NEW SOUTH WALES TECHNICAL AND FURTHER EDUCATION COMMISSION ________________________________________ NIRIMBA COLLEGE OF TAFE

4010A
Additional Column NOTES Week 15

Columns

Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2

Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 1 of 13

2 millimetres. usually supporting horizontal beams or slabs or other members. Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 2 of 13 . They can all be dealt with under the term ‘column’. The design and the construction of these structural members are therefore very important. however. Behaviour of columns Under a concentric load—that is a load that is applied exactly through the centroid of the crosssection of a column—only compressive stresses are generated. In practice.2 mm 2000 mm = 0. posts or poles and a number of other members. The amount of strain that a column would experience depends on the size of load and the type of material from which the column is made. This results in loads being applied eccentrically or not precisely through the centroid of the cross-section. That is. Columns may also be designed to support loads that are intentionally eccentric. Note also that the amount of shortening is generally very small. studs. Look at Figure 1 to see why column loading is often eccentric. columns are never perfectly straight. if a certain load made a 2 metre long column shorter by 0. the strain is: compressive strain = 0. we examine the behaviour and the general design principles of columns. as you would expect from a structural member. There are several structural members that perform the role of columns—that is resist compressive loads. In this section. Eccentricity of loading leads to bending.Introduction 1 A column is a structural member designed to resist compressive forces. The ratio of the change in length to the original length is called the compressive strain and can be represented by the following equation: compressive strain = amount of shortening original length For example. Columns are very important since they can transfer large loads down to footings and the failure of just one column can result in major and extensive collapse of part or all of a building.0001 Notice that strain does not have a unit (the units for change in length and length are the same and therefore cancel out). strain is just a ratio of one length to another. It is a vertical member. A column will experience a very small shortening in length due to this compression. 1 2182M Structures 1 notes. Eccentricity of load A perfectly formed column with a load applied concentrically through the centroid could be made very slender and infinitely long. loads are never perfectly concentrically applied and in addition. These include struts or props.

it is an eccentric load. where it joins to the column. In this example there is uneven loading of the two beams causing one of the beams to deflect more than the other. such as in monolithic concrete construction. b) A timber beam notched into the side of a post is a common type of timber connection. The ‘rotation’ at the end of the beam. This must always be taken account of in the design of the connection and of the column. d) The way the steel beams are connected to the steel column section shows an obvious eccentricity of loading.Figure 1: Eccentricity of loading in columns. Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 3 of 13 . It is clear how an eccentrically applied force causes bending and an uneven stress distribution through the column section. or rigid connections in steel. Notes on Figure 1: a) The column to beam connection is very rigid. This may not even extend to the centre of the pier hence the loading is eccentric. Now look at Figure 2. The load coming through the bearer onto the post is not central—that is. causes the column to bend. c) There is a minimum bearing length required for a bearer sitting on a brick pier.

However. If your ruler is straight. At some point. you can apply quite a bit of load. Short columns fail when the load becomes too great and the material starts to crumble or to bulge outwards. causes more bending and compressive stress than the column section can handle. Take your plastic 300 mm rule (not one with a triangular section). Figure 3: Compression failures in short columns. Long or slender columns fail when the eccentricity of the load. eventually the ruler ‘buckles’ suddenly. caused by non-centroidal loading or by non-straightness of the column. Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 4 of 13 . Stand it upright and apply a load with your hand. sudden bending or buckling occurs. This is the failure mechanism for a slender column.Figure 2: Eccentric loading causes bending in a column. Failure in columns Columns usually fail in one of two ways: • crushing or • buckling.

000. Recall that stress = force area Consider a column that has to resist a 2000 kilonewton load (force).04 m 2 Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 5 of 13 . 000 newtons = 50. Imperfections in the column and non-centroidal loads cause bending stresses as well. 000 pascals = 0. Figure 5: Combined compression and bending in a column.Figure 4: The load from your hand onto your ruler. If it is made of 50 MPa concrete. Tensile stress can occur in a column if the amount of tension caused by the bending is greater than the amount of compression caused by the compressive load. The total stress is the sum of the stress due to the compressive force and the stress due to the bending. Now you know that columns rarely experience purely compressive stresses. Design principles—design for compressive load A column must have sufficient cross-sectional area such that the compressive stress capacity of the material is not exceeded. approximately what cross-sectional area is required? area = force stress 2. Bending stresses are compressive on one face and tensile on the other. 000.

This bulging causes tensile forces in the concrete. and to contain any bulging and spalling of the concrete. Concrete does not perform well in tension. Concrete behaves poorly in tension and therefore is reinforced with steel. For example. Design principles—design for eccentricity of load (bending and buckling) Stress in a column is also caused by bending due to the eccentricity of loading.2 m = 0. The axis of bending may be known and a column shape may be designed to take this into account.04 m2).2 m × 0. A concrete column experiencing a compressive load would tend to bulge in the middle. will be oriented such that the direction of greater bending moments will align with the direction of the stronger axis (see Figure 7). so will tend to buckle outwards. Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 6 of 13 . a concrete column may be made rectangular in shape to allow for larger bending stresses about one of the principal axes.Therefore a square cross section of dimensions 200 mm × 200 mm satisfies the requirements (0. the compressive stress due to the bending must be added to the compressive stress due to the compressive load. factors of safety would be incorporated into both the load and the material properties in the sizing of the member. The vertical reinforcing bars are also resisting compressive load and are essentially very slender columns. Ties are also put in to provide strength in shear. Figure 6: Effect of ties on a column in compression. The ties confine the bars to prevent buckling. They hold together the vertical reinforcement and the concrete itself in the column. usually an H-section. A steel column. as are the ties or stirrups in beams. Note that in the actual design. bending can cause tensile stress. To determine the maximum compressive stress in the column. This is the major reason why steel ties are used in concrete columns. In addition.

In fact. the more slender it is. slenderness is defined as: Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 7 of 13 . The strongest axis of bending is for bending perpendicular to the wall.Figure 7: Orientation of steel columns to allow for greatest bending. Slenderness We have discussed how slender columns are more prone to buckling failure. Figure 8: Arrangement of timber columns in domestic construction. and the smaller the cross-sectional dimensions. that is quite obvious. The longer it is. What determines whether a column is slender or not? Well actually. Have you noticed how timber studs are oriented in timber wall frames? Look at Figure 8.

We mentioned earlier that the slenderness is related to the cross-sectional dimensions. You should recall from Section 5 a discussion of second moment of area of a cross-section. That is. and r = radius of gyration Radius of gyration is a quantity that enables us to compare directly. r is like the size of an equivalent CHS* (circular hollow section). Well that’s fine. For those of you keen to conceptualise this property. but the concept can be understood in these terms. s = leff r where leff = effective length. these two section properties are combined to give us an entity called the radius of gyration. r is the radius at which you need to place all of the area of the material. and A = cross-sectional area It is not necessary for you to memorise this formula or to understand it. the same CSA can behave quite differently when subjected to bending. (* This is a simplification of the actual meaning of radius of gyration. different cross-sectional shapes and areas. In fact. for any given cross-section. r = I A where I = second moment of area. but which dimension? Figure 9: Which dimension can be used to compare the slenderness of columns with these cross-sections? Cross-sectional area (CSA) alone is not sufficient because as we have seen in Section 5.slenderness. to produce a CHS with the same bending behaviour as a given section.) Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 8 of 13 . radius of gyration.

but the effective length. the less the column’s tendency to buckle. Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 9 of 13 . You can see why this would be so as it is symmetrical about any axis. a CHS with a large diameter would be less likely to buckle than one with the same mass but a small diameter. it is not the overall length that is crucial. That is. by relating it to an equivalent CHS. It also has its material placed away from the centroid. However. A CHS is equally stiff about all axes and is the most efficient shape for a column with no intentional eccentricity of load. the greater the tendency to buckle and thus the more slender. Rigidity of supports Consider the two columns shown in Figure 11. Now you should see why the radius of gyration is so important in determining a column’s slenderness or resistance to bending.Figure 10: An approximate equivalence of sections to show the meaning of radius of gyration. the portion of the length that is prone to buckling. The larger the radius of gyration. In other words. So it is reasonable to ‘standardise’ any other cross-sectional shape in terms of its buckling or bending behaviour. Effective length Slenderness also depends on the length of a column: the longer it is. This makes the second moment of area high.

Figure 11: Two similar columns with different support rigidity subject to identical loads. Figure 12: Buckled shape of two columns with different support rigidity. It should be clear that the column on the left with the rigid end supports will be less likely to buckle under the load and will have a different buckling length. The pinned ends allow the column to rotate freely about the point at which it is held. See Figure 12. Can you guess what the buckled shape of a column with one stiff end support and one pinned support would look like? Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 10 of 13 . The stiff end supports hold the column firmly in position. not allowing any rotation and making the column much more difficult to buckle.

we say that it is laterally restrained.Figure 13: Buckled shape of column with one fixed end and one pinned end. Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 11 of 13 . the size of the load that would cause buckling would be more than that which would cause buckling in a pin ended column. See Figure 14. But the buckling load would be somewhat less than for the column with the two fixed ends. For the column in Figure 13. Lateral restraints If a column is restrained or prevented from buckling sideways by some means. A column can be laterally restrained in many different ways. given that it had the same cross-sectional shape and was made of the same material.

but restrained column are shown in Figure 15. thus increasing the load required to cause buckling. The buckled shapes of an unrestrained and a similar. Lateral restraints essentially prevent buckling of the full length of the column. Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 12 of 13 . they reduce the effective length. In fact.Figure 14: Various types of lateral restraint to columns. Figure 15: Buckled shapes of unrestrained and restrained column.

sometimes leading to tension. Summary Columns must resist compressive forces as well as bending. Structures 1 2182M Created by Trevor Mullins on 20/10/2006 Version: 2 Additional Column notes Modified: 9/11/2009 Page 13 of 13 . Bending adds to the compressive stress on one side of a column and reduces it on the other. The slenderness of a column depends upon the effective length and the radius of gyration. to the side. The effective length can be reduced by adding lateral restraints or by changing the end fixities. so lateral restraints make a column much stronger in terms of buckling. Terminology concentric load A load applied to the geometric center or the centroid. Radius of gyration is dependent upon the cross-sectional shape of the section.The load required to cause buckling when the effective length is halved is actually four times as much. Columns generally fail by • • crushing or bulging if they are short buckling if they are slender. lateral lateral restraint Physical restriction that prevents bending or buckling in the sideways direction. eccentric load A load applied at a distance from the geometric center or the centroid. Sideways.

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