LONGITUDINAL STIFFENERS ON

COMPRESSION PANELS

Chai H. Yoo, Ph.D., P.E., F. ASCE
Professor Emeritus
Department of Civil Engineering
Auburn University


CIVL 7690


July 14, 2009


History
● The most efficient structural form is truss
with regard to its weight-to-strength ratio
provided that all other conditions are equal.

Old section of NY Metro Subway system,
Tower crane post and arms,
Space station,
New Orleans Super dome, etc.
 Brooklyn Bridge, New York
 Designed by Roebling, Opened in 1883
George Washington Bridge, New York
Designed by Amman, opened in 1931
Auburn University Highway Bridges, Past, Present, and Future
History
● For containment type structures
maintaining two or more separate pressure
or temperature zones, continuous barriers,
membranes, plates and shells, are
required.

Aircraft fuselage,
Dome roof,
Submarines, etc.
History
● When the loads (both transverse and
longitudinal) are

small→membrane, i.e., placard

medium→plates

heavy→stiffened plates
topic of discussion


BACKGROUND
AASHO Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges, 9
th
ed., 1965 adopted for
the first time the minimum moment of inertia of the longitudinal stiffener:



where
3
s
I t w | >

3 4
0.07k n for n 1 | = >

3
0.125k for n 1 | = =
2 with k 4 s s
There was no further stipulation as to the correct value for k.
BACKGROUND
For composite box girder compression flanges stiffened
longitudinally and transversely, AASHTO requites the
minimum moment of inertia of the longitudinal stiffener:



3
s
I 8 t w >
It is of interest to note that the absence of a length parameter
of the longitudinal stiffener in both AASHTO equations.
A longitudinal stiffener attached to the compression flange is
essentially a compression member.
BACKGROUND
It was found that an old bridge,
(curved box girder approach spans to
the Fort Duquesne Bridge in Pittsburg)
designed and built before the
enactment of the AASHTO criteria on
longitudinal stiffeners, did not rate
well for modern-day traffic, despite
having served for many years.
BACKGROUND
Despite the practicing engineers’ intuitive
realization of the unreasonableness of the
equations, they are still in force in both
AASHTO Standard Specifications for
Highway Bridges, 17
th
ed. (2002) and
AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications,
4th ed. (2007) with a limitation imposed on
the number of longitudinal stiffeners not to
exceed “two.”
BACKGROUND
In a relatively short period of time, there
were a series of tragic collapses occurred
during the erection of the bridges

Danube in 1969
Milford Haven Bridge in Wales in 1970
West Gate Bridge in Australia in 1970
Koblenz Bridge in Germany in 1971
BACKGROUND
These tragic collapses drew an urgent attention to steel box girder
bridge design and construction. Some of the researchers, primarily
in the U.K., responded to the urgency include:

Chatterjee
Dowling
Dwight
Horne
Little
Merrison
Narayana
BACKGROUND
Although there were a few variations tried,
such as

Effective Width Method
Effective Length Method

these researchers were mainly interested in
“Column Behavior” of the stiffened
compression flanges.
BACKGROUND

Barbré studied the strength of
longitudinally stiffened
compression flanges and
published extensive results in
1937.
BACKGROUND

Bleich (1952) and Timoshenko
and Gere (1961) introduced
Barbré’s study (published in
German) to English speaking
world using the following model:
y
x
O
a
2w
Stiffener
o
t
o
t
w
w
·
Symmetric and Antisymmetric
Buckling Mode Shapes
Consider the load carrying mechanics of a plate
element subjected to a transverse loading

● Very thin plates depend on the membrane action as
that in placards and airplane fuselages

● Ordinary plates depend primarily on the bending action

● Very thick plates depend on bending and shear
action

Our discussions herein are limited to the case of ordinary plate
Elements (no membrane action, no shear deformation)
BACKGROUND
It was known from the early days
that stiffened plates with weak
stiffeners buckle in a symmetric
mode while those with strong
stiffeners buckle in an
antisymmetric mode. The exact
threshold value of the minimum
moment of inertia of the stiffener,
however, was unknown.
Symmetric or antisymmetric
buckling is somewhat confusing.
It appears to be just the remnant
of terminology used by Bleich. It
is obvious that

symmetric buckling implies
column behavior and
antisymmetric buckling implies
plate behavior
It appears to be the case, at least
in the earlier days, that the
column behavior theory was
dominant in Europe, Australia,
and Japan while in North America,
particularly, in the U.S., a
modified plate behavior theory
prevailed.
Japanese design of rectangular box
sections of a horizontally curved
continuous girder
In the column behavior theory,
the strength of a stiffened plate is
determined by summing the
column strength of each
individual longitudinal stiffener,
with an effective width of the
plate to be part of the cross
section, between the adjacent
transverse stiffeners.
It should be noted that in
symmetric buckling (column
behavior), the stiffener bends
along with the plate whereas in
antisymmetric buckling (plate
behavior), the stiffener remains
straight although it is subjected
to torsional rotation.
Symmetric Mode
Antisymmetric Mode

Hence, it became intuitively
evident that in order to ensure
antisymmetric buckling, the
stiffener must be sufficiently
strong.
A careful analysis of data from a
series of finite element analyses
made it possible to determine
numerically the threshold value of
the minimum required moment of
inertia of a longitudinal stiffener
to ensure antisymmetric buckling.
Critical Stress vs Longitudinal Stiffener Size
29
29.4
29.8
30.2
30.6
580 630 680 730
Moment of Inertia, I
s
(in
4
)
F
c
r

(
k
s
i
)
Symmetric Antisymmetric
Selected example data are shown
in the table. During the course of
this study, well over 1,000 models
have been analyzed.
Comparison of Ultimate Stress, F
cr
(ksi)

n o
w
(in.)
t
(in.)
w/t
R
(ft)
I
s
, Eq.(1)
(in
4
)
I
s
, used
(in
4
)
F
cr
,
AASHTO
F
cr
,
FEM,
A=w/1000
F
cr
,
FEM,
A=w/100
3 3 120 1.50 80.0 800 1894 1902 16.4 23.6 19.1
2 3 60 0.94 64.0 200 189 189 25.6 30.0 27.3
1 3 60 1.13 53.3 200 231 233 35.6 37.3 31.8
3 5 30 0.75 40.0 200 164 165 46.2 46.7 38.4
1 5 30 1.25 24.0 300 439 442 50.0 50.0 45.6
1 5 30 1.88 16.0 200 1483 1510 50.0 50.0 49.8
(Note: 1 in. = 25.4 mm; 1 ft = 0.305 m; 1 in
4
= 0.416×10
6
mm
4
; 1 ksi = 6.895 MPa)


 Jaques Heyman, Professor emeritus, University of
Cambridge, wrote in 1999 that there had been no
new breakthrough since Hardy Cross published
Moment Distribution method in 1931.

 I disagree.

 The most significant revolution in modern era is
Finite Element method. Although the vague notion
of the method was there since the time of Rayleigh
and Ritz, the finite element method we are familiar
with today was not available until in the late 1980s
encompassing the material and geometric nonlinear
incremental analysis incorporating the updated
and/or total Lagrangian formulation.

 Despite the glitter, Finite Element method is
not a design guide.

 Daily practicing design engineers need
design guide in the form of charts, tables
and/or regression formulas synthesizing and
quantifying vast analytical data afforded
from the finite element method.

 There exist golden opportunities for
engineering researchers to do just those
contributions.

REGRESSION EQUATION
2 3
s
I 0.3 n t w o =
Where
= = aspect ratio a / w o
= n number of stiffeners
a / w
0 1 2 3 4
k
2
4
6
2
6
Plate Buckling Coefficient
It was decided from the
beginning of our study that we
wanted to make sure that our
stiffened compression flanges
would buckle in an antisymmetric
mode.
In the elastic buckling range of
the width-to-thickness ratio,
the critical stress of the plate is

( )
| |
=
|
÷
\ .
2
2
cr
2
k E t
F
w
12 1
t
µ
with
= k 4
AASHTO divides the sub-panel
between longitudinal stiffeners or
the web into three zones by the
width-to-thickness ratio:

yield zone = compact
transition zone = noncompact
elastic buckling zone = slender
The regression equation for the
minimum required moment of
inertia of the longitudinal
stiffener works equally well for
the sub-panels in all three zones.

It also works for horizontally
curved box girders.
Critical stress vs width-to-thickness ratio
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
0 30 60 90 120 150
w/t
F
c
r


(
k
s
i
)
AASHTO Eq.(10-134)
Bifurcation Analysis
Nonlinear Analysis (W/1000)
Nonlinear Analysis (W/100)
SSRC Type Parabola

4 Eq. Spa. 5 Eq. Spa. 4 Eq. Spa.
9’-0” 9’-0” 12’-0”

Longitudinal stiffener arrangement, AASHTO
2 Eq. Spa. 3 Eq. Spa. 2 Eq. Spa.
9’-0” 9’-0” 12’-0”
Longitudinal stiffener arrangement, Proposed
Japanese design of rectangular box
sections of a horizontally curved
continuous girder
Stiffened Compression
Panel (Japanese Practice)
Tee shapes are stronger than rectangles
Consider the moment of inertia about the axis parallel to
the flange and at the base of the stiffener.

Tee, WT9x25: A = 7.35 in
2
, t
f
= 0.57 in
I
s
= 53.5+7.35(8.995-2.12)
2
= 400 in
4


Rectangle, d/t = 0.38(E/Fy)
1/2
= 9.15 with Fy = 50 ksi
for compact section:

9.15t
2
= 7.35, t = 0.9 in, d=7.35/0.9 = 8.17 in
I
s
= 0.9(8.17)
3/
3 =164 in
4

×
Quick Comparison

( )
( )
( )
2
2
2
2
The limiting value of the slenderness ratio assuming
the residual s
Pl a
tress of 0.3 is
4
0.7 54.73 43.2
12
t e Beha vi or Theor
1 /
0.005 43.2 50 40. 7
y
6

y
cr y
cr
F
E b
F F
t
b t
F ksi
t
µ
= = ¬ = >
÷
= ÷ + =

4
0.38
1.92 1
/
29000 0.38 29000
1.92 1.25 1 49.3
40 54 / 1.25
Column Behavior The
40
49.3
0.913
54
is com
o
puted as 458 in
ry
e
a
s
E E
b t
f b t f
Q Q
I
(
= ÷
(
¸ ¸
(
= × ÷ =
(
¸ ¸
= = =

( )
2
2
2
The area of the effective section is 142.3 in
458 / 142.3 1.794 in
1 10 12
66.9, 64 ksi
1.794
/
0.658 33.9 ksi
40.67 33.9
100 19.97%
33.9
y
e
e
QF
F
cr y
r
KL E
F
r
KL r
F Q F
t
= =
× ×
= = = =
| |
= = |
|
\ .
÷
× =

( )
2
4
2
2
For transverse stiffeners at 20 ft, WT12 38
is needed. The effective section becomes 146.2 in
and corresponding is computed as 1010 in
1010 / 146.2 2.63 in
1 20 12
91.25, 34.37
2.63
/
s
e
I
r
KL E
F
r
KL r
t
×
¬ = =
× ×
= = = = ksi

0.658 26.18 ksi
40.67 26.18
100 55.34%
26.18
A spacing of 20 ft is more reasonable in this case.
Hence, a 55% extra strength is recognized by th
plate behavior th
e
eory.
y
e
QF
F
cr y
F Q F
| |
= = |
|
\ .
÷
× =
Stiffened Compression
Panel (Japanese Practice)
Concluding Remarks
• The AASHTO critical stress equation appears to
be unconservative in the transition zone with
AWS acceptable out-of-flatness tolerances.
• Residual stresses significantly reduce the
critical stresses of slender plates.
• Recognition of the postbuckling reserve
strength in slender plates remains debatable
with regard to the adverse effect of large
deflection.
• The regression equation derived appears now
to be ready to replace two AASHTO equations
without any limitations imposed.

Concluding Remarks -continued
• It has been proved that the plate behavior
theory yields a more economical design
than that by the column behavior theory.

• In the numerical example examined, it is
20%-50% more economical.


4 Eq. Spa. 5 Eq. Spa. 4 Eq. Spa.
9’-0” 9’-0” 12’-0”

Longitudinal stiffener arrangement, AASHTO
2 Eq. Spa. 3 Eq. Spa. 2 Eq. Spa.
9’-0” 9’-0” 12’-0”
Longitudinal stiffener arrangement, Proposed
Symmetric Mode
Column Behavior Theory
Global Buckling
Antisymmetric Mode
Plate Behavior Theory
Local Buckling
J. Structural Engineering, ASCE, Vol. 127,
No. 6, June 2001, pp. 705-711
J. Engineering Mechanics, ASCE, Vol. 131,
No.2, February 2005, pp. 167-176
Engineering Structures, Elsevier, Vol. 29(9),
September 2007, pp. 2087-2096
Engineering Structures, Elsevier, Vol. 31(5),
May 2009, pp. 1141-1153
REGRESSION EQUATION
2 3
s
I 0.3 n t w o =
Where
= = aspect ratio a / w o
= n number of stiffeners
END

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