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Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854

Multiple stiffened cold-formed steel proles for
cylindrical vault roong systems
Stefano Caramelli, Pietro Croce, Walter Salvatore
Department of Structural Engineering, University of Pisa, Via Diotisalvi 2, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Received 28 November 2000; received in revised form 11 May 2001; accepted 18 May 2001
Cold-formed steel structures have been experiencing a considerable increase in both the
civil and industrial building sectors. The introduction of new types of high strength and/or
multiple stiffened proles, as a consequence of improved production techniques, has encour-
aged the development of innovative applications and structural systems.
The consequent need for simple, yet reliable calculation methods of such structures, in turn,
has engendered new studies directed at characterizing their failure mechanisms, post-critical
behaviour and instability phenomena.
This paper provides an illustration and in-depth discussion of the results of a wide-ranging
numericalexperimental analysis conducted on multiple stiffened, cold-formed proles within
the framework of the development of an innovative structural application for fabricating indus-
trial cylindrical vault roong. 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Cold-formed steel structure; Multiple intermediate stiffeners; Experimental tests; Non-linear
1. Introduction
In recent years, cold-formed steel structures, with the development of innovative
structural applications in both civil and industrial construction [1], have been experi-
encing a considerable increase due mainly to improvements in the mechanical charac-
teristics of the steel and advances in the production technologies.
In the design of roof ooring and joists, in particular, the elevated mechanical
* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: walter@ing.unipi.it (W. Salvatore).
0143-974X/01/$ - see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S0143- 974X( 01) 00018- 9
832 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 1. Vault arch roong using cold-formed steel proles, transverse view.
performances of such proles and the consequent ability to achieve greater spans
favour the adoption of new constructive systems.
An interesting system for vault roong [2,3], represented in Fig. 1, has been
obtained by calendering the commonly used cold-formed prole, denominated
EGB2000 and illustrated in Fig. 2, according to a cylindrical shape. By virtue of its
light weight, simplicity and economy, such a design can effectively be used to achi-
eve spans of 1520 m.
The preliminary mechanical analysis of such proles was performed according to
current standards in Italy and Europe: CNR 10022 and Eurocode 3 part 1.3, respect-
ively [4,5]. The results obtained using the European standards were in some cases
not fully satisfactory.
For roof sheeting, the standards do not allow for designing compressed plane
elements with more than two intermediate stiffeners. Moreover, comparisons by
means of expressly developed numerical analyses have shown that the design resist-
ance values are not always safe-sided.
As a consequence of demands stemming from the development of new structural
applications, recent experimental [68], as well as numerical [9,10] studies of the
failure mechanisms and post-critical behaviour of multiple stiffened cold-formed thin
Fig. 2. Typical EGB2000 cross-section.
833 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
proles revealed the limits of current design regulations and the inadequacy of the
verication methods set forth by governing standards [11,12].
A more detailed study of the mechanical behaviour of such proles was therefore
called for in order to determine, by recognizing the fundamental parameters govern-
ing their structural response, new, suitable models on which to base the development
of a general design methodology for the entire structural system.
Application of the EGB2000 prole to cylindrical vault roong according to the
scheme in Fig. 1 requires knowing the proles strength and structural response to
absolutely general load stresses, whether they be simple compression, pure bending
or combined bending and compression. Thus, it was necessary to carry out wide
ranging numerical and experimental investigations to deduce all the necessary infor-
mation regarding the proles mechanical behaviour.
The experimental tests were aimed at determining the resistance domain of the
proles section and identifying its collapse mechanisms (linked mainly to phenom-
ena of overall and local stability). The inuence of the various parameters in play
was subsequently analysed by numerical non-linear analyses.
By comparing the results of such investigations with those obtainable by appli-
cation of current design standards, it was possible to garner useful indications, not
only regarding the structural applications in question, but also for possible develop-
ment of a new generalized calculation model.
Fig. 3. Effective area, St 355 steel grade, t=0.8 mm, pure compression. t is the prole thickness, t
the reduced thickness, c=t
834 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 4. Effective area, St 355 steel grade, t=0.8 mm, pure bending. t is the prole thickness, t
is the
reduced thickness, c=t
Table 1
EGB2000 resistance values evaluated by using Eurocode 3 part 1.3
Steel grade Thickness (mm) N
(daN/m) N
(daN/m) M
(daN cm/m)
St235 0.8 35,596 24,159 111,573
1.0 46,009 33,079 150,541
1.2 55,666 42,033 190,018
1.5 70,150 55,764 253,770
St275 0.8 41,655 26,748 122,180
1.0 53,961 36,863 165,744
1.2 65,208 47,010 209,544
1.5 82,362 62,658 280,529
St355 0.8 53,772 31,308 141,611
1.0 69,109 43,732 193,026
1.2 83,385 56,040 243,856
1.5 105,083 75,079 326,804
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Fig. 5. Mesh of the nite element model.
Fig. 6. Restraints.
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Fig. 7. Stressstrain bilinear law.
Fig. 8. Shape of the rst buckling mode.
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Fig. 9. Y-displacement of node number 3368 (Fig. 5) versus applied load; comparison between numerical
results and resistance values from standard evaluation.
Fig. 10. Test apparatus for compression test and combined compression and bending tests (uniform
bending moment). (a) Compression test; (b) combined compression and bending test: uniform bending
838 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 11. Pure compression test.
2. Resistance of the EGB2000 prole by using Eurocode 3 part 1.3
The structural design of thin cold-formed proles must take into account the
phenomena of local and overall stability. Current standards generally model the post-
critical behaviour of the compressed elements through a ctitious reduction of their
width and/or thickness. Local instability of plane compressed elements are taken into
account by the denition of the effective width, while a reduced thickness must be
evaluated to consider the exural instability of the stiffeners.
Eurocode 3 part 1.3 allows calculating the effective properties of compressed
elements bearing up to a maximum of two intermediate stiffeners through an iterat-
ive procedure.
Applying such a procedure to the EGB2000 prole yields considerably reduced
effective surface areas. In the upper ange, where two of the four stiffeners must
839 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 12. Bendingcompression test.
Fig. 13. Test apparatus for bending test and combined compression and bending tests (bending moment
varying according to a linear law).
840 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 14. Bendingcompression test.
be neglected, the phenomenon becomes particularly signicant, as highlighted in
Figs. 3 and 4 relative to a 0.8 mm thick prole subjected to pure compression and
simple bending, respectively. Table 1 shows the design resistance values for tensile
loads, compressive loads and bending moment, obtained by applying Eurocode 3
part 1.3 to EGB2000 sheeting, with varying thickness and steel grades.
In order to check the applicability of the current standards, a numerical analysis
was developed by means of ADINA 7.4. One metre long proles were modelled
using SHELL elements of the ADINA library, as represented in Fig. 5.
Each section was xed at its ends, thereby also preventing it from warping, while
the two lateral edges were considered to be restrained in the plane of the covering
(see Fig. 6). Incremental non-linear elasticplastic analysis was performed by apply-
ing an increasing displacement in the Z direction at the Z=L section. The bilinear
stressstrain law illustrated in Fig. 7 was adopted, in accordance with Eurocode 3
part 1 recommendations. An initial crookedness, shaped as the rst instability mode
(Fig. 8), was introduced in the model. The maximum value of out of straightness
was conventionally xed at 1/1000 of the height of the prole (1 mm).
Despite a considerable reduction in the effective cross section area, the resistance
values obtained by application of the Eurocode, if compared with the results of
841 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Table 2
Failure loads of experimental tests
Test no. Axial force (kN) Bending moment
(kN mm)
Compression test 1 173.6 0
2 161.3 0
3 163.1 0
4 170.9 0
Bending/compression tests (load in 5 90.0 8100
correspondence with top ange, uniform
bending moment)
6 89.2 8028
7 83.9 7551
Bending/compression tests (load in 8 90.1 7568
correspondence with bottom ange, uniform
bending moment)
9 89.2 7493
10 88.3 7417
Bending/compression tests (linearly varying 11 20.0 15,120
bending moment)
12 30.0 14,595
13 40.0 14,595
Bending tests (linearly varying bending 14 0.0 17,430
15 0.0 +14,700
Fig. 15. Measured stressstrain law of the steel.
842 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 16. Compression test.
numerical analysis, are not always safe-sided. By way of example, Fig. 9 presents
a comparison of the results for different steel grades obtained by numerical analysis
for 1.2 mm thick proles and the resistance values resulting from applying the stan-
dard guidelines. It is evident that the values relative to application of the Eurocode
are not wholly satisfactory.
Further investigation was therefore necessary in order to evaluate the proles
mechanical resistance.
3. The experimental analyses
The experimental analyses were designed to determine the resistance domain of
the prole section and to study its collapse mechanism. Compression, combined
843 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 17. Bendingcompression test (uniform bending moment, load applied to top ange).
compressionbending and pure bending tests were executed on pin-ended 1.2 mm
thick EGB2000 proles made from Fe E 280 G steel (EN 10147).
Two different test schemes were foreseen. The rst was used to perform pure
compression tests, Fig. 10(a), and combined compressionbending tests, Fig. 10(b),
in which a uniform bending moment was obtained by applying an increasing vertical
displacement, parallel to the prole axis, alternatively in correspondence of top or
bottom anges of the proles. Pinned-end conditions were obtained by a steel hemi-
cylinder bolted to a steel plate. A reinforced concrete head, connected to the steel
plate, prevented warping of the prole end sections. Figs. 11 and 12 represent a
compression test and a combined compressionbending test, respectively.
In the second series, pure bending tests and combined bendingcompression tests
were performed according to the scheme shown in Fig. 13. An increasing displace-
ment was applied at the mid-span prole by a vertical hydraulic jack with an electro-
hydraulic servo system; in the combined bendingcompression tests, another hori-
844 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 18. Bending test (linearly varying bending moment).
Fig. 19. Bendingcompression test (uniform bending moment, load applied to bottom ange).
845 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 20. Applied load versus strain curves in correspondence with compressed ange, compression test
no. 1.
Fig. 21. Deformed shape of the prole axis, test no. 1.
846 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 22. Mode shape I.
Fig. 23. Test results, MN domain.
zontal jack maintained a constant axial force. Fig. 14 shows the apparatus designed
for such tests, while Table 2summarises all the test results.
Furthermore, pure tension tests were performed on reduced dimension specimens
in order to determine the steels stressstrain curve. This curve, quite typical of cold-
847 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 24. Numerical analysis, restraint and loading condition.
formed steels and in good agreement with Fe E 280 G steel behaviour, is presented
in Fig. 15.
From the test results it was possible to garner important indications about the
collapse mechanisms and post-critical behaviours of the proles and to dene their
resistance domain.
After the local instability phenomena that progressively affects the plane elements
(reducing the effective area), collapse comes about suddenly due to overall instability
of the compressed ange or webs. Interaction between local and overall instability
phenomena contributes to the failure of the structural element. In the post-critical
phase the prole exhibits a rather good ductility until the buckling of the lateral
stiffening elements or the extremities (ange-web llet and stiffened lips), at which
time a sudden fall in the applied load occurs.
Figs. 1619 illustrate some of the post-critical mechanisms revealed through the
848 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 25. Mode shape II.
experimental tests for the different loading conditions. Fig. 16 refers to compression
test no. 3, in which an overall instability of the compressed ange and web was
followed by failure of the connecting llet. Figs. 17 and 18 pertain to a combined
bendingcompression test with load applied in the proles top ange and a pure
bending test, respectively; in both cases failure of the compressed ange comes, in
the post-critical phase, to involve the rounded corners and the connected web. In the
test shown in Fig. 19, the prole, subjected to combined bendingcompression
through a vertical force acting on the bottom ange, reached collapse due to overall
instability of the webs; in the post-critical phase, instability occurred at the stiffened
lips of the bottom ange.
It must be stressed that failure due to simple compressive stress involved either
the upper ange, the lower ange or the webs, depending on the initial imperfection
shape in the prole itself. Analysing, for instance, the experimental curves rep-
resented in Figs. 20 and 21, it can be seen how the overall instability of the com-
pressed ange comes about through a shape similar to that of the rst buckling mode,
shown in Fig. 22, obtained by numerical analyses. Further relevant information
comes from comparing the test results plotted in a bending momentaxial force, M
N, diagram, shown in Fig. 23, with the resistance domain obtained by using the for-
849 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 26. Mode shape III.

1 (1)
Here, N
is the pure compression strength and M
is the bending resistance, both
evaluated by taking into account the effective properties of the prole section and
assuming the yield stress equals the nominal values, f
=280 and f
=355 N/mm
The design values for the proles, mainly for high values of the axial force, are
not always safe-sided with respect to the experimental results, conrming the results
obtained by the rst numerical analysis.
4. Numerical analyses
In order to study in detail the phenomena observed during the compression tests,
we set up a new, more rened, numerical model able to reproduce the mechanical
behaviour, as well as the loading conditions and constraints of the tested prole. In
Fig. 24 the loading and restraint conditions introduced in the model are represented.
Elastic buckling analyses and elasticplastic non-linear analyses were performed.
In the non-linear analysis, in particular, the actual stressstrain law resulting from
850 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
the experimental tests (Fig. 14) was considered as well as the presence of residual
stresses and an initial out of straightness.
Concerning the residual stresses, the membrane stresses were supposed to be on
average nil, while bending stresses were assumed to follow a linear law through the
thickness of the prole, with a maximum of 30% of the yield stress [13,14]. The
maximum out of straightness was assumed to be equal to 0.11 mm [13], imposing
the patterns of the rst three mode shapes obtained by the linear buckling analyses,
shown in Figs. 22, 25 and 26.
From the results of the numerical analyses, which are in good agreement with
those obtained by the experimental tests, it was possible to draw some further indi-
cations. When it is assumed that the initial imperfection follows the shape of one
of the rst two buckling modes, collapse essentially involves the top ange of the
prole (collapse shapes I and II, Figs. 27 and 28). Alternatively, if the third shape
is used, the bottom ange also buckles (collapse shape III, Fig. 29). The mechanical
behaviour of the prole is therefore strongly inuenced by the shape and size of the
initial imperfection. Ultimate load, however, as can be deduced from the curves in
Fig. 30, does not undergo much variation for the different cases.
Useful information on the collapse mechanism can be obtained by plotting, for
each load increment, the normal stress in the transversal section of the prole where
Fig. 27. Collapse shape I.
851 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 28. Collapse shape II.
failure occurs. The stresses resulting from the rst analysis for the inner and outer
faces of the top ange are shown in Figs. 31 and 32, respectively.
It should be noted that local and overall instability phenomena interact with each
other in determining the proles failure, although the four intermediate stiffeners
remain effective. In the post-critical phase, however, the two outermost intermediate
stiffeners become unstable, bringing about a further reduction in the proles load-
bearing capacity.
5. Conclusions
A new application for multiple stiffened cold-formed proles to cylindrical vault
roong required verication through the methods provided in the current standards.
Application of such methods revealed some limitations to their validity.
As Eurocode 3 part 1.3 does not provide for more than two stiffeners per plane
element of the prole, it is not applicable to elements with more complex shapes;
in any case, design methods are often based on long and rather unmanageable
iterative procedures.
852 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 29. Collapse shape III.
Fig. 30. Applied force versus vertical displacement (Z=1000 mm), numerical analyses.
853 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
Fig. 31. Normal stress zz on top anges outer side.
Fig. 32. Normal stress zz on top anges inner side.
Numerical analysis of the prole has moreover revealed that application of the
methods foreseen in Eurocode 3 part 1.3 may, in this specic case, lead to resistance
values that do not guarantee an adequate safety margin.
In performing the design study, we therefore felt compelled to undertake an in-
depth theoretical and experimental investigation of the mechanical characteristics of
the prole used in order to determine its resistance domain, essential to its application
in current design, as well as other salient information regarding its structural
Although the presence of a greater number of intermediate stiffeners increases the
proles resistance, it also complicates its mechanical performance. Local instability
854 S. Caramelli et al. / Journal of Constructional Steel Research 57 (2001) 831854
is accompanied by phenomena of overall instability and distortion, which interact
with each other and together govern the collapse mechanisms and post-critical behav-
iour. Development of the different instability phenomena is, in turn, strongly inu-
enced by the size and extent of any initial geometrical imperfections.
In general, the results obtained reect the well-known complexity of the mechan-
ical behaviour of cold-formed proles. Their widespread application, however, pre-
supposes the availability of design and verication methods that are at once simple
and reliable. To determine such proles characteristic mechanical parameters and
the general laws governing their behaviour, further study is needed. To this end, the
present study together with others already underway [710], represents a rst contri-
Clearly, methods based on determination of the effective width are, in general, not
easy to use and sometimes not reliable. Thus, new, more direct and understandable
approaches need to be developed [11,12], which allow for effectively representing
the essence of the physical phenomena and mechanics in play.
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