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Compression Members

Local Stability

It is permissible to use a cross-sectional shape that does not satisfy the width-thickness ratio
requirements, but such a member may not be permitted to carry as large a load as one that does
satisfy the requirements. In other words, the strength could be reduced because of local buckling.

The reduction factor Q is the product of two factors: Qs for unstiffened elements and Qa for
stiffened elements. Q = (Qs)(Qa)
For cross sections composed of only unstiffened slender elements, Q = Qs(Qa = 1.0).
For cross sections composed of only stiffened slender elements, Q = Qa(Qs = 1.0).

For cross sections composed of both stiffened and unstiffened slender elements, Q = (Qs)(Qa).

Example: Determine the axial compressive strength of an HSS 200 x 100 x 3 with an effective
length of 4600mm with respect to each principal axis. Use Fy = 315 Mpa.

Example: Select an I-Shape steel with an overall depth of 500mm that can resist a service dead
load of 445KN and a service live load of 1335KN. The effective length KL is 8000mm and Fy =

More on Effective Length

Example: An I 300 x 250 x 16(tf) x 9(tw) steel
7500mm long is pinned at both ends and
braced in the weak direction at the third point
as shown in the drawing. Fy = 345Mpa.
Determine the available compressive



13 = 4m


Torsional and Flexural-Torsional Buckling

When an axially loaded compression member becomes unstable overall (that is, not locally
unstable), it can buckle in one of three ways:

Flexural Buckling: It is a deflection caused by bending, or flexure, about the axis corresponding
to the largest slenderness ratio. This usually the minor principal axis the one with the smallest
radius of gyration. Compression members with any type of cross-sectional configuration can fail
in this way.


Torsional Buckling: This type of failure is caused by twisting about the longitudinal axis of the
member. It can occur only with doubly symmetrical cross sections with very sender crosssectional elements.


Flexural-Torsional Buckling: This type of failure is caused by a combination of flexural bucking

and torsional buckling. The member bends and twists simultaneously. This type of failure can
occur only with unsymmetrical cross sections, both those with one axis of symmetry such as
channels, structural tees, double-angle shapes, and equal-leg single angles, and those with no
axis of symmetry such as unequal-leg single angles.

Example: Compute the compressive strength of a structural tee T 320(d)x330(bf)x18(tw)x30(tf).

The effective length with respect to the x-axis is 7800mm, the effective length with respect to the
y-axis is 6100mm, and the effective length with respect to the z-axis is 6100mm. Fy = 345Mpa.

End of Compression Members