Development of
A Transnational Approach
Course: Eurocode 3
Module 4 : Member design
Prerequisites:
SSEDTA
Objectives:
explain that sections may fail by compressive buckling of plates within the section.
distinguish between internal and outstand elements.
demonstrate that plate slenderness and edge restraints control the buckling behaviour.
sketch the relationship between normalised ultimate compressive stress and normalised plate slenderness.
explain (in terms of the above sketch) the meaning of different section classifications.
derive a result from EC3 Table xxx for hot rolled sections.
use the section classification method to choose appropriate sections.
describe the effective width approach for Class 4 sections.
References:
Eurocode 3: Design of steel structures Part 1.1 General rules and rules for buildings
ESDEP: Lectures 7.2 and 7.3
The Behaviour and Design of Steel Structures, Chapter 4 Local buckling of thin plate elements,
N S Trahair and M A Bradford, E & FN Spon Revised Second Edition 1994
Contents:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Introduction
Classification
Behaviour of plate elements in compression
Effective width approach to design of Class 4 sections
Concluding summary
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1. Introduction
Structural sections, be they rolled or welded, may be considered as an assembly of individual
plate elements, some of which are internal (e.g. the webs of open beams or the flanges of
boxes) and others are outstand (e.g. the flanges of open sections and the legs of angles)  see
figure 1. As the plate elements in structural sections are relatively thin compared with their
width, when loaded in compression (as a result of axial loads applied to the whole section
and/or from bending) they may buckle locally. The disposition of any plate element within the
cross section to buckle may limit the axial load carrying capacity, or the bending resistance of
the section, by preventing the attainment of yield. Avoidance of premature failure arising from
the effects of local buckling may be achieved by limiting the widthtothickness ratio for
individual elements within the cross section. This is the basis of the section classification
approach.
Outstand
Internal
Internal
Outstand
Internal
Web
Web
Web
Flange
(a) Rolled Isection
Flange
(b) Hollow section
Internal
Flange
(c) Welded box section
2. Classification
EC3 defines four classes of cross section. The class into which a particular cross section falls
depends upon the slenderness of each element (defined by a widthtothickness ratio) and the
compressive stress distribution i.e. uniform or linear. The classes are defined in terms of
performance requirements for resistance of bending moments:
Class 1 crosssections are those which can form a plastic hinge with the required rotational
capacity for plastic analysis.
Class 2 crosssections are those which, although able to develop a plastic moment, have
limited rotational capacity and are therefore unsuitable for structures designed by plastic
analysis.
Class 3 crosssections are those in which the calculated stress in the extreme compression fibre
can reach yield but local buckling prevents the development of the plastic moment resistance.
Class 4 crosssections are those in which local buckling limits the moment resistance (or
compression resistance for axially loaded members). Explicit allowance for the effects of local
buckling is necessary.
5.3.2 (1)
Table 1 summarises the classes in terms of behaviour, moment capacity and rotational capacity.
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Moment
Resistance
Model of
Behaviour
Mom e nt
Plastic moment
on gross section
M pl
Local
Buckling
fy
M
Mp l
fy
Local
Buckling
M
Mp l
Mpl
fy
Mel
Local
Buckling
Mpl
pl
None
pl
Plastic moment on
effective section
fy
Mel
M
Mp l
Moment
Limited
Elastic moment
on gross section
pl
Moment
rot
pl
Plastic moment
on gross section
Mpl
Sufficient
Mo men t
Class
Rotation Capacity
M
Mp l
None
4
Local
Buckling
pl
cr
k 2 E t
121 2 b
(1)
Where
k is the plate buckling parameter which accounts for edge support conditions,
stress distribution and aspect ratio of the plate  see figure 2a.
= Poissons coefficient
E = Youngs modulus
2
The elastic critical buckling stress (cr ) is thus inversely proportional to (b/t) and analogous to
the slenderness ratio (L/i) for column buckling.
Open structural sections comprise a number of plates which are free along one longitudinal edge
(see figure 2b) and tend to be very long compared with their width. The buckled shape for such
a plate is illustrated in figure 2c. The relationship between aspect ratio and buckling parameter
for a long thin outstand element of this type is shown in figure 2d, from which it is clear that the
buckling parameter tends towards a limiting value of 0.425 as the plate aspect ratio increases.
For a section to be classified as class 3 or better the elastic critical buckling stress ( cr ) must
exceed the yield stress f y . From equation (1) (substituting = 0.3 and rearranging) this will be
so if
3.2.5 (1)
3.2.5 (1)
3.2.5 (1)
0,5
(2)
This expression is general as the effect of stress gradient, boundary conditions and aspect ratio
are all encompassed within the buckling parameter k . Table 2 gives values for high aspect
ratios of internal and outstand elements under various elastic stress distributions.
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L
t
(b)
(a)
Simply supported on
all four edges
Buckling coefficient k
5
b
4
Simply supported
edge
Free
Exact
k = 0.425 + (b/L)2
2
(c)
1
0.425
Free
edge
(d)
Trahair and
Bradford
III
II
is maximum stress, compression
2 / 1
+1
1 > > 0
0 >
Case I
Internal
element
4,0
8,02
1,05 +
7,81
7,81+6,29
Case II
Outstand
element
0,43
0,570,21
0,57
0,570,21
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1
0,85
Case III
Outstand
element
0,578
0,43
1,75
1,70
23,8
p f y / cr
(3)
0, 5
(4)
2
Substituting equation (1) for cr into (4), and replacing f y with 235/ (so that the expression
may be used for any grade of material) the normalised plate slenderness, p, may be expressed
as
fy
cr
0.5
b/t
28.4 k
(5)
where b is the appropriate width for the type of element and crosssection type.
Figure 3 shows the relationship between Np and p . For a normalised plate slenderness less
than one, the normalised ultimate load is one which means that the plate can develop its squash
load. For greater values of p , Np decreases as the plate slenderness increases, the ultimate
stress sustained being limited to the elastic critical buckling stress, cr.
Np
u
fy
1
Class 3
Class 2
Class 1
0,5 0,6
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0,9
1,0
p f y / cr 0.5
N p vs p
Appreciating
cr
relationship
235 / f y 0.5
k E t
121 2 b to derive equation (5)
2
Plates in sections are not perfectly flat nor is steel elasticperfectly plastic (it strain hardens).
These factors, coupled with the ability of plates to carry loads beyond the level causing elastic
buckling (postbuckling behaviour), require p values to be reduced in order to delay the onset
5.2.1.4 (7)
of local buckling until the requisite strain distribution through the section  yield at the extreme
fibre or fully plastic distribution  has been attained. EC3 uses the following normalised plate
slenderness as limits for classifications:
Class 1 p < 0,5
Class 2 p < 0,6
Class 3 p < 0,9 for elements under a stress gradient; this is further reduced to 0,74 for
elements in compression throughout.
ESDEP
Lecture 7.2
5.3.2 (3)
By substituting the appropriate values of k into equation (5) and noting the p to be used for
each class, limiting b/t ratios can be calculated. Table 3 presents limiting values for a rolled
section subject to major axis bending or compression. Sections built up by welding are treated
in a similar way but the b/t and d/t limits are reduced due to the deleterious effects of higher
residual stresses caused by welding.
c
tf
Element
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tw
Class 1
Class 2
Class 3
8
c / tf = 10
c / tf = 11
c / tf = 15
Web subject to
bending
d / tw = 72
d / tw = 83
d / tw = 124
Web subject to
compression
d / tw = 33
d / tw = 38
d / tw = 42
5.3.2 (8)
0,22
p
(6)
The reduction factor may then be applied to the outstand or internal element as shown in
Tables 8 and 9. Figure 4 shows examples of effective crosssections for members in
compression or bending. Notice that the centroidal axis of the effective crosssection may shift
relative to that for the gross crosssection. For a member in bending this will be taken into
account when calculating the section properties of the effective section. For a member subject
to an axial force, the shift of the centroidal axis will give rise to a moment which should be
accounted for in member design.
6. Concluding summary
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10
tw
Axis of
Bending
tw
tw
tw
d = h3t (t = tf = tw)
Web subject to
bending
Class
Stress
distribution in
element
(compression
positive)
Web subject to
compression
+ fy
+ fy
d
fy
fy
d/t w <_
+ fy
d h
fy when
d/t w
_
when
d/t w _
d/t w <_ 33
when
Stress
distribution in
element
(compression
positive)
d/t w
_
d/t w <_ 38
d/t w <_ 83
when
d/t w
_
+fy
+ fy
+ fy
d/2
d/2
fy 
fy
d/t w
_
d/t w <_ 42
when
d/t w _
_
when
d/t w _
235 / f
y
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fy
235
275
355
0,92
0,81
11
Table 4 Maximum
tf
axis of
bending
Class
tf
tf
Section in bending
Type
Stress distribution
in element and
across section
(compression
positive)
Section in compression
fy
+

tf
fy
+

 +
1
Stress distribution
in element and
across section
(compression
positive)
 +
_
_
_
(b  3t f )/ t f
b / tf
(b  3tf )/ tf
b / tf
fy
+

_ *
_
*
_
(b  3t f)/ tf
b / tf
(b  3tf )/ tf
b / tf
fy
+
fy
 +
3
235/ f y
fy
(b  3t f )/ tf
b / tf
_
_
(b  3tf)/ tf
b / tf
 +
*
_
235
275
335
0,92
0,81
* For a cross section in compression with no bending the classification 1,2,3 are irrelevant
and hence the limit is the same in each case.
12
c. Outstand flanges:
c
c
tf tf
tf
Welded sections
Rolled sections
Class
Type of section
Flange subject
to compression
Stress distribution
in element
(compression positive)
= 235/ f y
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+

Flange subject to
compression and bending
Tip in
Tip in
compression
tension
c
c
+
c
c
Rolled
c/t f _
<
_
c/t f <
Welded
c/t f _<
_ 9e
c/t f <
Rolled
_
c/t f <
_
c/t f <
Welded
_
c/t f <
c/t f <
_
Stress distribution
in element
(compression positive)
tf
+
c
Rolled
_
c/t f <
_ 23 k
c/t f <
Welded
_
c/t f <
c/t f <
_ 23 k
+

_
c/t f <
_
c/t f <
11
c/t f <
_ 10
_
c/t f <
+

+

fy
235
275
355
0,92
0,81
13
Table 6 Maximum widthtothickness ratios for compression elements
d. Angles:
Refer also to c.
'Outstand flanges'
(Table 6)
t
Section in compression
Class
fy
+

fy
Stress distribution
across section
(compression positive)
t
h
bh
15 :
115
,
t
2t
3
e. Tubular sections:
Class
1
d / t 70 2
d / t 90 2
2
3
235/ f y
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fy
235
275
355
0,92
0,81
0,85
0,66
14
Table 7 Maximum
Stress distribution
(compression positive)
beff
1 0:
beff = c
c
bc
bt
0:
beff bc c / (1 )
2
beff
2 / 1
1
1 1
Buckling factor k
0,43
0,57
0,85
beff
1 0:
beff = c
beff
0:
beff bc c / (1 )
2
bc
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bt
2 /1
1 0
Buckling factor k
0,43
0,578
0,34
1,70
0 1
2
1,7 5 17,115
1
23,8
Stress distribution
(compression positive)
= 1:
b = b  3t
beff = b
be1 = 0,5 beff
be2 = 0,5 beff
be2
be1
b
1 > _ 0 :
b e1
b = b  3t
beff = b
2b
b e1 = eff
5
b e2 = beff  be1
be2
b
bc
bt
< 0:
b = b  3t
beff = bc = b / (1  )
b e1
be2
b
= 2 /1
1> > 0
Buckling
factor k
4,0
8,2
1,05 +
7,81
Alternatively, for
_ _  1:
1
0 > > 1
1
k =
 1> >  2
5,98 (1  )2
16
[(1 + ) + 0,112(1  )2 ]0,5 + (1 + )
2
Illustrated as rhs.
For other sections b = d for webs
b = b for internal flange elements (except rhs)
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Centroidal axis of
gross crosssection
Centroidal axis of
gross crosssection
Centroidal axis of
effective crosssection
eN
Noneffective zones
Gross crosssection
(a) Class 4 crosssections  axial force
eM
Centroidal axis
Noneffective zone
Centroidal axis of
effective section
Noneffective zone
eM
Centroidal axis
Centroidal axis of
effective section
Gross crosssection
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17