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Elastic limit state exuraltorsional postbuckling analysis of bars
with open thinwalled crosssections under axial thrust
G.I. Ioannidis, D.J. Polyzois, A.N. Kounadis
*
Department of Structural Analysis and Steel Bridges, National Technical University of Athens, 42 Patission Street, Athens 10682, Greece
Received 1 April 1998; received in revised form 6 July 1998; accepted 8 August 1998
Abstract
This work deals with the elastic limit state exuraltorsional postbuckling analysis of simply supported bars with open thin
walled asymmetric crosssections under axial thrust. As it is well known stocky bars with the above type of crosssections always
fail by exuraltorsional buckling in the case of asymmetric crosssections (whose centroid does not coincide with the shear centre),
while in the case of monosymmetric crosssections the failure may occur either through exural (Euler) buckling or exural
torsional buckling depending on the geometric characteristics of the bars. In all the above three cases the critical state is associated
with postbuckling strength. In this paper attention focuses on the rst yielding occurring at the initial part of the postcritical path
of exuraltorsional buckling. This is, in case of bars made from ideal elasticideal plastic material, associated with the maximum
combined normal stress, due to axial compression, bending and warping, which, along with the nonlinear equilibrium equation,
yield the maximum (ultimate) elastic loadcarrying capacity. The elastic limit state postbuckling analysis given here is demonstrated
with the aid of equalleg angles commonly used in trusses. 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Central compression; Elastic bars; Flexuraltorsional buckling; Open thinwalled asymmetric crosssections
1. Introduction
The use of lightweight and stiff structures is steadily
increasing in modern structural design. Thus, thinwalled
(closed or open) crosssections are extensively used in
various engineering applications. However, the design of
structures composed of thinwalled crosssections poses
particular problems in their analysis, which become
more severe in the case of asymmetric crosssections,
whose centroid does not coincide with the shear centre.
Instability problems of thinwalled sections have been
the subject of extensive research. An excellent reference
in this area is the early classical work presented by Vlas
sov [1]. Reviewing the present state of the art one could
refer to the books presented by Chen and Atsutra [2] and
Trahair [3], in addition to a large number of papers based
on linear analyses. Moreover, studies concerning the
postbuckling behaviour of beams and beamcolumns
under transverse loading have been presented by several
authors [47]. Nevertheless, to the knowledge of the
* Corresponding author. Tel: + 30 7723441; fax: + 30 7723442
01410296/00/$  see front matter 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S0141 0296( 98) 00091 1
authors, there is a lack of references in the area of the
postbuckling response of bars with asymmetric or singly
symmetric thinwalled open sections under axially
applied thrust [8].
In the present work the establishment of the initial
part of the postbuckling equilibrium path is necessary for
the determination of the ultimate elastic loadcarrying
capacity of the bar related to the rst yielding. The above
postbuckling path is established using a simple and easy
to apply technique presented by Kounadis [9].
2. Linear analysis
Consider the general case of a bar with length , of
constant thinwalled open crosssection, subjected to a
compressive centrally applied load P (Fig. 1). If the cen
troid of the crosssection C does not coincide with the
shear centre, the buckling of the bar usually occurs
through a combination of bending and torsion. If x and
y are the principal centroidal axes of the crosssection,
and x
o
, y
o
the coordinates of the shear centre S, the equi
librium of the bar in a slightly deformed conguration
473 G.I. Ioannidis et al. / Engineering Structures 22 (2000) 472479
Fig. 1. Simply supported bar with a thinwalled open crosssection. Displacements of the shear centre (u, v, ) and the centroid after buckling.
resulting from the translation and rotation of the cross
section is considered. The translation is dened by
deections u (along the axis x) and v (along the axis y)
of the shear centre S (as well as the centroid C). Then,
the shear centre moves from S to S and the centroid
from C to C. The rotation of the crosssection about the
new position of the shear centre S is denoted by and
the nal position of the centroid by C.
Equating the internal and the corresponding external
bending and torsional moments at an arbitrary point
along the axis z, the following system of differential
equations of equilibrium for a simply suppotred bar, can
be obtained [10]:
EI
y
d
2
u/dz
2
= P(u + y
o
)
EI
x
d
2
v/dz
2
= P(v x
o
)
GJ
d
dz
EC
w
d
3
dz
3
= Py
o
du
dz
Px
o
dv
dz
+ I
p
d
dz
(1)
where EI
x
and EI
y
are the bending rigidities about the
principal centroidal axes x and y, respectively; GJ and
EC
w
are the torsional and warping rigidity of the cross
section respectively; = P/A, with A being the cross
sectional area and
I
p
= I
x
+ I
y
.
The above system of equations can also be written
as follows:
EI
y
d
2
u
dz
2
+ Pu = Py
o
EI
x
d
2
v
dz
2
+ Pv = Px
o
EC
w
d
3
dz
3
GJ
I
o
A
P
d
dz
= Px
o
dv
dz
Py
o
du
dz
(2)
where
I
o
= I
x
+ I
y
+ (x
2
o
+ y
2
o
)A (3)
Differentiating the last of Eq. (2) with respect to z and
substituting u and v from the rst two of Eq. (2) one
can obtain the following differential equation
EC
w
GJ
I
o
A
P
P(k
2
x
x
2
o
+ k
2
y
y
2
o
) (4)
= Pk
2
y
y
o
u Pk
2
x
x
o
v
where the prime denotes differentiation with respect to
z and
k
2
x
= P/EI
x
, k
2
y
= P/EI
y
(5)
Using the shape functions
u = u
o
sin
z
, v = v
o
sin
z
, =
o
sin
z
(6)
(where v
o
, u
o
and
o
are the lateral deections and the
angle of rotation at the middle of the bar) which satisfy
the boundary conditions
u(0) = v(0) = (0) = 0, u() = v() = () = 0
d
2
u(0)
dz
2
=
d
2
v(0)
dz
2
=
d
2
(0)
dz
2
= 0,
d
2
u()
dz
2
=
d
2
v()
dz
2
=
d
2
()
dz
2
(7)
one can obtain, for a nontrivial solution, the following
instability equation [10]
474 G.I. Ioannidis et al. / Engineering Structures 22 (2000) 472479


P P
y
0 Py
o
0 P P
x
Px
o
Py
o
Px
o
I
o
A
(P P
t
)


= 0 (8)
where
P
x
=
2
EI
x
2
, P
y
=
2
EI
y
2
, P
t
=
A
I
o
GJ +
2
2
EC
w
(9)
denote the critical loads of exural buckling about the
x and y axes and the critical load of torsional buckling,
respectively. Eq. (8) can be expanded under the form
I
p
I
o
P
3
+ [
A
I
o
(P
x
y
2
o
+ P
y
x
2
o
) (P
x
+ P
y
(10)
+ P
t
)]P
2
+ (P
x
P
y
+ P
x
P
t
+ P
y
P
t
)P P
x
P
y
P
t
= 0
Clearly, the smallest value of P, obtained from the
above cubic equation is the critical buckling load for the
case in which buckling occurs with combined bending
and torsion. It can be shown [10] that Eq. (10) has three
positive roots, the smallest of which (critical load) is
smaller than P
x
, P
y
and P
t
.
For the case of a section in which the axis y is an axis
of symmetry, x
o
= 0, Eq. (8) reduces to:
(P P
x
)[
I
o
A
(P P
y
)(P P
t
) P
2
y
2
o
] = 0 (11)
From Eq. (11) one can get
either P
cr
= P
x
(12)
or P
cr
=
1
2
P
t
+ P
y
(P
t
+ P
y
)
2
4P
t
P
y
where = 1 Ay
2
o
/I
o
The smallest of the above two loads related to Eq.
(12) is the critical one.
3. Postbuckling analysis
In order to study the postbuckling behaviour of the
bar and establish the initial part of the postbuckling equi
librium path, a more accurate relationship for the curva
ture should be used. Thus, the rst and second of Eq.
(1) can be written as follows [11]
P(u + y
o
) = EI
y
u
(1 u
2
)
1/2
P(v x
o
) = EI
x
v
(1 v
2
)
1/2
(13)
Note that the above formulas have been based on the
approximation sin and thus the nonlinear term
3
/6 has been omitted. Instead, as was shown in previous
analyses [6] the effect of such a nonlinearity on the
initial postbuckling path is for the purposes of the
present analysis, negligibly small.
Using the approximations
u
(1 u
2
)
1/2
= u
1 +
1
2
u
2
and
v
(1 v
2
)
1/2
= v
1 +
1
2
v
2
2
y
u = k
2
y
y
o
o
sin +
u
3
o
4
2
cos
2
sin (15)
v + k
2
x
v = k
2
x
x
o
o
sin +
v
3
o
4
2
cos
2
sin
where
= z/, u = u/, v = v/, y
o
= y
o
/, x
o
= x
o
/ (16)
k
2
y
= k
2
y
2
, k
2
x
= k
2
x
2
, u
o
= u
o
/, v
o
= v
o
/
Taking into account the boundary conditions
u(o) = v(o) = u(1) = v(1) = 0 (17)
the general integrals of Eq. (15) are
475 G.I. Ioannidis et al. / Engineering Structures 22 (2000) 472479
u() =
k
2
y
y
o
o
(
4
/8)u
3
o
k
2
y
2
sin
+
(
4
/8)u
3
o
(k
2
y
9
2
)
sin3,(k
2
y
2
,9
2
) (18)
v() =
k
2
x
x
o
o
+ (
4
/8)v
3
o
k
2
x
2
sin
+
(
4
/8)v
3
o
(k
2
x
9
2
)
sin3,(k
2
x
2
,9
2
)
Integrating once the third of Eq. (2) and substituting
u and v from Eq. (18) into the second member the fol
lowing differential equation is obtained:
() + k
2
t
() =
2
[(A
1
y
o
+ A
2
x
o
)sin (19)
+ (A
4
x
o
A
3
y
o
)sin3]
where
k
2
t
= k
2
t
2
, k
2
t
=
I
o
A
P GJ
/EC
w
,
2
= P
4
/EC
w
and
A
1
=
k
2
y
y
o
o
(
4
/8)u
3
o
k
2
y
2
, A
2
=
k
2
x
x
o
o
+ (
4
/8)v
3
o
k
2
x
2
A
3
=
(
4
/8)u
3
o
(k
2
y
9
2
)
, A
4
=
(
4
/8)v
3
o
(k
2
x
9
2
)
(20)
Eq. (19) can be solved with the aid of the boundary
conditions (o) = (1) = 0, resulting in the following
function for the angle of rotation
() =
2
A
1
y
o
+ A
2
x
o
(k
2
t
2
)
sin +
A
4
x
o
A
3
y
o
(k
2
t
9
2
)
sin3
(21)
Application of Eqs. (18) and (21) at = 0.5 results in
the following system of nonlinear equations in
u
0
, v
0
and
0
u
o
(k
2
y
2
)(k
2
y
9
2
) = k
2
y
y
o
o
(k
2
y
9
2
)
6
u
3
o
v
o
(k
2
x
2
)(k
2
x
9
2
) = k
2
x
x
o
o
(k
2
x
9
2
)
6
v
3
o
(22)
o
(k
2
t
2
)(k
2
t
9
2
) =
2
y
o
[A
1
(k
2
t
9
2
)
+ A
3
(k
2
t
2
)] + x
o
[A
2
(k
2
t
9
2
) A
4
(k
2
t
2
)]
Setting
x
=
C
w
I
x
2
,
y
=
C
w
I
y
2
, =
I
o
A
2
, =
GJ
2
EC
w
(23)
Eq. (22) can be transformed as follows
u
o
(
2
y
2
)(
2
y
9
2
) +
6
u
3
o
=
2
y
y
o
(
2
y
9
2
)
o
v
o
(
2
x
2
)(
2
x
9
2
) +
6
v
3
o
=
x
x
o
(
2
x
9
2
)
o
(24)
o
(
2
2
)(
2
9
2
)
=
2
y
o
[A
1
(
2
9
2
) + A
3
(
2
2
)]
+ x
o
[A
2
(
2
9
2
) A
4
(
2
2
)]
In the case in which the critical load of the bar is
determined according to the second of Eq. (12), the bar
loses its stability developing simultaneously lateral
deections u and angles of twist . For each value of
the dimensionless load
2
, the corresponding values of
u
o
,
o
, can be readily obtained for given values of the
parameters involved by solving the nonlinear equilib
rium Eq. (24) with respect to u
o
and
o
. These values
can then be used to establish the respective equilibrium
paths (i.e. the plots
2
versus u
o
and
2
versus
o
). It is
evident that the trivial solution u
o
= 0,
o
= 0 which rep
resents the fundamental equilibrium paths satises Eq.
(24). The intersection of the fundamental path with the
nonlinear postbuckling path, given by Eq. (24), corre
sponds to the critical bifurcation state. Clearly, if the
shear centre coincides with the centoid x
o
= y
o
= 0 and
then
o
= 0 (Euler exural buckling).
4. Computation of stresses
Since previous analyses have shown that the lateral
torsional behaviour of the above bars is associated with
postbuckling strength [8] the present work deals with the
onset of rst yielding occurring at the initial postbuck
ling path.
Clearly, rst yielding occurs when the maximum nor
mal stress in the crosssection becomes equal to the yield
stress of the material of the bar. This stress is given by
max
=
y
=
0
+
by
+
w
(25)
where
0
= P/A is the uniform stress due to axial com
pression;
by
= M/Z
y
= Pu
0
/Z
y
is the maximum bending
stress (Z
y
the elastic section modulus about the y axis)
and
w
is the maximum normal stress due to warping.
The normal warping stress
w
in Eq. (25) is dened
as [12]
w
(z) = E(z)(w
1
w
1
) (26)
where
476 G.I. Ioannidis et al. / Engineering Structures 22 (2000) 472479
w
1
=
s
0
r
s
ds + nr
n
(27)
The distances r
s
and r
n
in Eq. (27) are shown in Fig.
2, representing an open thinwalled crosssection, where
S is the shear centre and A (being the intersection of the
axes s and ) is an arbitrary point of the mean line (of
the crosssection) of length s, w
1
is the mean value of
w
1
and n the distance from the mean line to any point
on the crosssection. For thinwalled open sections the
maximum value of n is t/2.
5. Application to an equal leg angle
5.1. Linear analysis
Consider the case of a pinended bar, with an equal
leg angle crosssection, subjected to a centrally applied
load P (Fig. 3), which loses its stability through a ex
uraltorsional mode of buckling. The critical load can
be calculated according to Eq. (11). As shown in Fig. 3,
x, y are the principal axes of the angle crosssection,
and are the geometric axes, C the centroid, S the shear
centre, b the width of each leg and t is the thickness.
Fig. 2. Distances r
s
and r
n
related to the warping constant of a thin
walled crosssection.
Fig. 3. Simply supported bar with an equalleg angle crosssection
under an axial load.
Assuming that t b, the crosssectional properties can
be approximated as follows:
A = 2bt (28)
(crosssectional area),
o
=
o
=
b
4
, y
o
=
b
4
2 (29)
(position of shear centre) and
I
y
=
1
3
tb
3
, I
x
=
1
12
tb
3
,
I
p
= I
x
+ I
y
=
5
12
tb
3
I
o
= I
p
+ Ay
2
o
=
2
3
tb
3
(30)
(moments of inertia). Finally, the torsional constant J
and the warping constant C
w
are given by
J =
2
3
bt
3
, C
w
=
1
18
t
3
b
3
(31)
The buckling loads corresponding to Eq. (9) can be
determined using Eqs. (28), (30) and (31) as follows
P
x
=
2
12
Etb
3
2
,
P
y
=
2
3
Etb
3
2
P
t
=
3Et
3
b
1
3.9
+
2
18
b
2
(32)
With the aid of the second and the third of Eq. (32)
the critical load P
cr
of Eq. (12) can be expressed as a
477 G.I. Ioannidis et al. / Engineering Structures 22 (2000) 472479
function of the geometric properties of the bar. In Eq.
(12) the coefcient is: = 1 Ay
2
o
/I
o
= 5/8.
Using the critical stress
cr
= P
cr
/A, after some elabor
ation, the following expression for the dimensionless
critical stress is obtained
cr
E
=
2
15
2
t
2
A + b
2
[(t
2
B + b
2
)
2
2.50Bt
2
b
2
]
0.5
(33)
where
b
2
(35)
5.2. Nonlinear analysis
The postbuckling equilibrium equations can be
obtained from Eq. (24) by taking into account that
x
0
= 0 and by introducing the expressions for A
1
and A
3
given in Eq. (20). Thus,
(
2
y
2
)(
2
y
9
2
)u
o
+
6
u
3
o
=
2
y
y
o
(
2
y
9
2
)
o
(
2
x
2
)(
2
x
9
2
) +
6
v
2
o
= 0 (36)
o
(
2
2
)(
2
9
2
)
=
2
y
o
y
y
o
o
4
8
u
3
o
2
9
2
y
2
+
4
8
u
3
o
2
2
y
9
2
Substituting the expression for
o
, given by the rst
of Eq. (36), into the third of Eq. (36), yields
6
(
2
9
2
)f(
2
) +
4
y
y
2
o
[
2
( +
y
)
10
2
]u
2
o
= (
2
9
2
) (37)
(
y
2
2
)(
y
2
9
2
)f(
2
)
where
f (
2
) =
y
( y
2
o
)
4
[
y
(
2
+ ) +
2
]
2
(38)
+
2
(
2
+ )
and
x
=
2
3
t
2
b
2
,
y
=
1
6
t
2
b
2
,
=
1
3
b
2
,
= 4.6154/b
2
y
o
= b
2/4
(39)
The dimensionless deformation u
0
corresponding to a
certain value of the dimensionless compressive load
2
,
can now be computed using Eq. (37).
With the aid of Eqs. (37) and (38) the postbuckling
equilibrium path (
2
versus u
0
) can be established for
equal leg angles. It has been shown [13] that the critical
load is associated with a stable symmetric bifurcation
point. Nevertheless, the postbuckling equilibrium path is
quite shallow and thus the bar cannot exhibit signicant
postbuckling strength. An example of such an equilib
rium path, corresponding to b
= t = 0.10, is shown in
Fig. 4.
5.3. Elastic limit state
The normal stresses
0
and
by
used in Eq. (25) can
be determined with the aid of Eqs. (28), (30), (31) and
(34) and Fig. 3, as follows:
0
= P/A =
1
36
Et
2
b
by
= M
y
/Z
y
= Pu
0
b2
2
/I
y
=
2
12
Et
2
b
3
u
0
(40)
where u
0
is obtained from Eq. (37).
Referring to Eqs. (26) and (27), for an equalleg angle
crosssection, r
s
= 0, w
1
= 0 and, therefore, the normal
stress due to warping can be written as
w
= E(z)w
1
= E(z)nr
n
= E(z)bt/2 (41)
At midheight of the bar, according to Eq. (6), (1/2)
=
0
2
/
2
. Hence, the maximum normal stress due to
warping is
w
=
1
2
bt E
0
2
=
2
2
Et b
0
(42)
Using Eqs. (40) and (42) Eq. (25), the condition corre
sponding to the rst yielding of the bar, can be
expressed as
E
y
t b
2
2
1
18
t b
+ 32u
0
2
+
2
0
= 1 (43)
478 G.I. Ioannidis et al. / Engineering Structures 22 (2000) 472479
Fig. 4. Initial postbuckling path
2
versus u
o
of a simply supported bar with equal leg crosssection, under simultaneous bending and torsion due
to axial load. First yielding point.
With the aid of this equation the level of the external
loading
2
, related to the onset of rst yielding of the
bar, can be determined taking into account the geometric
properties of the crosssection and the material proper
ties (E and
y
). The associated deformations u
0
and
0
can be computed from Eqs. (36) and (37).
The above analysis can be easily extended to other
boundary conditions. For instance, for a column with
builtin ends we have the following boundary conditions
u(0) = v(0) = (0) = 0, u() = v() = () = 0 (44)
u(0) = v(0) = (0) = 0, u() = v() = () = 0
The third of Eq. (2) or Eq. (4) (independent from the
boundary conditions) is still valid, while the two rst of
Eq. (2) become
EI
y
u + Pu = Py
o
+ EI
y
u(0)
EI
x
v + Pv = Px
o
+ EI
x
v(0)
(45)
These three equations and the boundary conditions Eq.
(44) are satised by taking a solution in the form
u =
u
o
2
1 cos
2z
, v =
v
o
2
1 cos
2z
, (46)
=
o
2
1 cos
2z
Inserting these expressions into the aforementioned
three equations we obtain again Eq. (8), where
2
/
2
in
P
x
, P
y
and P
t
given in Eq. (9) must be replaced by 4
2
/
2
.
Regarding the postbuckling analysis, Eq. (15) is still
valid after adding in their RHS the term 2u
2
(in the
rst of Eq. (15)) and 2v
2
(in the second of Eq. (15)).
The subsequent procedure follows exactly the steps of
the analysis outlined in Section 3.
5.4. Numerical example
The analysis given above is applied to the case of an
equalleg angle crosssection with b
= t = 0.10 fabri
cated from a steel having a yield stress
y
= 900 N/mm
2
and a modulus of elasticity E = 210 000 N/mm
2
.
The critical buckling load corresponds to a exural
torsional conguration and is equal to
2
= 128150.972.
Combining Eq. (37), the rst of Eqs. (36) and (43), we
establish the rst yielding, occurring at
2
= 128150.988.
The corresponding displacements are u
0
= 0.00111 and
0
= 0.113.
The position of the rst yielding on the postbuckling
equilibrium path is shown in Fig. 4.
6. Conclusions
The most important conclusions of this study are
the following:
1. Using a simple and comprehensive postbuckling
analysis, the initial part of the exuraltorsional post
buckling path of bars with open thinwalled cross
sections under axial compressive force can be read
ily established.
2. Considering bars made from ideal elasticideal plas
tic material, their elastic limit state associated with
the rst yielding can also be determined.
3. First yielding is related to the maximum normal stress
in the middle crosssection of the simply supported
bar, being equal to the yield stress of the bars
material. The above maximum normal stress is
determined as a function of the uniform stress due to
axial compression of the maximum bending stress
and of the maximum normal stress due to warping.
One should notice the importance of the normal stress
due to warping, which can reach an appreciable per
centage of the total normal stress.
479 G.I. Ioannidis et al. / Engineering Structures 22 (2000) 472479
4. Since the postbuckling path, for the model chosen,
is shallow, the margins of postbuckling strength are
limited and thus the loadcarrying capacity is taken
equal to that corresponding to the critical load.
5. Due to the shallowness of the postbuckling path rst
yielding takes place near the critical state.
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