# Torsion in Structural Design

1. Introduction

1.1. Problems in Torsion

The role of torsion in structural design is subtle, and
complex. Some torsional phenomena include

(a) Twist of beams under loads not passing through the
shear center

(b) Torsion of shafts

(c) Torsional buckling of columns

(d) Lateral torsional buckling of beams

• Two main types of situation involve consideration of
torsion in design

(1) Member's main function is the transmission of a
primary torque, or a primary torque combined with
bending or axial load (Cases (a) and (b) above.)

(2) Members in which torsion is a secondary
undesirable side effect tending to cause excessive
deformation or premature failure. (Cases (c) and
(d) above.)

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
2
1.2. Development of Torsional analysis- A few key
contributors

• 1853 - French engineer Adhemar Jean Barre de
Saint-Venant presented the classical torsion theory
to the French Academy of Science

• 1899 - A. Michell and L. Prandtl presented results
on flexural-torsional buckling

• 1905 - S. P. Timoshenko presented a paper on the
effects of warping torsion in I beams

• 1909 - C. Bach noted the existence of warping
stresses not predicted by classical torsion theory
when the shear center and centroid do not coincide.

• 1929 - H. Wagner began to develop a general
theory of flexural torsional buckling

• V. Z. Vlasov (1906-1958) developed the theory of
general bending and twisting of thin walled beams

• 1944 - von Karman and Christensen developed a
theory for closed sections (approximate theory)

• 1954 - Benscoter developed a more accurate
theory for closed sections.

Numerous other contributors, these are just a few
highlights.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
3
2. Uniform Torsion of Prismatic Sections

Consider a prismatic shaft under constant twisting moment
along its length.

Classical theory due to St Venant. Assume

• Cross-sections do not distort in plane during twisting, so
every point in the section rotates (in plane) through
angle ) ( x φ about the center of twist.
• Out of plane warping is not constrained
• Out of plane warping does not vary along the bar

The resulting displacement field is

dx
d
yx x y w
dx
d
zx x z v
z y
dx
d
u
φ
= φ =
φ
− = φ − =
ω
φ
=
) (
) (
) , (

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
4
In plane displacements v and w are seen from the figure
below…

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
5
Out of plane distortion (warping) of the section is assumed
to vary with the rate of twist

dx
x d ) ( φ
= θ =constant θ = φ → x x) (

and to be a function of the position (y,z) on the cross-
section only. Several models may be constructed

• Warping function model.

• Conjugate Harmonic function model

• St Venant's stress function model

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
6
Warping Function Model

Substituting the displ. fields into the diff. eq. of equilibrium
from elasticity, we obtain

0
2
2
2
2
2
= ω ∇ =

ω ∂
+

ω ∂
z y
(Laplace's equation)

with b.c.

nz ny
ya za
n
− =

ω ∂

where n is the normal direction to the boundary, and
) , (
nz ny
a a are the components of the unit normal vector n on
the boundary.

It can be shown that the St Venant torsional stiffness of
the section is given by

dA
z
z
y
y z y J
A

ω ∂

ω ∂
+ + =
∫∫
2 2

and that the angle of twist is related to the torque by

L
JG
T
φ
= or
dx
d
JG T
φ
=

a result that reduces to the usual polar moment of inertia
when the section becomes circular, and the warping
function vanishes.

Problem: The eqn. is hard to solve with the b.c given.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
7
St Venant's Stress Function Model

Assume that the non-zero stresses
xz xy
τ τ , are related to a
stress function ) , ( z y Ψ by

y z
xz xy

Ψ ∂
− = τ

Ψ ∂
= τ

The function ) , ( z y Ψ automatically satisfies equilibrium. In
order for the resulting displacements to be compatible (i.e.
satisfy continuity) the d.e.

θ − =
φ
− =

Ψ ∂
+

Ψ ∂
G
dx
d
G
y y
2 2
2
2
2
2

be satisfied, where G=the shear modulus.
The boundary conditions for this model are

Γ = Ψ on constant ) , ( y x

where Γ is the boundary of the section. In many cases, it is
convenient to simply take Ψ=0 on the boundary.

Given the stress function, it can be shown that

∫∫
Ψ =
A
dydz z y J ) , (

over the section.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
8
This d.e. is somewhat easier to solve because of the
simpler b.c. We are particularly interested in rectangular
sections. Consider such a section, of dimension 2α x 2β,
as shown.

It can be shown (using a Levy type solution) that, for this
section

=

|
.
|

\
|
α
π
(
¸
(

¸

α πβ
α π
− −
π
φα
= Ψ
,... 5 , 3 , 1
2 / ) 1 (
3 3
2
2
cos
) 2 / cosh(
) 2 / cosh(
1 ) 1 (
1 32
n
n
y n
n
z n
n
G

The corresponding stresses are

=

|
.
|

\
|
α
π
(
¸
(

¸

α πβ
α π
− −
απ
φα
= τ
,... 5 , 3 , 1
2 / ) 1 (
2 2
2
2
sin
) 2 / cosh(
) 2 / cosh(
1 ) 1 (
1 16
n
n
xz
y n
n
z n
n
G

=

|
.
|

\
|
α
π
(
¸
(

¸

α πβ
α π
− −
απ
φα
= τ
,... 5 , 3 , 1
2 / ) 1 (
2 2
2
2
cos
) 2 / cosh(
) 2 / sinh(
) 1 (
1 16
n
n
xy
y n
n
z n
n
G

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
9

Ψ is shown below for two sections

Assume overall dimensions b=2α, t=2β. Assume that b>t.
In general, it is useful to write

dx
d
ktG
φ
= τ
max

b t k J
3
1
=

Then, since T ∝ τ
max
, we may write

b t k
T
2
2
max
= τ
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
10

Values of the coefficients are tabulated below for different
aspect ratios

Table 1 Coefficients for Torsion of a Rectangular
Section

b/t k k
1
k
2

1.0 0.675 0.1406 0.208
1.2 0.759 0.166 0.219
1.5 0.848 0.196 0.231
2.0 0.930 0.229 0.246
2.5 0.968 0.249 0.258
3 0.985 0.263 0.267
4 0.997 0.281 0.282
5 0.999 0.291 0.291
10 1.000 0.312 0.312

1.000 0.333 0.333

It is seen that for the thin section, the response away from
the ends is almost independent of y. Hence, a simplified
model takes the form

0 ) ( subject to 2
2
2
= β ± Ψ θ − =
Ψ
G
dz
d

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
11

This leads to the simple solution

(
¸
(

¸

β
− θβ = Ψ
2
2
2
1 ) (
z
G z with resulting shear stress

( ) β θβ − = τ / 2 z G
xy

Hence, at z=t/2,

dx
d
Gt Gt
φ
= θ = τ
max

Integrating this approximate Ψ function over the area,

3
3
1
bt J =

0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
1.2
1 1.2 1.5 2 2.5 3 4 5 10 *
k
k1
k2
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
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consistent with the limit of the 2-D solution as the width to
thickness ratio approaches ∞. The shear stresses in a
narrow rectangular beam are as shown below

Thin-walled open section beams

Some thin walled open sections: angles, channels, W and
S sections, T sections, etc.

• Key result 1. The section torsional stiffness J is
approximately equal to the sum of the J's for the
constituent thin walled plates. Thus,

=
=
n
i
i i
t b J
1
3
3
1

• Key result 2. The maximum shear stress is estimated as

J
Tt
i
max
max
= τ

except that larger stresses may occur at the corners .

• Key result 3. The shear flow around the section, caused
by St Venant torsion, is as shown below.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
13

That is, the stresses vary linearly through the thickness on
any of the constituent plates, achieving a maximum on
each edge.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
14
3. Shear Stresses due to bending - thin walled open
sections

• Provides important background needed for analysis of
torsion
• Three items are needed…
• shear stresses and shear flow concept
• shear center
• sectorial moments

These items can be obtained from a generalization of the
analysis studied in undergraduate Mechanics of Materials.
We summarize the results of the analysis below.

Normal Stresses and Resultants

From generalized analysis of beams,

z
I I I
M I M I
y
I I I
M I M I
yz zz yy
z yz y zz
yz zz yy
y yz z yy
xx 2 2

− = σ

where
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
15

∫ ∫
= =
A
zz
A
yy
dA y I dA z I
2 2
= the moments of inertia.
inertia of product = =

A
yz
dA yz I

From equilibrium of the slice of the section cut above,

z
yz zz yy
z yz y zz
y
yz zz yy
y yz z yy
V
I I I
s Q I s Q I
V
I I I
s Q I s Q I
t q
2 2
) ( ) ( ) ( ) (

+

= τ =

where
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
16

∫ ∫ ∫ ∫
= = = =
s
s A
z
s A
s
y
s ytd ydA Q s ztd zdA Q
0 ) ( * ) ( * 0
,
q is the shear flow on the section. If the shear resultants
act through the shear center, there is no twist.

Summing moments about the centroid, it can be shown
that the coordinates of the shear center are

2
2
2
2
yz zz yy
y yz z yy
z
yz zz yy
z yz y zz
y
I I I
I I I I
e
I I I
I I I I
e

=

− =
ω ω
ω ω

In the above,

∫ ∫
∫ ∫
ω = =
ω = =
ω
ω
S
z
S
z z
S
y
S
y y
s d s Q rds s Q I
s d s Q rds s Q I
0 0
0 0
) ( ) ( ) (
2
1
) ( ) ( ) (
2
1

are the sectorial products of inertia of the section, and
) ( 2 ) ( s d ds s r ω = define the sectorial area (the area shaded
in the figure above.)

r(s) is the perpendicular distance from the origin to the
force q ds needed in calculating moments.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
17
4. Bending and torsion of open sections

For combined bending and torsion, a number of additional
sectorial area properties are needed for the section.

Let point A undergo
displacements v, w, and rotation φ.
A different point s , located at
coordinates (y,z) displaces by

φ − + =
φ − − =
) (
) (
y s
z S
a y w w
a z v v

This can be resolved into a
normal, and a tangential
displacement component. The
tangential component of
displacement is

φ + + = η r
ds
dz
w
ds
dy
v

The shear strain in the tangential plane is given by

0 ≈

η ∂
+

= γ
x s
u
xs
(Wagner's assumption)

From which the out of plane displacement is approximately

) ( ) ( 2 ) ( ) (
0
x u
dx
d
s
dx
dw
s z
dx
dv
s y u +
φ
ω − − − =

In the above eqn.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
18

∫ ∫
ω = = ω
s s
s d s rd s
0 0
) ( 2 ) ( 2

is the sectorial area at point s. The resulting normal stress
is then

) 2 (
0
2
2
2
2
2
2
dx
du
dx
d
dx
w d
z
dx
v d
y E
x
u
E
xx
+
φ
ω − − − =

= σ

Integrating the normal stress over the area leads to the
axial and bending resultants.

These may be written as

2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
0
2
2
dx
d
EI
dx
w d
EI
dx
v d
EI M
dx
d
EI
dx
w d
EI
dx
v d
EI M
dx
d
ES
dx
du
EA N
z yz zz z
y yy yz y
x
φ
+ − − =
φ
+ − − =
φ
− =
ω
ω
ω

In the above, the first sectorial moment

∫∫
ω =
ω
A
dA s S ) ( 2

has been used. The sectorial products of inertia
z y
I I
ω ω
,
were defined in connection with the shear center.

Solving for the displacements,

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
19

2
2
2 2 2
2
2
2
2 2 2
2
2
2
0
2
) (
2
) (
dx
d
I I I
I I I I
I I I E
I M I M
dx
w d
dx
d
I I I
I I I I
I I I E
I M I M
dx
v d
dx
d
A
S
AE
N
dx
du
yz zz yy
yz z zz y
yz zz yy
yz z zz y
yz zz yy
yz y yy z
yz zz yy
yz y yy z
x
φ

+

− =
φ

+

− =
φ
+ =
ω ω
ω ω
ω

The coefficients multiplying φ" are the distances from A to
the shear center, so if point A is taken at the shear center,
these terms disappear, and the equations for v and w
reduce to

) (
) (
2 2
2
2 2
2
yz zz yy
yz z zz y
yz zz yy
yz y yy z
I I I E
I M I M
dx
w d
I I I E
I M I M
dx
v d

− =

− =

The equation for "
0
u can be written in alternative form as

2
2
0
0
2
dx
d
AE
N
dx
du
x
φ
ω + =

where = ω
0
the sectorial area between the outside edge of
the section and the sectorial centroid, a point for which
ω
S
vanishes.If the s origin were taken at a sectorial centroid,
instead of at an outside edge, then this term would
disappear.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
20
Shear Stresses and Resultants

For a section under bending and twisting, the total shear
stress at any point is

t
q
SV xs xs
+ τ = τ ) (

where

= τ
SV xs
) ( St Venant torsion stresses

=
t
q
shear stresses caused by shear flow on the
section.

Integrating the twisting moments caused by the shearing
stresses,

ω
+
φ
= T
dx
d
GJ T

where
ω
T is the torque caused by constrained warping
induced shear flow. It is sometimes convenient to express
this in terms of applied torque per unit length ) (x t . Here,

dx
dT
dx
d
GJ
dx
dT
x t
ω

φ
− = − =
2
2
) (

If the free edge is taken as the origin of the s coordinate,
the shear flow is given by

σ ∂
− =
s
xx
dA
dx
s q
0
) (

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
21
Hence,

ω
ω
ω

|
|
.
|

\
|

+

− = V
C
Q
V
I I I
Q I Q I
V
I I I
Q I Q I
s q
z
yz zz yy
z yz y zz
y
yz zz yy
y yz z yy
2 2
) (
where

∫∫
= ω − ω σ =
ω
A
xx
dA W ) ( 2
0
the bimoment

∫∫
ω − ω σ = =
ω ω
A
xx
dA
dx
d
W
dx
d
V ) ( 2
0

ω − ω =
ω
s
dA Q
0
0
) ( 2 =the first sectorial moment

∫∫
ω − ω =
ω
A
dA C
2
0
) ( 4 =the warping constant
Integrating q over the section, and recognizing that the
bending related shear flow vanishes if the load passes
through the shear center (which we may always impose)
we obtain, after some manipulation

3
3
dx
d
EC T
w
φ
− =
ω

from which the equation for twist of a thin-walled section

) (
2
2
4
4
x t
dx
d
GJ
dx
d
EC
w
=
φ

φ

is obtained.

Example Consider an I beam, simply supported at each
end, free to warp at the ends, loaded by a twisting moment
in the middle.
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
22

The conditions at the left and right end are similar to those
at the end of a simply supported beam in bending. Hence

0 ) ( " 0 ) 0 ( "
0 ) ( 0 ) 0 (
= φ = φ
= φ = φ
L
L

Rather than use the fourth order differential equation which
has discontinuous load at midspan, use the third order
differential equations

l x L T GJ EC
L x T GJ EC
≤ < − = φ − φ
≤ ≤ = φ − φ
ω
ω
2 / 2 / ' ' ' '
2 / 0 2 / ' ' ' '

The homogeneous eqn.

0 ' ' ' ' = φ − φ
ω
GJ EC

has the solution
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
23

) cosh( ) sinh( ) (
2 1 0
x C x C C x
h
λ + λ + = φ

where
ω
= λ
EC
GJ
. Since the r.h.s. of the non-
homogeneous equations are constant, and the lowest
order derivative of φ in the o.d.e. is one, assume a
particular solution

x
p
α = φ

Substituting into the o.d.e.'s,

L x L GJ T T GJ
L x GJ T T GJ
≤ < − = α → − = α
≤ ≤ = α → = α
2 / 2 / 2 /
2 / 0 2 / 2 /

Hence, the general solution is given by

L x L GJ Tx x C x C C
L x GJ Tx x C x C C
≤ < − λ + λ + = φ
≤ ≤ + λ + λ + = φ
2 / 2 / ) cosh( ) sinh(
2 / 0 2 / ) cosh( ) sinh(
2 1 0
2 1 0

The two solutions must be identical at midspan, and by
symmetry, 0 ) 2 / ( ' = φ L .

Consider the left half of the beam first. For this portion of
the beam, the b.c. at the origin are

0 0 ) 0 ( "
0 0 ) 0 (
2
2
2 0
= λ → = φ
= + → = φ
C
C C

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
24

Hence, 0
2 0
= = C C , and the solution reduces to

GJ Tx x C 2 / ) sinh(
1
+ λ = φ

Then, the symmetry condition at midspan

GJ T L C L 2 / ) 2 / cosh( 0 ) 2 / ( '
1
+ λ λ = = φ

yields
) 2 / cosh(
1
2
1
L GJ
T
C
λ λ
− = .

Hence, for the left half of the beam,

(
¸
(

¸

λ
λ
− λ
λ
= φ
) 2 / cosh(
) sinh(
2 L
x
x
JG
T

For the right hand side of the beam, we may place the
origin at the right end, running to the left.

Then, it can be shown that the resulting solution (after
converting to the original coordinate system) is

(
¸
(

¸

λ
− λ
− − λ
λ
= φ
) 2 / cosh(
)) ( sinh(
) (
2 L
x L
x L
JG
T

Next, consider the relative magnitudes of the two
components of torsion over the span. We have, for the left
half of the span,

(
¸
(

¸

λ
λ
− = φ =
) 2 / cosh(
) cosh(
1
2
'
L
x T
GJ T
SV

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
25

) 2 / cosh(
) cosh(
2
' ' '
L
x T
EC T
W
λ
λ
= φ − =
ω

For a typical W section, the λ values range from roughly
.04 for a heavy column section to less than .01 for some
very slender beams.

Contributions of the warping torsion are shown below for a
20' long beam.

When combined bending and twist of a beam occurs, it is
necessary to include all three components of shear flow
Shear Flow due to bending
St Venant Torsion
Warping Torsion
to evaluate the total shear stresses.
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
26

The shear flow from bending is calculated in the usual way,
as are the St Venant torsion shear stresses. The shear
flow from torsion may be calculated as

ω
ω
ω
ω
− = V
C
Q
q

However, it is more direct to calculate the shear flow from
the fact that

3
3
2
2

dx
d
EC V
dx
d
EC W
φ
− = →
φ
− =
ω ω ω ω

So,
3
3
dx
d
EQ q
φ
=
ω ω
provides the easiest calculation, given φ.
How do we calculate
ω
Q ? By definition,

ω − ω =
ω
s
dA Q
0
0
) ( 2

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
27
In the integral,
A
S
ω
= ω
0
, where
∫∫
ω =
ω
A
dA S 2 was defined
earlier. In these integrals, ω is a continuous function of
position on the section, starting from 0 at the sectorial
origin.

In general, calculating these integrals is messy, but we
may often use a simpler approach.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
28
Example: Suppose the above problem involves a W
section with properties shown.

Since the beam is doubly symmetrical, the shear center
coincides with the centroid. Taking this point as the origin
of sectorial areas, and as the sectorial center, the sectorial
areas (taken positive when rotated counterclockwise) are
as shown below.

The negative and positive ω
contributions cancel, so
0 0
0
= ω → =
ω
S . Integrating the
sectorial areas over the flanges,
(from the outside edges), the
ω
Q
functions are as shown.

Within the web, the + and - areas
from the flanges cancel, so the
warping torsion induced shear flow
vanishes.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
29
Then,

) 2 / cosh(
) cosh(
2
3
3
L
x
C
TQ
dx
d
EQ q
λ
λ
=
φ
=
ω
ω
ω ω

In the above,

) 2 / cosh(
) cosh(
4
3

) (
24
max
3
2
L
x
b h
T
x q
t b h
C
f
f f
λ
λ
=
→ =
ω ω

The same result can be achieved in a much more intuitive
manner. The sketch below illustrates the procedure

The lateral translation v introduced into the flange by the
rotation φ causes a bending moment unless φ' is constant.
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
30

' ' v EI M
f
=

' ' '
2 12
' ' '
2
' ' '
3
φ =
φ =
= →
h
t b
E
h
EI
v EI V
f f
f
f

This shear produces a torque
' ' '
2 12 2
2 3
) 1 (
φ
|
.
|

\
|
− = =
h
t b
E
h
V T
f f
f

A similar torque develops on the bottom flange, so

' ' '
24
2
3
) 2 ( ) 1 (
φ − = + =
h t b
E T T T
f f
f f

But the warping torsion is given as

24
' ' '
2
3
h t b
C EC T
f f
= → φ − =
ω ω ω

in agreement with the previous result.

Within the top flange, bending introduces a shear flow

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
31

f
f
I
VQ
q =
ω

From the above sketch,

12

2 2
3
2
2
f f
f
f f
f
t b
I y
b t
Q =
(
(
¸
(

¸

− |
.
|

\
|
=
So

' ' '
2 2 2

12
2 2
' ' '
24
2
2
3
2
2 3
φ
(
(
¸
(

¸

|
|
.
|

\
|
=
(
(
¸
(

¸

|
|
.
|

\
|
(
(
¸
(

¸

φ
=
ω
y
b t
h
E
t b
y
b t
h
t b
E
q
f f
f f
f f f f

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
32
For the beam analyzed previously,

) 2 / cosh(
) cosh(
2
' ' '
L
x
EC
T
λ
λ
− = φ
ω

so

) 2 / cosh(
) cosh( 3
2
) 2 / cosh(
) cosh(
2
24
2 2 2
) 2 / cosh(
) cosh(
2 2 2 2
3
2
2
2
3
2
2
2
2
L
x
h b
T
y
b
L
x T
h t b
y
b t
h
L
x
C
T
y
b t
h
q
f
f
f f
f f
f f
λ
λ
(
(
¸
(

¸

− |
.
|

\
|
=
λ
λ
(
(
¸
(

¸

− |
.
|

\
|
=
λ
λ
(
(
¸
(

¸

− |
.
|

\
|
=
ω
ω

The peak value of warping shear flow occurs at the middle
of the flange (y=0) at the midspan of the beam (x=L/2),
where

h b
T
q
f
4
3
=
ω

The third part of the sketch on p. TO.30 re-establishes
compatibility by rotating the flanges, and the web about an
angle φ about their respective centroids. This introduces
the St Venant torsion, as well as a secondary warping
torsion caused by the plate bending of the individual flange
and web plates. We usually ignore the secondary warping
except for certain torsionally weak sections.
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
33
Secondary Warping:

For certain sections, the only resistance to warping is the
secondary warping resistance. Several such sections are
shown below…

The secondary warping torsional resistance can often be
computed for such sections using an analogy to the
approach used for the flange above. Consider a plate,
rotated about its base through an angle φ which varies with
x. At y,

' ' ' ) ( ' ' ' φ = y y v

' ' '
12
' ' ' ) ( ) (
3
φ = φ =
ω ω
y
dy t
E y EI y dV
s s

' ' '
12
) ( ) (
2
3
φ = =
ω ω
y
dy t
E y y dV y dT
s s

Integrating over the height of the plate,
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
34

36
' ' '
36
' ' '
12
3
3
3
3
0
2 3
p
s
p
h
s
h t
C
h t
E dy
y t
E T
p
= →
φ = φ =
ω
ω

All of the cases shown above can be constructed by
variations of the above. For example, a plate of height h
rotated about its centroid is equivalent to two plates of h/2
rotated about their respective bases. Hence,

144 36
) 2 / (
2
3 3 3 3
h t h t
C
s
= =
ω

Likewise, the T section has warping stiffness

36 144
3
2
3
3
1
h t b t
C
s
+ =
ω

and the cruciform shown has warping stiffness

72 144
2
3 3 3 3
h t h t
C
s
= =
ω

(You should calculate the corresponding warping stiffness
for an angle with unequal legs.)

If the plates are thin, the warping stiffness may be
relatively small. This can have an important effect, as we'll
see.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
35
Design Approximations for Torsion

Analysis using the differential equation for torsion is
complicated, even for simple loads, so various
approximations have been introduced.

Idea: In warping torsion, the flanges act like beams
bending laterally.

A (conservative) approximate analysis might be

1. convert the torque into couples acting on the flanges by
dividing by the beam height.

2. Apply the "equivalent" lateral loads as forces on the
flanges.

3. Analyze the flanges as beams under these loads.
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
36
Example:

For the beam analyzed before, the torque converts into

h T P / =

applied at the top and bottom flanges.

The resulting shear is half of this, on each end…

h T V 2 / =

The shear flow is thus

3
2
2
2
3
/
f
f
f f
b h
T y
b
I VQ q
(
(
¸
(

¸

− |
.
|

\
|
= ≈
ω

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
37
The max. shear flow at y=0 is

f
b h
T
q
4
3
max
=
ω

which clearly is an upper bound to the actual shear flow.

This approach is often overly conservative, because

• The normal stresses caused by the bimoment are most
important quantitatively, and may be as large as the
bending stresses for a beam in combined bending and
torsion

• The flange shear flow predicted by the bending analogy
will over-estimate the actual warping torsion shear flow
over much of the beam. Since, in the same way that

ξ ξ + = → =
x
d V M x M
dx
dM
V
0
) ( ) 0 ( ) (

We also have

ξ ξ + = → =
ω ω ω
ω
ω
x
d V W x W
dx
dW
V
0
) ( ) 0 ( ) (

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
38
For example, by the beam analogy,

The beam analogy yields

2 2
L
h
T
M
f
= →
ω
from which
f
f
xx
I
b
L
h
T
2 /
2 2
= σ
ω

However, the actual shear is

) 2 / cosh(
) cosh(
2 L
x
h
T
V
f
λ
λ
=

Hence, the integrated lateral flange moment is

2 2 2 2 ) 2 / cosh(
) cosh(
2
2 /
0
L
h
T L
h
T
dx
L
x
h
T
M
L
f
< β =
λ
λ
=
∫ ω

where β is a reduction factor, dependent upon
• λL
• The end conditions
• The specifics of the applied torque
S & J give values of β for some common load cases.
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
39

Are the stresses caused by torsion large enough to be a
problem? Let's see.

Example: A W18x71 beam spanning 24 ft. is loaded with a
away from the Z axis. The beam is fixed at both ends.

(Variation on S&J example.)

For the beam, the properties are

6
2 3
2
3
in 685 , 4
24
) " 81 . " 47 . 18 )( " 810 (. ) " 635 . 7 (
24
=

=
=
ω
h t b
C
f f

[ ]
4
3 3
3
in 39 . 3
) " 495 )(. 62 . 1 47 . 18 ( ) " 810 )(. " 635 . 7 ( 2
3
1
3
=
− + = =

bt
J

6 . 2 ) 3 . 0 1 ( 2 ) 1 ( 2 / = + = ν + = G E
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
40

in.
01668 . 0
6 . 2 ) 685 , 4 (
39 . 3
= = = λ
ω
EC
JG

For the fixed-fixed case, we can show that

[
( )
(
¸
(
λ −
λ
λ −
+
λ − λ
λ
= φ
)) cosh( 1 (
) 2 / sinh(
) 2 / cosh( 1
) sinh(
2
x
L
L
x x
JG
T

so
( )
(
¸
(

¸

λ
λ
λ −
− λ − = φ ) sinh(
) 2 / sinh(
) 2 / cosh( 1
) cosh( 1
2
' x
L
L
x
JG
T

( )
(
¸
(

¸

λ
λ
λ −
− λ −
λ
= φ ) cosh(
) 2 / sinh(
) 2 / cosh( 1
) sinh(
2
" x
L
L
x
JG
T

(a) Saint-Venant Torsion

[
)] 2 / sinh( / ) sinh( )) 2 / cosh( 1 (
) cosh( 1
2
'
L x L
x
J
Tt
Gt
f SV
λ λ λ − +
λ − =
φ = τ

Here, 477 . 5 ) 2 / sinh( = λL , 567 . 4 ) 2 / cosh( 1 − = λ − L , so

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
41
)] 01668 sinh(. 8338 . 0 ) 01668 cosh(. 1 [
) in 39 . 3 ( 2
) " 81 . 0 )( " 40 (
4
x x
k
SV
+ − = τ

For the fixed-fixed case, the Saint-Venant torsion is zero at
both support and centerline, and is maximum at 4 / L ,
where

ksi 141 . 2
1
= τ
SV

(b) Warping Torsion Shear: For the W section, following
the above reasoning,

' ' '
16
2
max
φ = τ
ω
h b
E
f

From the solution,

( )
(
¸
(

¸

λ
λ
λ −
− λ −
λ
= φ ) sinh(
) 2 / sinh(
) 2 / cosh( 1
) cosh(
2
' ' '
2
x
L
L
x
JG
T

so
[ ] ) 01668 sinh(. 8338 . 0 ) 01668 cosh(. 2556 . 0
) sinh(
) 2 / sinh(
) 2 / cosh( 1
) cosh(
32
2
max
x x
x
L
L
x
C
T h b
f
+ − =
(
¸
(

¸

λ
λ
λ −
− λ − = τ
ω
ω

max
ω
τ reaches its max. amplitude at the end, and at the
centerline, where the warping restraint is greatest. There

2556 . 0 ) 2 / ( ) 0 ( = τ = τ
ω ω
L
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
42

It is smallest at the quarter points where warping restraint
is least.

(c) Lateral bending stresses introduced by warping torsion

The bending stress caused by warping is given by

2
2
dx
d
E
xx
φ
ω − = σ
ω

From the above analysis, the largest magnitude stress
occurs at the flange tips, where 4 / h b
f
= ω . Thus,
( ) ] 2 / sinh( / ) cosh( ) 2 / cosh( 1 ) sinh( [
2 4
"
4
L x L x
J
T
G
E
h b
E
h b
f
f
xx
λ λ λ − − λ −
λ
=
φ = σ
ω

at the flange tips

Substituting the numerical values leads to
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
43

[ ]
)] 01668 cosh(. 8338 . 0 ) 01668 sinh(. [ 625 . 8
) 01668 cosh(. 8338 . 0 ) 01668 sinh(.
) in 39 . 3 ( 2
) k " 40 )( in. / 01668 . 0 (
) 6 . 2 (
4
) " 66 . 17 )( " 635 . 7 (
4
x x
x x
xx
+ − =
+ −
= σ
ω

The maximum values of
ω
σ
xx
occur at the ends, and at
midspan, where ksi 192 . 7 = σ
ω
xx
(compressive on one side
of the flange, tensile on the other.

The maximum normal stress on one edge of the flange is
shown over a half beam length. Maximum warping
restraint exists at the support, and at midspan.

(d) Bending analogy… For this case

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
44
kips 265 . 2
66 . 17
40
k " 40 , " 66 . 17 = = → = =
f
P T h

For a fixed-fixed beam, max moments are

k " 54 . 81
8
) " 288 )( kips 265 . 2 (
8
= = =
L P
M
f

Then, if
3
2
2
in 8696 . 7
6
) " 635 . 7 )( " 81 . 0 (
6
= = =
f f
fl
b t
S

ksi 361 . 10
in 8696 . 7
k " 54 . 81
3
.
= = σ
equiv
xx

As noted above, this is overly conservative.
From table 8.6.2, the interpolated β value is

696 . 0 ) 76 . 0 )( 2 . 0 ( ) 68 . 0 )( 8 . 0 ( = + = β

Then,

ksi 211 . 7 ) ksi 361 . 10 ( 696 . 0 = ≈ σ
ω
xx

which is pretty close to the maximum value obtained from
the closed form solution.

Observations:
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
45
• The Saint-Venant torsion shear stresses are somewhat
larger than the warping torsion shear stresses, but both
are relatively small.
• The warping normal stresses may be significant.

(e) To see how significant, let's compute the bending
stresses…

k " 720
8
) " 288 )( kips 20 (
8
= = =
PL
M

3
in 127 =
x
S
ksi 67 . 5 in 127 / k " 720
3
= = σ
bending
xx

In this case, the warping normal stresses are larger than
the bending stresses!
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
46
5. Other Approaches:

Calculating φ may be simplified by tabulated solutions for
certain idealized boundary conditions, or a matrix stiffness
equation

¦
¦
)
¦
¦
`
¹
¦
¦
¹
¦
¦
´
¦
φ
φ
φ
φ
(
(
(
(
¸
(

¸

− − −

=
¦
¦
)
¦
¦
`
¹
¦
¦
¹
¦
¦
´
¦
ω
ω
'
'
2
2
1
1
3 2 4 2
2 1 2 1
4 2 3 2
2 1 2 1
2
1
2
1
a a a a
a a a a
a a a a
a a a a
JG
W
T
W
T

where

λ + λ λ − λ λ = ∆ 2 ) cosh( 2 ) sinh(
2
L L L

L L a L L L a
L a L a
λ − λ = λ − λ λ =
− λ λ = λ λ =
) sinh( ) sinh( ) cosh(
] 1 ) [cosh( ) sinh(
4 3
2
2
1

may be useful.

This stiffness matrix may be used to replace the 2x2
torsional stiffness submatrix

)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
φ
φ
(
¸
(

¸

=
)
`
¹
¹
´
¦
2
1
2
1
1 1
1 1
L
JG
T
T

commonly used in the beam (or frame) equations, and
incorporates the end conditions commonly encountered.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
47
This approach has the advantage that it can produce
reasonable torsional stiffnesses for applications involving
torsional moments caused by eccentrically connected
beams (See S&J, section 8.7)

The associated solution

' ) ( ) ( ' ) ( ) ( ) (
2 4 2 3 1 2 1 1
φ + φ + φ + φ = φ x f x f x f x f x

can then be used to obtain all derivatives of φ needed to
calculate the shear flow, where

[ ]
[ ]
[ ]
[ ] ∆ λ λ − − λ − =
∆ λ − − λ λ − =
∆ λ λ − + λ − + − =
∆ λ λ + λ + − − =
/ / ) sinh( ( ) cosh( 1 (
/ )) cosh( 1 ( ) / ) sinh( (
/ / ) sinh( ) ( )) cosh( 1 (
/ / ) sinh( )) cosh( 1 ( ) (
2 4 4
2 1 3
2 1 3 2 2
1 2 1 1
x x a x a f
x a x x a f
x a L a x a x a f
x a x a x L a f

are the "shape functions" for the problem. Distributed
torques can also be accomodated.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
48
S&J suggest that the best approach for determining the
applied torque is one that establishes compatibility
between the twisting rotation φ of the beam supporting a
torque producing member, and the end bending rotation
of the attached element. They note that
• Applying the shear at the face of the web
underestimates the torsion
• Applying the shear at the centerline of the connection
overestimates the torsion
• Applying the shear so as to achieve rotational continuity
with the end of the beam framing in tends to be about
right.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
49
6. LRFD for Torsional Moments

Assumption: Torsion stresses add to bending stresses, but
lateral torsional instability is prevented.

i.e. lateral restraint exists, but laterally restraining
members may induce self-limiting torsion before restraint
becomes effective.

Other problems exist as well, for which torsional rotation
may not be self limited.

AISC Philosophy: (consistent with ASD)
• Assume the limit state occurs when yielding is reached.
∴ Elastic analysis is applicable.
• Compute factored stresses using
L D
w w , , etc, e.g.
L D u
w w w 6 . 1 2 . 1 + = , …
• Once the factored design moment and factored design
lateral flange moments are known, the stresses are
superpositioned with the limit state. Formally,

y b
z
b
F
S
M
S
M
z
φ ≤ +
ω
ω

or, in terms of the equivalent lateral flange moment

y b
y
f
z
b
F
S
M
S
M
z
φ ≤ +
2

In the above, 9 . 0 = φ
b
=resistance factor.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
50
• Since λ is a section property that influences the
ω
M
term, through the β factor, or through the d.e. solution,
iterative solution is necessary.
• Guess a value of λ in the
right approximate range.
• Use the corresponding value of L λ , to determine the
value of
ω
M to be used with the design bending
moment.
• Use the bounds to estimate a section size.
• Use the section size to update the estimated value of
λ., etc.

Example: An A36 beam with torsionally simply supported
ends must carry two 20 kip loads acting at an eccentricity
of 6" (5 Kips DL, 15 Kips LL) (Variation on S&J example)

kips 30 ) kips 15 ( 6 . 1 ) kips 5 ( 2 . 1 = + =
u
P
Guess plf 180 ) 150 ( 2 . 1 plf 150 = = → =
u beam
w w
Bending moments:

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
51

Torsion:

k. " 180 ) kips 30 )( " 6 ( = =
u
T

Using beam analogy

h h T P
u f
/ k " 180 / = =
h
h L P M
f f
/ k in 920 , 25
/ ) " 144 )( k " 180 ( 3 /
2
=
= =

The β reduction factor depends upon λL. Guess 015 . 0 = λ ,
(for a majority of W sections, 02 . 01 . < λ < ) Thus,

48 . 6 ) " 432 ( 015 . = = λL 36 . 0 ≈ β →

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
52
The β value for the torques in the middle of the beam
aren't exactly known, but the estimates tend to be
somewhat conservative.

Guessing a 14" beam, the reduced flange moment is

k M
f
" 667 " 14 / ) k - in 920 , 25 ( 36 . 0
2
= =

For a midsized W14,
6 . 2 / ≈
z y
S S , taking both flanges
into account, so

ksi) 36 ( 9 . 0
6 . 2 /
2 k " 667 k " 4670

×
+
y y
S S

3
in 251 ≥ →
y
S

Try W14x159. For this section, 64 . 2 / =
z y
S S , so the guess
is o.k. for now. Also, for this section

2 . 68
1
= =
λ
ω
GJ
EC
(p. 1-148 of AISC-LRFD)

so 33 . 6 2 . 68 / " 432 = = λL

This implies a revised 37 . 0 = β
Now,
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
53

k " 695 " 79 . 13 / ) 920 , 25 ( 37 . 0 = =
f
M
So

3
in 257
64 . 2 / 4 . 32
) 2 )( k " 695 (
ksi 4 . 32
k " 670 , 4
= + ≥
y
S

The W14x159 is not quite big enough, since
3
in 254 =
y
S .
(actually, it's probably o.k., in view of the approximations in
calculating β, but without a more precise calculation, we
can't be sure.)

Try a W14x176 Revise the moment upward to

From the tables,
86 . 6 9 . 62 / 432 9 . 62 / 1 = = λ → = λ L
=
y
S

63 . 2 / =
z y
S S

Revised 35 . 0 = β
" 91 . 13 = h
k " 652 91 . 13 / ) 920 , 25 ( 35 . = =
f
M
ksi 4 32 ksi 29
63 . 2 / 281
2 652
281
4720
. < =
×
+

o.k. A W14x176 is more than adequate here

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
54
7. Presence of Axial Loads (Torsional Instability)

conditions, instability can occur. In this case, formulation
in the displaced state is necessary.

The relevant displacements are φ and , w v . So, the first
equation (for
0
u ) is not changed.

Formulation is complicated, (as is the result) so, we'll just
present the resulting equations for φ and , w v .

The complete equations are nonlinear. A linear version
which omits the non-linear terms is presented here.

yz z y y y yz z yy
yz y yy z x lz yz ly yy
x yz x yy yz zz yy
I q I q
dx
d
V I V I
dx
d
I e I e N M I M I
dx
w d
N I
dx
v d
N I
dx
v d
I I I E
− =
φ
+ +
φ
+ − + +
+ − −
) (
)] ( [
) (
2
2
2
2
2
2
4
4
2

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
55
yz y zz z z yz y zz
yz z zz y x ly yz lz zz
x yz x zz yz zz yy
I q I q
dx
d
V I V I
dx
d
I e I e N M I M I
dx
v d
N I
dx
w d
N I
dx
w d
I I I E
− =
φ
− −
φ
+ + − − +
+ − −
) (
)] ( [
) (
2
2
2
2
2
2
4
4
2

) (
) ( ) (
2
2
2
2
2
2
4
4
x t
dx
d
V
C
H
V C V C
dx
dw
V
dx
dv
V
dx
w d
N e M
dx
v d
N e M
dx
d
W
C
H
M C M C N
A
I
GJ
dx
d
EC
z y y z
y z x y lz x z ly
ly y lz z x
E
=
φ
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ + −
− + − − − +
φ
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ + + + −
φ
ω
ω
ω
ω
ω
ω
ω

In these equations, a number of additional quantities are to
be defined.

=
lz ly
M M , Moments caused by transverse loads only
= + + + = A e e I I I
z y zz yy E
) (
2 2
shear center

Three new geometrical quantities are

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
56

( )
∫∫
∫∫
∫∫
+ ω − ω =
+ =
+ =
ω
A
A
z
A
y
dA z y H
dA z y y H
dA z y z H
) )( ( 2
) (
2 2
0
2 2
2 2

From these,

y
yz zz yy
y yz z yy
z
z
yz zz yy
z yz y zz
y
e
I I I
H I H I
C
e
I I I
H I H I
C
2
2
2
2

=

=

The equations are three simultaneous equations in three
unknowns. Although the geometrical properties are
ω ω
V W V V M M
z y lz ly
, , , , , all vary
with x.

∴The d.e. coefficients are variable.

Often, the d.e.s can be simplified, by taking advantage of
special properties of different classes of problems.

We will want to do this in practice, since the original set of
equations is unwieldy.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
57
First, assume that the y-z coordinates are principal
coordinate axes. Then 0 =
yz
I , and the eqns reduce to
y y z z x ly x zz
q
dx
d
V
dx
d
e N M
dx
v d
N
dx
v d
EI =
φ
+
φ
− + −
2
2
2
2
4
4
) (

z y y x lz x yy
q
dx
d
V
dx
d
e N M
dx
w d
N
dx
w d
EI =
φ

φ
+ − + −
2
2
2
2
4
4
) (

) (
) ( ) (
2
2
2
2
2
2
4
4
x t
dx
d
V
C
H
V C V C
dx
dw
V
dx
dv
V
dx
w d
N e M
dx
v d
N e M
dx
d
W
C
H
M C M C N
A
I
GJ
dx
d
EC
z y y z
y z x y lz x z ly
ly y lz z x
E
=
φ
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ + −
− + − − − +
φ
|
|
.
|

\
|
+ + + + −
φ
ω
ω
ω
ω
ω
ω
ω

z y
q q , are zero, and the
transverse moments are constant, then the shears
z y
V V ,
are also zero, and the additional simplification
0 ) (
2
2
2
2
4
4
=
φ
− + −
dx
d
e N M
dx
v d
N
dx
v d
EI
z x ly x zz

0 ) (
2
2
2
2
4
4
=
φ
+ − + −
dx
d
e N M
dx
w d
N
dx
w d
EI
y x lz x yy

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
58
) ( ) ( ) (
2
2
2
2
2
2
4
4
x t
dx
w d
N e M
dx
v d
N e M
dx
d
W
dx
d
C
H
dx
d
M C M C N
A
I
GJ
dx
d
EC
x y lz x z ly
ly y lz z x
E
= − − − +
|
.
|

\
|
φ

φ
|
.
|

\
|
+ + + −
φ
ω
ω
ω
ω

is possible.
Now, assuming that the bar is subjected only to an axial
compressive load through the centroid, the moments due
to transverse loads are zero, the applied torque vanishes,
and if the loading is applied so that the bimoment is zero,
the equations become
0
2
2
2
2
4
4
=
φ
+ +
dx
d
e N
dx
v d
N
dx
v d
EI
z x x zz

0
2
2
2
2
4
4
=
φ
− +
dx
d
e N
dx
w d
N
dx
w d
EI
y x x yy

0
2
2
2
2
2
2
4
4
= − +
φ
|
.
|

\
|
− −
φ
ω
dx
w d
N e
dx
v d
N e
dx
d
N
A
I
GJ
dx
d
EC
x y x z x
E

These equations represent a generalization of the elastic
column buckling problem. (Note sign change in
x
N
because of compression.)
Assume a pinned end column for which the appropriate
boundary conditions are

0 " 0 " 0 "
0 0 0
= φ = =
= φ = =
w v
w v

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
59
Then a solution of the form

) / sin(
) / sin(
) / sin(
0
0
0
L x
L x w w
L x v v
π φ = φ
π =
π =

where
0 0 0
, , φ w v are the values of φ , , w v at midspan, will
satisfy the resulting equations provided
0 ) (
0 0
2
2
= φ − −
π
z x x zz
e N v N
L
EI
0 ) (
0 0
2
2
= φ + −
π
y x x yy
e N w N
L
EI
0
0
2
2
0 0
= φ
(
¸
(

¸

− +
π
+ + −
ω x
E
x y x z
N
A
I
GJ
L
EC w N e v N e
or, in matrix form
¦
)
¦
`
¹
¦
¹
¦
´
¦
=
¦
)
¦
`
¹
¦
¹
¦
´
¦
φ
(
(
(
(
(
(
¸
(

¸

− +
π

π
− −
π
ω
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
2
2
2
2
w
v
N
A
I
GJ
L
EC e N e N
e N N
L
EI
e N N
L
EI
x
E
y x z x
y x x yy
z x x zz

Non-trivial solutions exist iff the determinant of coefficients
is zero. Rather than solve for the general case, let's
consider two special cases.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
60
(a) The section is doubly symmetric. Then 0 = =
z y
e e , and
the equations reduce to

¦
)
¦
`
¹
¦
¹
¦
´
¦
=
¦
)
¦
`
¹
¦
¹
¦
´
¦
φ
(
(
(
(
(
(
¸
(

¸

− +
π

π

π
ω
0
0
0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0
0
0
2
2
2
2
2
2
w
v
N
A
I
GJ
L
EC
N
L
EI
N
L
EI
x
E
x yy
x zz

The corresponding determinantal equation
0
2
2
2
2
2
2
= |
.
|

\
|
− +
π
|
.
|

\
|

π
|
.
|

\
|

π
ω x
E
x yy x zz
N
A
I
GJ
L
EC N
L
EI N
L
EI
is already factored, and has the three solutions

zz
E zz x
P
L
EI N =
π
=
2
2
yy
E yy x
P
L
EI N =
π
=
2
2
T
E
x
P GJ
L
EC
I
A
N = |
.
|

\
|
+
π
=
ω
2
2
(Torsional, or twist buckling)
The 3
rd
solution corresponds to a new mode of buckling,
shown below, for a cruciform section.
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
61

Dividing by A and noting that
p E
I I = for a doubly
symmetrical section yields the critical stress

|
.
|

\
|
+
π
− = σ
ω
GJ
L
EC
I
p
xx
cr
2
2
1

If this critical stress is less than the minor axis Euler
stress, then torsional buckling will preceed Euler buckling
of the section, and must be accounted for in design.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
62
Example: Consider an equal leg cruciform section with
h=6",t=1/4".

Section properties:

4
2 2 2 2
in 508 . 4
12
] ) " 25 (. ) " 6 )[( " 25 )(. " 6 (
12
) (
=
+
=
+
= =
t h th
I I
zz yy

4
in 016 . 9 = + =
zz yy p
I I I

" 239 . 1 in 938 . 2 ) " 25 (. ) " 25 )(. " 6 ( 2 2
2 2 2
= = → = − = − =
z y
r r t th A

6
3 3 3 3
in 04688 . 0
72
) " 6 ( ) " 25 (.
72
= = =
ω
h t
C

4
3 3 3
in 0625 . 0
3
) " 25 )(. " 6 ( 2
3
2
3
) 2 / (
4 = = = =
ht t h
J

For Euler buckling, both axes have the same I, so

2
2
2
2
2
2
) (
530 , 454
) " 239 . 1 (
) 000 , 30 (
) / ( L L r L
E
Euler
xx
cr
=
π
=
π
= σ

For torsional buckling,

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
63
80
540 , 1
)] 0625 . 0 )( 540 , 11 ( ) 04688 . 0 )( 000 , 30 [(
016 . 9
1
) (
1
2
2
2
2
2
) (
+ =
+
π
=
+
π
= σ
ω
L
L
GJ
L
EC
I
p
Torsion
xx
cr

(The GJ term dominates the torsional buckling equation
unless the column is very short.)
Torsion controls if
) ( ) ( Euler
xx
Torsion
xx
cr cr
σ < σ , so

" 2 . 75
530 , 454
80
1540
2 2
< → < + L
L L

• In a symmetrical section, torsional buckling tends to
control only for short columns.
• The thinner the walls of the column, relative to the plate
widths (Thin plates) the more likely it is that torsional
buckling will control. (Increasing the wall thickness to
3/8" in the above calculations decreases the length
column for which torsion controls to 50".)
• It may be feasible to ignore the warping torsion term in
the above in the practical range of interest.
• For the torsion buckling, it is appropriate to replace E
with ) 1 /(
2
ν − E consistent with dominant plate action.
(b) The section is singly symmetrical. If the z axis is an
axis of symmetry, then 0 =
y
e , and

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
64
¦
)
¦
`
¹
¦
¹
¦
´
¦
=
¦
)
¦
`
¹
¦
¹
¦
´
¦
φ
(
(
(
(
(
(
¸
(

¸

− +
π

π
− −
π
ω
0
0
0
0
0 0
0
0
0
0
2
2
2
2
2
2
w
v
N
A
I
GJ
L
EC e N
N
L
EI
e N N
L
EI
x
E
z x
x yy
z x x zz

From which, the determinantal equation is

0
2 2
2
2
2
2
2
2
=
(
¸
(

¸

− |
.
|

\
|
− +
π
|
.
|

\
|

π
|
.
|

\
|

π
ω z x x
E
x zz x yy
e N N
A
I
GJ
L
EC N
L
EI N
L
EI

Before solving this problem, it is useful to substitute the
relations
2
2
L
EI P
zz E
zz
π
=
2
2
L
EI P
yy E
yy
π
= GJ
L
EC P
A
I
T
E
+
π
=
ω
2
2

Then, the determinantal eqn. takes the form

( ) ( )( ) 0
2 2
=
(
¸
(

¸

− − − −
z x x T x E
E
x E
e N N P N P
A
I
N P
zz yy

This is an important case, as T beams, one section
commonly used for compression elements (e.g. truss
members) is singly symmetrical.

The leading factor is just Euler column buckling in the
plane of symmetry.
The other factor leads to a coupled flexural-torsional
buckling mode. The formal solution is
Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
65

|
|
.
|

\
|

|
|
.
|

\
|
− − + − +
=
E
z
T E
E
z
T E T E
x
I
Ae
P P
I
Ae
P P P P
N
zz zz zz
2
2
2
1 2
1 4 ) ( ) (

Typically, this critical load will be smaller than either the
twist buckling load, or the flexural buckling mode.

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
66
Dividing the equation by the area permits the relationship
to be written in terms of the critical stresses for the
individual buckling modes.

|
|
.
|

\
|

σ σ
|
|
.
|

\
|
− − σ + σ − σ + σ
= σ
E
z
T
xx
E
xx
E
z
T
xx
E
xx
T
xx
E
xx
FT
xx
I
Ae
I
Ae
cr cr cr cr cr cr
cr 2
) ( ) (
2
2 ) ( ) ( ) ( ) (
) (
1 2
1 4 ) ( ) (

where
2
2
) / (
y
E
xx
r L
E
cr
π
= σ |
.
|

\
|
ν +
+
π
= σ
ω
) 1 ( 2
2
2
) (
J
L
C
I
E
E
T
xx
cr

One can use the latter equation to define an equivalent
radius of gyration for torsional buckling. Equating

|
.
|

\
|
ν +
+
π
=
π
ω
) 1 ( 2 ) / (
2
2
2
2
J
L
C
I
E
r L
E
E E

yields the resulting equivalent r

|
.
|

\
|
ν + π
+ =
ω
) 1 ( 2
1
2
2
JL
C
I
r
E
E

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
67
Example: Consider a WT12x27.5:
2
in 10 . 8 = A
4
in 117 =
yy
I
4
in 5 . 14 =
zz
I
" 8 . 3 =
z
r " 34 . 1 =
y
r
" 248 . 3 =
z
e
4
in 588 . 0 = J
6
in 764 . 2 =
ω
C
4 2 2 4 4
in 217 ) " 248 . 3 )( in 1 . 8 ( in 5 . 14 in 117 = + + =
E
I
2
2
2
2
2
2
700 , 531
) " 34 . 1 ( 000 , 30
) / ( L L r L
E
y
E
xx
cr
=
π
=
π
= σ
26 . 31
771 , 3
6 . 2
588 . 0
764 . 2
217
000 , 30
) 1 ( 2
2
2
2
2
2
) (
+ =
|
.
|

\
|
+
π
= |
.
|

\
|
ν +
+
π
= σ
ω
L
L
J
L
C
I
E
E
T
xx
cr

Substituting into the critical stress eqn yields

213 . 1
3 . 31
771 , 3 300 , 289 , 1
) 3 . 31
500 , 535
( ) 3 . 31
500 , 535
(
2 2
2
2 2
) (
|
.
|

\
|
+ − + − +
= σ
L L L L
FT
xx
cr

This result is shown below in two plots.
• First plot shows the interaction of the critical stresses
over a large theoretical range
• Second plot shows the interaction of the critical stresses
over a practical range

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
68

Flexural-Torsional interaction significantly reduces the
buckling load for this column, extending well into the
elastic range!

Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
69
7. References

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Boresi, A. P., Schmidt, R. J., and Sidebottom, O. M.,
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Chang, F. K., and Johnston, B. G., (1953), "Torsion of
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Chen, M.-T., and Jolissaint, D. E. Jr., (1983), "Pure and
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Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
70

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Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
71
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Torsion in Structural Design - Notes 11/30/01
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73
Siev, A. (1966), "Torsion in Closed Sections," Engineering
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