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BUCKING STRENGTH OF ORTHOGONALLY
STIFFENED PLATES INCLUDING LOCAL
BUCKLING

DONG-HO CHOI



Dong-Ho Choi


BIOGRAPHY

Dong-Ho Choi received his civil engineering degree from Hanyang University in 1984 and his Ph.D.
from M.I.T in 1997. He is an Associate Professor at Hanyang University. His research interests are related to
bridge design, fracture analysis and fatigue design of steel structures, and strengthening techniques of existing
structures.


ABSTRACT

The analytic formula for estimating the elastic local buckling strength of orthogonally stiffened steel
plates subjected to a bi-axial compression is derived considering the interactions of plate, longitudinal stiffeners,
and transverse stiffeners. Elastic buckling analyses using ABAQUS are performed and their results are compared
with the estimates by the proposed formula. The parametric studies on the effects of height and thickness of
longitudinal and transverse stiffeners on the elastic local buckling strength of orthogonally stiffened steel plates
are performed. The results of the parametric studies give elastic buckling strengths which are in good agreement
with ABAQUS results.


INTRODUCTION

In long-span bridge, due to axial direction compression, plate’s stability problem has reported and
highlighted frequently. Therefore, reasonable analyses for this problem are a more important matter in designing
long-span bridge. In actual steel structures, orthogonally stiffened plates have used extensively due to their
effective structural behaviors i.e., high degree of flexural and torsional resistance, load distribution capacity, and
light weight for external loads. All of them, the weight saving is of such a great advantage on long-span bridges
where orthotropic steel decks can be used. The ultimate strength of the orthogonally stiffened plates can be
approximately obtained by using the prediction method for longitudinally stiffened plates, if it is assumed that
the orthogonally stiffened plates buckle partially as longitudinally stiffened plates between the adjacent
transverse stiffeners.
The orthogonally stiffened plate can also be treated with the longitudinally stiffened continuous plate,
if they have rigid transverse stiffeners. In the case of orthogonally stiffened plates with flexible transverse
stiffener, this assumption will no longer hold and must include its interaction effect with whole system in the
analysis. To estimate quantitative effects of transverse stiffeners, flexural rigidity of transverse stiffeners must be
considered in the analysis. Also, local buckling effect of single panels and longitudinal stiffeners must be
included in the analysis.
The ultimate strength of orthogonally stiffened plates has been discussed in some papers. Giencke(1964)
derived their global and partial buckling equations. Mikami and Niwa(1996) presented an approximate approach
to predict the ultimate strength through orthotropic plate theory and many experimental results throughout the

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world, and constructed a database with respect to the load-carrying capacity of stiffened plates.
Ge and Usami(1996) developed a rational design formula for predicting the ultimate strength of steel
outstands and simply supported plates in compression. This formula was derived as a function of both magnitude
of the initial out-of-flatness as well as residual stress, through numerical analysis for 180 cases with different
values of initial imperfection. Fujikubo(1998) derived a semi-analytical formula for estimating elastic local
buckling strength of a continuous stiffened plate subjected to combined bi-axial thrust and lateral pressure. In
this study, Elastic buckling analysis and elastic large deflection analysis are performed using finite element
method.
However, most of the papers mentioned were investigated the ultimate strength of plates without
stiffener or with only longitudinal stiffeners, and only a few papers considered transverse stiffener in the analysis,
but all of them were not estimated the quantitative effects of transverse stiffener on buckling or ultimate strength
of plates and local buckling of single panels and longitudinal stiffeners.
In this study, analytical solutions for buckling strength of orthogonally stiffened plates based on the
plate theory considering local buckling and energy method are used. A comparative study on this result with
those of numerical eigenvalue analysis is then accompanied. Finally, parametric studies on the effect of each
parameter are carried.


ORTHOGONALLY STIFFENDED PLATES

Fig. 1 shows an orthogonally stiffened steel plate under biaxial compression, which is simply
supported along all edges. The plate of length L , width B , thickness
p
t , and flexural rigidity
p
D is made of
steel with the material properties of Young's modulus
p
E , Poisson's ratio ν , and yield stress
y
σ . The
orthogonally stiffened plate is reinforced by longitudinal and transverse stiffeners, the numbers of these are
l
n
and
t
n respectively. The longitudinal stiffeners of Young's modulus
l
E are equally spaced b apart, and
have flexural rigidity
l
D , thickness
l
t . On the other hand, the transverse stiffeners of Young's modulus
t
E , are
equally spaced a apart, and have flexural rigidity
t
D , thickness
t
t . And flange in longitudinal stiffener of
Young’s modulus
lf
E have flexural rigidity
lf lf
E I and cross-sectional area
lf
A . And flange in transverse
stiffener of Young’s modulus
tf
E have flexural rigidity
tf tf
E I and cross-sectional area
tf
A .

(n +1)a
σy
σy
σx
a
y
L
x
σx
B
=
b
(
n

+
1
)
b
l
t

Fig. 1. Orthogonally stiffened plate under a bi-axial compression


Buckling Strength of Orthogonally Stiffened Plates

The orthogonally stiffened plate buckles in one of the following four modes :
1. Overall buckling : The total panel buckles overall.
2. Partial buckling : The partial panel buckles between the adjacent transverse stiffeners.
3. Local buckling of single panel : Each single panel buckles locally.
4. Local buckling of longitudinal stiffeners : Each longitudinal stiffener buckles locally.


Buckling Mode

For the plate as shown in Fig. 2, the buckling mode of the plate is assumed in the following form.


3
1
sin sin
m x y
w w
a b
π π
= (1)

The buckling mode of the longitudinal stiffener is assumed in the following form.

1
sin sin
2
l
m x z
v v
a h
π π
= (2)

On the other hand, the following buckling mode is assumed for transverse stiffener.

1
sin sin
2
l
y z
u u
b h
π π
= (3)

l t
p t
v
t
lf
θ
w
y h
l
z
blf
y
θ y

(a) Deflected shape between plate and longitudinal stiffener
t t
x
t
u
t
tf
θ
θ
w
x h
t
z
btf
x

(b) Deflected shape between plate and transverse stiffener
Fig. 2. Deformation of cross-section of between plate and longitudinal and transverse stiffener

The following two boundary conditions are considered for the formulation:
1) Continuity condition of deflection angle along the junction between plate and longitudinal stiffener

0 z y b
v w
z y
= =
∂ ∂
=
∂ ∂
(4)

2) Continuity condition of deflection angle along the junction between plate and transverse stiffener

0 z x a
u w
z x
= =
∂ ∂
=
∂ ∂
(5)

Substituting Eq. (1), (2) and (3) into Eq. (4) and (5), the following relationships with respect to the deflection
coefficients are obtained.
1 1
2
l
h
v w
b
= × (6)
1 1
2
t
h m
u w
a
= × (7)


Strain Energy of Bending and Work

The strain energy of bending of the plate, longitudinal stiffeners, transverse stiffeners, flanges in
longitudinal stiffeners and flanges in transverse stiffeners obtained as (Timoshenko and Gere 1963).

p l t lf tf
U U U U U + + + +

4
2 2
2 2 2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
0 0
1
2(1 )
2
L B
p
w w w w w
D v dxdy
x y x y x y
¦ ¹ (
| | | | ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ¦ ¦
( = + − − −
´ ` | |
∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ (
\ . \ . ¦ ¦
¸ ¸ ¹ )
∫ ∫

2 2
2 2 2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
0 0
1
2(1 )
2
l
L h
l
v v v v v
D v dxdz
x z x z x z
¦ ¹ (
| | | | ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ¦ ¦
( + + − − −
´ ` | |
∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ (
\ . \ . ¦ ¦
¸ ¸ ¹ )
∫ ∫
(8)
2 2
2 2 2 2 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
0 0
1
2(1 )
2
t
L h
t
u u u u u
D v dydz
y z y z y z
¦ ¹ (
| | | | ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ¦ ¦
( + + − − −
´ ` | |
∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ ∂ (
\ . \ . ¦ ¦
¸ ¸ ¹ )
∫ ∫

2 2
2 2
2 2
0 0
2 2
l t
L B
lf lf tf tf
z h z h
E I E I
v u
dx dy
x y
= =
| | | | ∂ ∂
+ +
| |
∂ ∂
\ . \ .
∫ ∫


where the flexural rigidity of plate, longitudinal stiffener and transverse stiffener are
3 2
/12(1 )
p p
D Et υ = − ,
3 2
/12(1 )
l l
D Et υ = − and
3 2
/12(1 )
t t
D Et υ = − .
The work done during buckling by the compressive forces in the x-direction
x
N (=
p x
t σ ) acting on
the plate,
l
N (=
l x
t σ ) acting on the longitudinal stiffeners and
lf
N (=
lf x
A σ ) acting on the flanges in
longitudinal stiffener, and by the compressive forces in the y-direction
y
N (=
p y
t σ ) acting on the plate,
t
N (=
t y
t σ ) acting on the transverse stiffeners and
tf
N (=
tf y
A σ ) acting on the flanges in transverse stiffener
are given by

tf lf t l p
W W W W W + + + +
dxdy
x
w
N
L B
x
2
0 0 2
1
∫ ∫
|
.
|

\
|


= dxdy
y
w
N
L B
y
2
0 0 2
1
∫ ∫ |
|
.
|

\
|


+ dxdz
x
v
N
L h
l
l
2
0 0 2
1
∫ ∫
|
.
|

\
|


+ (9)
dydz
y
u
N
B h
t
t
2
0 0 2
1
∫ ∫ |
|
.
|

\
|


+ dx
x
v
N
L
h z
lf
l

=
|
.
|

\
|


+
0
2
2
1
dy
y
u
N
B
h z
tf
t

=
|
|
.
|

\
|


+
0
2
2
1


The general equilibrium equation is written as

∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑
+ + + + = + + + +
tf lf t l p tf lf t l p
W W W W W U U U U U (10)


Buckling Stress

The notations of the following form are used in the deriving procedure.

b
a
= α ;
l
h
a
2
= β ;
t
h
b
2
= τ ;
2
3
4
Bb D
n h D
p
l l l
l
= γ ;
2
3
4
Lb D
n h D
p
t t t
t
= γ ;
2
2
8
Bb D
n h I E
p
l l lf lf
lf
= γ ;
2
2
8
Lb D
n h I E
p
t t tf tf
tf
= γ (11)

Equating to zero the derivatives of the results with respect to the coefficients
1
w , one can obtain a
system of homogeneous linear equations of the following type.

2 2 4 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
) 1 ( ) ( ) ( m m m m m
tf lf t l
α γ γ τ α γ β γ α + + + + + + +
x lf
lf lf
lf
y t
t
t
x l
l
l
y
p
p
x
p
p
I E
A m a
D
t m a
D
t m a
D
t a
D
t m a
σ γ
π
σ γ
π
σ γ
π
σ
π
α
σ
π
2
2 2
2
2 2
2
2 2
2
2 2
2
2 2
− − − − − (12)

5
0
2
2 2
= −
y tf
tf tf
tf
I E
A m a
σ γ
π


Representing Eq. (12) for
x
σ and
y
σ , one can obtain the following equation for determining buckling
strength of an orthogonally stiffened steel plate under bi-axial compression,

y y x x
σ κ σ κ + } ) 1 ( ) ( ) {(
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
2
2
α γ γ τ α γ β γ α
π
tf lf t l
m m m
a
+ + + + + + + = (13)

where
lf lf
lf lf
l
l l
p
p
x
I E
A
D
t
D
t γ
γ
κ + + = ,
tf tf
tf tf
t
t t
p
p
y
I E
A
D
t
m D
t γ
γ
α
κ + + =
2
2
.


COMPARISION WITH ABAQUS


Finite Element Model

The stiffened plates are typically fabricated from a flat plate equally spaced longitudinal and transverse
stiffeners and may span between girders. A typical cross-section of the type of stiffened plate panel considered in
this investigation is shown in Fig. 1. To evaluate quantitative effects of longitudinal and transverse stiffeners on
buckling strength, as a basic form, two longitudinal stiffeners and one transverse stiffeners placed at plate were
modeled. The stiffened panel was modeled and analyzed using the commercial finite element code ABAQUS.
To implement finite element model of the orthogonally stiffened plates in ABAQUS, a type of four
node doubly curved shell element, named S4R and included in its package, that allows for changes in the
thickness as well as finite membrane strain and permits six degree of freedom per node i.e., three translational
and three rotational degree of freedom is employed. Also, simply supported boundary conditions, translationally
constrained and rotationally freed ones, at the edge of plates and stiffener are implemented in the analysis.

Table 1. Basic material properties of orthogonally stiffened plate under uni-aixial compression

Young’s
modulus
Poisson’s ratio Yield stress Size
Plate 210 GPa 0.3 320 MPa
B =3m, L =6m
p
t =0.01m
Longitudinal
stiffener
210 GPa 0.3 320 Mpa
l
h =0.6m,
l
t =0.01m
lf
b =0.1m,
lf
t =0.01m
Transverse
stiffener
210 GPa 0.3 320 MPa
t
h =0.7m,
t
t =0.01m
tf
b =0.1m,
tf
t =0.01m


Bi-axial Loading Condition

In order to verify the derived formula under bi-axial compression, elastic eigenvalue buckling analysis
has been carried out in this study. The material properties used in the numerical analysis are summarized in Table
1. Fig. 3 shows that the proposed formula gives an estimate of elastic buckling strength which is in good
agreement with the FEM results. As the stress of the x-direction increases, the stress of the y-direction decreases.
Also, when the stress of the x-direction is zero, the stress of the y-direction is maximum value.


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0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60
0.40
0.80
Analytic (m=1)
Numerical
Analytic (m=2)
σ
x
σ
Y
σ
y
σ
Y

Fig. 3. Comparison between predicted buckling strength and buckling strength obtained by FEM analyses


Effect of height of longitudinal stiffener,
l
h (Fixed stress in x-direction)
To evaluate the effect of height of longitudinal stiffener on buckling stress, the height of longitudinal
stiffener varies from 0.2m to 0.6m while other parameters are fixed. And the stress in x-direction is fixed as 0.2
times of yield stress. Fig. 4 shows normalized critical buckling stress under the given conditions. The increase of
height of longitudinal stiffener reduces the buckling strength of orthogonally stiffened plates.

0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60
0.04
0.08
Height of Longitudinal Stiffener, h
l
N
o
r
m
a
l
i
z
e
d

B
u
c
k
l
i
n
g

S
t
r
e
n
g
t
h
,

σ
y
σ
Y Fixed Stress in x-direction
Numerical
Analytic

Fig. 4. Normalized critical buckling stress versus
l
h (Fixed stress in x-direction)


Effect of thickness of longitudinal stiffener,
l
t (Fixed stress in x-direction)
To evaluate the effect of thickness of longitudinal stiffener on buckling stress, the thickness of
longitudinal stiffener varies from 0.005m to 0.025m while other parameters are fixed. And the stress in x-
direction is fixed as 0.2 times of yield stress. Fig. 5 shows normalized critical buckling stress under the given
conditions. The increase of thickness of longitudinal stiffener increases the buckling strength of orthogonally
stiffened plates. This interprets that as the thickness of longitudinal stiffener increase, the flexural rigidity of
longitudinal stiffener increases and the resistance on local buckling of longitudinal stiffener increases.


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0.00 0.01 0.02 0.03
0.04
0.08
Thickness of Longitudinal Stiffener, t
l
N
o
r
m
a
l
i
z
e
d

B
u
c
k
l
i
n
g

S
t
r
e
n
g
t
h
,

σ
y
σ
Y Fixed Stress in x-direction
Numerical
Analytic

Fig. 5. Normalized critical buckling stress versus
l
t (Fixed stress in x-direction)


Effect of height of transverse stiffener
t
h (Fixed stress in x-direction)
To evaluate the effect of height of transverse stiffener on buckling stress, the height of transverse
stiffener varies from 0.3m to 0.7m while other parameters are fixed. And the stress in x-direction is fixed as 0.2
times of yield stress. Fig. 6 shows normalized critical buckling stress under the given conditions. The increase of
height of transverse stiffener increases the buckling strength of orthogonally stiffened plates. This interprets that
as the height of transverse stiffener increase, the resistance on local buckling of transverse stiffener increases
when the load in y-direction acts on orthogonally stiffened plate and the load in x-direction is fixed.

0.20 0.40 0.60
0.00
0.04
0.08
Height of Transverse Stiffener, h
t
N
o
r
m
a
l
i
z
e
d

B
u
c
k
l
i
n
g

S
t
r
e
n
g
t
h
,
σ
y
σ
Y
Fixed Stress in x-dirction
Numerical
Analytic

Fig. 6. Normalized critical buckling stress versus
t
h (Fixed stress in x-direction)


Effect of thickness of transverse stiffener,
t
t (Fixed stress in x-direction)
To evaluate the effect of thickness of transverse stiffener on buckling stress, the thickness of transverse
stiffener varies from 0.005m to 0.025m while other parameters are fixed. And the stress in x-direction is fixed as
0.2 times of yield stress. Fig. 7 shows normalized critical buckling stress under the given conditions. The
increase of thickness of transverse stiffener almost dose not affect on the buckling strength of orthogonally
stiffened plates.


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0.00 0.01 0.02 0.03
0.04
0.08
Fixed Stress in x-direction
Numerical
Analytic
Thickness of Transverse Stiffener, t
t
N
o
r
m
a
l
i
z
e
d

B
u
c
k
l
i
n
g

S
t
r
e
n
g
t
h
,

σ
y
σ
Y

Fig. 7. Normalized critical buckling stress versus
t
t (Fixed stress in x-direction)


Effect of height of longitudinal stiffener,
l
h (Fixed stress in y-direction)
To evaluate the effect of height of longitudinal stiffener on buckling stress, the height of longitudinal
stiffener varies from 0.2m to 0.6m while other parameters are fixed. And the stress in y-direction is fixed as
0.045 times of yield stress. Fig. 8 shows normalized critical buckling stress under the given conditions. The
increase of height of longitudinal stiffener reduces the buckling strength of orthogonally stiffened plates. This
interpret that as the height of longitudinal stiffener increase, local buckling of longitudinal stiffener or single
panel is easy to occur when the stress in x-direction acts on orthogonally stiffened plate and the load in y-
direction is fixed.

0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60
0.40
0.80
Fixed Stress in y-direction
Numerical
Analytic
Height of Longitudinal Stiffener, h
l
N
o
r
m
a
l
i
z
e
d

B
u
c
k
l
i
n
g

S
t
r
e
n
g
t
h
,
σ
x
σ
Y

Fig. 8. Normalized critical buckling stress versus
l
h (Fixed stress in y-direction)


Effect of thickness of longitudinal stiffener,
l
t (Fixed stress in y-direction)
To evaluate the effect of thickness of longitudinal stiffener on buckling stress, the thickness of
longitudinal stiffener varies from 0.005m to 0.025m while other parameters are fixed. And the stress in y-
direction is fixed as 0.045 times of yield stress. Fig. 9 shows normalized critical buckling stress under the given
conditions. The increase of thickness of longitudinal stiffener increases the buckling strength of orthogonally
stiffened plates. This interprets that as the thickness of longitudinal stiffener increase, the flexural rigidity of
longitudinal stiffener increases and the resistance on local buckling of longitudinal stiffener increases.


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0.00 0.01 0.02 0.03
0.40
0.80
Thickness of Longitudinal Stiffener, t
l
N
o
r
m
a
l
i
z
e
d

B
u
c
k
l
i
n
g

S
t
r
e
n
g
t
h
,
σ
x
σ
Y
Fixed Stress in y-direction
Numerical
Analytic

Fig. 9. Normalized critical buckling stress versus
l
t (Fixed stress in y-direction)


Effect of height of transverse stiffener
t
h (Fixed stress in y-direction)
To evaluate the effect of height of transverse stiffener on buckling stress, the height of transverse
stiffener varies from 0.3m to 0.7m while other parameters are fixed. And the stress in y-direction is fixed as
0.045 times of yield stress. Fig. 10 shows normalized critical buckling stress under the given conditions. The
increase of height of transverse stiffener almost dose not affect on the buckling strength of orthogonally stiffened
plates.

0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60 0.80
0.40
0.80
Height of Transverse Stiffener, h
t
N
o
r
m
a
l
i
z
e
d

B
u
c
k
l
i
n
g

S
t
r
e
n
g
t
h
,

σ
x
σ
Y
Fixed Stress in y-direction
Numerical
Analytic

Fig. 10. Normalized critical buckling stress versus
t
h (Fixed stress in y-direction)


Effect of thickness of transverse stiffener,
t
t (Fixed stress in y-direction)
To evaluate the effect of thickness of transverse stiffener on buckling stress, the thickness of transverse
stiffener varies from 0.005m to 0.025m while other parameters are fixed. And the stress in y-direction is fixed as
0.045 times of yield stress. Fig. 11 shows normalized critical buckling stress under the given conditions. The
increase of thickness of transverse stiffener almost dose not affect on the buckling strength of orthogonally
stiffened plates.


10
0.00 0.01 0.02 0.03
0.40
0.60
0.80
Thickness of Transverse Stiffener, t
t
N
o
r
m
a
l
i
z
e
d

B
u
c
k
l
i
n
g

S
t
r
e
n
g
t
h
,
σ
x
σ
Y
Fixed Stress in y-direction
Numerical
Analytic

Fig. 11. Normalized critical buckling stress versus
t
t (Fixed stress in y-direction)


CONCLUSION

The load carrying capacity of orthogonally stiffened plate and longitudinally stiffened plates subjected
to bi-axial compression has been investigated using derived analytic solution and a finite element model. Also,
this study has shown the effect of various parameters on buckling strength. From this study, conclusion can be
obtained as follows,

(1) The increase of height of longitudinal stiffener reduces the buckling strength of orthogonally stiffened plates.
(2) The increase of thickness of longitudinal stiffener increases the buckling strength of orthogonally stiffened
plates. This interprets that as the thickness of longitudinal stiffener increase, the flexural rigidity of
longitudinal stiffener increases and the resistance on local buckling of longitudinal stiffener increases.
(3) The increase of height of transverse stiffener almost dose not affect on the buckling strength of orthogonally
stiffened plates.
(4) The increase of thickness of transverse stiffener almost dose not affect on the buckling strength of
orthogonally stiffened plates.


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