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Punching shear in concrete slabs
David Z. Yankelevsky, Orit Leibowitz
Faculty of Civil Engineering, National Building Research Institute, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology,
Haifa 32000, Israel
Received 11 December 1995; and in revised form 28 November 1996
Punching shear in concrete slabs is a serious problem in certain structural systems, such as ﬂat slabs. Current analysis
is based either on empirical and simpliﬁed analytical techniques or on theoretical models, mainly based on the theory of
plasticity. This paper presents a new model, based on rigid post-fractured behavior, utilizing the post fracture properties
of concrete at the rough crack interfaces that are developed. The model predicts the force—displacement resistance during
punching, the stress distributions along the cracked interfaces, as well as the shape of the punched concrete plug.
Comparison of the model predictions with various test data shows good correspondence. 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd.
All rights reserved.
Keywords: punching; shear; reinforced concrete; fracture; rough crack
d column diameter
dA diﬀerential axi-symmetric surface area
compressive strength of concrete
H plate thickness
P the punching force
contribution of shear stresses to the punching force
contribution of normal stresses to the punching force
r(x) coordinate of the failure surface
u displacement along the axis of symmetry
w crack width
x coordinate along the axis of symmetry
straight line angle
0020-7403/99/$ — see front matter 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 0 2 0 - 7 4 0 3 ( 9 7 ) 0 0 0 8 6 - 6
Common practice in evaluating the punching strength of concrete slabs follows the requirements
appearing in building design codes. Many design codes of diﬀerent countries adopt an empirical
approach by deﬁning a control surface and a design strength, isolating a free body which is
bounded by the control surface, and requiring that the average shear stress resulting from
equilibrium considerations should not exceed the design strength.
Indeed this is the most simple and practice-oriented approach; however, it is an oversimpliﬁed
empirical technique in which the failure surface is not at all similar to failure surfaces obtained in
many tests and an average shear stress does not represent the stresses developed along the failure
surface. This method, although commonly used, has nothing to do with the real punching
Theoretical works aiming towards equilibriumanalysis of the wedge which is sheared oﬀ the slab
have been proposed by Braestrup and Nielsen  and later by Jiang and Shen , through
application of the theory of plasticity. Their models assume that the punched out solid of
revolution, and the remaining part of the slab are rigid, and they are interconnected by a plastic
zone of small thickness, having the shape of the failure surface. The model uses the compressive and
tensile strengths of concrete to calculate through limit equilibrium the punching strength as well as
the stresses along the failure surface. The shape of the failure surface is found from a minimum
punching force consideration.
In this paper a new model is presented to simulate the punching shear problem by using
a rigid-post-fractured behavior, opposed to the rigid-plastic behavior which had been assumed in
the previous work [2, 3].
The model uses post fracture properties of concrete and considers both equilibrium and
kinematics of the system. Therefore, it may predict the force—displacement resistance curve and not
only the ultimate punching force, as well as the shape of the failure surface, and the displacement
dependent stress distributions along the failure surface.
2. The proposed model
2.1. General description
Consider an axi-symmetric slab being connected to an axi-symmetric circular column which is
subjected to an axial force. The slab is simply supported along its circumference (Fig. 1). The
proposed model considers the ﬁnal failure stage of the column—slab system and assumes that the
system’s resistance at this stage is concentrated along the failure surface.
The model is based on post-cracking mechanics of concrete and assumes that
1. A single cracked surface already exists in the slab. The cracked surface is continuous and
starts along the column circumference. The surface geometry may be represented by the
unknown function r(x) (Fig. 2).
2 D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15
Fig. 1. Layout of the problem.
2. Concrete is ideally rigid and the cracked surface subdivides the slab into two rigid bodies, the
punched wedge and the outer slab.
3. The contribution of reinforcement is disregarded.
4. The deformation and the accompanied resistance are concentrated along the cracked surface.
5. The cracked failure surface is rough and a mechanism of aggregate interlock is developed.
Pushing the column against the slab is enabled by applying a controlled displacement. The axial
displacement u, which is the relative displacement between the two rigid bodies, may be resolved at
each point of the cracked surface, into two displacement components: a displacement component
w normal to the surface at that point and a tangential displacement component (Fig. 2). The ﬁrst
component increases the crack width at that point and the second component produces shear. The
rough crack surface geometry is responsible for dilation, or crack opening, accompanying shear
displacement. When dilation is restrained to some extent, compressive stresses are developed
normal to the cracked surface. Therefore two stress components are considered on the cracked
D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15 3
Fig. 2. Kinematics of the punched slab.
Fig. 3. Free body diagram of the punched solid of revolution.
4 D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15
surface: a shear stress which produces tangential forces acting along the generatrix, and a normal
compressive stress (Fig. 3) . When the punching concrete element is isolated as a free body, the force
components distributed along its outer surface may be integrated to yield the magnitude of the
punching force P, which maintains equilibrium at the given axial displacement.
The surface shape shown in Figs 2 and 3 is characterized by an increasing angle with the
coordinate x, as has been observed in many tests [2, 4—7], and may be denoted as a convex surface.
The proposed model does not assume a priori the surface shape; however, the model’s basic
assumptions may be helpful in getting a qualitative explanation to this shape. With increasing the
angle with the coordinate x, the incremental surface area projection AB (Fig. 3) increases and the
stresses will decrease with x, because a relatively large crack opening accompanies a rather small
shear displacement, whereas in the other case, where the angle decreases with the coordinate x, the
incremental surface area projection AB (Fig. 3) decreases and the stresses increase, because a rather
small crack opening displacement accompanies a rather large shear displacement. It should be
noted that the incremental area increases with the coordinate x because it depends on the
increasing radius r(x), as shown in Fig. 2. Therefore in the latter case discussed above, increasing
stresses are incorporated with increasing the surface area thus leading to higher resistance than in
the ﬁrst case. The ﬁrst case of the convex surface will yield the smaller resistance and is more likely
to be developed.
3. Stresses in a sheared rough crack
Before going into the formulation of the overall resistance to punching, the constitutive
relationships for an inﬁnitesimal cracked surface should be deﬁned. Force—displacement or
stress—displacement relationships are sought to describe the variation of tangential and normal
forces acting on the cracked surface as a function of the crack displacement.
As a result of a study which has been carried out by the authors, in which available test data as
well as expressions to calculate the stresses developed across a crack have been reviewed, it has
been found that a rather simple set of expressions may be suggested.
The expressions are based on test data which had been presented by Reinhardt and Walraven
 and they are as follows.
w¹``, 0))0.5 Nmm`,
!a#b*w¹``, 0.5))10.0 Nmm`
is the concrete cylinder compression strength (N mm`), is the crack shear displacement in mm
and w is the crack width in mm.
D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15 5
Fig. 4. Simpliﬁed stress—displacement relationships along a rough crack.
, 0))0.5 Nmm`,
!A#Bw¹", 0.5))8.0 Nmm`
B"0.3786 f ""`
These expressions, which are shown in Fig. 4, are in good correspondence with test data . The
linear stress—displacement relationships have been chosen for simplicity, otherwise the original
nonlinear relationships  could have been adopted. The original expressions have a theoretical
background and are tuned to ﬁt the experimental results by choosing appropriate constants. It
should be stated that these stress—displacement relationships refer to certain mixes of concrete and
diﬀerent coeﬃcients should be determined for diﬀerent mixes, however the general approach as
well as the character of the diﬀerent expressions remain the same.
6 D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15
Since Eqns (1)—(8) are empirical, they should be subjected to the experimental program limita-
tions, as follows:
1. Shear displacement is less than 2 mm.
2. Crack width is narrower than 2 mm, and wider than 0.03 mm. The minimum crack width,
which had been observed experimentally, agrees well with the requirement that the shear
stiﬀness should not be larger than the elastic value. The limitations for the stresses ranges are
detailed in Eqns (1), (2), (5) and (6).
4. The punching force
In this section the expressions to predict the magnitude of the punching force are derived. The
tangential forces along the cracked surface contribute to an increase in the resistance and the
compressive normal forces act to decrease the resistance.
A diﬀerential axi-symmetric surface area dA is
The vertical component of the shear resultant, acting on dA is
" dA cos . (10)
The vertical force component resulting from the normal stress is
" dA sin , (11)
where is the angle between the vertical and the tangent to the generatrix (Fig. 3), and satisﬁes the
Substituting Eqns (9), (12) and (13) into Eqns (10) and (11) and summing up the contributions to
the total resistance, yields
(!r)r(x)* dx. (14)
The expressions for the shear stress and for the normal stress have been presented in the
previous section, and are dependent on the shear displacement and the crack width w. These two
D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15 7
displacement components may be expressed at any point along the generatrix as
5. Capabilities of the proposed model
Although the proposed model deals with the ﬁnal stage of resistance after having a cracked
surface fully developed, it includes equilibrium, kinematic and constitutive equations. As such it
may calculate the following:
1. Shear and normal stresses along the cracked surface and their distribution.
2. Variation of these stresses with the axial displacement.
3. Variation of the resisting force, as a function of the increasing displacement.
4. Prediction of the ultimate punching force.
6. Shape of the sliding surface
The surface along which the two rigid parts of the slab slide relatively to each other, is described
by the function r(x), as shown in Fig. 3. Once this function is known, calculations of stresses and the
integrated force may be carried out. However, this shape is not known and it will be determined in
The surface may be determined by its smaller diameter d (which equals to the column diameter)
and the larger diameter D on the other side of the slab, or alternatively by the angle of the conical
surface (Fig. 2). For a given angle , or known end points of the surface, one may determine the
surface shape which yields minimum resistance.
It can be done using variational calculus by solving the function r(x) for which the force
P reaches a minimum value. The functional of Eqn (14) is
F(x, r, r )"(!r ) r(x). (17)
Substituting Eqns (2), (5), (15) and (16) into Eqn (17) yields the nonlinear expression of the
functional F(x, r, r ), in which u is an independent variable operation on Eqn (14) with Euler’s
dF(x, r, r )
dF(x, r, r )
will yield a nonlinear diﬀerential equation, the solution of which is the equation of the failure
surface which satisﬁes the extremum requirement. Following this procedure and substituting the
above expressions yields a rather complex equation which should be solved numerically.
8 D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15
Fig. 5. The rough crack geometry.
Alternatively, in order to obtain an analytical expression for the failure surface, it has been
assumed that the surface shape may be presented by a second-order polynomial, in which two
constants are determined by the boundary conditions, and the third constant is a variable to be
found from the condition that it should yield a minimum punching force. Figure 5 shows a speciﬁc
example for the following data: Plate thickness equals 10.0 cm, column diameter is 15.0 cm, and
concrete compressive strength is 37.6 Nmm`. The curves shown in Fig. 5 are piecewise approxi-
mation to the smooth surface geometry.
Several surface geometries for "60° are shown in Fig. 5, in the vicinity of curve number 5,
which has been found to yield a minimum punching force. A similar procedure had been followed
with a third order polynomial and only minor diﬀerences were observed. For example, the
magnitude of the punching force obtained from a third-order polynomial, was by 0.4% smaller
than the value obtained using the minimum second order polynomial. It may be concluded that
a second order polynomial is appropriate to represent the shape of the surface having minimum
resistance. The value of itself may be predetermined within the range of 58°—65°, as many test
data shown [5—7].
7. Comparison with test results
The present model has been implemented in a computer program which gets input of the
geometry, material properties and the angle . The minimumsurface is calculated, and corresponding
D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15 9
Comparison of test data with the model
No. Column diameter
d/H (N mm`) %
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
1 3.1 28.30 3.70 1.15 &62
2 3.1 25.50 3.70 1.14 &62
3 2.2 13.90 2.47 0.81 &57
4 2.2 19.90 2.47 0.93 &58
5 2.2 28.48 2.47 0.95 &59
6 2.2 13.00 3.70 0.73 &56
7 2.2 23.00 3.70 0.94 &58
8 2.2 35.20 3.70 1.08 &60
9 2.16 14.43 1.15 0.95 &60
10 2.16 25.73 1.15 0.96 &60
11 2.16 29.60 1.15 1.50 &65
12 2.16 20.67 1.15 1.10 &62
13 2.48 18.80 0.90 0.92 &58
14 2.68 13.20 1.25 1.02 &60
15 2.68 24.50 1.20 1.30 &62
16 2.68 29.31 1.30 1.23 &63
17 1.84 20.20 0.93 0.96 &58
values of force—displacement relationship and stress distributions are calculated as well. This
program is used in this section to perform comparisons with available test data.
7.1. The punching force
To compare the predictions of the present model, various plates have been selected from test
data performed by Yitzhaki  and Elstner and Hognestad . The plates were chosen to
represent a wide range of steel reinforcement ratios, of concrete qualities and column diameter to
plate thickness ratios.
The calculated results are shown in Table 1. A common angle has been assumed for all the
predictions being equal to 60°. Column 5 in Table 1 presents the ratio of the predicted to the
measured ultimate punching force, and good predictions are observed. Column 6 shows the value
of which yields a perfect ﬁt. It may be seen that the variations around 60° depend on the plate
parameters, which are detailed in columns 2—4 in Table 1: The angle increases with
concrete strength for constant column diameter d to plate thickness H ratio and for given
reinforcement ratios. A variable value of which depends on these parameters and ranges between
58° and 65° will yield even better predictions.
10 D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15
Fig. 6. Predicted resistance—displacement relationship.
Fig. 7. Predicted resistance—displacement relationships to Bazant and Zao tests .
7.2. Force—displacement relationship
The model is capable of calculating the force (in metric tonne)—displacement (in mm) relationship
for a given plate. Figure 6 shows the calculated curve for the same speciﬁed data of the plate which
has been discussed earlier. The nonlinear ascending branch of the force—displacement relationship,
and the softening descending branch which follows, are clearly shown.
There is only limited measured data with respect to the force—displacement relationship in
a punching shear process. In the following, calculations of the force—displacement relationships for
several plates which had been tested by Bazant and Zao , are compared with his test results.
D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15 11
Comparison of model predictions with test data of Bazant and
(ton) Displacement (mm)
(mm) Model Test Model Test
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
25.4 2.02 2.10 0.045 0.17
50.8 8.08 8.00 0.035 0.88
101.6 32.30 32.00 0.035 3.17
Fig. 8. Predicted shear stress distribution along the slab height for several displacements º (mm).
Currently there is no theoretical model which may yield predictions of a force—displacement
relationship for the problem under discussion.
In the tests performed by Bazant and Zao , three plate thicknesses H were tested: 25.4,
50.8 and 101.6 mm, with column diameter D"H. In these tests the following experimental
characteristics were observed:
— The load is increasing to a peak value and a softening branch then follows.
— The thicker the plate is, the steeper the ascending curve becomes.
Figure 7 shows the predicted force—displacement curves and major observations are the following:
— The ascending curve is steeper for thicker plates, similar to the experimental observation.
— There is good agreement between the predicted and measured peak punching force, as shown
in Table 2. The diﬀerences do not exceed 5%.
12 D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15
Fig. 9. Predicted normal stress distribution along the slab height for several displacements º (mm).
— There is a signiﬁcant diﬀerence between the predicted and measured displacements corre-
sponding to the same force (see Table 2).
Observation of the damaged plates show a crack pattern which indicates bending deformation.
This may explain the larger deformations measured in the tests , which result from axial
displacement and bending deformation.
7.3. Stress distribution
The present model provides the shear and normal stress distributions along the failure surface
for any displacement u. Typical stress distributions for diﬀerent displacement values are shown in
Figs 8 and 9. The calculations have been carried out for the same plate for which the data have been
presented earlier. It is clearly shown that higher stresses are developed at smaller angles.
8. Eﬀects of tensile resistance and precracking behavior
The present model focuses on the post fracture behavior of two parts of the slab which are
a priori completely separated by a rough crack surface. The two parts are assumed to be rigid and
under that assumption the relative displacement between the parts starts from zero. The punching
force in the present model is also developed upon increasing the displacement and therefore is
developed from zero as well. However, the earlier process of the crack surface development
deserves some attention. It may be considered as a preparatory stage to the relative displacement
discussed above, where a punching low magnitude load is applied to produce the cracked surface,
D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15 13
and the corresponding deformations are developed in the slab. These deformations may be
considered rather small, compared to the relative displacement which is considered later on. Upon
the development of the full cracked surface the load magnitude is decreasing and that stage is the
starting point of the proposed model. If the earlier, non-rigid phase would have been taken into
account, in would aﬀect some increase in displacement, since the rough crack resistance is activated
at a non-zero displacement, which is assumed to be small compared to the following displacements.
The resisting force would then have a low-magnitude increase (to produce cracking) followed by
some decrease, and the major part of the post-cracked slab resistance would follow the
force—displacement relationship, proposed by the present model.
If tensile stresses would have been incorporated in the model it is very likely that the model
would have yielded a value for the largest diameter D, or the corresponding angle (Fig. 2), for
which a minimum value of the peak punching force is obtained. At larger angles the surface area
increases and the tensile force would increase the punching force. In the present model, however,
the peak punching force decreases with an increasing angle . Disregarding tensile stresses the
proper value of the angle should be assumed a priori.
9. Summary and conclusions
A new model is presented, to analyze the punching shear failure of concrete slabs. It is assumed
that cracks, which are the potential failure surfaces, are already developed and the slab resistance is
concentrated along these failure surfaces. The cracks are rough and aggregate interlock mechanism
is developed. Combining equilibrium, kinematic and constitutive equations provides a tool to
predict force—displacement relationship of the punching process, as well as stress distributions
along the failure surface as a function of the displacement. When the largest diameter of the
punched wedge is known (the smallest diameter equals the column diameter), the shape of the
failure surface is found to yield a minimum value of the peak punching force.
It has been shown that an average angle of 60° yields good results for a wide range of parameters
(reinforcement ratio, concrete strength and diameter to thickness ratio). Better predictions may be
obtained if a reﬁned choice of the angle is taken, depending on the values of these parameters.
This study was supported by the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing. The support is
 Reagan PE, Braestrup MW. Punching shear in reinforced concrete. CEB Bulletin D’information, No. 168, January
 Braestrup MW. Punching shear in concrete slabs. Introductory Report, IABSE Colloquium, Plasticity in Reinforced
Concrete, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1987, pp. 115—136.
14 D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15
 Jiang DH, Shen JH. Strength of concrete slabs in punching shear. ASCE, Journal of Structural Engineering
 Bazant ZP, Zao O. Size eﬀect in punching shear failure of slabs. ACI Structural Journal 1987, Jan./Feb., 44—53.
 Elstner RC, Hognestad E. Shearing strength of reinforced concrete slabs. ACI Journal 1956;28(1):29—57.
 Kinnunen S, Nylander H. Punching of concrete slabs without shear reinforcement, Meddelande Nr. 38, Institutionen
for Byggnadsstatic, Kungliga Tekniska Hogskolan, Stockholm, 1960.
 Yitzhaki D. Punching strength of reinforced concrete slabs, ACI Journal 1966;63(5):527—542.
 Walraven JC. Fundamental analysis of aggregate interlock, ASCE, Journal of the Structural Division
 Nielsen MP. Limit Analysis and Concrete Plasticity. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliﬀs, NJ, 984, pp 320.
D.Z. Yankelevsky, O. Leibowitz / International Journal of Mechanical Sciences 41 (1999) 1—15 15
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