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Tests on Interactive Buckling of Stiffened Plates

The imperfection sensitivity of buckling loads is e x a m i n e d

for structures dimensioned on optimum-design principles

by C.P. Ellinas, P. Kaoulla, S. Kattura and J.G.A. Croll

ABSTRACT--Tee-section columns have been tested under p. 35). This philosophy of optimal design received
conditions that provide a close relationship between the results widespread acceptance over the period of expansion in the
so obtained and the behavior of certain classes of stiffened- aerospace industries in the second quarter of this century,
plate structures, it is shown that severe imperfection sensitivity eventually coming to form the basis of many of the classic
arises when the overall column critical load is coincident, or works on minimum weight analysis J - ' But it has recently
nearly coincident, with the local torsional critical load of the
been suggested that considerable caution needs to be
stiffener. And, although the present results are clearly not
directly applicable to stiffened-plate design, it is suggested exercised in adopting this approach to structures displaying
that, if these systems are to be designed with even greater many possible modes of buckling. 5'6
material efficiencies than at present, the interactive mechanics Many of the earlier discussions on minimum-weight
observed could acquire increasing design importance. design recognized the fact that, as one approached the
Accordingly, suggestions ate made as to the form of research optimal geometry, a classical estimate of collapse load
needed to provide a rational basis for the design of such "determines the upper limit to the efficient utilization of
'optimized' stiffened-plate structures. structural materials," and that when all the necessary
"compromises . . . in design and fabrication" are taken
List of Symbols into account, the structure "can rarely expect to realize
these upper limits" (Ref. 4, p. xi). Accordingly, it was the
b spacing between stiffeners usual practice in aerospace applications to perform
d = depth of stiffeners extensive experimental investigations on individual com-
D = flexural rigidity of stiffener plate ponents and complete airframes, to ensure that the as-built
e = eccentricity of axial load system possessed adequate safety factors. This practice,
Co fabrication imperfection although feasible in a typical production run, where many
E = modulus of elasticity hundreds of identical structures are manufactured, becomes
F = force in load cell impractical when a one-off, large-scale structure is being
F o = initial force in load cell designed. In these cases, it is necessary to incorporate
I = second moment of area of T-section reliable estimates of the upper limits of strength in the
k = constant used for local critical load design process itself, and not to rely on the classical
f = wavelength of local critical mode--lateral stiffener estimates of collapse loads as many current design proposals
spacing suggestJ ,~ It is the aim of the present experimental program
L length of model to illustrate the dangers of relying on classical estimates of
P = axial load collapse for a structural component of increasingly wide
P b = maximum or buckling load
application--the stiffened plate; also to show that, while
ecrlt minimum critical load classical minimum-weight principles may provide a useful
P~: = overall or 'Euler' critical load means of deriving suitable structural geometries, the com-
e L = local critical load bined effects of structural imperfections and the highly
P , = uniform axial-compression yield load
unstable forms of buckling behavior make classical
t = thickness of stiffener and flange plates estimates of collapse loads an unreliable basis for the
6 = maximum overall deformation of model design of these components. An additional aim is to
# = Poisson's ratio
suggest that, until reliable methods for estimating the
reductions in collapse load become available, it might
Introduction indeed be fortunate that "in practice such ideal conditions"
for achieving simultaneous buckling "may not be easily
In discussing the question of optimal structural design,
obtained" (Ref. 1, p. 35).
it has recently been accepted' that "for a given loading
Structures composed of flat plates are currently receiving
system, the maximum efficiency can be obtained when all
considerable interest in relation to the economies they
possible modes of failure (overall and local instabilities, permit in the construction of box-girder bridges, ocean
yielding of material, etc.) occur at the same time" (Ref. 1, drilling platforms and ship hulls, to name a few. For the
buckling of such plate assemblages, Van der Neut was the
first to draw explicit attention to the potential dangers
C.P. Ellinas and J.G.A. Croll are Research Assistant and Lecturer, arising when deformations into local and overall modes
respectively, Department o f Civil and Municipal Engineering, UniversRy
College, London, England. P. Kaoulla is associated with R.H. Husband
for a box column occur at around the same critical
and Partners, Consulting Engineers, London. S. Kattura is associated with loads. 9 Since its presentation, many others have con-
Public Works Division, Kuwait Government, Kuwait. centrated on the mechanics of imperfection sensitivity

Experimental Mechanics J 455


Latera ~,
Fig. 1--Typical stiffened plate showing
element modeled in tests

"~'~ F'Lange~ b

associated with this simultaneous or near simultaneous single longitudinal stiffener taken from a stiffened plate
mode design for the box column. '~ Each of these of sufficient width, so that, under uniform axial compression,
contributions has drawn attention to the severe imperfection adjacent longitudinal stiffeners would all behave identically.
sensitivity that occurs in the box column or wide sandwich Use of this symmetry is suggested in Fig. 1.
panel when the simultaneous critical load, or "naive ''6 Both the stiffener and flange plates were cut from mild-
approach to optimum design is pursued. On account of steel sheet. After machining to the exact dimensions, the
their rather wide applicability, it was natural that similar stiffeners were attached to the flange plates by means of a
attention would soon be directed toward the possibility of spot-welding technique. For this attachment, one side of
similar phenomena occurring in the behavior of stiffened the stiffener panel was cut to a depth of 10 ram, at
plates. approximately 10-mm intervals, over its full length.
The following describes a short series of experiments, Alternate strips so formed were then bent, as shown in
performed in 1972 as a final-year undergraduate research Fig. 2(a), to either side of th e stiffener to provide sufficient
project, whose objective was that of confirming the metal to allow the stiffener plate to be spot-welded to the
predictions of possibly severe imperfection sensitivity for flange plate. Apart from the laboratory fabrication con-
the interactive buckling that would arise when stiffened venience this allowed, such a joint effectively eliminated
plates are highly optimized. The experimental program any significance of residual welding stresses. Further, it
does not provide definitive information on the behavior closely simulated the common prototype connection in
of stiffened plates--this was not the intention. What it which stiffeners are attached to the flange, as shown in
does show is that the reduction in the buckling loads, Fig. 2(b), by intermittent welds staggered alternately on
from those predicted from a linearized critical-load analysis, either side of the stiffener. Attachment of the short sections
is sufficiently severe for this phenomenon to warrant of lateral stiffener was achieved by a similar spot-welding
considerably greater attention than it has received in the technique.
past. Once fabricated, the models were welded to end plates,
each with four studs allowing the carefully prepared vee-
The Models notch support arrangement to be attached. The vee-notch
end-support plates had slotted bolt holes to allow adjust-
The models were chosen to approximate the action of a ment of the vee-notch to any desired eccentricity with

~L~J stiffener~-~l~ . . . . . t Id
I I I |

Fig. 2--(a)Staggered spot lOmm

welding used in models
(b) Staggered fillet welding
common in prototype
stiffened-plate structures

-- 'lOmm ~ Ftange plat e" Y


(a) (b)

456 J December 1977

S c r e w adju'5 t m en t - - - ~
d ev:c e

250mm 1750 nr,, Load ce(I - - - - 250ram

" Load t r a n s m i t t i n g

Dial gages
F /'
. .....J

r rq+ --- Knife edge . . . .

er head

I.-,,,~,.-.,-b - -- End p l a t e -

Guide box - - -- [ !1 i
Flange plate ....
L !l
Cou nt erweJ ~ h t
RJgld p l a t e s
support frzme
-~y [
E Micrometer screws

~z [ Lat era[
. Lor g : t u d ,/a[ b ae r i ng sapport
, --.
stiffener t

_ Lateral b e a r ng

Vee ,'~ot c h Section YY

/Y ,Nv'vv'x,y'vv~ vYx
?~/////,I Light contact

/My ~ Y s ( k , ~

Lx Section XX

Section ZZ
Fig. 3 - - D e t a i l s of model and test rig

respect to the neutral axis of the T-section. It is estimated than 3 deg, so that any tendency for horizontal loading at
that eccentricities could be set to within _+0.1 mm using the load-transmitting bearing at B was small. But, in any
this arrangement. The models were then placed into the case, these horizontal loads would, for the reasons discussed
support frame by means of a fixed knife edge at the above, not be transmitted to the models, but would be
bottom, and a knife edge attached to a plunger head at absorbed by the support structure.
the top. The plunger itself was constrained to move The knife edge and supports were such that, while
vertically by means of 4 sets of roller bearings between it offering no resistance to overall flexural rotations of the
and a rigid hollow mild-steel guide box as shown in Fig. 3. models, they provided complete rigidity to torsional
By this means, the overall buckling of the T-section rotations. However, to prevent an overall torsional buckling
corresponded with that of a simply supported column, of the T-section from occurring, four sets of roller bearings
with any small component of horizontal load, occurring were attached in positions shown in Fig. 3, in such a way
at the load-transmitting bearing, being transmitted directly that they would correspond with the locations of typical
into the support frame. lateral stiffeners in an orthotropically stiffened plate. Like
To enable some information to be obtained on the the case of the orthotropically stiffened plate, the lateral
elasto-plastic unloading that takes place after the maximum deformations of the stiffener were prevented at the positions
loads are reached, the semi-rigid loading device shown in of these lateral bearing supports. The roller bearings were
Fig. 3 was employed. For this, a constant counterweight housed in carefully machined bearing blocks rigidly
W was applied at the end D of an effectively rigid beam connected to the model, but positioned so that they
AD. Beam AD was pinned at A and supported through a constrained the model to move between two smooth,
load cell and screw adjustment device at C. Initially, the effectively rigid, parallel plates. In positioning the models
loading arm and counterweight were equilibrated by in the support rig, it was found that considerable care was
developing a force, Fo, in the load cell. To load the model, necessary to ensure that, while suppressing these deforma-
the screw device at C was adjusted to produce the desired tions, the bearings provided negligible resistance to the
displacement at B. By recording the new force, F , in the overall deformations occurring in the column. During
load cell, the vertical load, P , being transmitted to the testing, additional precautions were taken to ensure that
model was then calculated from the expression these bearings offered no significant frictional constraint
to the overall deformations of the model. The system was
P = 8(Fo - F) unloaded at frequent intervals throughout the loading
range. If the model returned back to its original deforma-
With the restrictions of load-cell accuracy, the axial load tion state to within the recording accuracy, it was concluded
P could be established to an accuracy of + 0.30 kN. The that nonconservative effects of all sources had not
rotations of beam AD, on loading, were at all times less occurred. Apart from these bearings, the longitudinal

Experimental Mechanics I 457

edges of the flange plates were stress free. TABLE 1 - - S U M M A R Y OF MODEL GEOMETRY AND CRITICAL
With the above arrangement, the models did not LOAD CHARACTERISTICS
completely simulate the continuity condition that would,
in reality, exist between adjacent stiffener elements in a Model b d t b d PL PL Pc.,
typical stiffened plate. In addition, with this experimentally Group (mm) (mm) (ram) d t (kN) PE P~
more convenient longitudinal edge condition, the model
would display somewhat differera initial local buckling A 100 16.5 1.17 6.06 14.1 8.16 1.82 0.160
characteristics to that of a typical stiffener in a wide B 100 20.5 1.17 4.87 17.5 8.56 1.04 0.285
stiffened plate. However, for the interactive buckling C 100 28.5 1.17 3.51 24.4 9.21 0.45 0.299
being studied, in which the overall buckling sets the flange
in tension, so that it tends to increase the out-of-plane
deformation of the stiffener and decrease that in the
flange plates, the effects of these approximations decrease
as the overall deformation increases. At the maximum, or with the longitudinal stiffener spacing or, in the present
buckling, loads found in the models, the overall deforma- context, flange width b = 100 mm, and the lateral
tions were found to be sufficiently large that this effect stiffener spacing e - - 1 6 6 mm. Overall, the effective
would have had only a minor influence on the buckling lengths of the T-section columns were L -- 890 mm. With
characteristics. In any case, these slight physical differences these dimensions held constant, the ratio between the
would not affect the important phenomenon displayed by overall column critical load, PE, and the minimum local
the models. torsional critical load, PL, was then controlled with the
Cross sections considered were of the type shown in only remaining cross-sectional dimension, d. The overall
Fig. 4, and dimensions of the models were chosen to be column critical load was calculated using the Euler
typical of those employed in existing prototype box- equation
girder structures. In these structures, nondimensional 7r2EI
relationships among the stiffener depth, d, the lateral PE-- L 2
spacing between longitudinal stiffeners, b, and the stiffener
thickness, t, will generally lie in the ranges ~6 for a simply supported column of length, L , second
b moment of area about the neutral axis, I, and modulus
3 <--~ < 6 of elasticity, E.
The minimum local torsional critical load, PL, was
15<d<25 calculated using a Rayleigh-Ritz method similar to that
t suggested by Timoshenko." In this analysis, only the
length of T-section between two consecutive lateral
For the present models, the flange and web were fabricated stiffeners was considered. By taking suitable displacement
from the same mild-steel plate of thickness t = 1.17 mm, functions for both the stiffener and the flange, the local

P Models
kN Group C /

lrZ //'
Fig. 4--Variation of overall, Models Models
P~, and local, PL, critical Group a GroupB
loads with stiffener depth, d /

0.0 10.0 20.0 d mm

458 I December 1977

torsional critical load was given in the same form as _+0.0025 ram. Out-of-plane deformations of the flanges
Timoshenko by and stiffener were measured with similar screw micrometers.
P~ = k . - -
d Test Results
Two models from each of groups A, B and C were
where D is the flexural rigidity of the stiffener plate, and fabricated and tested. Each model was first exhaustively
b tested under elastic conditions for a wide range of differing
(I + -d)
. @,, load eccentricities. The general procedure followed was to
load the model up to a level where incremental displace-
I1 + ments became excessive, suggesting that a limit point
was imminent. To enable retesting of the models, it was
6(1 - ff)(l + generally not possible to actually observe the maximum
for each imperfection test. For, even with the very rigid
loading system employed, it was not always possible to
For the special case of no flange, that is, b = 0, the edge stabilize all equilibrium states on the equilibrium path
of the web connected to the flange would reduce to a subsequent to reaching the maximum load. In these
simple support, and the coefficient k reduces to circumstances, a violent dynamic snap-buckling occurred
almost simultaneously with the attainment of the limit
k = 0.444 + ( d ~ , state. During the dynamic 'snap', plastic collapse was
found to occur. It was for this reason that it was possible
to test only two of the eccentricities over the full elasto-
which compares closely with the expression plastic loading range.
For all experiments reported, unloading checks were
k = 0.456 + [ d ~ z made at frequent intervals to ensure that no permanent set
had occurred during the previous load increment. Also,
given by Timoshenko (Ref. 15, p. 362). Figure 4 shows each elastic test was performed at least twice, to ensure
the dependence of both P~ and PL on the stiffener depth, repeatability of the results. When all the elastic tests were
d, and indicates the three values of d chosen for the completed, one of each model group was tested to
present models. Table 1 summarizes the geometric destruction with as small a loading eccentricity as possible.
properties of these three models. The second model from each group was then tested to
destruction with a large eccentricity. Detailed results were
All models were fabricated from mild-steel sheet with a
modulus of elasticity of 206 GN/m 2, Poisson's ratio of as follows :
0.27, and a yield stress of 205 MN/m 2. With these
characteristics, the axial force at the minimum critical Group A
load, P~ri,, would be approximately a quarter of the
axial load-producing yield, Py, had the column remained F i g u r e 5 s u m m a r i z e s the results f o r tests o n the m o d e l s
straight. with d = 16.5 mm, for which the minimum local critical
For all models tested, the overall deformation was load is almost twice the overall 'Euler' critical load.
measured using a light contact screw micrometer as Clearly shown on the plot of axial load, P , against the
depicted in Fig. 3, with reading accuracy to within maximum component of overall deformation, 6, is the

Pl ' '~P I
0 ~OJ;
10 A

e : C C, m r~

:d:16 b

2s : ~/ '

05 ~,s 05 4 . . . . . . . . .


@.0 0. O If
O0 5 0 5 mm 0.0 100 e Mm

(a) (b)
Fig 5 - - ( a ) Nature of load-overall d e f o r m a t i o n response for varying load eccentricity, e. Models with P,/P, = 1 8 2
(b) Sensitivity of buckling load, P,,, to the magnitude of load eccentricity, e

Experimental Mechanics I 459

P/P P I P E =~ 0~,
Group B
1.0 1.0 I

tzl 17 LP

- ~ : 2 0 5
i \ 8 e
e=00 i \

0.5 0.5
' . / ~ ' ~ 0 13 0
I eo

0.0 0.0 I

0.0 10.0 6 mm 0.0 10.0 e mm

(a) (b)
Fig. 6 - - ( a ) N a t u r e of load-overall deformation response for varying load eccentricity, e. Models with PLIPF = 1.04.
(b) Sensitivity of buckling load, P,,, to the magnitude of ioad eccentricity, e

very severe sensitivity of the nonlinear response t o the as shown in Fig. 6(a), additional small changes in positive
magnitudes of the single imperfection of load eccentricity load eccentricity result in very substantial additional
that was able to be controlled in these tests. The maximum reductions in the buckling load. For example, an eccentricity
loads reached, Pb, both measured and extrapolated, are of only e = 3.5 ram, or an out-of-straightness of approxi-
shown in Fig. 5(b) to highlight these characteristics of mately 1 in 300, gives rise to a buckling load of only 40
imperfection sensitivity. With an eccentricity e = 0 percent that of the minimum overall 'Euler' critical load.
representing the load applied at the neutral axis of the T- For an unrealistic load offset of e = 19.5, or its equivalent
section, the reduction in maximum or buckling load to 85 1 in 50 out-of-straightness, the buckling load was found
percent that of the minimum critical load is primarily due to occur just after the onset of plasticity at a load of
to the very small overall and local fabrication imperfections less than 20 percent that of the minimum critical load.
that must inevitably exist in the models. Small changes in But again the severe imperfection sensitivity is more
loading eccentricity, which of course represent only one clearly shown in Fig. 6(b), where the locus of buckling
component of the critical imperfection, are seen to loads, Pb, both measured and extrapolated, shows how an
produce very severe additional changes in the buckling extremely minor change of small loading eccentricities
load. With an eccentricity of e = 10 mm, which would be and, of course, by implication, also an equivalent overall
almost equivalent to an out-of-straightness of 1 in 100, geometric imperfection, results in a very large change in
the buckling load is reduced to only 35 percent of the the buckling load. This form of behavior is that which
minimum critical load which, in this case, corresponds would accompany the highly unstable form of associated
with that of the overall 'Euler' critical load. interactive bifurcation predicted from a classical post-
With a negative eccentricity greater than co, the column buckling analysis. So that, for experiments carried out on
buckling was such that the flange and not the stiffener a large number of different test specimens, all nominally
was subject to the greatest intensity of compressive stress. the same but with slightly different inherent geometric
In this case, it was the destiffening of the flange which imperfections, a large scatter in experimental results could
largely controlled the local buckling and, consequently, be expected. In these cases, the buckling loads may be
the interactive buckling. The results for these cases were considerably lower than the minimum classical critical
found to be qualitatively similar to those described above. loads; a form of behavior which has been observed for a
However, it must be remembered that the idealizations long time in relation to tests on thin shells, and for which
involved in the present models make this interaction of considerable research effort has been expended to
little direct practical relevance to the problem of a wide, understand the causes.
multiply stiffened plate. For this reason, the results of What is also more evident in Fig. 6(b) is the fact that a
these tests are not included. small change in a large load eccentricity produces a
proportionally smaller change in buckling load than that
Group B for small imperfections. For the present case, the buckling
load would appear to be tending toward a lower bound
The extreme sensitivitY of the buckling load to small asymptote at a load level around 20 percent of the minimum
imperfections is illustrated in this case of almost simultaneous critical load, P~. It has recently been suggested that the
local and overall critical loads, that is optimum design, ~ estimation of this lower bound could play an important
in Fig. 6. Even for an axial load applied at the neutral role in the provision of safe design estimates of buckling
axis, that is at e = 0, the buckling load for t h i s model loads for such imperfection-sensitive structures. ' 3.,4,, 7.,8
was only 70 percent of the minimum critical load. Also, As for the tests in Fig. 5, the results of Fig. 6(b) again

460 I December 1977

Group C
~.0 1.0
..... l . . . . .

~ 5Z}

Lb:,O d
0.5 0.5

U -7

0.0 0.0 i

0.0 100 ,~ m m 0.0 10.0 e m m

(a) (b)
Fig 7--(a) Nature of load-overall deformation response for varying load eccentricity, e. Model with P, iP~ - 05.
(b) Sensitivity of buckling load, P,,, to the magnitude of load eccentricity, e

suggest that, if the axial load P were applied with a dependence upon the magnitude of the controlled overall
negative eccentricity, then it would compensate some of load eccentricity, e, and, as shown in Fig. 7(b), the
the overall geometric imperfections that exist in the magnitudes of the elastic buckling loads, Pb, are also
models. Indeed, if the locus of Pb, shown in Fig. 6(b), highly dependent upon the magnitudes of these imperfections.
were extrapolated back to Pb/P, = 1, then an eccentricity Unlike either of the previous groups of tests, though,
of -eo would be required to counterbalance the other the experiments of group C enabled the colunm, with
inherent geometric flaws that exist in the models. These very small loading imperfections, to sustain loads slightly
geometric flaws would be composed of distortions both in excess of the minimum local critical load. This can be
in the form of the local-buckling mode and in the overall explained in much the same way as the response of the
mode. But the results for e = 0.0, presented in Fig. 6(b), related box-column interactive buckling. ~8 In the box
show that, even with the semi-rigid loading device used column, the post-critical stiffness of the local buckling
for the present tests, the equilibrium states just beyond allows loads slightly in excess of the local critical load to
the maximum load are unstable. Consequently, an un- occur for increasing local distortion. Maximum loads occur
controlled dynamic snap buckling occurred. During this in these cases when the local distortions have reached
snap-buckling, the model was found to develop plastic magnitudes sufficient to produce a reduction in the effective
deformations, so that the behavior beyond the dynamic overall column stiffness to a level that the current
snap-buckling corresponded to an elasto-plastic unloading. column critical load just equals the load level producing
At large overall displacements, the models had developed these local distortions. The magnitude of this load reserve
well-defined plastic-collapse mechanism. Even for the depends largely upon the magnitudes of local fabrication
e = 19.5 mm case, a sudden plastic unloading occurred imperfections in the model. Again, for reasons discussed
at a small deflection subsequent to reaching the maximum in relation to the box column, '8 the lower bound asymptote
axial load. occurs for the present models at a somewhat higher load
It is perhaps worth stressing that had the tests been level. From Fig. 7(b), it appears that the lower bound
performed using a force-controlled loading device, which asymptote is around 0.25PL.
is perhaps closer to the situation that occurs in, say, a
box-girder bridge, the buckling would have taken place D i s c u s s i o n and C o n c l u s i o n s
with considerably greater violence. The instant a maximum
load was reached in these cases, an explosive snap-buckling The limited number of tests described clearly show the
would occur, and the system would suffer gross plastic potential significance of interactive buckling behavior for
distortions before static equilibrium could again be the T-section models and, by analogy, for an important
restored at this load. class of stiffened-plate structures. By choosing dimensions
of the models so that they are typical of those existing in
prototype structures, it has been demonstrated that, in
Group C
using the simultaneous critical-load philosophy of
The results for this group of tests, shown in Fig. 7, 'optimum design', it is not adequate to rely on the usual
display similar characteristics to those of group A. Again, linear estimates of critical load and the conventional factors
the load paths represented in Fig. 7(a) show strong of safety. The combined effects of initial imperfections,

Experimental Mechanics I 461

and the progressive coupling between local and overall (c) the elucidation of simple but reliable lower-bound
buckling modes, may result in elastic buckling loads estimates of elastic-buckling loads, which, in the manner
considerably lower than the minimum critical load and, suggested in Ref. 18 for box columns, could be crucial
unlike the case of single mode buckling that occurs in design aids;
columns or even unstiffened plates, buckling can occur (d) reliable estimates of plastic-collapse loads which take
with little warning and with considerable violence. full account of their dependence upon the precollapse
The severe reductions in buckling loads reported can be local and overall elastic deformations.
interpreted in terms of two complementary effects. First,
the influence of the initial overall geometric distortions
and the loading eccentricity apply to the column a non- ExperimentalAccuracy
uniform distribution of compressive stresses, in which the With the limitations to load and deformation recording
longitudinal fibers at the free edge of the stiffener are accuracy noted above, it is estimated that the experimental
subjected to compressive stresses higher than the average. plots in Figs. 5 to 7 could be obtained to within 1-2 percent
Due to this redistributed stress, the axial load needed to in the vicinity of the buckling loads. Taking into account
produce local torsional buckling of the stiffener is reduced. the accuracies of recording model geometry, material
As loading progresses, the corresponding overall column properties and loading eccentricities, together with the
deformation further increases the effective eccentricity of small uncertainties arising from support and bearing
the load, so that the ratio of maximum fiber compressive friction, the overall accuracy of the results is estimated
stress to the average is continuously increasing with to be within 6 percent.
increasing load. Correspondingly, the load needed to
produce local buckling will also be reducing as loading
progresses. Acknowledgments
But, in addition to the above, there is the second and The experimental results described were part of an
complementary cause of the observed interactions. Initial undergraduate final-year research project which followed
geometric imperfections in the form of the local-torsional- the earlier project of R.D. Allen and W.P.C. Buckhurst.
buckling mode, together with the incremental local The authors acknowledg e their important contributions
deformations that occur on loading, cause a substantial and also those of J. Jackson in fabricating all the test
decrease in the overall moment-curvature stiffness of the equipment.
column. As loading progresses, therefore, the effective
critical load of the column is continuously decreasing. It
is the combined effect of the redistribution of stresses due References
to overall distortions which accelerate the growth of local 1. Wei-Wen Yu., Cold-formed Steel Structures, McGraw-Hill Book
deformations, together with the reduction in the overall Co. (1973).
2. Zahorski, A., "'Effects o f Material Distribution on Strength o f
stiffness caused by these local distortions that produces Panels, "" J. Aero. Sci., XI (3), 247-253 (Jul. 1944).
the interactive buckling characteristics observed. 3. Shanley, F.R., Weight-strength Analysis o f Aircraft Structures,
For the class of model considered and, by analogy, McGraw-Hill Book Co. (1952).
certain stiffened-plate structures, it has been shown that 4. Gerard, G., Minimum Weight Analysis o f Compression Structures,
N. Y.U. Press, New York (1956).
reductions in buckling loads are sufficiently severe, that 5. Koiter, W.T. and Skaloud, M., "'Interventions'; presented in
the usual factors of safety could not be relied upon to "'Comportement posteritiques des plaques utilisees en construction
guarantee the requisite strength. Imperfections considered metallique, " Int. Colloquium held at University o f Liege, 1962, Memoires
above are in excess of the geometric tolerances acceptable Soc. Royale Sci. de Liege, Series 5, VIII (5), 64-68, 103-104 (1962).
6. Hutchinson, J. 14/. and Koiter, W.T., "Post-buckling Theory,"
in most code requirements, but it is possible that in-service Appl. Mech. Rev., 23, 1353-1366 (1970).
loading conditions could produce 'equivalent imperfections' Z Rao, S.S., "'Optimization o f Complex Structures to Satisfy Static,
of these magnitudes in prototype structures. But there are Dynamic and Aeroelastic Requirements, "" Int. J. Num. Meth. in Engrg.,
reasons for supposing that this class of stiffener is potentially 8, 249-269 (1973).
8. Avent, R.R. and Robinson, J.H., "'Elastic Stability o f Polygon
not the most imperfection sensitive. Highly optimized use Folded Plate Columns, "" Proc. A.S.C.E., 102 (ST5), 1015-1030 (May 1976).
o f 'bulb flats', or other forms of stiffener in which the 9. Neut, A. van der, "'The Interaction o f Local Buckling and Column
free edges are reinforced, could be expected to show inter- Failure o f Thin-walled Compression Members, "' Proc. 12th Int. Cong.
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462 I December 1977