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Steel and Composite Structures
  Volume 30, Number 5, March10 2019 , pages 483-492

Lateral torsional buckling of steel I-beams: Effect of initial geometric imperfection
Selcuk Bas

    In the current study, the influence of the initial lateral (sweep) shape and the cross-sectional twist imperfection on the lateral torsional buckling (LTB) response of doubly-symmetric steel I-beams was investigated. The material imperfection (residual stress) was not considered. For this objective, standard European IPN 300 beam with different unbraced span was numerically analyzed for three imperfection cases: (i) no sweep and no twist (perfect); (ii) three different shapes of global sweep (half-sine, full-sine and full-parabola between the end supports); and (iii) the combination of three different sweeps with initial sinusoidal twist along the beam. The first comparison was done between the results of numerical analyses (FEM) and both a theoretical solution and the code lateral torsional buckling formulations (EC3 and AISC-LRFD). These results with no imperfection effects were then separately compared with three different shapes of global sweep and the presence of initial twist in these sweep shapes. Besides, the effects of the shapes of initial global sweep and the inclusion of sinusoidal twist on the critical buckling load of the beams were investigated to unveil which parameter was considerably effective on LTB response. The most compatible outcomes for the perfect beams was obtained from the AISC-LRFD formulation; however, the EC-3 formulation estimated the Pcr load conservatively. The high difference from the EC-3 formulation was predicted to directly originate from the initial imperfection reduction factor and high safety factor in its formulation. Due to no consideration of geometric imperfection in the AISC-LFRD code solution and the theoretical formulation, the need to develop a practical imperfection reduction factor for AISC-LRFD and theoretical formulation was underlined. Initial imperfections were obtained to be more influential on the buckling load, as the unbraced length of a beam approached to the elastic limit unbraced length (Nr). Mode-compatible initial imperfection shapes should be taken into account in the design and analysis stages of the I-beam to properly estimate the geometric imperfection influence on the Pcr load. Sweep and sweep.twist imperfections led to 10% and 15% decrease in the Pcr load, respectively, thus; well-estimated sweep and twist imperfections should considered in the LTB of doubly-symmetric steel I-beams.
Key Words
    lateral torsional buckling; initial geometric imperfection; doubly-symmetric steel I-beam; finite element model
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Bartin University, 74100 Bartin, Turkey.

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