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Basis for Tubular Joint Design

Design criteria of the codes that govern construction of

offshore drilling platforms are analyzed and evaluated
I nt r oduct i on
Recently publ i shed codes (Refs.
1,2) include cri teri a for t he desi gn
and constructi on of wel ded connec-
ti ons for ci rcul ar tubes, whi ch have
been in use for a number of years i n
offshore dri l l i ng pl at f or ms. The
purpose of t hi s paper is to document
t he background data underl yi ng these
cri teri a, in t er ms of static and fati gue
st rengt h.
40( ^0. 50
Fig. 1 Simple joint
20^. 0. 50
P. W. MARSHALL is Staff Civil Engineer,
Offshore Construction, Shell Oil Com-
pany, New Orleans, La. A. A. TOPRAC is
Professor of Civil Engineering, The Univer-
sity of Texas at A ustin.
Paper is based on a survey sponsored by
the WRC Subcommittee on Welded Tubu-
lar Structures.
St at i c St r engt h
Simple and Punching Shear Joints
Currentl y t he most popular style of
wel ded connect i on for i ntersecti ng
circular tubes as used i n fi xed off-
shore structures is t he " si mpl e" j oi nt
i l l ustrated i n Fig. 1. The tubular mem-
bers are si mpl y wel ded together, and
all load is t ransf erred f rom one
branch t o t he other via t he chord,
wi t hout any help f r om st i f f eni ng ri ngs
or gusset plates. To prevent exces-
sively hi gh localized stresses i n t he
chord, a short l ength of heavi er
section (joint can) is often used in t he
connecti on area. In such cases, t he
probl em of j oi nt desi gn reduces t o
that of sizing t he j oi nt can, parti c-
ularly wher e compl ete j oi nt penet ra-
t i on groove wel ds (as def i ned for
tubular structures (Ref. 2) are used at
the ends of the branch members.
Al t hough the compl ete stress
pi cture is much more compl ex, t he
concept of punchi ng sffear, Fig. 2, has
been qui te useful i n correl at i ng test
data and f ormul at i ng desi gn cri teri a.
The average (or nomi nal ) punchi ng
shear stress, v
, acti ng on t he pot en-
ti al fai l ure surface is cal cul ated as:
= r
*g TOR 0 0 0.5 I.O
I . I . I . I . I . I . I
60* 30' 0*
Fig. 2 Punching shear Fig. 3 Intersection line effects
192- s I M A Y 19 7 4
< . i .
: V
V p . ^ M ( ^ ) - '
" t
0.5 y
"0 0.5 1.0
Fig. 4 Simplified punching shear criteria
Table 1 Closed Ring and Kellogg Solutions for Punching Shear
and Line Load Capacities
Punching shear capacity
Total joint capacity
proportional to
Closed ring
x length xf(/?)
1 5
x perimeter
wher e T = t
/ t = rati o of branch
thi ckness t o chord thi ckness,
6 = angl e bet ween member axes
(see Fig. 2),
and fb = nomi nal axial and bendi ng
stresses i n branch, respectively.
It is to be noted t hat onl y t he compo-
nent of t he branch member load
whi ch is perpendi cul ar to t he mai n
member (chord) wal l is consi dered be-
cause t hi s component is responsi bl e
for most of t he localized stresses. The
t erms K
and k
relate to t he l ength
and secti on modul us, respecti vel y, of
t he tube-to-tube i ntersecti on, whi ch
is ki nd of a saddl e-shaped oval (Ref.
3). Speci fi cal l y t he t erms represent
t he ratio of t he true peri meter (or sec-
t i on modulus) t o t hat of t he ci rcul ar
brace; t hey are pl otted in Fig. 3, as a
f unct i on off? (defi ned above) and/ 3,
wher e
' R
brace to chord di ameter (or
radius) ratio
To specify desi gn al l owabl e val ues for
t he punchi ng shear stress t heoret i cal
and experi mental consi derati ons are
discussed bel ow.
Theoretical Approach Sol uti ons for
elastic stresses in cyl i ndri cal shel l s
subjected to localized l i ne loads are
available for t he very si mpl e load
cases shown in Fig. 4. The closed ri ng
sol uti on and Kellogg f ormul a (Ref. 4)
i ndi cate punchi ng shear and line load
capacities as shown i n Table 1.
Note t hat punchi ng shear capaci ty is
defi ned in rel ati on to t he very i mpor-
t ant nondi mensi onal parameter J
wher e
7 =R/ t = chord t hi nness ratio,
radi us/ t hi ckness
Thi s is anal ogous to t he span to depth
ratio of a stri p beam, for whi ch
si mi l ar rel ati onshi ps may be deri ved
(see Fig. 4).
These t wo rel ati vel y crude physi cal
models mi ght be expected to bracket
t he behavior of si mpl e tubul ar j oi nt s,
since t he branch member loads t he
chord al ong a combi nat i on of l ongi -
t udi nal and ci rcumf erent i al l i nes.
Unfortunatel y they yi el d di vergent
results and tend to i ndi cate di sturb-
ingly hi gh stresses i n practi cal desi gn
si tuati ons. However, t hey both do
reflect t he strong dependence of total
j oi nt capacity on chord t hi ckness and
branch member peri meter. The addi -
ti onal effect of di ameter rati o, f(/3), as
i ndi cated by Roark, was consi dered
paradoxi cal i n t hat test data wi t h
tubul ar connect i ons did not show t he
same monot oni c i ncrease in j oi nt ef f i -
ci ency as depi cted i n Fig. 4. In fact, T-
j oi nt tests ci ted by Toprac (Ref. 4)
showed j oi nt effi ci ency (in t erms of
t he rati o of hot spot stress to punch-
ing shear) passi ng t hrough a mi n-
i mum i n t he mi drange of di ameter
A sophi sti cated anal yti cal sol uti on
(Ref. 5) yi el ds t he more real i sti c pi c-
ture presented in Fig. 5. These resul ts
are consi st ent wi t h those obtai ned
experi ment al l y and wi t h f i ni t e ele-
ment anal yses (Ref. 6), i nsofar as
stress levels in t he chord and load
transfer across t he wel d (Q) are con-
cerned. For t hi s j oi nt , t he stress con-
cent rat i on factor is 7.3, and t he calr
culated average punchi ng shear
stress, v
at whi ch f i rst yi el d at t he
hot spot occurs (Fy = 36 ksi) is onl y
2.5 ksi. Comparabl e punchi ng shears
for Roark and Kellogg woul d be 2.2
ksi and 3.4 ksi , respectively.
Figure 6 summari zes t he results of
a parameter study made wi t h com-
puter programs based on Ref. 5. The
punchi ng shear stress, v
, at whi ch
yi el d stress is predi cted for axially
loaded T-connecti ons, is presented as
a f unct i on of chord t hi nness ratio, y ,
and br ace/ chor d di amet er rati o, /? .
As was previ ousl y not ed ex-
peri mental l y, j oi nt effi ci ency (i n
t erms of punchi ng shear at yield)
passes t hrough a mi mi num for a
di ameter ratio in t he range of 0. 4 to
0.7. Throughout t hi s range, punchi ng
shear effi ci ency is more or less i nde-
pendent of di ameter rati o, but vari es
inversely wi t h t he 0.7 power of chord
t hi nness ratio Y
Correspondi ngl y, the overall capa-
city of t he connect i on woul d be pro-
porti onal to the product of brace
peri meter (or i ntersecti on length) and
, wher e t is chord thi ckness a
result whi ch is surpri si ngl y consi s-
tent wi t h the oversi mpl i fi ed ap-
proaches consi dered earlier.
However, the use of f i rst yi el d as a
fai l ure cri t eri on shows t hat el asti c
theori es seriously underpredi ct t he
available static st rengt h of practi cal
tubular connecti ons. For exampl e, a
mi l d steel scale model of t he connec-
ti on in Fig. 5 actual l y carri ed t he load
shown (appropri atel y scaled down).
Natural l y, a hot spot stress of 1 60 ksi
for mi l d steel is unreal i sti c and t he
materi al is beyond yi el d, and sub-
j ected to strai ns in excess of 5300 P
i n. / i n. Under these ci rcumstances, it
appears t hat theoreti cal elastic anal -
yses wi l l be of l i mi ted use in f ormul at -
ing practi cal desi gn cri teri a for static
or quasi -stati c l oadi ng condi ti ons.
Empirical Approach. Tubular j oi nt s
have a t remendous reserve capacity
beyond the point of fi rst yi el d (Ref. 7),
W E L D I N G R E S E A R C H S U P P L E M E N T ! 193- s
=l . 0
Fig. 5 Theoretical elastic stresses axially loaded T-joint
as i l l ustrated in Fig. 7. If a secti on
through t he chord at its i ntersecti on
wi t h the brace is consi dered for smal l
loads in the elastic range, t he di st ri bu-
t i on of ci rcumf erent i al stresses on
the outside surface are shown as
Stage 1 i n t he fi gure. Beyond yi el d,
t he connecti on deforms (Stage 2)
whi l e t he appl i ed load conti nues to
i ncrease. Finally, at loads 2.5 t o 8
t i mes t hat at f i rst yi el d, t he j oi nt fai l s
by pullout fai l ure as shown for
t ensi on loads or by localized col l apse
of t he chord for compressi on loads
(Stage 3).
The average punchi ng shear stress
at f ai l ure*, v
, has been pl otted in Fig.
8 relative to speci fi ed mi ni mum yi el d
st rengt h, F
, and as a f unct i on of
chord t hi nness ratio.Y; 38 static tests
whi ch fai l ed in the punchi ng shear
mode are represented, al ong wi t h
t wo speci mens whi ch fai l ed after
onl y a f ew cycles of fati gue l oadi ng.
The solid circles represent K-j oi nts;
t he rest are T and cross j oi nt s. Data
are from Toprac (Refs. 4, 7) and other
sources (Refs. 8, 9).
For rel ati vel y stocky chord mem-
bers t hi ckness greater t han 7% of
di ameter or 7 less t han 7 t he j oi nts
may be said to have a 100% punchi ng
shear effi ci ency, in the sense that t he
shear st rengt h of the materi al is ful l y
mobilized on the potenti al fai l ure sur-
face. This cri teri on is met by ASTM A-
53 standard wei ght pipe under 2 i n.
Fig. 6 Parameter study
di am, by extra strong pipe under 5 i n.
di am, and by double extra strong pipe
t hrough 1 2 i n. di am.
Larger and/ or t hi nner chords
shoul d be treated on the basis of a
reduced punchi ng shear capaci ty as
gi ven by the curve in Fig. 8 and
F ( 2 ) "
Ul ti mate v
Allowable v
0.5 xy
0.9 x y
Here, t he desi gn al l owabl e punchi ng
shear stress i ncorporates a safety
factor of 1.8 wi t h respect to the
empi ri cal curve for ul ti mate punchi ng
shear. Its i ntended range of appl i ca-
t i on is for t he mi d-range of di ameter
ratios for whi ch v
is more or less
i ndependent of / 3.
Si nce t he proposed empi r i cal
desi gn curve makes use of t he post-
yi el d reserve st rengt h of si mpl e
tubular connect i ons, it wi l l be i nstruc-
ti ve to revi ew t he sources of thi s extra
capacity. These are:
I . The di fference bet ween elastic
and plastic bendi ng st rengt h (l ocal -
ized) of t he cyl i ndri cal shel l , a
factor of 1.5.
* Failure was defined as first crack for
tension loads. This would functionally
impair the joint for subsequent fatigue
*'*The ultimate strength criteria developed by Reber (Ref. 9) reduces to:
Ultimate v
= f (f$)-
0.55x y
All simple T, Y and K connections are tested on a common basis. Although K connections
have lower elastic stresses than the corresponding T and Y connections, they also have
less reserve strength, so that the ultimate capacities come out similar. The chief difference
between Reber's results and equation (2) is in the degree of conservatism with respect to
the scatter band shown by the test results. Reber provides a good average fit whereas the
curve for equation (2) falls on the safe side of most of the data. Reber's f(/S) shows relative-
ly little influence of diameter ratio: i. e., f (R ) - R
2. Restraint to plastic f l ow caused by
tri axi al stresses at t he hot spot, a
factor of 1.6 for t he si t uat i on of
Fig. 5.
3. St rai n hardeni ng for t he mi l d
steels represented i n t he test data,
t he ul ti mate tensi l e st r engt h
(whi ch is at least locally utilized
when a j oi nt fai l s by separati on of
t he materi al ) is greater t han t he
specified mi ni mum yi el d st rengt h,
, (whi ch is used for t he empi ri cal
correl ati on and desi gn formul a) by
factors f rom 1.6 to 2.4. Corres-
pondi ngl y, it is suggested t hat F
used in cal cul ati ng t he al l owabl e
shoul d not exceed t wo- t hi r ds
( 2/ 3) the tensi l e st rengt h.
4. Further i ncreases i n capaci ty re-
sult f rom the redi st ri but i on of load,
whi ch occurs as t he connect i on
yields and approaches its l i mi t
load. If t he cyl i ndri cal shel l is vi s-
ualized as a net work of ri ngs and
stri ngers, t he sequence of events
may occur as i l l ustrated in Fig. 9.
Plastic behavi or, tri axi al stresses,
strai n hardeni ng, load redi st ri but i on
and large def ormat i on behavi or place
extraordi nary demands on t he duct i l -
ity of t he chord mat eri al . Some l ocal -
ized yi el di ng wi l l occur at desi gn load
levels. These consi derati ons shoul d
be kept i n mi nd when sel ect i ng steel s
for tubular structures (Ref. 8).
Further Refinements
By and large, desi gn codes repre-
sent a consensus of engi neeri ng prac-
tices i n a parti cul ar f i el d. There was a
general f eel i ng that, whi l e t he data of
Fig. 8 (as repl otted in t erms of/? in Fig.
10) di d not j ust i f y t aki ng di ameter
ratio /? i nto account, experi ence i ndi -
cated a benefi ci al effect as t he di am-
eter ratio approaches uni ty, as i ndi -
cated by the heavy dashed l i ne in Fig.
Square Tubes. Consi derabl e i nsi ght
i nto t he effect of /? on t he ul t i mat e
194- s I M A Y 19 7 4
Fig. 7 Reserve strength of a tubular connection
P F y / y j
20 30 40 50 60
Fig. 8 Empirical design curve static strength
Fig. 9 Load redistribution. First yielding occurs at hot spot A. Cross hatched yield line is
analogous to plastic hinge in a continuous frame. Full strength of ring AB is reached when
yielding also occurs at B, after considerable angle change at hot spot. Ring AB continues to
deform at constant load while rest of joint catches up, resulting in more uniform load dis-
tribution. Limit load of joint is reached when ring CD and stringer CE also yield. Deformed
shape is indicated by dashed lines
punc hi ng shear capaci t y of t ubul ar
connecti ons was gai ned f rom consi d-
erati on of a l i mi t anal ysi s of square
tubes. Usi ng t he yi el d l i ne pattern of
Fig. 11 and t he upper bound t heorem
of plastic desi gn, the ul t i mat e punch-
ing shear stress v
is obt ai ned as:
/?(!-/?) o.5*y
0.2 0.4 0.6 0.6
Fig. 10 Static strength /3 effects
wher e /? and Y are def i ned i n a
manner anal ogous to t he usage for
ci rcul ar tubes.
The second t erm on t he ri ght of
equati on (3) is qui te si mi l ar to t he
empi ri cal punchi ng shear, equati on
(2); onl y t he exponent of Y is di ffer-
ent. The leading t erm corresponds to
t he /? effect and has t he f ol l owi ng
1. Mi ni mum value of 1.0, whi ch
occurs at /? = 0.5.
2. Increasi ng punchi ng shear effi -
ciency at larger and smal l er /? -
ratios; t hi s is comparabl e t o t he
theoreti cal results for ci rcul ar T-
j oi nt s, Fig. 6.
3. Where/ ?approaches its l i mi ts (0
and 1.0), punchi ng shear is l i mi ted
by t he shear st rengt h of t he mate-
rial (or by other consi derati ons
such as web crippling).
Test data (Ref. 10) for t he specific
case of 5 x 5 x 0.187 chord are also
plotted in Fig. 11. Failure was defi ned
as when j oi nt def ormat i on reached
3% of chord wi dt h. The st rengt h i n-
crease for /? -rati os over 0.5 appears
to be conf i rmed, wi t h t he test data
showi ng st rengt hs rangi ng f rom 1.5
to 1.8 t i mes t he computed "upper
bound" l i mi t load. Thi s reserve
st rengt h undoubtedl y comes f rom
some of t he same sources di scussed
above for ci rcul ar tube connect i ons.
For/? -rati os under 0.5, however,
t he test data show equati on (3) to be
i ncreasi ngl y less conservati ve as /?
decreases. The dotted l i ne (Fig. 11)
represents a punchi ng shear cri teri a
whi ch is i ndependent of t he j3 -rati o,
gi ven by:
v =
f o r / ? < 0.5
0.5 Y
i o
Note t hat t hi s strai ght sl opi ng l i ne
goes t hrough t he ori gi n; total j oi nt
capacity goes to zero as t he brace
peri meter and/ 3 -rati o also approach
zero. The combi nat i on of equati ons
(3) and (3a) results in cri t eri a wi t h
more or less consi stent safety factors
throughout t he range of/?.
W E L D I N G R E S E A R C H S U P P L E M E N T ! 195- s
3 0
2 0
= 0 . 4 Fy^
0. 25 Fy
/3(l-/3) 0.5 y-^
P " 0 . 5 y
FOR /3 < 0 . 5
0 0. 2
Fig. 11 Ultimate strength analysis square tubes
0.4 0.6 0.8
/9 - RATIO
. 0.5
/3<l-/9) 0.5 y 2 TTR
4 0
-i 20
" - f>S?833fi) 3 8 7
0.25 < f3< 0.75
0 0.2 0.4 0.6
/*?. 12 Japanese results cross joints
0.8 I.O
Japanese Research
A si mpl i fi ed l i mi t anal ysi s of cross
j oi nt s wi t h circular tubes has been re-
ported (Ref. 11), whi ch empl oys t he
physi cal model of Fig. 1 2 t o deri ve an
expressi on for theoreti cal ul t i mat e
strength whi ch can be reduced to t he
f ol l owi ng:
0- 5
2 TR
When the effecti ve l ength B
is taken
as equal to t he chord ci rcumf erence,
t he last t er m becomes unity, and
equati on (4) becomes i denti cal wi t h
equati on (3), wi t h a t erm for t he basic
vari ati on of v
wi t h F
and 7 , mod-
ified by a t erm expressi ng t he /? -
Test data were used to j usti fy an
empi ri cal modi fi cati on of t he expres-
sion for ul ti mate punchi ng shear,
leading to t he results pl otted i n Fig.
12, and
0( 1- 0. 833 0 ) 0. 304 y
In t hi s expressi on t he t erm for /? -
effect has t he f ol l owi ng properti es
and i mpl i cati ons:
1. A value of 1.0 for 0 = 0.6
2. Increasi ng j oi nt effi ci ency for
larger 0 -rati os, up to a l i mi t i ng i n-
crease of 1.8-fold f or 0= 1.0.
Note t hat for t he mi d-range of di am-
eter ratios (/3from 0.25 to 0.75) t he
assumpti on of const ant punchi ng
shear also provi des a reasonabl e fi t to
t he data of Fig. 12, i n l i ne wi t h earl i er
results. For very smal l /3-rati os, t here
is l i ttl e experi ment al j ust i f i cat i on for
the large i ncreases in j oi nt effi ci ency
predi cted by t he/ ? -modi fi er in equa-
t i on (4a). Accordi ngl y, it has been rec-
ommended that a modi fi er of uni ty be
used for val ues of 0 less t han 0.6. Thi s
is consi stent wi t h t he resul ts for
square tubes, and appears to be con-
servative wi t h respect to t heoret i cal
resul ts (Fig. 6).
Proposed 0-Effect
Appl yi ng t he modi fi er, Q , j , for t he
effects of di amet er ratio, to t he punch-
ing shear cri teri a of equati ons pro-
posed earl i er (equati ons (2) and (2a)
one obtai ns:
Ul ti mate v = Q,
Al l owabl e Vy - Q
wher e
/? (1-0. 833/ ?)
0.5 x y
0.9 xY
for /?> 0.6
196-s I MAY 1 97 4
_ 0.4
0. 2-
0.1 -
-1.0 -0.8 -0.6
-0.4 -0.2 0.2 0.4
U =
0.8 1.0
and Q=1. 0 f or / ?<0. 6
These cri teri a, i ncl udi ng Qff, are pl ot-
ted as the heavy dashed l i ne in Fig.
Interaction Effects
Japanese data (Ref. 11), showi ng
t he extent t o whi ch axial load i n t he
chord member reduces its capaci ty t o
carry punchi ng shear, are pl otted i n
Fig. 13. The proposed modi fi er Q
i nteracti on effects woul d be used in
desi gn as f ol l ows:
Al l owabl e v = (6)
Of - Qs
0. 9xY?
where Q
= 1.22 - 0.5 | U| for | U| >0. 44
=1 . 0 f or | U| <0. 44
and | U| = chord uti l i zati on rati o at t he
connect i on.
Fig. 13 Interaction effects of stress in chord
^ H E A R ON 6'
I 37* IN 6^8<
4 1 %
6 2 %
IN 6%oj>
5 4 %
Fig. 14 Joints of various eccentricities
W E L D I N G R E S E A R C H S U P P L E M E N T ! 197- s
* , )
Fig. 15 Components of resistance for
overlapping joints
In desi gn | Uj woul d be taken as t he
AISC ratio for t he chord at t he tubular
connect i on ( wi t h respect to cri teri a
based on yield). Equation (6) i ncl udes
safety factors and corresponds t o a
symmet ri cal fai l ure envel ope, as
shown by t he solid l i ne (Fig. 13).
Wher e heavy wal l j oi nt cans are used
at tubular connect i ons, t he uti l i zati on
ratio wi l l of t en be less t han 0. 44 for
t he j oi nt can, correspondi ng t o no
reducti ons due to i nteracti on. For
hi ghl y stressed K and X-j oi nt s
wi t hout j oi nt cans, but wi t h equal di -
ameters, the increase in j oi nt effic-
iency over equati on (2a) wi l l be
l i mi ted to about 30%, when both Qj
and Q
are consi dered.
Overlapping Joints
In overl appi ng j oi nt s, t he braces
i ntersect each other as wel l as t he
chord, and part of t he load is t rans-
ferred di rectl y f r om one brace t o an-
other t hrough thei r common wel d.
One advantage of such j oi nt s is t hat ,
since t he chord no longer must t rans-
fer t he ent i re load, its t hi ckness can
be reduced and "j oi nt cans" el i m-
i nated. The amount of overl ap can be
control l ed by adj usti ng t he eccentri c-
ity of brace centerl i nes, as i ndi cated
in Fig. 14. Negative eccentri ci ty (Ref.
12) can be used to i ncrease t he
amount of overl ap and t he static load
transfer capaci ty of t he connect i on.
A crude ul ti mate st rengt h anal ysi s
is proposed (see Fig. 1 5), in whi ch t he
punchi ng shear capaci ty for t hat por-
t i on of t he brace reachi ng t he mai n
member and t he membrane shear
capacity of the common wel d be-
t ween braces are assumed t o act
si mul taneousl y. Thus, t he total capa-
city of the connect i on for t ransf erri ng
loads perpendi cul ar to the chord be-
P si n 9
wher e
v = al l owabl e punchi ng shear
stress equati on (6) for t he
mai n member
t = mai n member wal l thi ck-
I = ci rcumferenti al l ength for
that porti on of t he brace
whi ch contacts the mai n
v = al l owabl e shear stress for
the common wel d bet ween
q 10,000
Fig. 16 Family of fatigue design curves (see Table 1)
198- s I M A Y 1 9 7 4
t he braces*
= t hroat t hi ckness for the
common wel d bet ween
= t he proj ected chord l ength
(one side) of t he overl ap-
ping wel d, measured i n t he
pl ane of the braces and per-
pendi cul ar to t he mai n
member **
A compari son of computed capa-
cities, in t erms of brace axial load, P,
using ul ti mate v
and yi el d v
x t
versus test results is gi ven in Fig. 14.
Equation (6) appears t o be conserva-
tive in predi cti ng static j oi nt capa-
cities, provi ded t here is suffi ci ent duc-
ti l i ty that the sti ffer el ement (the over-
lap) does not fai l before t he rest of t he
j oi nt catches up. At elastic load levels
the overlap is so much sti ffer t hat it
tri es to carry t he ent i re l oad; thus,
wher e overl appi ng j oi nt s are i nt en-
ti onal l y used, some desi gners like to
proporti on the overlap to carry at
least 50% of t he acti ng transverse
Wher e extreme amount s of overlap
are used, it may become necessary to
check t he capacity of t he connecti on
for t ransf erri ng loads parallel to the
mai n member as wel l as transverse
loads. Both may be accompl i shed
wi t h vector combi nat i on of t he
various st r engt h el ement s, as
suggested in Figs. 14 and 15.
Fati gue
Few members or connecti ons in
conventi onal bui l di ngs need to be de-
signed for fati gue, since most load
changes occur i nfrequentl y or pro-
duce only mi nor cyclic stresses. The
ful l desi gn wi nd or earthquake loads
are suffi ci entl y rare t hat fati gue need
not be consi dered.
However, crane runways and sup-
porti ng structures for machi nery are
often subject to fati gue loading condi -
ti ons. Offshore structures are subject
to a conti nuous spectrum of cyclic
wave loadings, whi ch requi re consi d-
erati on of cumul ati ve fati gue damage
(Ref. 13).
Wel ded tubular connecti ons, in par-
ticular, requi re special attenti on to f a-
tigue, since stati cal l y acceptable de-
signs may be subject to localized
plastic strai ns, even at nomi nal l y
al l owabl e stress levels.
Fatigue may be defi ned as damage
that results in fracture after a suffi -
*Except that the line load capacity v
x r
should not exceed the shearing capacity of
the thinner adjoining base metal.
"Projected chord length is proportional to
the resultant of membrane shear, acting
at peak value along the full length of the
overlapping weld.
Table 2 Fatigue Categories
, (b)
category Si t uat i on
A Plain unwel ded tube.
A Butt spl i ces, no change in sect i on, f ul l penet rat i on groove
wel ds, ground f l ush, and i nspected by x-ray or UT.
B Tube wi t h l ongi t udi nal seam.
B Butt spl i ces, f ul l penet rat i on groove wel ds, ground f l ush.
B Member s wi t h cont i nuousl y wel ded l ongi t udi nal st i f f eners.
C Butt spl i ces, f ul l penet rat i on groove wel ds, as wel ded.
D Member s wi t h t ransverse (ring) st i f f eners, or mi scel l aneous
at t achment s such as cl i ps, brackets, etc.
D Tee and cruci f orm j oi nt s wi t h f ul l penet rat i on wel ds
(except at tubul ar connect i ons).
Si mpl e T, Y, or K connect i ons wi t h f ul l penet rat i on
tubul ar groove wel ds.
Bal anced T and cruci f orm j oi nt s wi t h parti al penet rat i on
groove wel ds or f i l l et wel ds (except at tubul ar
connecti ons).
Member s wher e doubl er wr ap, cover pl ates, l ongi t udi nal
st i f f eners, gusset pl ates, etc., t er mi nat e (except at
tubul ar connect i ons).
Si mpl e T, Y, and K type t ubul ar connect i ons wi t h
parti al penet rat i on groove wel ds or f i l l et wel ds; al so
compl ex t ubul ar connect i ons in whi ch load t ransf er is
accompl i shed by overl ap (negati ve eccent ri ci t y, )gusset
pl ates, ri ng st i f f eners, etc.
F End wel d of cover pl ate or doubl er wr ap; wel ds on
gusset pl ates, st i f f eners, etc.
G T and cruci form j oi nt s, loaded in t ensi on or
bendi ng, havi ng f i l l et or parti al penet rat i on
groove wel ds.
G' Si mpl e T, Y, or K connect i ons havi ng f i l l et or parti al
penet rat i on groove wel ds.
X Mai n member at si mpl e T, Y, and K connect i on.
X Unrei nf orced cone-cyl i nder i nt ersect i on.
X Connect i ons whose adequacy is det er mi ned by t est i ng
an accuratel y scal ed steel model .
( c|
Si mpl e K type t ubul ar connect i ons in whi ch gamma
rati o R/ T of mai n member does not exceed 24.
Si mpl e T and Y t ubul ar connect i ons i n whi ch gamma rati o
R/ T of mai n member does not exceed 24.
Ki nds of st r ess'
TCBR in branch member (main member must be checked
separately per Category K or T).
TCBR in member (weld must also be checked per Category G).
TCBR in member.
TCBR in branch member (main member in simple T, Y, or
K connections must be checked separately per Category
K or T; weld must also be checked per Category G').
Shear in weld.
Shear in weld (regardless of direction of loading).
Nominal shear in weld (P/A + M/S)
Hot spot, stress or strain on the outside
surface of the main member, at the toe of weld
joining branch member measured in model of
prototype connection, or calculated with best
available theory.
Hot spot stress at angle change.
Worst measured hot spot strain, after shake down.
Punching shear on shear area
> of main member.
Punching shear on shear area <
of main member.
(a) T = tension, C= compression, B = bending, R = reversal.
(b, c) Empirical curves based on "typical" connection geometries; if actual stress concentration factors or hot spot
strains are known, use of curve X is to be preferred.
(d) Equation 1
ci ent number of fl uctuati ons of stress.
Wher e t he fati gue envi ronment i n-
volves stress cycles of varyi ng magni -
tude and varyi ng numbers of appl i ca-
t i ons, f ai l ure is usually assumed to
occur (or reach a gi ven probabi l i ty
level) when t he cumul ati ve damage
rati o, D, reaches unity, wher e
D = 2 n / N (8)
and n = number of cycles appl i ed at a
gi ven stress range
N = number of cycles at that
stress range correspondi ng
to fai l ure (or a gi ven probabi l -
ity of fai l ure)
Some desi gners l i mi t t he damage
ratio to 0.33 when using medi an or
best fit fati gue curves, correspondi ng
to a safety factor of 3 on computed
fati gue l i fe. An al ternati ve approach,
whi ch wi l l be presented here, is to
use fati gue curves whi ch fal l on t he
safe side of most of t he data. It mi ght
be noted t hat a linear cumul ati ve
damage rule is consi stent wi t h t he
fracture mechani cs approach to
fati gue crack propagati on (Ref. 14).
Stress fl uctuati ons wi l l be defi ned
in terms of stress range, t he peak-to-
trough magni t ude of t hese fl uctua-
ti ons. Mean stress is i gnored. In wel d-
ed structures we usually do not know
t he zero poi nt, as t here are residual
stresses as hi gh as yi el d whi ch resul t
f rom t he heat of wel di ng. Wher e
t here is localized plastic def ormat i on
duri ng shakedown, a new set of resi d-
ual stresses develop. What is usually
measured on t he actual structure (or a
scale model) is t he strai n range, wi t h
t he zero poi nt undefi ned. The con-
stant strai n range approxi mat i on is in
fair agreement wi t h t he resul ts of f a-
tigue tests on practi cal as-wel ded
j oi nts, parti cul arl y in t he l ow cycle
Fatigue cri teri a are presented as a
set of S-N desi gn curves (Fig. 16) for
t he various si tuati ons categorized in
Table 2.
Curves A, B, C, D, E, F, and G are
consi stent wi t h AISC fati gue cri teri a
(Ref. 15), whi ch appear i n t urn to re-
flect the data published earl i er by
WRC (Ref. 16). Curves rather t han
tabul ated (step functi on) al l owabl es
W E L D I N G R E S E A R C H S U P P L E M E N T ! 199- s
a* c
i o
Fig. 17 Fatigue curve C nominal stress adjacent to weld
102 103 IO
105 106 107 |08
Fig. 18 Fatigue curves C and X hot spot strain adjacent to
Fig. 19 Punching shear fatigue strength of 7 -connections
ate used because t hey ar e mor e ap-
pr opr i at e t o t ubul ar st r uct ur es ex-
posed t o a c ont i nuous s pec t r um of
cycl i c l oads. I n t hes e s i mpl e si t ua-
t i ons t he n o mi n a l me mb e r st r ess (f a +
f b) f ai r l y we l l r epr es ent s t he act ual
st r ess as wo u l d be me a s u r e d adj a-
cent t o t he we l d . See Fi g. 17.
Cur ve X i s based o n c ur r ent des i gn
pr act i ces f or of f shor e st r uct ur es (Ref .
8). The r el ev ant st r ess f or f at i gue f a i l -
ur e of t ubul ar c onnec t i ons i s t he hot
spot st r ess meas ur ed adj ac ent t o t h e
we l d , as s h o wn i n Fi g. 18. Thi s i s
usual l y c ons i der abl y hi gher t h a n t he
n o mi n a l me mb e r st r ess, and wo u l d
nor mal l y be d e t e r mi n e d f r o m a de-
t ai l ed t heor et i c al ( Ref s. 5, 6), or ex-
10* IO
Fig. 20 Punching shear fatigue strength of K-connections
Fig. 21 Fatigue curves D and D' nominal member stress at
full penetration T welds and simple joints
E' .

' | 0
Fig. 22 Fatigue curves E and E'
let welds and complex joints
nominal member stress at fil-
per i ment al ( Ref s. 4, 7), anal ysi s of t he
c onnec t i on. Cat egor y X i s c ons i s t ent
wi t h cat egor y C s i nc e t he l ocal
t r ans v er s e st r ess adj acent t o t he
we l d is c ons i der ed i n bot h cases. I n
t he r ange of i nel ast i c st r esses and
l ow cycl e f at i gue (Ref . 17) it i s mo r e
r eal i st i c t o deal i n t e r ms of hot spot
st r ai n r at her t h a n st r ess.
The dat a pl ot t ed i n Fi g. 18 r epr e-
sent hot spot st r ess (or st r ai n) f r om
act ual a s - we l d e d h a r d wa r e t ubul ar
c onnec t i ons , pr essur e vessel s, l ab-
or at or y model s and pr ot ot ype f ai l ur es
f r o m a var i et y of sour ces ( Ref s. 13,
14, 16, 18, 19, 2 0, 21) . I n t he l o w
cycl e r ange, t he des i gn cur ve c or r e-
sponds t o r oughl y 9 5 % sur vi val ( 5 %
f ai l ur e pr obabi l i t y) based on t est dat a
wh i c h ar e spr ead out over a scat t er
band mo r e t h a n one l og cycl e wi d e .
Wi t h i n t hi s r ange, al l st r uct ur al q u a l -
2 0 0 - s I M A Y 1 9 7 4
ity steels show si mi l ar fati gue
behavior, i ndependent of yi el d
strength in t he range of 36 to 100 ksi:
Di fferences whi ch show up for
smoot h pol i shed laboratory spec-
i mens in t he hi gh cycle range si mpl y
do not apply to practi cal as-wel ded
(notched) hardware subjected to l ocal -
ized plastic strai ns in t he presence of
a corrosi ve envi ronment (e.g., sea-
Li ttl e data are available for t he high
cycle range, over 2 x 10
cycles. In
t he presence of i ni ti al f l ows and/ or
corrosive envi ronment s, t here is no
endurance l i mi t, and the fati gue
strength conti nues to drop off.
Unfortunatel y, use of curve X re-
qui res knowl edge of stress concent ra-
ti on factors and hot spot stresses
wi t hi n t he tubular connect i ons
i nf ormat i on whi ch woul d not be avai l -
able to many desi gners. However,
anyone shoul d be able to calculate
punchi ng shear (equati on 1) and
make use of the empi ri cal desi gn
curves T and K (Figs. 19 and 20) for
cyclic punchi ng shear i n, respec-
ti vel y, T and K connecti ons. These are
based on data assembl ed by Toprac
(Ref. 21) f r om tests i n whi ch t he
chord t hi nness rati o,"/ , was l i mi t ed
to t he range of 1 8 to 24. Thus t he
curves may err on the safe side for
very heavy chord members ( 7 under
1 8), and they could be unconservati ve
for chords wi t h 7 over 24. Si nce t he
theoreti cal elastic punchi ng shear
effi ci ency (Fig. 6) vari es i nversel y
wi t h y -
, it is suggested t hat , for
chords havi ng y greater t han 24, t he
al l owabl e cyclic punchi ng shear be re-
duced in proporti on to ( 24/ Y)
Once f ai l ure of t he chord in t he
punchi ng shear mode has been pre-
vented, by t he use of heavy wal l
"j oi nt cans" or by means of other
j oi nt rei nf orcement , t he probl em of
possible fati gue fai l ure i n t he braces
remai ns. In si mpl e j oi nt s, localized
stresses in the brace may reach 2.5
t i mes nomi nal f
+ f
due to non- uni -
f orm load transfer (a factor of about 2,
Fig. 5), restrai nt to Poi sson' s-rati o
breat hi ng (a factor of 1.6 for perfect
axi symmetri c restrai nt), and cont i nu-
ity wi t h t he severely def ormed chord.
Accordi ngl y, curve D' (Fig. 21) when
applied to nomi nal brace stress takes
these factors i nto account. Data
poi nts are for thick wal l ed si mpl e
j oi nt s tested by Bouwkamp et al (Refs.
14, 19), for whi ch fai l ure occurred in
the brace (branch member) rather
t han in the chord (mai n member).
Wher e some other f orm of j oi nt re-
i nforcement is used (such as brace
overlap, gussets, or rings) localized
stresses i n the brace may become
larger and more di ffi cul t to ascertai n
and thus have to be desi gned accord-
ing to curve E' (Fig. 22), whi ch i mpl i es
stress concent rat i on factors as high
as 6. However, it shoul d be stated
also that for some connect i ons of t hi s
type curve E is too conservati ve but
unfortunatel y at thi s stage no di sti nc-
ti on can be made.
Curves D, E, F, and G are l i mi t ed t o
si tuati ons in whi ch nomi nal member
stresses represent act ual l oad
transfer across t he wel d. Curve G' is
shi fted down to a factor of 2.0 t o
account for the uneven di stri buti on of
load transfer across the wel d at t he
tube-to-tube i ntersecti on (Ref. 5).
The data supporti ng the empi ri cal
desi gn curves, T, K, D', and E' general -
ly show more scatter t han t he more
basic data of Fig. 18, pri mari l y be-
cause they neglect some of t he rel e-
vant factors, and onl y represent
" t ypi cal " connecti on geomet r i es.
Wher e actual stress concent rat i on
factors are known, t he use of curve X
is to be preferred.
Because of t he uncertai nty and
scatter i nvol ved, cal cul ated fati gue
lives shoul d be taken wi t h a heal thy
amount of skepti ci sm, and shoul d be
vi ewed more as a desi gn gui del i ne
t han as an absolute requi rement of
the code.
Concl udi ng Remar ks
The cri teri a presented have been
developed pri mari l y on t he basis of re-
search and experi ence wi t h fi xed off-
shore pl at f orms. These structures are
hi ghl y redundant, and localized t ubu-
lar j oi nt f ai l ures can occur wi t hout
leading to collapse of t he structure.
One purpose in presenti ng thi s
paper is to let potenti al desi gners of
other classes of tubular structures
see just how t he data fal l relative to
the proposed cri teri a, and what t he
scatter is, so that they may be in a
posi ti on to evaluate t he sui tabi l i ty of
the cri teri a for t hei r parti cul ar appl i ca-
t i on.
Al so, it is hoped t hat , as addi ti onal
data become avai l abl e, t hey wi l l be
compared agai nst t he cri teri a and
data gi ven herei n. Such compari son,
di scussi on, and r e- exami nat i on
should eventual l y lead to a better
desi gn.
The authors are i ndebted to t hei r
colleagues in t he various API , AWS,
WRC, and ASCE task groups con-
cerned wi t h wel ded tubular struc-
tures, whose proddi ng and comment s
helped shape t he gui del i nes present-
ed here.
1. API Recommended Practice for Plan-
ning, Designing, and Constructing Fixed
Offshore Platforms, API RP 2A, Fourth
Edition (1973).
2. American Welding Society Structural
Welding Code, AWS D1.1 -72 (1 972).
3. British Standard 449-1959 Appendix
C, "Determination of the Length of the
Curve of Intersection of a Tube with An-
other Tube or with a Flat Plate", and
British Standard 938-1 962, Spec, for Gen-
eral Requirements for the Metal Arc Weld-
ing of Structural Steel Tubes to B.S. 1775.
4. Toprac, A. A., et al., "Welded Tubular
Connections: An Investigation of Stresses
in T-Joints" Welding Journal, Vol. 45, No.
1, January 1966, Res. Suppl., pp. 1-s to
5. Dundrova, V., Stresses at Intersec-
tion of Tubes Cross and T-Joints, The
University of Texas, S.F.R.L. Technical
Report P-550-5( 1966).
6. Greste, Ojars, A Computer Program
for the Analysis of Tubular K-Joints,
University of California Structural Engi-
neering Lab. Report No. 69-19(1969).
7. Beale, L. A., and Toprac, A. A.,
Analysis of In-Plane T, Y and K Welded
Tubular Connections, Welding Research
Council Bulletin 125, New York, N.Y., Oc-
tober 1967.
8. Marshall, P. W., et at, "Materials
Problems in Offshore Platforms," Offshore
Technology Conference Preprint No. OTC
9. Reber, J. B "Ultimate Strength De-
sign of Tubular Joints," Offshore Technol-
ogy Conference Preprint No. OTC 1664
10. Graff, W. J., "Welded Tubular Con-
nections of Rectangular and Circular Hol-
low Sections," paper for presentation to
the Texas Section, ASCE, El Paso, October
11. Toprac, A. A., et at, Studies on
Tubular Joints in Japan Part I Review
of Research Reports, report prepared for
Welding Research Council, Tubular Struc-
tures Committee, September, 1968.
12. Bouwkamp, J. G., Research on
Tubular Connections in Structural Work,
Welding Research Council Bulletin No. 71,
13. Bell, A. O., and Walker, R. C,
"Stresses Experienced by an Offshore
Mobile Drilling Unit," Offshore Tech-
nology Conference Preprint No. OTC 1440
14. Becker, J. F., et at, "Fatigue Failure
of Welded Tubular Joints," Offshore Tech-
nology Conference Preprint No. OTC 1 228
15. American Institute of Steel Con-
struction, Specifications for Design, Fab-
rication and Erection of Structural Steel
for Buildings, New York, N.Y., February 12,
16. Munse, W. H., and Grover, L., Fa-
tigue of Welded Steel Structures, Welding
Research Council, New York, N.Y. 1964.
17. Peterson, R. E., "Fatigue of Metals
in Engineering and Design," ASTM Mar-
burg Lecture, 1962.
18. Kooistra, L. F., Lange, E. A., and
Pickett, A. G., "Full-Size Pressure Vessel
Testing and its Application to Design,"
ASME Paper 63-Wa-293, 1 963.
19. Bouwkamp, J. G., Tubular Joints
Under Static and Alternating Loads, Uni-
versity of California, Structures and Mate-
rials Research Report No. 66-15, Berk-
eley, June 1966.
20. Toprac, A. A., and Natarajan, M.,An
Investigation of Welded Tubular Joints:
Progress Report, International Institute of
Welding Comm. XV Doc. XV-265-69, June
21. Toprac, A. A., Design Consid-
erations for Welded Tubular Connections,
Report prepared for Welding Research
Council, Tubular Structures Committee,
December 1970.
W E L D I N G R E S E A R C H S U P P L E M E N T ! 201- s
1974 Revisions to Structural Wel di ng Code
The 1974 Revisions to Structural Welding Code (AWS Dl .l -R e v 2-74)
contains the second set of authorized revisions to the Structural Welding
Code, Dl.1-72. For convenience and overall economy in updating existing
copies of the Code, 88 pages of the Code have been reprinted, 59 of which
have been revised to incorporate changes. (The remaining pages are not
changed but appear on the reverse side of revised pages.)
To fulfill the needs of all Code purchasers, the 1974 revisions are avail-
able as a bound book and as individual looseleaf sheets. The bound
copies are intended primarily for libraries and others who wish to keep
their original copies of the Code, as well as the subsequent revisions,
intact. The looseleaf version will be ideal, however, for those Code users
who plan to update their present Codes by inserting the revision pages
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With the looseleaf pages, the time-consuming process of cutting,
pasting, or tearing out will be avoided. To update the Code, old pages are
simply removed and the new revised pages inserted in their place. All
pages are 8V2 in. * 11 in. and are punched for three-hole looseleaf or post
All pages revised for 1974 are listed on the contents page, and all
changes in figures and tables are enumerated and described immediately
following the contents page. Changes in text material are denoted in bold
italics; deleted material is crossed through with double lines. (The 1974
revisions can thus be distinguished from the 1973 revisions which are
designated by regular italics and single cross-through lines.) The new
pages are printed on blue stock, and pages containing 1974 (and/or 1973)
revisions are clearly labeled.
These are the principal changes in Code requirements:
SMAW fillet welding of studs is now permitted.
The prequalified status of joints welded by short-circuiting transfer
GMAW has been removed.
Camber tolerances of welded members have been revised.
SNT qualification of all NDT operators is now required.
Additions and deletions have been made to the lists of prequalified
steels for buildings, bridges, and tubular structures.
Bridge design criteria relating to fatigue stress have been eliminated.
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