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Bending analysis of partially restrained channel-section purlins subjected

to up-lift loadings
Chong Ren
a
, Long-yuan Li
b,
, Jian Yang
a
a
School of Civil Engineering, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
b
School of Marine Science and Engineering, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK
a b s t r a c t a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Received 14 October 2011
Accepted 3 January 2012
Available online 28 January 2012
Keywords:
Cold-formed steel
Channel
Bending
Uplift loading
Roof-purlin system
Cold-formed steel section beams are widely used as the secondary structural members in buildings to
support roof and side cladding or sheeting. These members are thus commonly treated as the restrained
beams either fully or partially in its lateral and rotational directions. In this paper an analytical model is pre-
sented to describe the bending and twisting behaviour of partially restrained channel-section purlins when
subjected to uplift loading. Formulae used to calculate the bending stresses of the roof purlins are derived
by using the classical bending theory of thin-walled beams. Detailed comparisons are made between the pre-
sent model and the simplied model proposed in Eurocodes (EN1993-1-3). To validate the accuracy of the
present model, both available experimental data and nite element analysis results are used, from which
the bending stress distributions along the lip, ange and web lines are compared with those obtained from
the present and EN1993-1-3 models.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Thin-walled, cold-formed steel sections are widely used in build-
ings as sheeting, decking, purlins, rails, mezzanine oor beams, lattice
beams, wall studs, storage racking and shelving. Among these prod-
ucts, purlins and rails are the most common members, widely used
in buildings as the secondary members supporting the corrugated
roof or wall sheeting and transmit the force to the main structural
frame. Roof purlins and cladding rails have been considered to be
the most popular products and account for a substantial proportion
of cold-formed steel usage in buildings.
In the UK, most common sections are the zed, channel and sigma
shapes, which may be plain or have stiffened lips. The lips are small
additional elements at free edges in a cross section, and so added to
provide the structural efciency under compressive loads [1]. Roof
purlins and sheeting rails are usually restrained against lateral move-
ment by their supported roof or wall cladding. Such restraints reduce
the potential of lateral buckling of the whole section, but do not nec-
essarily eradicate the problem [2]. For example, roof purlins are gen-
erally restrained against lateral displacement by the cladding, but
under wind uplift, which induces compression in the unrestrained
ange, lateral-torsional buckling is still a common cause of failure
[3]. This occurs due to the exibility of the restraining cladding and
to the distortional exibility of the section itself, which permits lateral
movement to occur in the compression ange even if the other ange
is restrained.
Several researchers have investigated the behaviour of the roof
purlins with partial restraints provided by their supported cladding
or sheeting. For example, Lucas et al. investigated the interaction
between the sheeting and purlins using nite element analysis
methods [4,5]. Ye et al. presented several examples to demonstrate
the inuence of sheeting on the bending [6], local and distortional
buckling behaviour [7] of roof purlins. Vieira et al. provided simplied
models to predict the longitudinal stresses when the channel-section
purlin is subjected to uplift loading [8]. The lateral-torsional buckling
of purlins subjected to downwards and/or upwards loadings has also
been discussed by several researchers [913]. Analytical models have
been developed to predict the critical loads of lateral-torsional buckling
and the inuence of sheeting on the lateral-torsional buckling behav-
iour of roof purlins [1214]. Experimental tests have also been per-
formed on both bridged and unbridged zed- and channel-section
purlins under uplift loads [15,16]. Calculation models for predicting
the rotational restraint stiffness of the sheeting have been proposed re-
cently [17,18]. Designspecications for the purlin-sheeting systemhave
been provided in Eurocodes [3].
In this paper an analytical model is presented to describe the
bending and twisting behaviour of the partially restrained channel-
section purlins when subjected to uplift loading. The classical bending
theory of thin-walled beams is used to calculate the bending stresses
of the roof purlins. In order to validate the model, both available
experimental data and nite element analysis results are used, from
which the bending stress distributions along the lip, ange and
Journal of Constructional Steel Research 72 (2012) 254260
Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 1752 586 180; fax: +44 1752 586 101.
E-mail address: Long-yuan.Li@plymouth.ac.uk (L. Li).
0143-974X/$ see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jcsr.2012.01.001
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
Journal of Constructional Steel Research
web lines are compared with those obtained from the present and
EN1993-1-3 models.
2. Analytical model
Consider a channel section that is partially restrained by the sheet-
ing on its upper ange. When the member is subjected to a uniformly
distributed uplift load acting on the middle line of the upper ange,
the restraint of the sheeting to the member can be simplied as a lat-
eral restraint and a rotational restraint. For most types of sheeting the
lateral restraint is sufciently large and therefore the lateral displace-
ment at the upper ange-web junction may be assumed to be fully
restrained. The rotational restraint, however, is dependent on the
dimensions of sheeting and purlin, number, type and positions of
the screws used in the xing. If the stiffness of the rotational restraint
provided by the sheeting is known, then the purlin-sheeting system
may be idealized as a purlin with lateral displacement fully restrained
and rotation partially restrained at its upper ange-web junction as
shown in Fig. 1.
Let the origin of the coordinate system (x,y,z) be the centroid of
the channel cross-section, with x-axis being along the longitudinal
direction of the beam, and y- and z-axes taken in the plane of the
cross-section, as shown in Fig. 1. According to the bending and torsion
theory of beams [1,19], the equilibrium equations, expressed in terms
of displacements, are given as follows,
EI
z
d
4
v
dx
4
q
y
1
EI
y
d
4
w
dx
4
q
z
2
EI
w
d
4

dx
4
GI
T
d
2

dx
2
k

z
k
q
y
y
q
q
z
3
where v and w are the y- and z-components of displacement of the
cross-section dened at the shear centre, is the angle of twisting
of the section, E is the modulus of elasticity, G is the shear modulus,
I
y
and I
z
are the second moments of the cross-sectional area about
y- and z-axes, I
w
is the warping constant, I
T
is the torsion constant,
k

is the per-unit length stiffness constant of the rotational spring,


q
y
and q
z
are the densities of the uniformly distributed loads in y-
and z-directions, z
k
is the vertical distance from the shear centre to
the force line q
y
, and y
q
is the horizontal distance from the shear cen-
tre to the force line q
z
.
Using Eq. (1) to eliminate q
y
and Eq. (2) to eliminate w in Eq. (3),
it yields,
EI
w
d
4

dx
4
GI
T
d
2

dx
2
k

z
k
EI
z
d
4
v
dx
4
y
q
q
z
4
Note that, the lateral displacement restraint applied at the upper
ange-web junction requires,
z
k
v 0 5
Using Eq. (5) to eliminate the angle of twisting, , in Eq. (4), it
yields,
I
z

I
w
z
2
k
_ _
d
4
v
dx
4

GI
T
Ez
2
k
d
2
v
dx
2

k

Ez
2
k
v
y
q
q
z
Ez
k
6
Let
a
0

k

Ez
2
k
7
a
1

GI
T
Ez
2
k
8
a
2
I
z

I
w
z
2
k
9
With the use of Eqs. (7)(9), Eq. (6) can be rewritten into,
a
2
d
4
v
dx
4
a
1
d
2
v
dx
2
a
0
v
y
q
q
z
Ez
k
10
Eq. (10) is a fourth-order differential equation, which, for given
boundary conditions, can be solved analytically.
3. Calculation of bending stresses
The longitudinal stress at any point on the cross-section generated
by the two displacement components and warping can be calculated
as follows [1],

x
x; y; z Ey
d
2
v
dx
2
Ez
d
2
w
dx
2
E
d
2

dx
2
11
where is the sectorial coordinate with respect to the shear centre
and is the average value of . The rst term in the right hand
side of Eq. (11) is the stress generated by the deection of the beam
in horizontal direction, the second term is the stress generated by
the deection of the beam in vertical direction, and the third term is
the warping stress.
Using Eq. (5) to eliminate , Eq. (11) can be rewritten into,

x
x; y; z Ez
d
2
w
dx
2
E y

z
k
_ _
d
2
v
dx
2
12
Eq. (12) indicates that the total longitudinal stress in the beam can
be decomposed into two parts. One is the stress that is generated by
load q
z
when the beam is considered to be fully restrained in rotation
and can be calculated as follows,

x1
x; y; z Ez
d
2
w
dx
2
13
Fig. 1. Analytical model used for a channel-section purlin-sheeting system.
255 C. Ren et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 72 (2012) 254260
The other is the stress that is generated by the lateral deection of
the beam and can be calculated as follows,

x2
x; y; z E y

z
k
_ _
d
2
v
dx
2
14
For a simply supported beam in both y- and z-directions the bend-
ing stress
x1
can be expressed as follows,

x1
l
2
; y; z
_ _

zM
y; max
I
y
15
where M
y; max

q
z
l
2
8
is the largest moment of the beam bent about
y-axis and l is the length of the beam. By solving the differential
Eq. (10) analytically and then substituting the solution into Eq. (14), it
yields,
(1) Rotation partially restrained case, when k

x2
l
2
; y; z
_ _
y

z
k
_ _
A
2
1

2
2
_ _
2

2
A
2
B
2
_ _
_
_
_
_
_
_
y
q
q
z
2z
k
a
0
16
(2) Rotation free case, when k

=0

x2
l
2
; y; z
_ _
y

z
k
_ _
8y
q
z
k
EM
y; max
l
2
GI
T
sech
l
2

a
1
a
2
_ _ _
1
_ _
17
where A, B,
1
and
2
are the constants dened as follows,
A sin

2
l
2
sinh

1
l
2
18
B cos

2
l
2
cosh

1
l
2
19

1

1
2

a
0
a
2
_

1
4
a
1
a
2
_ _1
2
20

2

1
2

a
0
a
2
_

1
4
a
1
a
2
_ _1
2
21
For given dimensions of a section, one can use Eqs. (16) or (17) to
calculate the longitudinal stress at any coordinate point (y, z).
4. Comparison with EN1993-1-3
In the Eurocodes [3] the bending stress of the channel-section pur-
lin of depth h, ange width b, lip length c, and thickness t, with lateral
displacement fully restrained and rotation partially restrained at the
upper ange-web junction is calculated based on the two parts of
bending. One is the beam bent only in the plane of the web, in
which case the stress is calculated exactly the same as that given in
Eq. (15). The other is the compression part of the section, consisting
of the lip and ange plus 1/5 of web height from the compression
ange, bent about an axis parallel to z-axis, in which case the stress
is calculated as follows,

x2
l
2
; y; z
_ _

R
k
h
M
y; max
I
fz
y

R
k
h
M
y; max
I
fz
y y 22
Fig. 2. Bending stress calculated in EN1993-1-3. Upper: Compression part consisting of
lip and ange plus 1/5 of web length. Lower: Stress distribution due to the bending
about z* axis.
4 6 8 10 12 14
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
Beam length, m
M
o
m
e
n
t

c
o
r
r
e
c
t
i
o
n

f
a
c
t
o
r
,

R
M
o
m
e
n
t

c
o
r
r
e
c
t
i
o
n

f
a
c
t
o
r
,

R
Present solution, k

=10 N
EN1993-1-3, k

=10 N
EN1993-1-3*, k

=10 N
Present solution, k

=100 N
EN1993-1-3, k

=100 N
EN1993-1-3*, k

=100 N
Present solution, k

=1000 N
EN1993-1-3, k

=1000 N
EN1993-1-3*, k

=1000 N
4 6 8 10 12 14
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1
Beam length, m
(a)
(b)
Fig. 3. Comparison of moment correction factors between the present and EN1993-1-3
models. In EN1993-1-3 K is calculated using Eq. (40), while in EN1993-1-3* K=k

/h
2
is
used, which ignores the section distortion in the spring stiffness used in EN1993-1-3
model. (a) (h=120 mm, b=50 mm, c=15 mm, t=1.5 mm, a=b/2). (b) (h=400 mm,
b=100 mm, c=30 mm, t=2.5 mm, a=b/2).
256 C. Ren et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 72 (2012) 254260
where k
R

is the moment correction factor considering the inuence of


the rotation restraint, dened as

R

10:0225R
1 1:013R
23
R
Kl
4

4
EI
fz
24
K
4 1
2
_ _
h
2
h b
mod

Et
3

h
2
k

_
_
_
_
1
25
k
h

y
q
2z
k
26
I
fz
is the second moment of the cross-section area of the compres-
sion part about z*-axis as dened in Fig. 2, y is the horizontal distance
between z- and z*-axes, v is Poisson's ratio, b
mod
=a is for cases where
the equivalent lateral force (k
h
q
z
) bringing the purlin into contact
with the sheeting at the purlin web, or b
mod
=2a+b is for cases
where the equivalent lateral force (k
h
q
z
) bringing the purlin into
contact with the sheeting at the tip of the purlin ange, and a is the
horizontal distance from the web line to the sheeting-purlin xing
point (in the present case a=b/2).
For the convenience of comparison, Eq. (16) is now rewritten into
the following format

x2
l
2
; y; z
_ _

k
R
k
h
M
y; max
I
eq
y

z
k
_ _
27
in which,
k
R

8I
eq
a
0
l
2
A
2
1

2
2
_ _
2

2
A
2
B
2
_ _
_
_
_
_
_
_ 28
10 20 30 40 50 60 70
1
1.05
1.1
1.15
1.2
1.25
1.3
1.35
1.4
1.45
1.5
h
2
/(bc)
I
e
q
/
I
f
z
y = -9.03/x
2
+ 3.47/x + 1.133
Fig. 4. Ratio of the equivalent second moments of cross-section area used in the present
(I
eq
) and EN1993-1-3 (I
fz
) models for 60 channel-sections.
0 20 40 60 80 100
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
Lip, flange and 1/5 of web lines, mm
S
t
r
e
s
s

r
a
t
i
o
,

x
2
/
a
b
s
(

x
1
)

S
t
r
e
s
s

r
a
t
i
o
,

x
2
/
a
b
s
(

x
1
)

Present solution
EN1993-1-3
(a)
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180 200
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
Lip, flange and 1/5 of web lines, mm
Present solution
EN1993-1-3
(b)
Fig. 5. Bending stress distribution along the lip, ange and web lines (x-axis starts from
the tip of lip and ends at the 1/5 of the web length). (a) Section of h=120 mm,
b=50 mm, c=15 mm, t =1.5 mm and a=b/2. (b) Section of h=400 mm,
b=100 mm, c=30 mm, t =2.5 mm, and a=b/2.
Fig. 6. (a) Finite element mesh employed for the analysis of a channel section purlin.
(b) The deformed shape of the partially restrained purlin under uplift loading
(h=200 mm, b=75 mm, c=20 mm, t =2.0 mm, a=b/2, k

=300N).
257 C. Ren et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 72 (2012) 254260
I
eq

1
4
I
z

I
w
z
2
k
_ _
29
The comparison of Eqs. (22) and (27) shows that, there are three dif-
ferences between the present model and the EN1993-1-3 model for cal-
culating the longitudinal stress. The rst is the moment correction
factor used in calculating the lateral bending moment. The second is
the second moment of cross-section area used to calculate the bending
stress. The third is the lateral coordinate used to calculate the lateral
bending stress (or the position of the neutral axis).
Fig. 3 shows the comparisons of the moment correction factors
calculated from the present and EN1993-1-3 models. It can be seen
from the gure that, the moment correction factor decreases with
0 50 100 150
-5
0
5
Present solution
EN1993-1-3
FEA
0 50 100 150
-2
0
2
0 50 100 150
-2
0
2
Lip, flange and half-web lines, mm
0 50 100 150
-5
0
5
0 50 100 150
-2
-1
0
1
0 50 100 150
-1.5
-1
-0.5
0
0.5
Lip, flange and half-web lines, mm
(a) L=4000mm
0 50 100 150
-5
0
5
Present solution
EN1993-1-3
FEA
0 50 100 150
-1.5
-1
-0.5
0
0 50 100 150
-1.5
-1
-0.5
0
Lip, flange and half-web lines, mm
0 50 100 150
-5
0
5
0 50 100 150
-1.5
-1
-0.5
0
0 50 100 150
-1.5
-1
-0.5
0
Lip, flange and half-web lines, mm
(c) L=8000mm
(b) L=6000mm
(d) L=12000mm
Fig. 7. Bending stress distribution along the lip, ange and web lines (x-axis starts from the tip of lip and ends at the half of web length, h=200 mm, b=75 mm, c=20 mm,
t =2.0 mm, a=b/2). Top: k

=0. Middle: k

=300N. Bottom: k

=750N.
258 C. Ren et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 72 (2012) 254260
the increase of either beam length or the stiffness of rotational spring.
The rate of the decrease is found to be faster in a small section than in
a large section. It can also be observed from the gure that the mo-
ment correction factor calculated using the EN1993-1-3 model is
higher than that calculated using the present model, particularly
when the stiffness of the rotational spring is very small or very large.
Note that the main difference in the moment correction factors
between the present and EN1993-1-3 models is the torsional rigidity
[21]. In the present model the torsional rigidity is included, which
makes the moment correction factor smaller, particularly for cases
where the stiffness of the rotational spring is small. In the EN1993-
1-3 model, the torsional rigidity is not included. However, its spring
stiffness, that is Eq. (25), takes into account the inuence of the sec-
tion distortion, which makes the moment correction factor larger,
particularly for the case where the stiffness of the torsional spring is
large. This is why more difference in the moment correction factors
between the two models is found in the case where the stiffness of
rotational spring is either very large or very small. If the section dis-
tortion is ignored in the spring stiffness in EN1993-1-3 model (that
is, EN1993-1-3* plotted in Fig. 3 and the corresponding results are
represented by the plus, x-mark, and star symbols), then the moment
correction factor predicted by EN1993-1-3 model is found to be
higher for the small stiffness of rotational spring but lower for the
large stiffness of rotational spring than that calculated using the pre-
sent model.
Fig. 4 shows the variation of the ratio of the equivalent second
moment of cross-section area I
eq
used in the present model and that
I
fz
used in EN1993-1-3 model for 60 channel-sections of different
sizes produced by a UK manufacturer [20]. The justication of the def-
inition of I
eq
can be found in [21]. The gure shows that for all sections
the second moment of cross-section area employed in the EN1993-1-
3 model is smaller than the equivalent second moment used in the
present model. This indicates that the bending stress calculated
using EN1993-1-3 model will be higher. Note that the increase in
web length involved in I
fz
does not simply scale down or scale up
the bending stress in the ange. This is because although it increases
the value of I
fz
, it also changes the position of the neutral axis and thus
alters the stress distribution pattern in the ange. In literature there is
some argument on how to choose suitable web length to be included
in the beam-column model to calculate the out-of-plane bending
stress. In the Australia design codes [16], for example, it is suggested
to use 35% of the total web length, instead of the 20% of the total web
length as used in EN1993-1-3, in the beam-column model.
The third difference between the present and EN1993-1-3 models
is the coordinates used to calculate the bending stress in Eqs. (22) and
(27). EN1993-1-3 model does not take into account the warping
stress, whereas the present model does. Fig. 5 shows a comparison
of the bending stresses generated by the lateral displacement due to
the lateral load -k
h
q
z
along the lip, ange and web lines, obtained
from the two models, which shows a combined inuence of the sec-
ond moment of cross-section area and the coordinate. For the sim-
plicity of comparison, the correction factor in both models is not
applied (that is, k
R
=k
R

=1) and the stresses are normalised by


using the maximum value of
x1
. It can be seen from the gure that
the EN1993-1-3 model predicts higher stresses in the lip, web, and
most part of the ange than the present model does. It is only in the
small part near the angeweb junction of the large section where
the stress predicted by the EN1993-1-3 is slightly lower than that
predicted by the present model. This implies that the EN1993-1-3
model is more conservative in predicting the bending stresses.
5. Validation of the present model
The present model is validated by using both nite element anal-
ysis results and available experimental data. The nite element model
employed here is very similar to what we used for the zed-section
[21]. Fig. 6 shows a typical mesh employed in the analysis and the
deformed shape of the partially restrained channel-section purlin
under a uniformly distributed uplift load (a half of the beam). The
experimental data are taken from Hancock and his colleagues reports
[15,16], who described a series of tests on simply supported channel
section purlins with screw-fastened sheeting under wind uplift load-
ing, performed in a vacuum test rig.
Fig. 7 shows the detailed comparison of the total bending stresses
obtained from the nite element analysis, the present model and the
EN1993-1-3 model. It can be seen from the gure that, the results
predicted by the present model agree very well with the nite ele-
ment analysis results. While for most of cases the results provided
by the EN1993-1-3 model are over conservative, particularly when
the stiffness of the rotational spring is very small. Since the stresses
plotted in Fig. 7 are normalised by the maximum bending stress in
the web plane, the variation of the stress along the compression
ange reects the contribution of the bending stress due to lateral de-
ection. It can be found from the gure that, the lateral bending
reduces the bending stress (or alters the stress direction from com-
pression to tension) near the ange and lip junction but increases
the bending stress near the ange and web junction. The extent of the
reduction or increase in stresses is dependent on the stiffness of the
rotational spring. The larger the stiffness of the rotational spring, the
smaller the stress contributed by the lateral bending. It is noticed from
Fig. 7 that, the contribution of the lateral bending is very signicant to
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
-1.2
-1.1
-1
-0.9
-0.8
-0.7
-0.6
-0.5
-0.4
-0.3
-0.2
Lip, flange and half-web lines, mm
Present solution
EN1993-1-3
FEA
Rousch&Hancock test
(a)
(b)
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000
-30
-25
-20
-15
-10
-5
0
5
D
i
s
p
l
a
c
e
m
e
n
t
,

m
m
Beam Length, mm
Present solution
EN1993-1-3
FEA
Rousch&Hancock test
Fig. 8. (a) Bending stress distribution along the lip, ange and web lines (x-axis starts
from the tip of lip and ends at the half of the web length). (b) Lateral deection at
lower ange-web junction (h=202 mm, b=76.7 mm, c=20.8 mm, t =1.51 mm).
259 C. Ren et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 72 (2012) 254260
the total longitudinal bending stress, particularly when the stiffness of
the rotational spring is small.
Fig. 8 shows the comparison of total bending stresses and lateral
deections of the compression ange obtained from different models.
Again, the good agreement of the present model with the experimen-
tal data demonstrates that the linear bending model with taking into
account the warping torsion can provide a good prediction for the
bending stresses of the partially restrained channel-section purlin
subjected to uplift loading. In contrast, the bending stress provided
by EN1993-1-3 model is likely over-predicted.
6. Conclusions
This paper has presented an analytical model which can describe
the bending and twisting behaviour of the partially restrained
channel-section purlins when subjected to uplift loading. Formulae
to calculate the bending stresses of roof purlins have been derived
using the classical bending theory of thin-walled beams. Detailed
comparisons of bending stresses obtained from the nite element
analysis, available experimental data, the present model and the
EN1993-1-3 model are provided, which demonstrates that the linear
bending model with taking into account warping torsion can provide
good prediction for the bending stresses of the sheeting-purlin sys-
tem. The results obtained from the present model have also shown
that the longitudinal stress induced by the lateral bending is signi-
cant for channel-section purlins. This additional stress may change
the failure modes from lateral-torsional buckling to local or distor-
tional buckling.
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