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A Beginner's Guide to the Steel Construction Manual, 13th ed. (old)

Chapter 10 - Composite Beams

© 2006, 2007, 2008 T. Bartlett Quimby

Section 10.4
Mechanics of
Composite Flexural Strength
Last Revised: 11/04/2014

Shear Strength The flexural strength requirement is found in SCM I3.2a. Flexural strength is
typically computed by either strength or elastic methods. In this course, we will
Flexural Strength consider the strength methods since they can be applied to all sections in the
inventory when Fy < 50 ksi.

Design of Shear [2010 Spec note: The 2010 Specification includes a new Table I1.1B which is a
Connectors useful summary of local buckling criteria to use with steel member in a composite
Calculations The Limit State

The basic limit state follows the standard form. The statement of the limit states
and the associated reduction factor and factor of safety are given here:
Design Process
Example Mu < fMn Ma < Mn/W
Req'd Mn = Mu/f < Mn Req'd Mn = Ma W < Mn
Homework Mu / (fMn) < 1.00 Ma / (Mn/W) < 1.00
f = 0.90 W = 1.67
The values of Mu and Ma are the LRFD and ASD factored loads, respectively,
Report Errors or applied to the beam.
Make Suggestions
Nominal Moment Capacity, Mn, by Strength Analysis
Purchase Hard
The nominal moment capacity, Mn, equals the internal couple formed by the
Make Donation tension and compression forces acting on the section below and above the plastic
neutral axis.

The plastic neutral axis (PNA) is different than the elastic neutral axis in that it not
necessarily located at the center of area of the section. The PNA is found by
writing the equilibrium equation for forces in the axial direction in terms of the
location of the PNA, then solving for the location of the PNA.

Typically the equation takes the form of:

SFlongitudinal = 0 = S(Tension Forces) + S(Compression Forces)

The trick is in writing the expressions for the forces. The force calculations are
generally in the form of a stress times an area. For the steel contribution to the 1/7
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forces at strength levels, the whole cross section is assumed to have yielded so the
stress in the steel equals Fy. The forces in the steel are equal to:

Ts = Fy (area of steel below the PNA)

Cs = Fy (area of steel above the PNA)

Expressions must be written for determining the area as a function of PNA

location. The location of these forces is at the center of their respective areas
since the stress is uniform.

Computing the concrete compressive force is a bit more involved.

Tests have shown that, at ultimate conditions, the concrete stress is non-linear and
non-uniform. Indeed, it is more parabolic than anything else. The stress
distribution can be integrated over the area of concrete in compression to get the
resultant compressive force. As a result of the non-uniform stress distribution the
center of compressive force does not coincide with the center of the concrete area
in compression. To avoid an involved integration of s*dA, an approximation
(known as Whitney's Stress Block) is used.

The goal of the Whitney Stress Block approximation is to

1. provide a resultant force (stress times area) that approximately

equals the
force which would result from integration of the actual stress distribution over
the compression area and
2. locate the resultant force approximately
where the center of force is for the
non-uniform stress distribution.

To accomplish these goals a uniform stress must be chosen and a compression

area that is centered on the approximate resultant force centroid for the non-
uniform stress distribution is needed.

The Whitney Stress Block approximate uses:

A uniform stress of 0.85f'c, where f'c is the 28 day compressive strength of an

ASTM standard 6" diameter, 12" long cylinder made from the concrete used
on the job but cured under laboratory conditions. This value correlates well
with test results.
An area or concrete, Ac, that is located above a line that is parallel to the PNA
and is located a distance of b1*yPNA from the top of the slab.

Figure 10.4.1 shows the relationships between strain, true stress, and Whitney's
stress on a concrete section of arbitrary shape that is subjected to bending. Note
that the distance "c" in Figure 10.4.1 is the distance yPNA, or the distance from the
PNA to the furthest point in compression on the section.

Figure 10.4.1
Strain & Stress on a Concrete Section
Click on image for larger view 2/7
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b1 is a factor that depends on the strength, f'c, of the concrete. The requirement
for this is found in the ACI 318 specification:

for f'c < 4 ksi, b1 = 0.85

for 4 ksi < f'c < 8 ksi , b1 = 0.85-.05*(f'c-4), where f'c has
units of ksi
for 8 ksi < f'c , b1 = 0.65

Which can be written as:

b1 = max(0.65,min(0.85,0.85-(f'c-4))), where f'c has units of ksi

For composite steel/concrete beams, the area of concrete is bounded by the

effective width of concrete slab contributing to the composite action (referred to as
bE) and the minimum of the vertical distance b1*yPNA from the top of the slab or
the actual slab thickness, ts. Figures 10.4.2 through 10.4.4 illustrate this
compressive area for a slab of uniform thickness.

The effective width, bE, is determined using the requirements of SCM I3.1a. Take
a look at this section. The three dimensions discussed in SCM I3.1a are illustrated
in Figures 10.1.1 and 10.1.2. Note that this section states the bE is the SUM of the
bE values computed for each side of a beam center line.

bE = min[L/8,(Overhang or (C-C)/2)]left + min[L/8,(Overhang or (C-C)/2)]right

The compression force in the contributing concrete is then:

Cc = 0.85f'c (bE * min(b1*yPNA, ts))

It is not possible to write one continuous function for the location of the PNA since
the PNA may fall in either the slab, the beam flange or beam web. Each case
requires different expressions for the steel and concrete areas.

When solving for the PNA by hand, the general location of the PNA is assumed to
be in one of the three regions, the expressions are written as functions of yPNA,
then the equilibrium equation is solved for yPNA. If the PNA falls in the anticipated
zone, then the PNA is located. If it does not fall in the anticipated zone, a new
zone is picked and a new equation of equilibrium is written and solved for yPNA.

Figures 10.4.2 through 10.4.4 show the various regions. 3/7
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Figure 10.4.2
yPNA is in the Concrete
Click on image for larger view

Figure 10.4.3
yPNA is in the Beam Flange
Click on image for larger view

Figure 10.4.4
yPNA is in the Beam Web
Click on image for larger view

When solving the problem with a spreadsheet, expressions can be written to

compute the forces for a given yPNA location. Then a solver (such as "goal seek" in
Excel) can be used to find the yPNA that satisfies the equilibrium equation. 4/7
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The nominal moment capacity, Mn, is then found by finding the moment that these
forces create about the PNA.

Mn = Cc*(Cc dist from PNA) + Cs*(Cs dist from PNA) +Ts*(Ts dist from PNA)

If the PNA is in the slab then Mn is the value of the couple formed by Cc and Ts
since Cs is zero:

Mn = (Ts or Cc)*(distance between Ts and Cc)

More on the determination of the Area of Concrete in Compression, Ac

It is common practice to use steel decking to support the concrete slab. The steel
decking has ribs that give it sufficient flexural strength to support the plastic
concrete until it sets. This decking may be oriented such that the ribs are either
perpendicular or parallel to the beam axis, as shown in Figure 10.4.5.

Figure 10.4.5
Decking Orientation
Click on hotlinks in the image for larger views

The area of concrete (Ac) that falls between bE and above a line parallel to the
neutral axis a distance of b1ypna is the area used to compute the compressive force
in the concrete. Writing an expression for Ac as a function of ypna can become a
bit involved but it must be done when trying to locate the neutral axis. 5/7
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One basic principle, however, is that you cannot use (in your equation) more
concrete than is actually there!

Also, the resulting compressive force is located at the center of Ac. For geometries
that are not rectangular, this will most likely require the computation of the center
of area using principles of statics.

More information on steel decking and the various available shapes can be found
on the Steel Deck Institute Website:

Strength prior to the Setting of the Concrete

In most cases, the steel beam is required to safely support, without composite
action, the form work, decking, construction live loads and weight of the slab. This
load case if often the one used to size the steel beam. Consideration in the
strength calculation must be made for potential lack of lateral support.

If the total load is not much greater than the dead + construction loads, then the
benefit of designing for composite action may be small. In such cases, to take
better advantage of composite action, the beam may be "shored" (i.e. temporary
supports provided to the beam) during construction until the concrete sets.
Shoring temporarily shortens the beam span (and makes it a continuous beam),
thus substantially reducing the moment demand on the beam during construction
and before the slab gains sufficient strength to support the design loads. As a
result, a smaller steel beam can be chosen and more advantage can be taken of
the composite behavior.

Figure 10.4.6 shows shoring in place to support a slab on a concrete structure.

The shoring supports the slab until concrete gains sufficient strength to participate
in resisting flexure. Similar shoring for composite beams would be placed under
the beam as well as the deck.

Figure 10.4.6
Shoring in a Concrete Structure
Image by Emily Eidam, 2007

The beam is sized to support the dead + construction loads with the shoring in
place as additional supports. Figure 10.4.7 contrasts the moment envelopes for
the shored vs. unshored cases for beam that is shored at third points. There is a 6/7
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dramatic reduction in moment when the shoring is added, resulting is smaller steel
beam. Once the shoring is removed, the composite beam must have sufficient
strength to meet the demand of the unshored moment diagram under all relevant
loading combinations.

Figure 10.4.7
Moment Demand Comparison, Shored vs. Unshored

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