PLATE GIRDER Introduction • Plate girders are built-up welded members used to carry large loads over long spans. They are generally used in buildings and industrial structures for long-span floor girders, for heavy crane girders and in bridges. • Because plate girders are custom-made sections, they are associated with several structural problems that do not require the same attention when rolled sections are used. The most important of these are related to shear buckling as well as post buckling shear resistance of webs. • To improve cost effectiveness, the web of a plate girder is normally made relatively thin as compared to rolled section. Intermediate web stiffeners are usually needed to be introduced to increase the shear buckling resistance of the thin web. • Stiffeners are also required at load points and supports to prevent local failure of web (web bearing and buckling) and to act as anchors (known as end posts) at the ends of a plate girder. • Typical plate girders:

Stiffener spacing


Typical sections of a plate girder

• Typical range of beams of various span lengths

2 (a) without intermediate transverse stiffeners t≥ d 250 d 250 d a t≥ 250 d t≥ (b) with intermediate transverse stiffeners where a > d . However. usually about 0. a plate girder may be assumed to consist of semi-compact flange plates (which alone resist the applied moment) and a slender web (which carries the applied shear). Flanges: at least semi-compact with b 275 ≤ 13 T pyf Webs: often designed with the condition of shear buckling and their minimum thickness can be established based on the following two conditions . Breadth (B) – The deeper the girder.4.3 to 0.4D typical. but the thicker the web and additional stiffeners may be necessary. .8. a shallow girder can be very much heavier and more expensive than a deeper girder. Component Dimensions of webs and flanges Generally. where a < d . the smaller the flanges.5-3 • Typical section dimensions of I-shaped plate girders Depth (D) – may be limited by headroom requirement or typically taken as 1/10 to 1/20 span length.Min web thickness for serviceability (to prevent damage in handling) Cl.5 D with 0.

i.4.4.6 Vw .e. 8.5d t≥ d ⎛ pyf ⎞ ⎜ ⎟ 250 ⎝ 345 ⎠ (b) with intermediate transverse stiffeners a < 1.0 d • Moment Capacity of Restrained Plate Girder (Cl.8.5d t≥ pyf d 250 455 Typical web thickness: When t ≈ 10 mm as d = 1200mm . V > 0.2 − 1.4. d t > 62 ε for welded sections according to Cl.e. compact or semi-compact.4. (b) When the co-existing applied shear is high. t ≈ 20 mm as d = 2500mm Typical web stiffener spacing: end panel spacing: a ≈ 1.e.5-4 . i. 8.6 − 1.3 (a) without intermediate transverse stiffeners or with stiffeners at spacing a > 1.2 in the usual way as for restrained beams.6 d a ≈ 0.6 Vw . Simplified “flanges only” method . the flanges are plastic.Min web thickness to avoid the compression flange buckling into the web Cl. V < 0.4) While the thin web of a plate girder is generally susceptible to shear buckling (i.2). the moment capacity should be determined from Clause 8. the moment capacity Mc can be calculated as follows: (a) When the co-existing applied shear is low.

this section is focused on the behaviour of shear buckling and post-buckling resistance of a stiffened web plate. Shear Buckling and Post buckling Behaviour of Web • As the web of a plate girder is generally designed as a thin element. D T D-T pyf Af Mf = pyf Af (D-T) = pyf BT (D-T) Alternative methods given in BS5950 Annex H. • Since the most severe condition in terms of shear buckling is normally the pure shear case.5-5 a conservative value Mf for the moment capacity may be obtained by assuming that the moment is resisted by the flanges alone. with each flange subject to a uniform stress not exceeding pyf.3 can be used when the contribution of webs to moment capacity is allowed for. . it follows that it is those regions adjacent to supports or in the vicinity of point loads which generally control the design.

After web buckling.5-6 • Let’s first consider the case of pure applied shear acting on a stiffened web panel. The critical shear buckling strength qcr for a stiffened web can be expressed in terms of the ratios of d/t and a/d. At buckling: . which can be determined analytically by a linear elastic instability analysis procedure.For pure beam shear action. Post-buckling tension field action: .Web buckling occurs when the 45° principal compressive stress reaches it critical limit qcr . a tensile membrane stress σt develops at an inclination θt to the horizontal . principal stresses occur at 45° inclinations .This tension field action gives the shear panel considerable post-buckling strength since the increase in tension is limited only by the yield stress .Truss analogy .

Total stress state at the inclination of the tension field (θt) σ θt = qcr sin 2θt + σ t σθ t + 90o = −qcr sin 2θt τθt = qcr cos 2θt .5-7 .5qcr sin 2θt .25qcr sin 2θt ⎤ ⎣ ⎦ 2 2 2 2 − 1.Maximum shear gained by tension field action using web anchorage alone occurs approximately when ⎛d ⎞ 2θt = tan −1 ⎜ ⎟ ⇒ sin 2θt = ⎝a⎠ 1 ⎛a⎞ 1+ ⎜ ⎟ ⎝d ⎠ 2 .Apply the von Misses-Hencky yield criterion 2 2 σ θt + σ θ +90o − σ θ σ θ +90o + 3τ θ t t t 2 t = pyw 2 1 2 ⇒ σ t = ⎡ pyw − 3qcr + 2.

So the basic tension field strength.5-8 . is obtained as y b = σ t = ⎡ pyw 2 − 3qcr 2 + φt 2 ⎤ ⎣ ⎦ 1 2 − φt .Determine the web shear resistance due to tension field action Resultant of tension field action: Ft = y bt ( d cos θt − a sin θt + Ch sin θt ) Shear resistance of web due to Ft: Vt = Ft sin θt = y bt sin 2 θt ( d cot θt − a + Ch ) Note that Ch represents the distance of the flange which acts an anchorage for developing the tension field action. yb. .5qcr ⎛a⎞ 1+ ⎜ ⎟ ⎝d ⎠ 2 . where φt = 1.

5-9 At collapse: . Y and Z.Note that the plastic hinge at point W is developed at the position where the moment is maximum such that the corresponding shear value is zero. Vf = 4M pf Ch . 2M pf = y b tCh sin θt ⋅ Ch sin θt 2 ⇒ Ch = 2 sin θt M pf y bt Take moment at W. Determination of the distance Ch Take moment at X. . final failure occurs when plastic hinges have formed in the flanges at points W. X.Once the web has yielded. additional flange dependent shear resistance upon collapse.

qult = Vult = qb + qfd dt where qb = basic shear strength = qcr + y b sin2 θt ⎜ cot θt − ⎛ ⎝ a⎞ d⎟ ⎠ 4M pf ⎞ 1 ⎛ qfd = flange dependent shear strength = ⎜ y bt sin2 θt Ch + ⎟⋅ Ch ⎠ dt ⎝ d .5-10 Ultimate Shear Resistance (Vult) Vult = Vcr + Vt + Vf = qcr dt + y bt sin 2 θt ( d cot θt − a + Ch ) + 4M pf Ch 4M pf a⎞ ⎛ = qcr dt + y b sin 2 θt ⎜ cot θt − ⎟ dt + y bt sin 2 θt Ch + d⎠ Ch ⎝ Divide Vult by dt to obtain the ultimate shear strength.

then the shear design of the web needs to be checked for shear buckling resistance according to Cl. Note that the shear buckling strength given in clause 8.5l or Appendix 8.e.5-11 Design Formulas for Shear Resistance of Thin Webs (HKSC2005 Clause 8. • When the web of a section is not thin. 8. then the shear design of such a web needs to be checked for shear capacity only.2.4. 8. 8. Shear buckling resistance can be checked under either of the following conditions: 1) Web designed utilizing partial tension field action V ≤ Vw where Vw = shear buckling resistance = d t qw as given in Cl. . i.4.6. V ≤ Vc where V = applied shear force py Vc = shear capacity = Av ≈ 0.4.6 py Av (see Cl.6 in which qw is the shear buckling strength obtained from Tables 3 Note that the webs of all standard UB sections are thick. • When the web of a section is thin.3 depending on the values of the d/t and a/d ratios as well as the design strength of steel for the web.5a – 8. qb as given on page 5-10) which is given as the sum of the critical shear strength and a part of the post buckling shear strength using only the web stiffeners as the anchor for the development of tension field action.3) • The web of a section is deemed thin when the d/t ratio of the web exceeds 70ε for a rolled section or 62ε for a welded section according to clause 8.4.e.6. Appendix 8.6 is basically equivalent to the theoretically derived basic shear strength (i.

6 py ) If qw < 0.F.5-12 2) Web designed without utilizing partial tension field action V ≤ Vcr where Vcr = critical shear buckling resistance without T.6 py If 0. 8.432 py qcr = 0.6 py > qw > 0.A. given in Cl.A.6 py qcr = (9qw − 2 × 0.8).6 py ) 7 qcr = ( qw 0. . no end anchorage (or end post) will then be required for the plate girder (see Cl.9 )2 (0.F.4..432 py Note that if the web is to be designed without utilizing T.4. 8.8b as follows If qw = 0.

HKSC2005 has adopted a simplified approach that utilizes the post buckling tension field action based on web anchorage alone while the additional flange dependent tension field action has been neglected.6 pyw if 0. qw = ⎜ if λw ≥ 1. the shear buckling strength qw for the web of an I-section may also be determined from Appendix 8.5a-8. ⎛ 13.9 .48 − 5.6λw 9 ⎝ ⎞ ⎟ × 0.6 pyw λw in which λw = 0. qw = pv = 0. • In lieu of using Tables 8. if λw ≥ 0.5l. or d a ≥1 d .75 ⎤ ⎛ 1000 ⎞ = ⎢1 + ⎟ 2 ⎥⎜ ⎣ (a / d ) ⎦ ⎝ d / t ⎠ when when a ≤ 1.6 pyw qw = 0.6 pyw λw .6 pyw qe where 2 ⎡ 1 ⎤ ⎛ 1000 ⎞ qe = ⎢0.5-13 • For shear buckling resistance design of thin webs.for welded I-section: if λw ≤ 0.6 pyw ⎠ qw = 0.9 × 0.9 × 0.75 + ⎥⎜ ⎟ (a / d )2 ⎦ ⎝ d / t ⎠ ⎣ 2 ⎡ 0.3 of HKSC2005 as .9 .8 < λw < 1.8 .25 .for rolled I-section: if λw ≤ 0.25 . qw = 0.

6 py d/t 75 100 125 150 225 a/d 1 1 1 1 1 qe 311.0 qcr 165 142.10 . 8.1 175.4 105. 8.0 77. They can also serve as an anchor for the development of post buckling tension field action. Note that the bearing capacity and buckling resistance of the web alone have been discussed earlier on pages 4.0 112.4.214 1.5 102. Shear strength 0.5-14 • In summary.8 34. (2) Load-bearing stiffeners – they are required to prevent local buckling and bearing of the web due to concentrated loads applied through the flange when the web itself cannot support the load.12. the values of the critical shear buckling strength qcr and the shear buckling strength qw for thin webs with py =275 N/mm2 can be plotted as follows.8b) Design of Web Stiffeners Two main types of stiffeners: (1) Intermediate stiffeners – they divide the web into panels and prevent the web from buckling due to shear.457 2.4 122.6 qw (see Cl.6 λw 0.4.0 68.8 34.185 qw 165 147. Appendix 8.6.728 0.971 1. .3) qcr (see Cl.6 77.4.

4.. • Maximum outstand of stiffener (Cl.3. the design is to be based on an effective outstand of 13 ts ε ts bs Bs • Minimum stiffness of stiffeners (Cl.min = 0.1) The width-to-thickness ratio bs ts of the outstand should not exceed 19ε .4.e.2 and The bending moment of inertia of the stiffener Is about the centerline of 3 the web (i.10.4. .3. If 13ε ≤ bs ts ≤ 19ε .7. Intermediate transverse stiffeners can be provided on either one or both sides of the web. In general.2 and 8.5-15 Design of Intermediate Transverse Web Stiffeners (Clause 8.min = 1.5(d a )2 d tmin where tmin is the minimum required web thickness for the actual stiffener spacing a as given in clauses 8. • The spacing of intermediate transverse webs stiffeners should conform to clauses 8.4. a stiffener spacing having an aspect ratio of a/d of between 0. ts Bs 12 ) should not be less than the minimum stiffness given by when a d ≥ 2 when a d < 2 3 Is.7) Shear buckling resistance of a web plate can be improved by dividing the web into a series of panels by intermediate transverse stiffeners.4.4.5 and 2 is the most cost efficient.4.75 d tmin 3 Is.

7 times the length L of the stiffener clear between flanges.4. The flexural buckling resistance of the intermediate web stiffness can be determined as Pq = As pc in which the effective area As = the area of the stiffeners plus the part of the web with an effective width on each side of the centerline of the stiffeners limited to 15 times the web thickness t.8.8 using strut curve (c).4.6.7. Fq = V − Vcr ≤ Pq where Vcr = the critical shear buckling resistance of the web panel.10. t 15t 15t Axis of web As = 2 bs ts + 30 t 2 The compressive strength pc should be determined from Table 8. and are required to resist a force (Fq) equal to the difference between the shear in the web adjacent to the stiffener (V) and the critical shear buckling resistance (Vcr) of the web panel without tension field. . Pq = the buckling resistance of the intermediate web stiffener determined from clause 8.5-16 • Buckling Resistance check of web stiffener (Cl. The radius of gyration of the cruciform area As of the stiffener is taken about the axis of the web.5) The stiffeners should be checked as if columns. The effective length of the web stiffeners should be taken as 0.2 as follows.

PX = the buckling resistance of the stiffener in which the compressive strength is determined from Table using strut curve (c).10) • Maximum outstand – same as set out for intermediate stiffeners • Buckling Resistance check (Cl.4. the effective length of the stiffener can be taken as (a) flange restrained against rotation in the plane of the stiffener LE = times the length L of the stiffener clear between flanges. 8. 8.6.5-17 The design strength py should be taken as the lower value of the web or the stiffeners .10.net is the net cross sectional area after allowing for cope holes for welding .4.The reduction of 20 N/mm2 referred to in clause 8.10. • Bearing Capacity check (Cl.6 should not be applied unless the stiffeners themselves are welded plates. (b) flange not so restrained LE = 1.2) Bearing stiffener should be designed for the applied force FX minus the bearing capacity Pbw the unstiffened web given in clause 8.10. The area of the stiffener in contact with the flange As.4.0 times the length L of the stiffener clear between flanges.1. Provided that the flange through which the load or reaction is applied is effectively restrained against lateral movement relative to the other flange.2) The applied point load or reaction FX on a load carrying stiffener should not exceed the buckling resistance PX of the stiffener as FX < PX = As pc where FX = the external load or reaction. Load Carrying and Bearing Stiffeners (Cl.

2. but not the shear buckling resistance. • End anchorage need not be provided under either one of the following conditions a) the shear capacity.4.4.5-18 The capacity Ps of the stiffener should be obtained from Ps = As. End Anchorage (Clause 8.10.6. the smaller value should be used to calculate both the web capacity Pbw and the stiffener capacity Ps. governs the design of the web as: V ≤ Vc = Vw . Contact bearing area Stiffener cut back allowing for cope hole • Web check for loads applied between stiffeners If loads are applied to the web directly or through a flange between the web stiffeners.net py If the web and the stiffener have different design strengths. it is necessary to check the compression edge of the web as given in clause 8.8) • Special consideration must be made in the design of end stiffeners of a plate girder since adequate anchorage is necessary if one utilizes tension field action in the design of the girder’s web panel.

a pair of twin stiffeners .10.an anchor end panel without utilizing tension field action Longitudinal anchor force Longitudinal anchor force TFA TFA TFA TFA Reaction Reaction (a) End Post – Single Stiffener (b) End Post – Twin Stiffeners .a single stiffener . • End post design The end post of a plate girder may consist of . V ≤ Vcr in which Vcr = the critical shear buckling resistance without tension field action given by If Vw = Vc If Vc > Vw > 0.9 )2 Vc • When end anchorage is not needed.4. the end post must be designed as if a beam spanning between the flanges to resist a longitudinal anchor force representing the longitudinal component of the tension field. then the end stiffener can then be designed as a load carrying and bearing stiffener as set out in clause 8. • When the end panel and internal panels are designed utilizing tension field action.72Vc If Vw < 0.5-19 b) Sufficient shear buckling resistance is available without utilizing tension field action.72Vc Vcr = Vc Vcr = (9Vw − 2Vc ) 7 Vcr = (Vw 0.

5-20 Longitudinal anchor force Anchor panel TFA The end panel designed without utilizing TFA can be used as anchor panel for developing TFA in the interior panels. . Reaction (c) End Post – Anchor Panel • Details of the end post design are not given in HKSC2005.4.4 and Annex H.4.5. but can be referred to relevant literature or other codes such as BS5950 – clause 4.