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by Jason McCormick1

1

Assistant Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Axially loaded truss members, columns under combined axial load and bending, beam members in

flexure, braces in seismic braced frames, and members of seismic moment resisting frames all have

elements that experience compression under their design loads. The behavior of these elements can

dictate the strength of the member and connection if their slenderness allows the onset of local buckling

prior to full plastification of the section. As a result, limiting values for the slenderness of these elements

are set to ensure that the capacity of the member and connection can be reached prior to local buckling or

a lower design strength must be calculated. When the element in compression is part of a square or

rectangular HSS member, it is considered stiffened due to the restraint provided by the supporting

perpendicular walls and the width-thickness ratio, b/t, defines the slenderness of the element (Figure 1).

AISC 360-10 (Chapter B4) defines the width, b, of an HSS member as the clear distance between the

webs minus the inside corner radius on each side (b = B – 3t), where B is the outside width of the HSS

member. The thickness, t, is taken as the design wall thickness (t = 0.93tnom for electric-resistance-welded

A500 HSS or t = tnom for submerged-arc-welded or ERW A1085 HSS), where tnom is the nominal wall

thickness. Meanwhile, Eurocode 3 (CEN 2005) defines the width-thickness ratio as the outside width of

the HSS member minus two times the outside radius all divided by the wall thickness.

Figure 1. Diagram of the width and thickness dimensions used to calculate the width-thickness ratio (b/t)

Focusing on compression elements in HSS subject to flexure under predominately static loads, AISC 360-

10 (Table B4.1b, case 17) defines the maximum width-thickness ratio for an element to be considered

compact as:

𝐸

𝜆𝑝 = 1.12� (1)

𝐹𝑦

Equation 1 is adopted from Limit States Design of Steel Structures (CSA 2009) of the Canadian Standards

Association and corresponds closely to the class 1 limit of Eurocode 3 (CEN 2005). HSS whose elements

have width-thickness ratios below this limit will develop a fully plastic stress distribution prior to local

buckling. The limit separating a compact and non-compact element, λr, is defined as:

𝐸

𝜆𝑟 = 1.40� (2)

𝐹𝑦

which is the same limit that separates a non-slender and slender element in an HSS member under

compression. However, lower limits are required for seismic design as research has shown that cyclic

loading of square and rectangular sections can lead to premature fracture when local buckling occurs (Lui

and Goel 1987; Sherman 1995).

For seismic design, not only is the ability to develop the full plastic stress distribution of the section

desired, but also the ability to provide reliable and stable inelastic deformation to large deformation

levels. AISC 341-05 (Table I-8-1) defined a more stringent seismically compact width-thickness limit for

HSS members in flexure or flexural buckling:

𝐸

𝜆𝑝𝑠 = 0.64� (3)

𝐹𝑦

This limit was not only applied to rectangular and square HSS braces in special concentrically braced

frames, but also HSS braces in ordinary concentrically braced frames. The lower width-thickness limit is

a direct result of research performed by Lui and Goel (1987) and Sherman (1995), which showed that a

limit of λp (Equation 1) does not allow adequate inelastic behavior under cyclic loads. These studies

found that when rectangular HSS braces undergoing reversed axial load form a local buckle, fracture

occurs after only a limited number of cycles. A more recent study by Fell et al. (2006) on the behavior of

concentric braces led to an approximately 15% reduction in the width-thickness ratio, λhd, specified in

AISC 341-10 (Table D1.1) for highly ductile members that are expected to undergo stable inelastic

behavior up to rotation levels of 0.04 rad. λhd is defined as:

𝐸

𝜆ℎ𝑑 = 0.55� (4)

𝐹𝑦

Research has shown that large strains in the plastic hinge region that form at the mid-point of a square and

rectangular HSS brace member under seismic loads lead to the initiation of tearing at its corner. This

process is amplified for rectangular HSS due to a concentration of localized strains during cycling leading

to earlier fracture and smaller drift capacities (Sabelli et al. 2013). For moderately ductile members that

are expected to maintain a stable performance up to rotation levels of 0.02 rad., the maximum width-

thickness ratio, λmd, is the same as that given in Equation 3. However, it should be noted that since beam

and column members are expected to undergo flexure (not flexural buckling), there is a relaxation of the

moderately ductile width-thickness requirement to 𝜆𝑝 , which is typical of the moderately ductile limits for

most member types. The recent more stringent width-thickness seismic requirements have severely

limited the use of square and rectangular braces in seismic braced frame applications.

One reason for the lack of ductility and tearing that is seen to initiate at the corners of square and

rectangular HSS members under cyclic loading has to do with the cold forming process. This process

results in significant cold working at the corners of these sections and variability of the mechanical

properties of the material around the cross-section of square and rectangular HSS members. Figure 2

shows the monotonic tensile properties of coupon specimens taken from different locations around an

HSS 8x6x3/8 cross-section. In general, the average yield strength is approximately 20% higher for

material taken from the corner as opposed to the flat, but the average ductility ratio for the corner coupons

is 5.30 compared to 27.6 for the coupon specimens taken from the flats (Fadden and McCormick 2014).

These properties along with cycling play a critical role in the initiation of tearing at the corners of square

and rectangular braces leading to the restrictive width-thickness requirements for HSS members.

Figure 2. Tensile coupon specimen locations taken from an HSS 8x6x3/8 member and their corresponding

monotonic tensile response (Fadden and McCormick 2014).

The current λhd equation in AISC 341-10 is based on research conducted on square and rectangular HSS

bracing members undergoing reverse axial loading leading to eventual flexural buckling in the plastic

hinge region of the brace member. However, this requirement also is currently applied to highly ductile

members undergoing flexure, such as HSS beam members in a special moment resisting frame. As

interest in furthering seismic applications of HSS increase, there is a need to consider the performance of

HSS beam members undergoing cyclic flexural loads and the effect of local buckling on their behavior.

Recent experimental (Fadden and McCormick 2012) and finite element studies (McCormick and Fadden

2014) have considered the cyclic bending behavior of 11 and 133, respectively, square and rectangular

members. The findings showed that even under pure bending, HSS with large b/t are susceptible to

tearing initiating at the corners during cycling (Figure 3a). However, stable behavior can be achieved for

lower width-thickness ratios (Figure 3b).

(a) (b)

Figure 3. Plastic hinge region of the (a) HSS 10x8x1/4 with a b/t ratio of 31.3 (max. rotation = 0.068 rad.) and (b)

HSS 8x8x3/8 with a b/t ratio of 19.9 (max. rotation = 0.051 rad.)

For the 11 experimental tests and 133 modeled sections, the percent degradation of maximum moment at

0.04 rad. is evaluated to determine the effect that the width-thickness ratio has on the degradation of the

moment capacity under increasing rotation levels (Figure 4a). For current special moment resisting frame

design, it is desired that the plastic hinge form at the end of the beam member and the corresponding

connection must accommodate story drift angles of at least 0.04 rad. while maintaining 80% of the plastic

moment capacity of the beam (AISC 341-10, Chapter E6). The results of the study show an average

percent degradation of the moment capacity equal to 14.1%. Thirty-four sections show no degradation of

which the maximum b/t ratio is 17.6 and the average b/t ratio is 10.1. Based on a linear regression of the

findings, Equation 5 provides the expected percent degradation of the moment capacity (Deg0.04) at 0.04

rad. of rotation (Fadden and McCormick 2014).

𝑏 𝑏

𝐷𝑒𝑔0.04 = 0.012 � � − 0.064 7.0 ≤ � � ≤ 31.5 (5)

𝑡 𝑡

Figure 4b contains plots of Equation 5 and Equation 5 plus one standard deviation based on the 133

modeled sections. The results can be used to determine a potential limiting width-thickness ratio suitable

for HSS beam members used in seismic moment resisting frames given the need to maintain 80% of the

plastic moment of the beam member out to drift levels of 0.04 rad. Table 1 provides a comparison of the

limiting width-thickness ratios based on Equation 5, Equation 5 plus one standard deviation, AISC 341-

10 (λhd), AISC 341-05 (λps), AISC 360-10 (λp)and Eurocode 3 (class 1) assuming E = 29000 ksi and Fy =

46 ksi. Overall, the results suggest that local buckling may be a concern in the continued development of

HSS-based seismic moment frame systems, but HSS members are available that will allow the seismic

provisions to be met.

Figure 4. (a) Effect of the b/t ratio on the percent degradation of the maximum moment at 0.04 rad. for the finite

element model and experimental results and (b) prediction of the degradation of the maximum moment at 0.04 rad.

(adapted from Fadden and McCormick 2014)

AISC 340-10 AISC 340-05 AISC 360-10 Eurocode 3

Eqn. 5 Eqn. 5 + σ

(λhd) (λps) (λp) (class 1)

b/t 22 10.1 13.8* 16.1* 28.1* 28.4*

*

calculations assume E=29000 ksi and Fy=46 ksi

References

AISC. (2005). “Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel Buildings”. ANSI/AISC 341-05. American Institute of Steel

Construction, Chicago, IL.

AISC. (2010). “Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel Buildings”. ANSI/AISC 341-10. American Institute of Steel

Construction, Chicago, IL.

AISC. (2010). “Specifications for Structural Steel Buildings”. ANSI/AISC 360-10. American Institute of Steel

Construction, Chicago, IL.

CEN (2005). “Eurocode 3: Design of Steel Structures – Part 1-1: General Rules and Rules for Buildings”. EN 1993-

1-1:2005(E). European Committee for Standardization, Brussels, Belgium.

CSA (2009). “Limit States Design of Steel Structures”. CSA Standard S16-09. Canadian Standards Association,

Rexdale, Ontario, Canada.

Fadden, F. and McCormick, J. (2012). “Cyclic Quasi-Static Testing of Hollow Structural Section Beam Members”.

ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering, 138(5), 561-570.

Fadden, F. and McCormick, J. (2014). “Finite Element Model of the Cyclic Bending Behavior of Hollow Structural

Sections”. Journal of Constructional Steel Research, 94, 64-75.

Fell, B.V., Kanvinde, A.M., Deierlein, G.G., Myers, A.T. and Fu, X. (2006). “Buckling and Fracture of Concentric

Braces under Inelastic Cyclic Loading”. Steel Tips, Structural Steel Education Council, Moraga, CA.

Lui, Z. and Goel, S.C. (1987). “Investigation of Concrete-Filled Tubes under Cyclic Bending and Buckling”. UMCE

Report 87-3. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Sabelli, R., Roeder, C.W., and Hajjar, J.F. (2013). “Seismic Design of Steel Special Concentrically Braced Frame

Systems: A Guide for Practicing Engineers”. NEHRP Seismic Design Technical Brief No. 8, produced by

NEHRP Consultants Joint Venture, a partnership of the Applied Technology Council and the Consortium of

Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering for the National Institute of Standards and Technology,

Gaithersburg, MD, NIST GCR 13-917-24.

Sherman, D.R. (1995). “Stability Related Deterioration of Structures”. Proceedings of the Annual Technical Session

and Meeting, Structural Stability Research Council, Bethlehem, PA.

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