Although purlins usually represent a relatively small part of the total mass of a typicalsteel-framed building, the time taken to erect them could have a significant effect on thecompletion time of the project. From the point of view of both the ex-works cost and theerection time, the layout and details of the purlin system should be simple and the numberof components be kept to a minimum.
12.2 Design of purlins
The loading to be used in the design of roof systems as given in the current codeSABS 0160-1989 is considerably less severe than in the 1984 edition. For tributary areasfrom 15,0 m
upward the nominal live loading has been reduced from 0,5 kPa to 0,3 kPa.For smaller areas the loading increases linearly, reaching a value of 0,5 kPa at 3,0 m
(see Clause 220.127.116.11 of SABS 0160). Purlins are usually designed as continuous over atleast two spans and are assumed to be uniformly loaded. Thus for a span and spacingcombination as low as 4,5 m and 1,67 m the minimum value of 0,3 kPa applies.This means that at the ultimate limit state the dead plus live loading combination on thepurlins of a typical industrial building with metal cladding is only about two-thirds of what itwas prior to 1989. The wind loading in the new code is substantially the same as before,however.Consequently, purlins will tend to be lighter when designed for gravity loading, but thedead load plus wind uplift combination will become more critical; in fact it will often be thegoverning condition, with lateral-torsional buckling of the bottom flange under negativemoment being the main design consideration.The design of purlins, especially of cold-formed section, is dealt with in Chapter 8 of the
Steel Construction Handbook
12.3 Purlin sections
The most commonly used section for purlins is the lipped cold-formed channel. On astrength-to-mass basis this is a very efficient section and the lipping of the flanges addsto its lateral-torsional strength, thus making it more resistant to negative moment whenthe bottom flange is in compression.