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A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 1

Introduction of Column Buckling

Structures subjected to compressive (and other types of loads) may
become unstable and buckle. In idealized situations, buckling is
the sudden onset of very large displacements at some critical load
(generally transverse to the member) and sometimes with a
corresponding decrease in load-carrying capacity. In other
situations, buckling may occur more gradually; but as the load
approaches the critical load displacements will increase at a rapid
rate. Below are examples of buckling situations:
Consider a column fixed on one end and subjected
to a uniaxial compressive load P. When P is small,
the column shortens axially (is compressed).
When the axial compressive force P reaches a
critical value
cr
P
, the column suddenly experiences
a lateral displacement, i.e., it buckles.
A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 2
A thin, deep cantilever beam
is subjected to a vertical end
load P. As long as the load P
is below a critical value
cr
P
,
the beam section remains
vertical (motion is downward
only) and resists the bending
action of P.
At the critical value
cr
P
, the beam
will twist and bend sideward (out
of the vertical plane).
The point at which the structure
buckles is called an instability
point. At or just below the critical
value of the load, any small disturbance can cause the structure to
change position as shown in the sketch of P vs. displacement.
sideward displacement, twist
P
cr
P P
idealized
actual
A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 3
A familiar soda can is shown below. When the applied load P is
sufficiently small, the vertical wall remains cylindrical and is
compressed uniformly in the vertical direction (fig. a).
If P becomes too
large (reaches the
critical value), the
position becomes
unstable. A small
disturbance causes
the vertical walls to
bend in and out in a
complex pattern as
shown in fig. b
(buckling or
crumpling occurs).
The top may even rotate relative to the bottom.
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A somewhat different type of instability is shown below for a
shallow curved arch or dome.
As the load P
is increased,
the top of the
arch
displaces
downward in
a somewhat
linear fashion (fig. a).
However, at some critical value of P,
the arch will suddenly snap through to
the configuration shown in fig. b. This
is called snap buckling. At this critical
load, the arch (top) suddenly moves
vertically from displacement A to B
with NO increase in load P.
vertical displacement
P
snap-through
A B
A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 5
The investigation of structural instability and buckling is a difficult
subject. We shall consider only the case of the cantilevered
column discussed previously. Before considering this stability
problem, it is necessary to derive the equations governing the
bending of a beam subjected to longitudinal as well as transverse
loads. Consider a free-body of a beam with a transverse load q(x)
and a constant axial force P as shown below.
P
P
x
y
( ) v x
M M +
M
P
P P +
V V +
V
x
v
( ) p x
p x
Summing forces vertically and taking moments about the center of
the differential element yields:
A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 6
2 2
0
( ) 0
x x
V V V p x
M M M V V V P v

+ +
+ + + + +
Divide by x and take the limit 0 x to obtain
0
0
dV
p
dx
dM dv
V P
dx dx

+ +
Assume that the bending moment is responsible for the transverse
deformation of the beam; i.e., we will neglect the effect of shear on
the deformations (same as ENGR 214 and AERO 304). Then,
2
2
d v
EI M
dx

Substituting into the moment equation gives
A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 7
2
2
0
d d v dv
EI V P
dx dx
dx
| `
+ +

. ,
Solving for V and substituting in the shear equation gives
2 2
2 2
d d v d dv
EI P p
dx dx
dx dx
| `
| `
+

. ,
. ,
Now consider the cantilevered column
with only an axial compressive force P.
Boundary conditions for this problem are
given by:
0
0
0
v
at x
dv
dx

'

0

0
M
at x L
V

'

x
y
L
P
A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 8
The boundary conditions at x=L may be expressed in terms of
v
by
substituting the boundary conditions into the second of equations ,
and , into to obtain:
2
2
2
2
0

0
d v
M EI
dx
at x L
d d v dv
V P
dx dx
dx

'
| `

+

. ,

For constant EI and P, the governing differential equation
becomes
4 2
4 2
0
d v d v
EI P
dx dx
+
We must now find the solution to the differential equation subject
to the boundary conditions at x=0 [eq. ] and x=L [eq. ]. We note
that v=0 is a solution for any value of P. However, we are not
A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 9
interested in this trivial solution. The theory of differential
equations states that we must have 4 independent constants in the
general solution to the differential equation (there are 4 boundary
conditions). A possible solution for
( ) v x
is a combination of
polynomial and trigonometric terms:
1 2 3 4
( ) sin cos
P P
v x c c x c x c x
EI EI
+ + +
You can verify that this assumed solution satisfies the differential
equation. Substituting into the 4 boundary conditions [2 boundary
conditons at x=0 in and 2 at x=L in ] gives the following:
A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 10
1 4
2 3
3 4
2
0
0
sin cos 0
0
c c
P
c c
EI
P P P P
c L c L
EI EI EI EI
c P
+
+

Note that all the right-hand sides are equal to 0; hence, a possible
solution is that
1 2 3 4
0 c c c c
. In this case,
( ) 0 v x
is the
solution for equilibrium of the cantilevered column. This would
correspond to simple compression of the column with no sideways
motion. However, we consider this once again a trivial solution.
We need to find another solution!
Equations are in fact an eigenvalue problem!
A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 11
1
2
3
4
1 0 0 1
0
0 1 0
0
0
0 0 sin cos
0
0 0 0
c
P
c
EI
c
P P P P
L L
c
EI EI EI EI
P
]
]

]

]

' ' ' '

]

]

]

]
]
The solution of the eigenvalue problem requires that the
determinant of the 4x4 coefficient matrix by equal to zero which
will yield the solution for P satisfying this condition. Note that we
will obtain an infinite number of solutions due to the repeating
nature of the sin and cos trigonometric functions. An easier
approach is as follows. Referring to equation , the fourth equation
implies that
2
0 c
is a possible solution (for 0 P ). With
2
0 c
,
the second equation implies that
3
0 c
is a possible solution. The
first equation implies that
4 1
c c
. Hence, the third equation
becomes simply:
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1
cos 0
P P
c L
EI EI

The last equation can be satisfied by setting
1
0 c
, which is a
trivial solution again, or by having a value of P such that
cos 0
P
L
EI

The smallest value of P satisfying this condition is
2
2
4
EI
P
L

Substituting this value of P back into

( ) v x
gives
1
( ) 1 cos
2
x
v x c
L

| `

. ,
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Hence, we have found the critical value of P, and the shape that the
beam bends into for this critical load. Note that the value of
1
c

cannot be determined. This is the nature of an eigenvalue problem.
Since the solution of an eigenvalue problem requires that we force
the determinant of the coefficient matrix to be equal to zero, this is
equivalent to making the equations linearly dependent. Linearly
dependent equations can only be solved by assuming a solution for
one (or more) of the unknowns (c's in this case); and the solution
will always be in terms of the assumed c value. Note that when
cr
P P <
, the transverse deflection is zero. Transverse deflection
occurs only when
cr
P P
.
Hence, we have for the cantilevered column the critical value of P:
2
2
( )
4
cr
EI
P for cantilevered column
L

For other end conditions, we can follow the same procedure to

obtain:
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A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 15
For axial loads that are not perfectly centered, we obtain an
entirely different result. Consider the case when P is offset by an
amount

:
The problem may be worked as before, except that we treat the
problem as having a perfectly centered load P plus a moment
o
M P
as shown above. We find that the third boundary
condition in equations is modified so that the right-hand side is
equal to
/
o
M EI
. Following the same procedure, we find that the
transverse deflection is given by:
x
y
L
P

x
y
L
P
=
o
M P

A10 - Introduction to Column Buckling 16

sec 1 sec 1
o
M P P
L L
P EI EI

| ` | `

. , . ,
Plotting P vs. gives the plot on
the right. For small values of P, the
transverse deflection is very nearly
zero. For example, < when
4
9
crit
P P <
where
2
2
4
crit
EI
P
L

is
the value obtained for a perfectly
centered load P on a cantilevered
column. As P approaches the
critical load, the deflection
becomes very large. Because axial
forces are rarely perfectly centered,
one will always find some amount
of transverse deflection occurring before P reaches the critical