safety and Certification

Always ensure your truss comes with a test report and compliance certification to meet safety standards. This is to certify the truss meets Australian engineering safety standards. These reports list how much weight (i.e.: load ratings) the truss can hold. No matter your project, it is very important to know the load ratings of your truss! And to always deal with professionals for your structural needs. 

Lighting truss load ratings data sheet

If you're looking to mix and match brands of truss, a word of caution. There are slight variations between truss brands that may affect how they work in tandem. Generally, we recommend using one brand of truss for a truss structure. This ensures the integrity of the associated truss load ratings, safety certification and warranty.

Now you know what goes into selecting the right truss for your needs! Let's take a look at how to rig truss.

How-to build a truss structure?

Anyone can assemble small truss structures all you need is a hammer and a little muscle. To make things simple trussing is genderless, meaning it will connect at either end with precise alignment. Watch these quick demonstrations to see just how easy it is to put truss together...

 

 

Note: Large-scale truss structures may need specialised load shifting equipment, such as chain motors, chest harnesses and arresting shock absorber lines, to safely erect the truss. You should always consult a structural engineer for advice related to your application.

What is Truss Deflection?

Deflection is an important factor when learning how to calculate lighting truss load. Truss deflection is a measurement of vertical movement (or bend) when heavy loads are applied to the main tubes. The red in the graphic below shows how spans of truss can bend under the weight of AV equipment. 

graphic demonstrating truss deflection with a bending span of truss holding concert lighting

Small amounts of deflection are absolutely fine but you don't want your horizontal truss beams to look like smiley faces. How much the truss bends is based upon:

  1. The Span: How long it is,
  2. The Quality: How strong it is,
  3. The Load: How much weight it's holding, and
  4. The Distribution: Where the weight is loaded.

To calculate how much weight your structure can safely hold, refer to the supplied truss load ratings. Understanding the basics of truss load tables, and knowing how to properly interpret them for each unique real-world application are crucial skills to keeping a safe work environment.

Safety Testing Titan AV Truss


At Titan AV, safety is at the core of our mission. When it comes to supporting heavy equipment overhead, trust in your truss is absolutely essential. That's why Titan AV truss is subjected to some of the most rigorous tests imaginable. Our purpose is not merely to meet safety regulations but to consistently surpass them, setting new benchmarks for truss reliability.

To ensure the utmost quality, we sent our Titan AV truss to the Centre for Future Materials at the University of Southern Queensland for comprehensive quality control testing. This testing regimen marked a significant milestone, being the largest of its kind ever conducted in Australia. It encompasses exhaustive load-bearing tests, precise deflection measurements, and cutting-edge Finite Element Simulations (FEA). 

 

Titan AV truss is proudly designed in Australia and meticulously crafted by master welders using high-quality (6082-T6) aluminum, ensuring unmatched strength & durability. Our commitment to safety ensures that when you choose Titan AV truss, you're choosing a product that's not only versatile and functional but also engineered for reliability.

Like to learn more about truss safety? Visit our blog 'How does Lighting Truss work Under Pressure?' 

Let's find the right truss for you!

Choosing the right lighting truss is a critical decision for any event or display. It's a versatile, modular, and essential tool for professionals in various industries. By considering the purpose, size, shape, length, and accessories, you can craft stunning displays that captivate your audience.

At Titan AV, we're not just passionate about truss; we're passionate about your success. Our dedication to safety and quality means you can trust our products to deliver outstanding results time and time again.

So, if you're ready to take your displays to the next level, explore our range of lighting truss today.

 

Was this guide helpful? Leave us a message below with any questions, comments or additions you'd like to see in this guide.

Liquid error (sections/article-template line 67): Could not find asset snippets/addthis.liquid
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published


BACK TO TOP