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# COMPRESSIVE MEMBERS (AXIALLY LOADED)

INTRODUCTION
Structural members that carry compressive loads are sometimes given names that identify
them as to their function.

Columns
- vertical compression members that have their length dimension considerably
larger than their least cross-sectional dimension.
Knee Braced at the junction of columns and roof trusses.
Struts
- compression members that serve as bracing
Post and Pillars
truss compression member
stanchion

Columns are subjected to axial compression forces and that there are three general modes by
which they can fail. These are

a) Flexural buckling (also called Euler buckling) it is the primary type of buckling where the
members are subjected to flexure or bending when they become unstable.
b) Local buckling which occur when some part or parts of the cross section of a column are
so thin that they buckle locally in compressor before other modes of buckling can occur.
The susceptibility of a column to local buckling is measured by the width-thickness ratio
of the parts of its cross-section.
c) Flexural torsional buckling which may occur in columns that have certain cross-sectional
configurations. These columns fail by twisting (torsion) or by a combination of torsional
and flexural buckling.

The tendency of a member to buckle is usually measured by its slenderness ratio. The
longer a column becomes for the same cross section, the greater becomes its tendency to buckle
and the smaller becomes the load it will support. The buckling of the member is also affected by
factors such as the types of load connections, eccentricity of load application, imperfection of
column material, initial crookedness and residual stress from manufacture.

## EULER'S COLUMN ELASTIC BUCKLING

Column buckling theory originated with Leonard Euler (1707-1783). An initially straight
concentrically loaded member, in which all fibers remain elastic until buckling occurs, is slightly
bend as shown.
For column to buckle elastically, it will have to be long and slender. Its buckling load can
be computed with the Euler Formula. The Euler critical load for a column, homogeneous with
both ends pinned, is
2
EI
Pcr = 2
L
In terms of the average compressive stress using I =Ag r 2 ( r = I / A )
Pcr 2 E
Fcr =F e = = 2
proportional limit
Ag L
()r
where: Fe =F cr = elastic or buckling stress

*Note: If Fe exceeds the steel's proportional limit, the elastic Euler formula is not applicable.
Column fails inelastically.

Euler's approach was generally ignored for design because test result did not agree with it.
Columns of "ordinary length" used in the design were not strong would indicate.
Considere and Engesser (1889) independently realized that portions of usual "length
columns" become inelastic prior to buckling. And that a value of E should be used that could
account for some of the compressed fibers being strained beyond the proportional limit. It was
thus consciously recognized that in fact "ordinary length" columns fail by inelastic buckling
rather than by elastic buckling.
Complete understanding of the behaviour of concentrically loaded columns was achieved
when Shanley (1946) offered an explanation. He reasoned that it was actually possible for a
column to bend and still have increasing axial compression but that it begins bend upon reaching
what is commonly referred to as the buckling load, which includes inelastic effects on some or all
fibers of the cross section.

## CLASSIFICATION OF COLUMNS ACCORDING TO MODE OF FAILURE

The strength of a column and the manner in which it fails are greatly dependent on its
effective length. A very short, stocky steel column may be loaded until the steel yields and
perhaps on into the strain-hardening range, resulting in a load capacity which is the same as in
tension.
As the effective length of a column increases, its buckling stress will decrease. If the
effective length exceeds a certain value, the buckling stress will be less than the proportional limit
of the steel. Column in this range are said to fail elastically.
Very long columns will fail at loads that are proportional to the bending rigidity of the
column (EI) and independent of the strength of the steel.
It is for this reason that columns are classified as being long, short or intermediate.
a) Long Columns
- the Euler formula predicts very well the strength of long columns where the axial
buckling stress remains below the proportional limit. Such columns will fail by
elastic buckling, where buckling occurs at compressive stresses within the elastic
range.
b) Intermediate Column
- columns will fail by inelastic buckling when localized yielding occur, initiated at
some point of weakness or crookedness. Some of the fiber stresses for this column
will reach the yield stress and some will not. Most columns fail into those range.
c) Short Column
- short and stocky columns doesn't fail by elastic buckling. It will crush due to
general yielding and compressive stress will be in the inelastic range.

## BASIC COLUMN STRENGTH

To determine a basic column strength, certain conditions may be assumed for the ideal
column.

## a) With regard to material, it may be assumed

there are the same compressive stress-strain properties throughout the section;
no initial internal stresses exist such are those due to cooling after rolling and those
due to welding.
b) Regarding shape and end conditions, it may be assumed
the column is perfectly straight and prismatic;
the load resultant acts through the centroidal axis of the member until the member
begins to bend;
the end conditions must be determinate so that a definite equivalent pinned length may
be established.
c) Further assumptions regarding buckling may be made, as
the small deflection theory of ordinary bending is applicable and shear may be
neglected; and
twisting or distortion of the cross-section does not occur during bending.

Once the foregoing assumptions have been made, it is now agreed that the strength of a
column may be expressed by
2 Et
Pcr = 2
Ag=F cr Ag
( KL /r )
where:
P cr
Et = tangent modulus of elasticity at stress
Ag
Ag = gross cross-sectional area of member
KL /r = effective (or equivalent pinned-end) slenderness ratio
K = effective length factor
L = length of member
r = =radius of gyration
I = moment of inertia

It is well known that long compression members fail by elastic buckling and that short
stubby compression members may be loaded until the material yields or perhaps even into the
strain-hardening range. However, in the vast majority of usual situations, failure occurs by
buckling after a portion of the cross-section has yielded. This is known as inelastic bulking.
For many years theoretical determinations of column strength did not agree with test
results. Test results include effects of initial crookedness of the member, accidental eccentricity of
load, end restraint, local or lateral buckling, and residual stress. A typical curve observed
strengths was shown in the Figure below.
Design formulas, therefore, were base on empirical results. Various straight-line and parabolic
formulas have been used, as well as other complex expressions, in order to fit the curve of test
results in a reasonable accurate and practical manner.

## END RESTRAINT AND EFFECTIVE LENGTH OF COLUMNS

End restraint and its effect on the load-carrying capacity of the column is very important.
Columns with appreciable rotational and translational end restraint can support considerably
more loads than can those with little rotational end restraint.
The Euler equation is useful only if the end support conditions are carefully considered.
To successfully use the equation for practical columns, the value of L should be the distance
between "points of inflection" in the bucked shape. This distance is referred to as the effective
length of column. The effective length of column is defined as the distance between the points of
zero moment or the distance between its point of inflections. The effective length of a column is
referred to a "KL" where K is the effective length factor. The magnitude of K depends on the
rotational restraint supplied at the ends of the column and upon resistance to lateral movement
provided.
Columns with different end conditions have entirely different effective lengths. If no
sidesway or joint translation is possible between the member ends, the effective length vary from
L
an absolute minimum of to absolute maximum of L like:
2

Figure (a), where column ends are connected with frictionless hinge (end rotations
unrestrained), k = 1.0;
Figure (b), where column ends are perfectly fixed (end rotations fully restrained), k=0.5;
Figure (c), where columns ends, one end fixed and one end pinned, k = 0.70; and
Figure (d), where column ends are partially restrained at each other.

In many situations it is difficult to adequately evaluate the degree of moment restraint contributed
by adjacent members framing into a column. With this, it must be understood and apply the
concepts of braced frame and unbraced frames.

BRACED FRAMES
A braced frame is one in which "lateral stability is provided by diagonal bracings, shear
walls or equivalent means. The vertical bracing system must be "adequate" as determined by
structural analysis"... to prevent buckling of the structure and to maintain the lateral stability of
the structure, including overturning effects of drift, under the factored loads... "Note that a
vertical column in a braced frame would have no sidesway moment of its top relative to its
bottom.

UNBRACED FRAME
An unbraced frame is one in which "lateral stability depends upon the bending stiffness of
rigidly connected beams and columns." The buckling of an unbraced frame is one of sidesway
where the top of a column moves to the side relative to the bottom. Figures (b) and (d) shows an
unbraced frame having sidesway buckling. The buckled shape and therefore the effective length
of the columns will depend on the stiffness of the participating members in flexure. The effective
length KL may be obtained by matching the buckled shape of a column buckled shape. As shown
in the figure, KL will always exceed L.

## Effective length factor for centrally loaded columns

Buckled shape
of column
shown by
the dashed line
Theoretical K value 0.5 0.7 1.0 1.0 2.0 2.0
Recommended design
0.65 0.80 1.0 1.2 2.10 2.0
values
End Condition Code Rotation fixed, translation fixed
Rotation free, translation fixed
Rotation fixed, translation free
Rotation free, transtalation free

## ASDS ALLOWABLE STRESSES FOR COMPRESSION MEMBERS

Euler formula was used to analyze and design column where f e is always checked to
be less than the proportional limit (i.e. columns are all slender/long column). Practical columns
however do not fall into this category. The practical analysis/design method must concern itself
KL
with the possible range of slanderness ratio . Theoretical formulas are not applicable for
r
intermediate and short columns because of many material and geometric uncertainties. The
strength of intermediate and short columns cannot be predicted accurately theoretically;
therefore, the results of extensive testing and experience must be utilized.

Note:
KL
1. Maximum =2 00 (compression members)
r
2. Allowable compressive stress on gross section is denoted by F a .
3. The value of which separates elastic buckling from inelastic buckling is obtained by
F KL
taking f e = y . This =C c
2 r
2
E
f e= 2
from: KL
( )
2
F KL
let: f e = y and =C c
2 r
F y 2 E
then: =
2 ( Cc )2

C c=

2 2 E
Fy

## AISC specification: Allowable Compression Stress

KL
Case 1: < Cc
r

[ ]
KL 2
F
F a= y 1
r ( )
F .S. 2 Cc 2
3
KL KL
5
F s= +
3
r

( ) ( )
r
3
3 8 Cc 8 Cc

KL
Case 2: Cc
r
12 2 E
F a=
KL 2
23( )r
Other Column Formula (Obsolete Formula)
1. Straight Line Formula
KL
F a=110.30.414
r ( )
( )

2. Rankine-Gordon Formula
124
F a= ( )
KL 2
1+
( )
r
18000

## LOAD AND RESISTANCE FACTOR DESIGN

The strength requirement in load resistance factor design may be stated
c Pn P u
where:
c = 0.90
Pn = nominal strength = Ag Fcr
Fcr = flexural buckling stress
Pu = factored service load

The equations for flexural buckling stress are applicable in design of ordinary rolled shape
(H-section) columns; however, when thin-walled plates elements are used in the section, LRFD
appendix B provide for a reduced efficiency of the section.

## LOAD AND RESISTANCE FACTOR DESIGN (LRFD)

The basic requirements for compression members are covered in Chapter E of the AISC
specification. The nominal compressive strength is
Pn=F cr Ag
and Pu Pn

where:
Pn = nominal strength
Pu = sum of factored loads
c = resistance factor for compression
Fcr = flexural buckling stress

The equations for flexural buckling stress are applicable in design of ordinary rolled
shape. (H-section) columns, however, when thin-walled plate elements are used in the section,
LRFD appendix B provide for a reduced efficiency of the section.
VALUE OF FLEXURAL BUCKLING STRESS, Fcr
KL
a) In terms of slenderness ratio,
r

(a.1) If
KL
r
4.71
E
Fy (or Fe 0.44 F y )

F =[ 0.658 ] F
Fy
Fe
cr y

(a.2) If
KL
r
> 4.71
E
Fy
Fcr =0.877 F e
(or Fe <0.44 F y )

where:
Fe = elastic critical buckling stress (Euler Stress) calculated with the effective length
KL.
2
E
Fe = 2
KL
( )
r

## b) In terms of slender parameter, c

(b.1) If 0< c 1.50
2

Fcr =[ 0.658 ] F y
c

(b.2) If c >1.50

Fcr =
[ ]
0.877
c
2
Fy

where:

c =

KL F y
r 2 E
= slender parameter

## c) In terms of slender parameter, c

(c.1) If 0< c Q 1.50
2

Qc

## (c.2) If c Q> 1.50

Fcr =
[ ]
0.877
c
2
Fy
Note: Q is a reduction factor w/c is introduced to the equation when the width/ thickness
limitations are not satisfied.
Q = 1.0 for members with compact and non-compact section are defined by sec. 502. 4
(NSCP)