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Tension Member [Refer to Section 6]

A structural member subjected to tensile force along its longitudinal axis is Tension
Member. Tension member does not buckle so it is considered as most efficient and
economical structural steel member. Tension members are encountered in many steel
structures such as bridges, industrial structures, roofs, towers, steel frames etc.

5.1 Types of Tension Members

Depending upon the stiffness of tension member, it can be categorized into four types.

i. Cables

ii. Rods and bars

iii. Member of single rolled steel section

iv. Member of Built-up section

Cables are made by twisting wires into strands. They have no stiffness. Primarily, they
are employed in cable structures as suspension cables, guy wires and suspenders.

Rods and bars are made from hot rolled square or round rods or flat bars. They have
little stiffness. They are employed as tension member in bracing system or as main
member in very light structures.

Cables, Rods, Bars are not suitable, when certain amount of rigidity of member required
or when load reversals may subject the tension member. In such cases, single or built-
up rolled steel sections are employed. Single or built-up sections for tension member
are decided on the basis of cross sectional area and stiffness required.

5.2 Sectional Area of Tension Member

Net sectional area of tension member is found by deducting the holes required for
connection from gross sectional area of tension member and considering staggered
pitch of holes if any.
( )
b - Width of plate p - Pitch
ps - Staggered pitch g – Gauge
( ∑ )
n - Number of hole at the section

Lc ps

Chain arrangement of bolts Diamond/staggered arrangement of bolts

Tension Member

For Angle and T-section connected through only one leg instead of net sectional area,
effective net sectional area of member is used in design. Effective net sectional area is found
by reducing the net sectional area of member.


- Effective net sectional area of tension member

k1 – Ductility factor, k1 = 1 for commonly used structural steel
k2 – Factor for method of fabrication, k2 = 0.85 for punched hole, 1 for drilled hole
k3 – Geometry factor, k3 depends on g/d ratio and varies from 0.9 to 1.14
k4 – Shear lag factor, k4 depends on length of connection Lc and position of c.g. ̅ with
respect to connected leg. Smaller ̅ and larger Lc gives higher Ane.

As per IS 800 : 2007

For preliminary sizing of members k4 ≈

[Refer to cl.6.3.3] ̅
α = 0.6 for two bolts
0.7 for three bolts
0.8 for four or more bolts
0.8 for welds

5.3 Design of Tension Member of Simple and Built-Up Section

Design of tension member depends on its nature of expected failure.
Tension member may fail due to
i. Considerable deformation of tension member before it fractures called gross
section yielding.

ii. Rupture of tension member when ultimate stress reaches at its net sectional
area called net section rupture.
iii. Shearing of a segment of tension member at end called block shear failure.

Design Principle [Refer to cl. 6.1]

Tension member is designed or size of tension member is verified determining the design
strength of tension member and checking the following condition.
T – Design tensile force
Td – Design strength of tension member

Design Strength of Tension Member is found as follow.

i. Design Strength due to yielding [Refer to cl. 6.2]

ii. Design Strength due to rupture [Refer to cl. 6.3]

for Single Angle Section [Refer cl.6.3.3]

for Flat/Plate Section [Refer cl.6.3.1]


( )( )( )

t – Thickness of plate
Lc – Length of connection
w w
bs – Shear lag distance
bs = w+w1 bs = w

An - Net sectional area of plate

( ∑ ) for staggered arrangement of bolts
( ) for chain arrangement of bolts

- Partial safety factor for material

iii. Design strength due to block shear [Refer to cl. 6.4]



- Partial safety factor for material; = 1.1

Design Steps of Tension Member Subjected to Axial Tensile Load

i. Find net area of tension member

ii. Find the gross sectional area of tension member

( )

iii. Select appropriate steel section so that

Selected gross sectional area of member ≥ Ag

iv. Design connection

Ref. to connection design

v. Check the following condition

vi. Check slenderness ratio (S.R.) of tension member

S.R. of member = Effective length of tension member/Radius of gyration ≤ 180

5.4 Design of Lug Angle [Refer to cl. 10.12]

Sometimes connection length turns out to be long. Long connection may increase
the cost of connection or may adversely affect the aesthetic of structure. In the case
reduction of length of connection becomes necessary. Additional angle section is
used to reduce the length of connection called Lug Angle.

I. Design of Lug Angle with Angle Section

Lug Angle no Angle


Design ng
i. Find number of bolts (nc) required for connection of connected leg with gusset plate

ii. Find number of bolts (no) required for connection of outstanding leg with lug angle
and number of bolts (ng) required for connection of lug angle with gusset plate

iii. Find sectional area of lug angle (Ag) and select appropriate section for lug angle


Po - Load shared by outstanding leg;

Pc - Load shared by connected leg;

Ac - Area of connected leg

Ao - Area of outstanding leg
A - Area of connected and outstanding leg

II. Design of Lug Angle with Channel Section

Channel nf
Lug Angle

nw ng

i. Find number of bolts (nw) required for connection of web of channel with gusset

ii. Find number of bolts (nf) required for connection of flange of channel with lug angle
and number of blots (ng) required for connection of lug angle with gusset plate.

iii. Find sectional area of lug angle (Ag) and select appropriate section for lug angle


Pw - Load shared by web;

Pf - Load shared by flange;

Aw - Area of web
Af - Area of flange

A - Area of web and flange

5.5 Tension Splice

A tension member is to be spliced when the available length of the member is less than
the required length or when it is required to connect the tension members of different
sections or sizes. Tension member is spliced by using cover plates. Tension splices are
designed for the pull required to transmit by the tension member. If the tension
members are of unequal thickness, then packing is used to get the surfaces of tension
members in one level. The number of bolts designed for tensile load through packing
greater than 6mm thick shall be increased. This is achieved by decreasing the shear
capacity of bolt by factor

= (1- 0.00125 tpk) [Refer to cl.]

tpk – thickness of packing