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Kevin Cowie is a Structural
Engineer in the Steel Structures Finite element analyses of column base plates show
Analysis Service at the New that neither the Thornton model, recommended by
Zealand Heavy Engineering American Institute of Steel Construction, nor the
Research Association. Eurocode 3 Annex L model adequately reflects the
bearing stress distribution. Finite element analysis
shows a concentration in bearing stress occurs
where the flanges of an H section meets the web.
Kevin Cowie This paper presents an improved design procedure
incorporating this observation. Uniform bearing
Clark Hyland is a Structural stress distributions under the web and flanges are
Engineer and the manager for superimposed to give an increased bearing stress in
the Steel Structures Analysis the region where the flanges meet the web.
Service at the New Zealand
Heavy Engineering Research

Clark Hyland

Nandor Mago is an Applied

Research Engineer – Finite
Element Analyst at NZ Heavy
Engineering Research
Association (HERA) in 1999.
His primary role is to support
with FEA the wide range of
HERA’s Structural Steel and NZ
Welding Centre research
activities. He is a user of Nastran
Nandor Mago
for Windows and ABAQUS/
Standard/ CAE.
A review of literature and codes for column pinned
base plates shows there are various different design
procedures and that not one covers the whole
spectrum of column pinned base plates.
Assumption of bearing pressure under the base
plates also varies.

In this paper a brief description of literature Figure 2: Cantilver Model – collapse mechanism
reviewed is presented along with their various
assumptions. The procedure developed by the As the cantilever extension reduces the predicted
authors, called the Lapping Strip method approach, capacities becomes increasingly unconservative.
is then presented including a description of Finite
Element Analysis, (FEA), testing. The Lapping 2.2. Fling Model
Strip method for base plate design is used in HERA
The Fling model is a modification to the cantilever
Report R4-100:2003 Structural Steelwork
model. It is only applicable to H shaped sections.
Connections Guide.
This model recognized limitations of bare plate
stiffness on load capacity by introducing a
serviceability check.
2. Literature Review
Ranzi and Kneen made a comprehensive review of For base plates where sizes are similar to the
column base plate procedures and a summary is column, Fling recommended a strength check based
presented below. (Rabzi, G and Kneen, P., 2002) on yield line theory with a pattern as shown in
Figure 3. The support conditions assumed for the
2.1. Cantilever Model
plate are fixed along the web, simply supported
The cantilever model was the first available along the flanges and free on the edges opposite to
approach to design of column pinned base plates. the web.
This model is appropriate for design of large base
plates where the dimensions of the base plate are
much larger than that of the column.

This model assumes a uniform bearing pressure on

the underside of the base plate. For an H-section
the loaded area on the base plate is assumed to be
concentrated over an area of 0.95dc x 0.80bfc. As
shown in Figure 1 and 2. This results in the base
plate bending as a cantilever about the edges of this
area. This approach leads to a conservative design Figure 3: Fling Model – Yield line pattern
for large base plates.
2.3. Murray-Stockwell Model
The Murray-Stockwell model is applicable to
“lightly’ loaded base plate for H section columns.
The definition of a lightly loaded base plate is that
of a relatively flexible plate approximately the same
size as the outside dimensions of the connected
column. The Murray-Stockwell model assumes
that the pressure distribution under a base plate is
not uniform but is assumed to be an H shaped area
inside the H section. The Murray-Stockwell model
assumes that the pressure acting over the H shaped
bearing area is uniform and equal to the maximum
bearing capacity of the concrete. Refer to Figure 4.

Figure 1: Cantilver model assumed loaded area

significant improvement in bearing capacities over
the Thornton Model and uses a uniform approach.
However finite element analysis shows that the
method over predicts the base capacities due to the
overly simplified stress distribution assumed.
Therefore the authors have developed an improved
procedure called the Lapping Strip Method.

3. Lapping Strip Method

3.1. Introduction
The Lapping Strip Method modifies the equivalent
rigid area concept and the “T” stub model used in
Annex L of Eurocode 3. The Lapping Strip
Figure 4: Murray-Stockwell Model – Assumed Method is developed for an H-section by
shape of pressure distribution. considering the flange and web separately and then
combining the bearing pressures giving an
increased bearing stress in the vicinity where the
2.4. Thornton Model
flanges meet the web.
The Thornton Model is a combination of the
Cantilever, Fling and Murray-Stockwell models. 3.2. T-Stub model
The derived compact formula is suitable for only
The T-stub model is a unit length column with a
H-shaped columns. The Cantilever model is used
uniform axial load over its length. The bearing area
for extended base plates. Otherwise the Murray-
on the underside of the base plate is represented by
Stockwell model governs. However the crossover
an equivalent rigid area over which the stress is
between the two approaches is not consistent.
uniform. Refer to the Figure 6. The length of the
equivalent rigid area from the face of the column, c,
2.5. Eurocode 3 Model
can be calculated by equating bearing capacity of
the concrete with the bending capacity of the steel
Annex L of Eurocode 3, 1993, gives another
base plate.
procedure for the design of a column base plate.
This model utilizes the concept of rigid areas used
in the Murray-Stockwell model, but extends the
rigid areas outside the section perimeter. For an H- F
section the bearing area is assumed to be uniform
c c
over an H shaped bearing that extends inside and
outside the H-section. Refer to Figure 5.

Rigid Area


Figure 6: “T” stub model assumed stress

The design bending moment of the base plate is

given by the equation:
Column Base Plate 1
M* = σb c 2 (1)
Figure 5: Eurocode 3 assumed bearing pressure
σb Concrete bearing stress
The development of the procedure is based on the
T-stub approach. The Eurocode method gives a c Effective cantilever length
The elastic flexural capacity of the steel base plate The equivalent rigid area is increased to take
is given by equation: account of welds by measuring the rigid cantilever
1 length, c, from 80% of the weld leg length.
M = t i2 fyi (2) Therefore the rigid area and the axial connection
capacity of a plate section is increased and given by
ti Base plate thickness
fyi Base plate yield stress φNbp = φσb ( t w + 1.6t wi + 2c )( d + 1.6t wi + 2c ) ≤ φNs
The elastic rather than the plastic capacity is used to t wi Weld web leg length (6)
maintain consistency with the rigid area approach
applied. Equations 1 and 2 are combined to
determine the effective cantilever length, c. 3.3. H section
fyi This approach is applied to an H section shown in
c = ti (3) Figure 8 by considering the web and flange
separately and then superimposing the stress
Inserting material reduction factors, according to distributions on each other, to give an increased
the New Zealand Steel Structures Standard: bearing pressure in the vicinity where the flanges
NZS3404:1997 and the New Zealand Concrete meet the web.
Structures Standard NZS3101:1995 the equation
φs fyi
c = ti (4)

The maximum axial load that the base plate strip

can take is equal to the equivalent rigid area
multiplied by the concrete bearing capacity. Under
a single vertical plate section the maximum
capacity is
φNbp = φσb ( t w + 2c )( d + 2c ) ≤ φNs (5)
d Depth of plate section
tw Web thickness of plate section
φNs Axial capacity of vertical plate
d Figure 8: Development of H section rigid bearing

The design bearing pressure in the lapping regions

tw is set equal to the design concrete bearing capacity.
c Therefore the flanges and web bearing stress
outside the lapping zones is half the concrete
bearing capacity.

The effective rigid bearing area under the flanges

and web including allowance for welds is
A rf = ( bf + 1.6t wi + 2c )( t f + 1.6t wi + 2c )
A rw = ( dw + 1.6t wi + 2c )( t w + 1.6t wi + 2c )
Rigid Area
A rf Effective flange rigid plate area
A rw Effective web rigid plate area
bf Flange width
dw Web depth
ti tf Flange thickness
tw Web thickness
φσb The total effective bearing area is then equal to
A r = 2A rf + A rw (9)
Figure 7: Unit plate rigid bearing area
λ ey = 14 Welded, HW, flange
λ ey = 35 Welded, HW, web
The flange and web slenderness is
b −t fy
λ ef = f w Flange slenderness
2t f 250
d − 2t f f
λ ew =
Web slenderness
tw 250
The effective flange width and web depth is
 λ ey 
b ef = b f   ≤ bf (13)
Figure 9: H section rigid bearing area  λ ef 
 λ ey 
The design bearing capacity of the connection is dew = ( d − 2t f )   ≤ ( d − 2t f ) (14)
φNbp = φc A r σb (10)  λ ew 
2 The effective flange width is developed
symmetrically about the flange mid point. The
3.4. Slenderness Limits effective web depth is split and extends evenly
from the flange/web intersections. Refer to Figure
Slender elements of columns will not develop the
full section capacity and will alter the stress
distribution in the base plate. Where the slenderness A rf = ( bef + 1.6t wi + 2c )( t f + 1.6t wi + 2c ) (15)
yield limits of the web and flange are not met, then A rw = ( dew + 2t f + 1.6t wi + 2c )( t w + 1.6t wi + 2c )
the axial load distribution is not uniform at the (16)
design load. Studies of slender elements have
found that slender plates develop post-buckling
capacities by shedding load to locations close to the
edge restraints (AS/NZS 4600:1996). The ‘effective
design width’ approach used in AS/NZS 4600:1996
approximates the non-uniform distribution of stress
over the entire length of the plate to a reduced
effective length of uniform distributed stress. Refer
to Figure 10. This same approach has been used in
the Lapping Strip Method.

Figure 11: I section rigid bearing area for bef < bf

and dew < d – 2tf
3.5. Channel Section Columns

The Lapping Strip Method is applied to channel

section columns as shown in Figure 12. The
effective rigid areas of the flanges and web are
assessed in a similar way to the H section procedure

Figure 10: Equivalent stress for a slender element

(AS/NZS 4600:1996)

From NZS3404:1997 the slenderness yield limits

used for H-sections are:
λ ey = 16 Hot Rolled, HR, flange
λ ey = 45 Hot Rolled, HR, web
Figure 12: Channel section rigid bearing area
 d 
 do  
3.6. Rectangular Hollow Section Columns Arout = π o
+ 0.8t wi + c  −  + 0.8t wi  
 2   2  

For rectangular hollow, RHS, and square hollow, (23)
SHS, section columns, two sides are treated as
webs and the other two sides as flanges. The
effective flange and web widths are given by
 λ ey 
b ef = ( b − 2t w )   ≤ b − 2t w (17)
 λ ef 
 λ ey 
dew = ( d − 2t w )   ≤ d − 2t w (18)
 λ ew 
Element slenderness is calculated using equations
b − 2t w fy
λ ef = f (19)
2t f 250

d − 2t f fy Figure 14: CHS section rigid bearing area

λ ew = (20)
tw 250

4. Finite Element Analysis

From NZS3404:1997 the slenderness yield limits
for cold formed hollow sections is 4.1. Introduction
λ ey = 40
The Lapping Strip Method assumptions were
verified by a series of non-linear static finite
element analyses. The models were built and
analyzed in ABAQUS version 6.3-1. Elastic
perfectly plastic material properties were assumed
for the steel columns and base plates. Incompatible
mode solid, C3D8I, and reduced integration,
C3D8R, elements with finer mesh in the vicinity of
the base plate were assigned to the steel and
concrete members. ABAQUS concrete smeared
cracking material model was assigned to the large
plain concrete foundation block. Contact between
the base plate and concrete was modeled. The
properties of this interaction were frictionless in
tangential direction, while the normal behavior of
pressure-overclosure was assumed in the shape of
exponential decay. No investigation was performed
Figure 13: SHS/RHS section rigid bearing area on how the interaction properties influence the
results, but negligible variations in the bearing
stresses are expected.
3.6. Circular Hollow Section Columns
For circular hollow section, CHS, columns the
Two columns with two different sized base plates
effective rigid bearing pressure is based on the
were analyzed. The two sizes of base plates for
assumption that bearing pressure inside the CHS
each column were selected for two situations. The
increases conservatively up to twice the bearing
first where the base plate size extended beyond the
pressure outside for small diameter sections.
regions of rigid bearing area calculated using the
A r = 2A rin + A rout (21) Lapping Strip Method. The second where the base
 d 
d  
2 plate area was minimum, i.e. extending just beyond
Arin = π o + 0.8t wi  −  o − t w − c   the column depth and breadth. The two columns
 2   2  
 analyzed were 1200WB455 and 500WC440. The
(22) FEA models did not include any modeling of
4.2. Finite Element Analysis Models
No Section Flange Web Flange Column Web Flange Base Concrete Base Plate Dimensions
Yield Yield Width depth thickness thickness Plate Strength
fyf fyw bf d tw tf fyi fc' Breadth Depth Thickness
mm mm mm mm
MPa MPa mm mm mm MPa MPa
1 1200WB455 280 300 500 1200 16 40 240 30 840 1540 115
3 500WC440 280 280 500 480 40 40 240 30 730 710 75
Table 1: Extended Base Plates
No Section Flange Web Flange Column Web Flange Base Concrete Base Plate Dimensions
Yield Yield Width depth thickness thickness Plate Strength
fyf fyw bf d tw tf fyi fc' Breadth Depth Thickness
mm mm mm mm
MPa MPa mm mm mm MPa MPa
2 1200WB455 280 300 500 1200 16 40 240 30 720 1220 115
4 500WC440 280 280 500 480 40 40 240 60 520 520 90
Table 2: Minimum Area Base Plates

4.2. Finite Element Analysis Results

FEA results are presented in Table 3 and 4 and the contact pressure distribution is shown in Figures 15 to 17.
The maximum stress and the average stress in the stress block area based on Lapping Strip Method are
presented. This is compared to the predicted stress for the area in the vicinity of where the web meets the
flanges. The first predicted pressure is calculated using idealised material properties with no material reduction
factors applied. The second predicted pressure uses material properties with reduction factors applied. The
design concrete bearing capacity, accounting for confinement of the concrete, is calculated in accordance with
New Zealand Concrete Structures code NZS 3101:1995. The equation being
 A2 
φσb =  φc 0.85fc' , φc 0.85fc' 2 (24)
 A1  min
fc' 28 day concrete cylinder strength
A1 Base plate foot print area
A 2 Design effective concrete bearing area

Model No. Axial load Maximum Stress

kN MPa
2 9366 42.0
4 10200 65.0
Table 3: Minimum Sized Area Base Plates

Model No. Axial load Finite Element Analysis Lapping Strip Method Prediction
Max Stress Ave Stress in Stress Ideal material Material Reduction
MPa Block MPa Factors Applied
1 14913 26.9 21.5 38.0 30.9
3 14112 46.4 40.9 60.0 50.4
Table 4: Predicted Stress verus FEA Stress in Lapping Areas
The minimum area base plate FEA shows stress
concentration on the concrete immediate below the
edge of the base plate on the concrete. Some local
crushing of the concrete and redistribution of
bearing pressure will be necessary. Further
investigations of this effect in minimum area base
plate are required. Currently the Lapping Strip
Method is therefore limited to base plates sized to
extend beyond the rigid base plate area. For lightly
loaded columns, the thickness required is small and
thus the rigid area extensions from the faces of
Figure 15: No 1 1200WB455 bearing stress columns are also small.

Literature review shows that there are a number of
different models for column pinned base plates.
Each model has different assumptions for bearing
pressure area under the base plate. Finite element
analysis shows that that the bearing pressure
increases in the vicinity of where the flanges meets
the web. The Lapping Strip Method presented in
this paper reflects the distribution of bearing stress
more accurately. Further investigated on minimum
sized base plates and what values to use for
Figure 16: No 4 500WC440 base plate bearing concrete bearing capacity is required.
stress distribution


σb Concrete bearing stress capacity

φ Reduction factor
φc Concrete capacity reduction
φs Steel capacity reduction factor
Ar Total effective rigid bearing area
A rf Effective flange rigid plate area
Figure 17: No 3 500WC440 minimum sized base
plate bearing stress distribution A rw Effective web rigid plate area
c Effective cantilever length
4.3. Discussion of Finite Element Analysis bf Flange width
The finite element analysis shows that for extended d Section depth
base plates the maximum bearing pressures occurs dw Web depth
on the underside of the base plate in the vicinity of fyi Base plate yield stress
where the flanges meets the web. The Lapping
M* Applied Moment
Strip Method shows a similar but simplified
M Moment Capacity
pressure distribution. The Lapping Strip Method
conservatively over predicts the stresses when φNbp Base Plate Design Axial Capacity
compared to finite element analysis. φNs Axial design capacity of column
tf Flange thickness
The current allowance for confining effects in
concrete bearing capacity in foundations is limited ti Base plate thickness
to a factor of 2 in equation 24. If improvements in tw Web thickness
prediction of confined bearing capacity of the t wi Weld web leg length
concrete could be made then greater base plate
λ ef Flange slenderness ratio
bearing capacity could be accommodated in the
Lapping Strip Method. λ ew Web slenderness ratio
λ ey Plate element slenderness ratio
yield limit

1. AS/NZS 4600:1996. Cold-formed steel
structures. Standards New Zealand/ Standards
2. ABAQUS/Standard. Finite Element Analysis
Program. 2001. HKS Inc, Pawtucket RI, USA.
3. Eurocode 3: Design of steel structures DD Env
1993-1-1 Part 1.1 General rules and rules for
buildings, 1992
4. Hyland, C., HERA Report R4:100:1999
Structural Steework Connections Guide, 1999,
HERA, Manukau, New Zealand
5. Hyland, C., Cowie, K., Clifton,. C., HERA
Report R4:2003 Structural Steework
Connections Guide, 2003, HERA, Manukau,
New Zealand
6. Joints in Steel Construction Moment
Connections. 1997, The Steel Construction
Institute, England
7. NZS 3101:1995. Concrete Structures
Standard. Wellington: Standards New
8. NZS 3404:1997. Steel Structures Standard.
Wellington: Standards New Zealand.
9. Ranzi, G and Kneen, P Design of Pinned
Column Base Plates. Steel Construction, Vol
36 No 2 September 2002, Australian Steel
Institute, Australia.