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Steel Corrugated Webs Introduction

High-performance steels, which are becoming increasingly available, are well suited for
highway bridge applications due to their high strength, excellent toughness, as well as good
weld ability and corrosion resistance.
These steels have the potential to produce considerable weight savings, although
impediments to their effective use in conventional stiffened flat web plate girders include the
potential for web instability, excessive deflections, and fatigue failure.
To overcome these limitations, innovative designs have been proposed, including the use of
corrugated webs to provide enhanced shear stability and eliminate the need for
transverse stiffeners.
The corrugated steel plate is a widely used structural element in many fields of application
because of its favorable properties and has been applied since the 1920s. It was firstly used in
aircraft structures with very thin web panels, then, extended for civil engineering applications
in buildings and bridges.
For the last 20 years, it has been increasingly used in the web of steel and composite bridges.
The Cognac Bridge built in France is the worlds first corrugated steel web bridge completed
in 1986. It is a three-span continuous box girder bridge with total length 0f 105m and
maximum span of 43m.

Fig.1.1 Cognac Bridge, France

The use of corrugated webs has been considered for a long time to increase the buckling
strength and out-of-plane stiffness eliminating the use of vertical stiffeners. It was, however,
found that the girders with corrugated webs are economic to use and can improve the
aesthetics of the structure.

As shown in Fig.1.2, the corrugated web bridge, in which the webs of conventional
prestressed concrete bridges were replaced by corrugated steel webs.
Numerous studies in the last years proved that the stress distribution in the girders with
corrugated webs are different from the conventional stress distribution of the traditional Igirders with flat webs under in-plane bending and shear. The different characteristics of the
stress distribution in the flange and web plates have an effect on the bending and shear
resistance, which can be considered in the design.

Fig.1.2. Schematic diagram of corrugated steel web prestressed concrete box girder

2. The Corrugated Web Girder Structural System

The corrugated web girder structural system consists of thin-walled corrugated webs and
flange. In the case of plate girder bridges with flat webs, they have the maximum moment
carrying capacity than any rolled sections.
To carry the moments, the section has to be slender and the slender sections are susceptible to
web buckling. So the web loses its buckling strength. Hence to avoid this buckling and to
gain maximum strength the focus was on the provision of corrugations on the web.
The purpose of using the corrugated web is that it allows the use of thin plates without the
need of stiffeners reducing the cost of fabrication and improves fatigue life. . It has been
estimated that these girders with corrugated webs may be 9 to 13% lighter than the
conventional stiffened girders with flat webs.

Types of Corrugations
Many types of corrugations are possible rectangular, trapezoidal and sinusoidal. Trapezoidal
and sinusoidal have attained more attention. A typical profile of a corrugated web is shown in
the Fig.2.1.

Fig.2.1 Profile of a girder with corrugated web

Purpose of Corrugations
For making the cross section efficient to resist in-plane bending it is required that maximum
material must be placed as far away from neutral axis as possible. As the depth of the section
increases, depth of the web increases and it becomes slender, premature failure of girder due
to web buckling in shear may occur.
Hence to reduce the slenderness ratio created by the high depth and small thickness of the
web, instead of using stiffeners, the corrugated web is the possible way to give stability
against elastic buckling of the web. The profile is such a way that it avoids failure of the
beam due to loss of instability before the web ultimate load is reached by web yielding.

3. Structural Behavior of Corrugated Webs

Flexural Behavior of Corrugated Webs
The flexural strength of girder with corrugated web plate is provided by the flanges with
almost no contribution from the web and no interaction between flexure and shear behavior.
The corrugated steel web solely provides the shear capacity of the girders where the shear
strength is controlled by buckling and/or steel yielding of the web. The flanges provide
boundary supports for the web.
This concludes the corrugated steel plate does not resist axial forces and bending moment but
has high resistance to shear buckling as shown in the fig.3.1. This effect can be defined as an
accordion effect.

In the case of prestressed concrete bridge girders, the accordion effect enables the upper and
lower decks of the girder to be prestressed efficiently. Hence the loss of prestressing is
reduced considerably compared to conventional box girder bridges.

Fig.3.1. Properties of corrugated steel plate webs

The axial force and bending moment distribution across the cross section of a box-girder is
shown in the fig.4.2. Here the flanges of the box girder are made of concrete and the concrete
webs are replaced by corrugated steel webs. The figure shows that there is the negligible
contribution of the corrugated webs on the axial force and the bending moment on the girder.

Fig.3.2. Effective cross-section for axial forces and bending moments

Shear Behavior of Corrugated Webs

Based on the experiments and the analysis carried out to date, it has been confirmed that the
applied shear force is completely resisted by the corrugated steel webs. The shear strength of
the corrugated web is a primary function of web height, thickness, the corrugation geometry,
and web imperfections also play an important role.

As mentioned before the corrugations provide stability to the web, eliminating the need for
transverse stiffeners that have a primary influence on the shear strength of conventionally
stiffened flat web plate girders.

Fig.3.3. Properties of corrugated steel plate webs

Corrugated webs do not carry significant longitudinal stresses from primary flexure of the
girders. Hence shear strength can be determined without consideration of moment shear
interaction. Hence design is carried out by assuming all the shear forces are resisted by
corrugated webs. The shear force distribution is shown in the fig.3.4

Fig.3.4. Effective cross-section for shear forces

4. Modes of failure of Corrugated Web Girder

Shear Buckling Behavior
The shear force applied to a girder with corrugated steel webs is resisted primarily by the
webs and the stresses in the corrugated webs are almost pure shear stresses, the instability
problem of this type of bridge often boils down to the shear buckling of the corrugated webs.
The stability of corrugated steel web can be assured by appropriate design of the form and
wavelength of the corrugations. Normally the minimum web thickness is determined taking
into account the corrugations and allowable shear stress needed.

There are three types of buckling modes local buckling, global buckling and interactive
Local Buckling
A local buckling mode corresponds to the instability of a steel strip simply supported between
two folds under uniform shear. It is critical only for deep folds. In the local buckling, the
corrugated web act as a series of flat panels that mutually support each other along their
vertical edges and are supported by the flanges at their horizontal edges.

Fig.4.1. Local Buckling in Corrugated Web

Global Buckling
Global buckling mode of corrugated webs is the mode in which the entire corrugated steel
web buckles. This mode is critical in webs with shallow folds.

Fig.4.2. Global Buckling in Corrugated Webs

Global buckling modes involve multiple folds and the buckled shape extends diagonally over
the depth of the web.
Interactive Buckling
An interactive buckling mode results from the interaction between local and global buckling
modes, and it is also the most difficult buckling mode to predict. Previous research studies

have shown that buckling failure of corrugated web is mainly governed by interactive shear

Torsional Behavior
Compared with conventional PC box girders, the out-plane-stiffness of corrugated steel webs
is relatively small, and hence cross-sections with corrugated steel webs tend to distort easily.
When the cross-sections distort, it reduces the torsional warping stresses. Therefore, when PC
box girder bridges with corrugated steel webs are adopted for curved or skewed bridges, it is
necessary to provide diaphragms at suitable intervals to control any cross-sectional distortion.

5. Advantages of Corrugated Webs

The introduction of corrugated webs in bridge girders has gained many advantages. Its
advantages had led to its manufacture and use in Sweden, France, Germany, and Japan. It
wide properties have increased its applications in the construction of beams. The advantages
of corrugated webs in bridge girders have been listed.

Compared to the concrete web, the lighter corrugated steel web leads to reduced
seismic forces and smaller substructures, thereby reducing the construction cost of the

Compared to the flat steel web, the corrugated steel web has higher out of plane
stiffness and shear buckling resistance even without additional stiffeners, which
considerably reduces the material and labor costs of fabricating superstructures.

A bridge with corrugated webs 20% lighter than a bridge with concrete webs. An
accordion effect requires the PC strand 20% less than a bridge with concrete webs.
Therefore, a bridge with corrugated webs more inexpensive than a bridge with
concrete webs for a span longer than 50 m.

A girder with corrugated webs can be connected to a steel box girder. That makes a
long span hybrid bridge made of a girder with corrugated webs and steel box.

A bridge with corrugated webs emits the carbon dioxide 20% less than a steel bridge
and concrete bridge. Hence a bridge with corrugated webs is eco-friendly.

The materials are used more efficiently because concrete is expected to resist
primarily the bending moment and steel is to carry shear.

Box girder bridges with corrugated steel webs are economic and competitive for spans
exceeding 100m.

It provides amazing aesthetics.

6. Conclusion

The corrugated steel webs, which take advantages of steel and concrete, have proved to be
one of the promising solutions that can reduce the self-weight of main girders, thereby
enabling the use of longer spans and reduction of construction cost. Even though corrugated
web girders are still new and less than 10 bridges have been built worldwide, the provided
benefits have the potential of significant economic advantages for upcoming projects.

[1]Rui Juan Jiang, Francis Tat Kwong Au and Yu Feng Xiao, Prestressed Concrete Girder
Bridges with Corrugated Steel Webs:Review,Journal of Structural Engineering, July 7,2014.
[2] Sedky Abdullah Tohamy, Osama Mohamed Abu El Ela, Amr Bakr Saddek, Ahmed
Ibrahim Mohamed, Efficiency of plate girder with corrugated web
Versus plate girder with flat web,Minia Journal of Engineering and Technology,January
[3]B.Kovesdi, L.Dunai,Fatigue life of girders with trapezoidally corrugated web : An
Experimental Study, International Journal of Fatigue, March 3,2014,Page 22-32.
[4]M.F.Hassanein, O.F.Kharoob,Behaviour of bridge girders with corrugated webs:
(II)Shear strength and design,Engineering Structures,June 17,2013,Page 544-553.