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Allowable Stress Design (1989 9th Edition AISC Manual) or Allowable

Strength Design (2005 13th Edition AISC Manual). Both use service level
loads and a safety factor to member strength.

Working Stress Design (not used in design anymore). Uses services level
loads and a safety factor to member strength.

Load and Resistance Factor Design. Uses factored loads and applies a
reduction factor to member strength.

Limit States Design. A design methodology where different failure

mechanisms or states are checked and allowable strengths for each
failure mechanism or state are determined. The controlling limit state is
normally the one that results in the least available strength. This is more
of a general term and includes ASD 89, ASD 2005 and LRFD.
Strength Design = Generally refers to LRFD however the most new
manuals which include ASD could be considered strength design
methods as well. Meaning stresses are typically not calculated
anymorewell they are but the end result is usually in terms of a
members strength. In concrete you may also hear the term Ultimate
Strength Design (where the old 63 code used Working Stress Design)
which is referring to LRFD.
Ultimate or Strength Level = Generally strength or ultimate level loads
refers to Factored Loads in LRFD design. Ultimate capacity is generally
the Factored Resistance or Capacity of the member being designed with
Service Level = Generally service level loads are used with ASD
methods. They are also used when checking deflection for serviceability.
Nominal Strength = This is the strength of the member for a given limit
state before any safety factor or reduction factor is applied to the member.
This is used with ASD or LRFD and is normal given in manuals that
present a Unified Approach aka they give you a nominal capacity then
the user applies a safety factor or resistance factor.

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Available Strength = This is the strength of the member based on the

nominal strength reduced by the applicable safety factor
or reduction factor. In LRFD it is common to refer to this as the Ultimate
Strength. In ASD it is commonly referred to as the Allowable Strength.
Required Strength = This is the strength required based on the applicable
ASD or LRFD combination. The required strength should always be less
than the available strength.
Resistance Factor = The reduction factor applied to the nominal strength
as used in LRFD.
Safety Factor = This is the factor which reduces the nominal strength as
used in ASD.
These terms can be confusing when your fresh out of school. Most likely
in school you predominantly used LRFD design. However when you show
up to work you may find some who still use a lot of ASD. Or you may see
alot of old ASD example problems or even need or want to use it in your
design. I will try to clear some of this up for you.
ASD can mean either Allowable Stress Design or Allowable Strength
Design. The Allowable Stress Design is the older or original designation
which was used in the 9th Edition of the AISC Steel Construction Manual
(1989 AISC) and the old ACI Concrete code (called Working Stress
Design. Side note: working stress design can be helpful in reducing
cracks and crack size. Therefore the method is sometimes still used in
water applications). In these codes service level loads where applied to
members. The stresses in the members where found and then checked
against an allowable stress value which had a safety factor incorporated
into it. Many old timers will say that this used to give you more of a feel
for the design as you better understood how the material and members
where stressed. Allowable Strength Design (2005 AISC) was mostly
developed so that engineers who did not want to use LRFD could still use
ASD and service level loads therefore both the 89 ASD and 05 ASD both
use the same load combinations. It differs from the allowable stress
design in that it is a Strength Design methodology. The 05 ASD uses
safety factors on the nominal strength of the member based the particular
limit state. The 05 ASD allowable strength values maybe transformed into
89 ASD stress values by factoring out the appropriate section property.
Both ASD methods utilize Limit States Design however they are hidden
in the 89 ASD code. Meaning that in the 05 ASD each limit state is
checked (i.e. yeilding, local buckling, lateral-torsional buckling, etc.). In
the 89 ASD code the allowable stress is reduced to the lowest applicable
limit state. They also both take advantage of inelastic behavior in some
limit states.
LRFD refers to Load and Resistance Factor Design which is also a Limit
States Design methodology. This method uses a load factor to factor up
or down service level loads and also reduce member strength based on
reliability and statistical data. When using LRFD you must design the
strength based on the LRFD load combinations and factors however
deflection should be based on service level loads, so you must keep track
of your loads!
In the 2005 AISC both the ASD and LRFD methods for determining
nominal strengths are presented side by side. The nominal strength will
be the same for both methods and only the allowable strength will differ
due to the fact that the safety factor applied for ASD and the reduction
factor applied for LRFD will be different.
So why the switch, whats behind it? LRFD is a more reliable and

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statistical based method for predicting loads and material strengths.

Whereas the allowable stress saftey factors where based on engineering
judgement and past experiences. It is debated which will give you a more
efficient design however it seems in most situations LRFD will produce a
smaller sized beam based on strength but not always. Also serviceability
and deflection control many designs, in which case both methods will
yield the same result as the design is not base on strength at that point.
Check the code you are using for ASD safety factors/combinations and
LRFD factors/combinations i.e. IBC, ASCE, ACI, etc.
Also see Chapter 2 of the 2005 AISC manual for further discussion.
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Strength Design vs Stress Design

Ultimate Strength

Working Stress

General Tips

Evaluating and Identifing Existing

Glulam Beams

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April 4, 2012 at 3:28 am

You are posting some things that are not factual.

1989 ASD also incorporated Limit State Design.
New ASD is also Limit State Design.
The 1989 version just buried the Limit States into lower
allowable stresses.
Read the general section of the 2005 AISC code.

April 4, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Yes you are correct. However Im not saying

that 1989 ASD wasnt a Limit States Design, I
am just saying that it was based on allowable
stresses. I appreciate the feedback though
and I will update accordingly.

April 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Better? In all honesty I do appreciate you review.

This is what it is about. Granted this basic of a topic
should not need input but we will post some other
details and calcs where we would love feed back.

August 28, 2013 at 8:41 am

Ive heard that you can use LSD loads and directly
apply to LRFD design. For example a 100kN shear
load from LSD design and converting it to imperial
22.5kips, That would be sufficient in proceeding to
design shear connection using LRFD? Is there
anything needed to be added in using LSD loads for
the various LRFD connection types?

Ryan Freund
August 31, 2013 at 10:52 am

Im not exactly sure I understand the question.

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When you say LSD loads -> what code are these
loads coming from? In general there are (2)
different categories or levels when speaking about
loads -> Ultimate or Strength Level and the other
Service level (Ive heard some call this actual load
but that is not correct). Ultimate or Strength level
loads are used with LRFD design and Service level
are used with ASD design. LSD which is limit states
design, really applies to both LRFD and ASD.
Meaning that say your are designing a beam. Then
in this case the limit states that you are checking
maybe yielding, lateral torsional buckling or local
buckling (each of these is a limit state). You can
check these limit states by using strength level
forces against the ultimate capacity which would
be LRFD or you can check the service level forces
against the allowable strength of the member using
ASD. Note that deflection is normally check using
service level loads and thus the name service
level loads. Hope this helps!

November 8, 2013 at 8:42 am

Man rime flies and I didnt get an email

I guess my question is a little more simple, using
the Canadian S16 and wanting to buy some sort
of conn design software that only comes in LRFD
or ASD can you use the S16 loads directly into a
LRFD design. Say a beam shear value in 100kN
in the Canadian design can be input as 22.5kips
or 100kN in a LRFD program. Or are there going
to be some cases where a conversion factor
needs to be introduced between the 2 systems.
Ive heard that a conversion factor wouldnt be

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