Consteel recommends to use the General Method from EN 1993-1-1 for the evaluation of out-of-plane strength of members and sturctures. In addition, the scaled imperfection based 2nd order approach is available.

Did you know, that when linear buckling eigenform affine imperfections are used, Consteel can scale automatically the selected eigenmodes to perform a Eurocode compatible design? And you can even combine several imperfections?

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When a beam, bent in a plane, is allowed to move and twist freely between its two support points, in addition to bending, sudden perpendicular displacement and twisting may occur: causing the beam to deviate out of its original plane. This phenomenon is illustrated in Figure 1, showing a single supported beam with I-section bent around the strong axis. As the bending moment in the vertical plane increases, reaching a critical value, the beam undergoes abrupt lateral movement and twisting between the supports. This phenomenon is called lateral torsional buckling (LTB), which is a loss of stability mode that can apply to both perfect beams and real beams.

Fig. 1  Lateral torsional buckling (LTB) mode of beams under bending
Fig. 1  Lateral torsional buckling (LTB) of beams under bending

The design of the beam against LTB is fully analogous to the design of a compressed column against flexural buckling. The analogy is illustrated in Table 1, where the corresponding parameters are shown that affect the two buckling resistances:

Flexural (column) bucklingLateral torsional buckling
design force ($N_{Ed}$)design moment ($M_{Ed}$)
critical force ($N_{cr}$)critical moment ($M_{cr}$)
column slenderness ($\frac{}{\lambda}$)beam slenderness ($\frac{}{\lambda}_{LT}$)
buckling reduction factor ($\chi$)buckling reduction factor ($\chi_{LT}$)
buckling resistance ($N_{b,Rd}$)buckling resistance ($M_{b,Rd}$)
Table 1: Analogy between flexural and LT buckling modes

The critical moment of the perfect beam is determined at the location of the maximum value of the My,Ed design bending moment diagram. For a doubly symmetrical I cross-section:

$$M_{cr}=C_1\frac{\pi^2EI_z}{(k_z⋅L)^2}\left[\frac{I_\omega }{I_z}+ \frac{(k_zL)^2GI_t}{\pi^2EI_z}\right] ^{0.5} $$

where kz is the coefficient of restraint about the weak axis of the cross-section, G is the shear modulus, and It and Iω are the pure (St. Venant) and warping torsional moments of inertia of the cross-section. The value of the factor C1 depends on the shape of the bending moment diagram and its value can be found in appropriate tables and manuals. For a constant moment diagram, C1=1.0. The formula for the other design parameters, in particular the buckling reduction factor $\chi_{LT}$, depends on the design standard considered.

Lateral torsional buckling resistance by EN1993-1-1  

The design of the beam against LTB (load capacity check) according to EC3-1-1 shall be carried out in the following steps:


Designing a lattice girder

The design of the bars of a truss (lattice girder) structure does not require any special theoretical knowledge: normally, the truss bars are designed as compressed and/or tensioned bars, neglecting bending moments and shear forces. The dimensioning of compression bars is nowadays carried out using a model-based computer procedure. For details, see the knowledge base material Design of columns against buckling. Here, only the determination of the deflection length of the compressed bars is presented.

The most important parameter for the dimensioning of a compressed bar is the slenderness:




where the buckling length factor k is recommended by EN1993-1-1 to facilitate manual calculations:

Type of the barDirection of bucklingk
chord– in-plane
– out-of-plane
bracing– in-plane
– out-of-plane

Software using model-based computational methods (e.g. Consteel software) determines the elastic critical force Ncr directly by finite element numerical methods, taking into account the behaviour of the entire lattice girder, instead of the above conservative formula. The following example is intended to illustrate the relationship between the manual design procedure proposed by the standard and the results of the modern model-based numerical procedure.

Fig. 1  Structural model and design load combination of the examined lattice girder
(ConSteel software)
Fig. 1  Structural model and design load combination of the examined lattice girder
(Consteel software)

Relationship between procedures

The steps of the calculation are:

Buckling stability analysis

The stability analysis of the elastic model shows the governing buckling mode of the lattice structure and the corresponding elastic critical load factor αcr (Figure 2).

Fig. 2 Buckling mode and critical load factor given by numerical analysis
Fig. 2 Buckling mode and critical load factor given by numerical analysis

We can see that the upper chord of the perfectly elastic model is deflected laterally under load. The load that causes this elastic buckling is the critical load, whose value is given by the product of the design load and the critical load factor αcr=5.99.


The evolution of compressed bar (column) design

One of the characteristic features of steel structures made of bars (e.g. lattice girders) is the compressed bar.  We speak of a compressed bar when the structural element, which usually has a straight axis, is loaded by a compressive force P applied centrally (Figure 1).

Fig. 1 Compressed bar model
Fig. 1 Compressed bar model

Figure 2 illustrates the evolution of compressed bar (column) design.  In the beginning (in the old days), master builders determined the load-bearing capacity of compressed columns of different materials and sizes on the basis of the experience accumulated over the centuries, passed down from master to apprentice. A significant change was brought about by the application of classical mathematical differential analysis to engineering. The Swiss mathematician and physicist Euler (1707-1783) solved the problem of the deflection of a compressed elastic line, which could be applied to the solution of the elastic compressed bar (Euler’s force). In the following centuries, engineers recognised that Euler’s force only gave an acceptable approximation to the real load capacity of a compressed bar in certain cases (mainly for large slender bars). Many solutions for the bearing capacity of a compressed bar were developed that were more advanced than the Euler formula, but it was not until the huge structural engineering boom following World War II that significant changes were made. Compression bar experiments were carried out in every major structural laboratory in the world, and a database of over two thousand experiments was compiled from the results. The load capacity of the pressure bar was given by a formula based on the database, using the method of mathematical statistics.

This methodology is still dominant today: ‘the dimensioning of the compressed bar has become a political issue for the steel construction profession…’. Understanding the principle of compressed bar design is therefore essential for the structural engineer.

The right side of the Figure 2 also contains a hint for the future. At the level of scientific research, it is already present that the load capacity of a real compressed column can be determined by mathematical-mechanical simulation. Indeed, in the near future, databases that go beyond anything we know today can be created using supercomputers. On the basis of such a gigantic database, artificial intelligence could, at least in principle, supersede existing engineering knowledge and methodology. But the reality is that structural engineering is not one of the pull sectors (such as the defense or automotive industries), so this new shift in design theory is certainly a long way off.

Fig. 2  Developing of the column design methodology
Fig. 2  Developing of the column design methodology

In the following, the Euler force and the experimentally based standard design formula, which are of major importance to structural steel engineering today, are discussed in detail.

Buckling strength of the ideal columns: the Euler force

Assume that the hinged compressed column shown in the Figure 3 has the following properties:

Under the above conditions, perform the compressed column experiment using Consteel software: run the Linear Buckling Analysis (LBA) calculation. The result is illustrated in Figure 3.


In Consteel, the calculation of cross sectional interaction resistance for Class 3 and 4 sections is executed with the modified Formula 6.2 of EN 1993-1-1 with the consideration of warping and altering signs of component resistances. Let’s see how…

Application of EN 1993-1-1 formula 6.2

For calculation of the resistance of a cross section subjected to combination of internal forces and bending moments, EN 1993-1-1 allows the usage -as a conservative approximation- a linear summation of the utilization ratios for each stress resultant, specified in formula 6.2.  

$$\frac{N_{Ed}}{N_{Rd}}+\frac{M_{y,Ed}}{M_{y,Rd}}+\frac{M_{z,Ed}}{M_{z,Rd}}\leq 1$$

As Consteel uses the 7DOF finite element and so it is capable of calulcating bimoment, an extended form of the formula is used for interaction resistance calculation to consider the additional effect.

$$\frac{N_{Ed}}{N_{Rd}}+\frac{M_{y,Ed}}{M_{y,Rd}}+\frac{M_{z,Ed}}{M_{z,Rd}}+\frac{B_{Ed}}{B_{Rd}}\leq 1$$

Formula 6.2 ignores the fact that not every component results the highest stress at the same critical point of the cross-section.

In order to moderate this conservatism of the formula, Consteel applies a modified method for class 3 and 4 sections. Instead of calculating the maximal ratio for every force component using the minimal section moduli (W), Consteel finds the most critical point of the cross-section first (based on the sum of different normal stress components) and calculates the component ratios using the W values determined for this critical point. Summation is done with considering the sign of the stresses caused by the components corresponding to the sign of the dominant stress in the critical point.

(For class 1 and 2 sections, the complex plastic stress distribution cannot be determined by the software. The Formula 6.2 is used with the extension of bimoments to calculate interaction resistance, but no modification with altering signs is applied)


Let’s see an example for better explanation.


Did you know that you could use Consteel to determine automatically the second order moment effects for slender reinforced concrete columns?

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The practical use of the ‘General method’ of EN 1993-1-1 6.3.4 for the buckling design of global structural models is still a challenging issue requiring several problems to solve. In this paper we propose a fully developed methodology presenting solutions for the application topics such as the suitable FE model, specific modeling issues to capture the true 3D behavior of the members and the whole model and the final evaluation of the design parameters. The presented methodology consistently uses a unique model for the evaluation of all analysis and design parameters and results and yields a fully automatic design process controlled solely by the properly created structural model.

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After introducing the Eurocode standards several theses have been published on the now much-discussed phenomenon of lateral-torsional buckling of steel structural elements under pure bending. According to that, researchers are working on the development of such new design methods which can solve the problems of the design formulae given by the EN 1993-1-1. This paper gives a detailed review of the proposals for novel hand calculation procedures for the prediction of LT buckling resistance of beams. Nowadays, the application of structural design softwares in practical engineering becomes more common and widespread. Recognizing this growing interest, the main objective of our research work is the development of a novel, computer-aided design method. In this paper, the details of a general type stability design procedure for the determination of the LT buckling resistance of members under pure bending are introduced. Here, the theoretical basis of the proposed method is clarified, the calculation procedure is detailed and some results for the evaluation of the appropriateness of the method are also presented. Based on the evaluations it can be stated that the new, general type design method is properly accurate and has several advantages on the stability check of beams under bending

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In the second article of this series, Dr József Szalai of ConSteel Solutions demonstrates practical examples where the “General Method” of EN 1993-1-1 shows advantages compared to the conventional approaches.

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Clause 6.3.4 of EN 1993-1-1 describes a “General Method” for lateral and lateral torsional buckling of structural components, ideally suited to software applications. Although the UK National Annex places some limitations on the use of this method, it is possible that the approach will become more widely used.

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