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SCI ADVISORY DESK

AD 009: UB columns with slender webs

Those who have occasion to compare designs to BS 5950: Part 1 with equivalent designs to
BS 449 have frequently noted that BS 5950 seems to penalize the use of UB sections in
compression, particularly when the web is slender, i.e. values of d/t greater than 39ε . A
better solution is available.

For example, a 406 × 140 × 39 UB has d/t = 57.1 compared with the limit in Table 7 of BS
5950: Part 1 of 39 for a Class 3 section of grade 43 steel, so reference to clause 3.6 is
necessary.
The first problem is whether 3.6.3 or 3.6.4 applies. Technically 3.6.4 is in fact applicable,
but this is far from clear. Draft Amendment No. 1 includes the correction of “slender
outstand” to “slender element” in line 1, and a corresponding change of heading from “other
sections” to read “other elements. However, to apply this clause to a “web”, a corresponding
change should ideally be made to Table 8 correcting “Internal element of compression flange”
to read “Internal compression element”.

If one considers a square RHS section carrying axial load, clearly each “face” is in a similar
condition. The terms “web” and “flange” are meaningless in a compression member – they
are simply “elements”. Thus, the “web” of a UB used as a column is simply an internal
compression element, which does not differ in behaviour from an internal element of a flange
provided the member is under axial compression. The limiting values in Table 7 are the same
for a web as for a Class 3 flange internal element. The reason the values for Class 1 and
Class 2 are different is associated with the additional strains experienced when developing
the plastic moment in members subject to bending.

So, as it is not clear that 3.6.4 should be applied, the more conservative approach is to use
3.6.3, which refers to “Webs subject to moments and axial loads…” even when the moment
is zero. This approach has been followed in Volume 1 of the Steelwork Design Guide.

Example using 3.6.3: 406 × 140 × 39 UB grade 43.

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From Table 7, limiting d/t = 39 (275/pyr) .

Reduced design strength pyr= (39/57.1)2 × 275 = 128.3 N/mm2.

For LE/ry = 100 using Appendix C with pyr = 128.3 N/mm2 and a = 3.5 for Table 27(b):

pc = 87.7 N/mm2.

Compression resistance Pc = 49.4 × 87.7/10 = 433 kN.

Compare to BS 449

For l/ry = 100: pc = 79 N/mm2 from Table 17a.

Safe load Pc = 49.4 × 79/10 = 390 kN.


SCI ADVISORY DESK

Amendment No. 8 is expected to allow the use of Table 17b, which gives pc = 82 N/mm2
whence Pc = 405 kN.

The BS 449 safe loads are so close to the factored load resistance from 3.6.3 as to cast

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doubt on the necessity for the 3.6.3 approach.

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Indeed, for lower slenderness ratios the BS 5950 clause 3.6.3 factored load resistance

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becomes less than the BS 449 safe load, so let us look at 3.6.4.

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Example to 3.6.4 (not currently valid):

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From Table 8, stress reduction factor = 31/(d/t ε – 8).

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Reduced design strength pyr = 275 × 31/(57.1 – 8) = 173.6 N/mm2.

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For LE /ry = 100 using Appendix C as above: pc = 108.9 N/mm .

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Compression resistance Pc = 49.4 × 108.9/10 = 538 kN.
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NB: if the reduction for web slenderness is neglected, Table 27b gives pc = 141 N/mm2
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whence the resistance Pc = 697 kN.


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Recommended method
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Tucked into Table 8 of BS 5950: Part 1 is Note 3, which indicates that an alternative
approach to either 3.6.3 or 3.6.4 is given in BS 5950: Part 5. This approach is basically that
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given in the CIDECT Publication Construction with Hollow Steel Sections, which also appears
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in ECCS Publication No. 44 Behaviour and Design of Steel Plated Structures. In both cases it
is specifically related to RHS sections, but Part 5 of BS 5950 extends it to cold-formed
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sections. This method is also expected to appear in Eurocode 3.


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For use with hot-rolled non-tubular sections the following version is recommended. However,
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it should only be used for UB sections with slender webs and not for sections with slender
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flange outstands or for unsymmetrical sections such as channels or I-sections with unequal
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flanges. It is also valid for RHS sections, of course.


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It is remarkably simple. All you need is the parameter Q, which is the ratio of the effective
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area to the gross area. BS 5950: Part 1 does not give this directly, but for each element it is
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in fact the same as the stress reduction factor given in Table 8. As already explained, the
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expression for an internal element of a flange can also be used for a web. The effective area
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is then the sum of effective areas for each element.


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The compression resistance Pc is based on the effective area and a modified compression
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strength pc obtained using a slenderness value reduced by the square root of the Q-factor.
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This procedure differs in detail from the presentation in BS 5950: Part 5, where the method
is related to effective widths of cold-formed elements and a different strut curve, etc.
Instead, it is based on the presentation proposed for Eurocode 3.
SCI ADVISORY DESK

Example with Q-factor:

For a 406 × 140 × 39 UB, the clear web area Aw = 359.7 × 6.3 = 2266 mm2.

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Effective web area = 2266 × 31/(57.1 – 8) = 1431 mm .

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Total effective area = 4940 – 2266 + 1431 = 4105 mm2.

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Q-factor = 4105/4940 = 0.831.

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For LE/ry = 100, the effective slenderness becomes 100 × (0.831) = 91.2 and so pc is
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now 158 N/mm .

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Compression resistance Pc = 4105 × 158/1000 = 649 kN.

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This is a significant increase over the value of 433 kN obtained using 3.6.3. However,
pending amendment of BS 5950: Part 1, the use of the 3.6.3 procedure will avoid difficulties
with checking authorities.
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