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DOI 10.

1515/secm-2013-0227Sci Eng Compos Mater 2013; aop

Yeliz Pekbey* and Esmaeil Ghanbari

Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled


composite with various sections
Abstract: The flexural-torsional buckling of thin-walled
pultruded fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) members composed of unstiffened, stiffened cruciform- and I-shaped
sections under uniform compressive loads was investigated using finite element methods (FEM). As the basic
method, an eigenvalue solution using the minimum
potential energy method was utilized to obtain the critical
buckling stress and buckling mode shapes. FEM results
were compared with the closed-form solutions and literature results. Furthermore, a parametric study was carried
out to investigate the different cross-section geometries
and span lengths on the critical buckling stresses and
buckling mode shapes, that is, flexural, torsional, or
mixed buckling.
Keywords: fiber-reinforced plastic members; flexuraltorsional mode; linear stability analysis; pultruded thinwalled members.

*Corresponding author: Yeliz Pekbey, Department of


MechanicalEngineering, Ege University, Izmir 35100, Turkey,
e-mail: pekbey.yeliz@gmail.com
Esmaeil Ghanbari: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ege
University, Izmir 35100, Turkey

1 Introduction
In recent years, fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) composite
members found an increasing range of applications due
to high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios
and high resistance to difficult environmental conditions.
FRP shapes are generally manufactured by the pultrusion.
The performance of FRP profiles depends on deformability and buckling. Buckling affects the load carrying
capacity of thin-walled members. Global and local buckling plays an important role in the load carrying capacity of composite thin-walled members. A flexural mode,
a torsional mode, or flexural-torsional modes are considered as instability effects. These types of failures decrease
the load capacity. Flexural-torsional buckling occurs
suddenly in members, which deflects or twists out of the
loading plane. It occurs when in-plane bending stiffness

is greater than torsional or lateral bending stiffness in


flexural-torsional buckling.
FRP pultruded profiles can be produced in different
cross-sectional shapes such as channel, square and rectangular tubes, angles, and I- and W-shaped beams. Open
thin-walled profiles have higher utilization compared to
others due to low torsion rigidity. Torsional instability
occurs for open thin-walled profiles under compressive
loads and section of member twists on the rigid torsion.
Flexural-torsional buckling loads and buckling
modes are obtained by calculating eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the system. An accurate prediction the stability
limit state in design of thin-walled members has a critical
importance in actual design. To get accurate prediction,
span lengths, cross-section of the members, and the position of the loads should be accurately known. The factors
affected by the critical flexural-torsional buckling loads
are determined by the stability analysis. If the model indicates that the risk of flexural-torsional buckling existed,
the design member sizes can be changed accordingly.
Evaluation of flexural-torsional, lateral, and distorsional buckling of FRP structural members has been
investigated by several authors [129]. The closed-form
solutions were given for simple cases by well-known
sources such as Timoshenko and Gere [30] and Trahair
[31]. Experimental behaviors of the flexural-torsional and
lateral-torsional buckling of members are also studied by
several authors [1, 21, 22, 27]. The critical buckling load
can be calculated by solving the governing integral equations or by energy principle. Torkamani etal. [11] solved
elastic flexural-torsional buckling analysis of plane structures using energy equations. New solutions to flexuraltorsional buckling problems have been presented using
computer-aided methods such as the finite strip method
(FSM) [9, 24] and the finite element method (FEM) [1, 4, 6,
18, 23, 29]. Due to easier definition of boundary conditions,
FEM is the one of the most popular numerical methods.
This paper aims to present and discuss the result of
numerical investigation of the dominant global mode in
buckling of composite thin-walled pultruded FRP columns.
The stability analysis of the pultruded FRP section as an
orthotropic material is carried out using FEM. The critical
stress and buckling mode shapes of unstiffened, stiffened
cruciform- and I-shaped section sections under uniform

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2Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite

loading are obtained. The eigenvalues and eigenvector of


the system are expressed as the critical buckling stress
and buckling mode shapes, respectively. For verification
purpose, FEM results compared with the closed-form solutions and literature results [24]. Furthermore, the crosssection geometry and span length on the critical buckling
stresses and buckling mode shapes are investigated. Flexural, torsional, or mixed mode buckling for FRP columns
with different cross-section is determined how the column
lengths are occurred.

2 Statement of the problem


The buckling behavior of unstiffened, stiffened cruciformand I-shaped section FRP columns is investigated. Profiles
with both x and y axis symmetry are considered for the basic
analysis. Critical flexural and torsional stresses are obtained
by determining the dominant global mode in buckling of
composite FRP columns. In addition, the closed-form solution is obtained for the flexural, torsional buckling of FRP
thin-walled members for comparison purposes.
The same case studies were analyzed by Naderian
[24]. They analyzed numerically FSM of the composite
FRP cruciform-shaped section in two cases: unstiffened
and stiffened cruciform-shaped sections. In this study,
the numerical results obtained by Naderian [24] are also
used for a comparison with finite element results. The
critical buckling stresses are obtained from FEM and the
closed-form solutions. Then, the critical buckling stresses
obtained from FEM are compared with both the closedform solution and FSM [24] for unstiffened and stiffened
cruciform-shaped sections. It is also investigated the
flexural-torsional buckling behavior of FRP pultruded
I-shaped section columns with different thickness and
width of the flanges.
Let us consider an unstiffened, stiffened cruciformand I-shaped section columns with simply supported

b wh
b fv

C
bf

B
bw

t wv

bw

bf

t wh
t fh

boundary conditions and subjected to the uniformly distributed compressive force. For I-shaped section, the distributed compressive force is applied through at the shear
centre.
Figure 1 shows the geometric properties of beam crosssections. Geometric properties of stiffened cruciformshaped section columns are represented as connected
subscript. First subscripts w and f display web and flange,
respectively, whereas second subscripts h and v indicate
horizontal and vertical, respectively. For example, bwh and
bfh are width of horizontal web and flange, respectively,
while twh and twv express thickness of horizontal and vertical flange, respectively, for stiffened cruciform-shaped
section columns. Similarly, B, h, bw, and bf are flange
width, web width, web thickness, and flange thickness,
respectively, for unstiffened cruciform- and I-shaped
section columns.
The critical buckling stresses and buckling mode
shapes are performed seven geometries of FRP columns
with cruciform-shaped (unstiffened and stiffened) and
I-shaped section under compression stresses. The material properties adopted for each FRP column are the same
as in the literature [24] for comparing critical buckling
stresses between FSM and FEM results. The material properties are Ex = 21,000 MPa, Ey = 8000 MPa, G = 2500 MPa,
and vxy = 0.3 [24]. Geometrical dimensions of unstiffened
cruciform-shaped, stiffened cruciform-shaped section,
and I-shaped section columns are given in Tables 1 and 2
In Table 2, suffixes v and h represent the vertical and
horizontal parts of section, respectively, for stiffened cruciform-shaped sections.
The span length of the column is L. The span lengths
of the column are modeled using the closed-form solution
and FEM to obtain possible combinations of flexural, torsional, or flexural-torsional buckling behavior. The critical flexural and torsional stresses are calculated for three
column lengths such as L = 3000, 5000, and 10,000 mm.
In the analyses, it is assumed that the deformations
are small and the column behaves in a linearly elastic

b fh b wv

t fv
Stiffened cruciform section

B
Unstiffened cruciform section

I section

Figure 1Geometry of thin-walled sections.

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Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite3

Table 1Geometrical dimensions of unstiffened cruciform- and I-shaped section beams.

B (mm)

356 356 6.4 (Case 1)


356 356 9.5 (Case 2)
305 305 9.5 (Case 3)
305 305 12.7 (Case 4)
203 203 9.5 (Case 5)
152 102 6.4 (Case 6)
152 152 9.5 (Case 7)

356
356
305
305
203
102
152

Section

h (mm)

bf = bw (mm)

L (mm)

3000, 5000, and 10,000


3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000

356
356
305
305
203
152
152

6.40
9.50
9.50
12.70
9.50
6.40
9.50

Table 2Geometrical dimensions of stiffened cruciform-shaped section beams.

bwv = bwh (mm)

356 203 6.4 6.4 (Case 1)


356 152 9.5 9.5 (Case 2)
356 203 9.5 9.5 (Case 3)
305 152 9.5 9.5 (Case 4)
305 203 12.7 12.7 (Case 5)
203 102 9.5 9.5 (Case 6)
152 102 6.4 6.4 (Case 7)

356
356
356
305
305
203
152

Section

bfv = bfh (mm)

tfv = tfh (mm)

twv = twh (mm)

L (mm)

3000, 5000, and 10,000


3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000
3000, 5000, and 10,000

203
152
203
152
203
102
102

manner. It is also considered that the members are perfectly straight and local buckling does not occurred.

6.40
9.50
9.50
9.50
12.70
9.50
6.40

where rt is the equivalent radius of gyration for torsional


buckling and it is defined as following equation:
rt2 =

3 Closed-form solution
The corresponding buckling stresses are given in closed
form for general boundary conditions [24]:
Flexural buckling stress: Pcr =

Ex
( KL / rmin ) 2

Torsional buckling stress: Pcr =

2
GJ E xCw
+
I p ( KL ) 2 I p

(2)

Torsional buckling stress: P cr =

( KL / rt ) 2

(3)

(4)

Warping factor of the cross-section is expressed as

(1)

where K, L, rmin, Ip, Cw, and J are defined as the effective


length factor calculated with regard to the end conditions
of column, the unbraced length of the column, the radius
of gyration of the section about the weak axis, the polar
moment of inertia, the warping factor of the cross-section,
and the equivalent torsion rigidity of the section, respectively. For simply supported boundary conditions, the
effective length factor K is equal to 1.
Equation (2) can be written as follows in the form of
Euler critical stress:
2 Ex

Cw + 0.1( G / E x ) JL2
.
Ip

C = I y ( Ivertical )

6.40
9.50
9.50
9.50
12.70
9.50
6.40

2
b2
bwv
+ I y ( Ihorizontal ) wh ,
4
4

(5)

where suffixes v and h show the vertical and horizontal


parts of section, respectively. The properties of the column
cross-section for unstiffened, stiffened cruciform- and
I-shaped section are given in Tables 3 and 4.
The torsional buckling stresses in Equations (2)
and (3) are very close to each other. However, the torsional stresses obtained from in Equation (3) are given
relatively bigger values compared to Equation (2). The
closed-form torsional buckling stresses are obtained
from Equation (2).
The critical buckling stresses are normalized with Ex
and it is used following equations for simply supported
boundary conditions:
Normalized flexural buckling stress:
Pcr
2
.1000 =
.1000
Ex
( L / rmin ) 2

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(6)

5.65
6.43
6.15
7.91
7.88
6.67
9.42

P cr
2
.1000 =
.1000
Ex
( L / rt ) 2

(7)

4 Numerical example: validation


and illustration

4.31
4.33
3.15
4.51
2.14
2.27
2.97

3.94
5.84
6.81
9.10
10.21
10.40
13.62

Normalized torsional buckling stress:

5.15
5.39
4.46
5.86
4.50
3.98
5.41

1.98
2.95
3.43
4.58
5.12
5.21
6.82

4.31
4.33
3.15
4.51
2.14
2.27
2.97

7.30
7.32
6.28
6.29
4.19
1.89
3.16

For verification purpose, FEM can be applied to find the


buckling behavior of FRP columns with the unstiffened,
stiffened cruciform- and I-shaped section. The ANSYS is
employed for modeling of the FRP columns using Solid 46
layered solid elements (SOLID46).
The finite element mesh of the unstiffened cruciformshaped section is shown in Figure 2. A uniform load is
applied using surface pressure. In this solution, simply
supported boundary conditions are used. The following
material properties are used: the Youngs modulus for FRP
plate in different directions Ex = 21GPa and Ey = 8 GPa, the
shear modulus Gxy = 2.5 GPa, and the Poisson ratio vxy = 0.3
[24].
Linear eigenvalue analysis is employed to analyze the
buckling of the thin-walled columns with the principle
of minimum potential energy. The solution to the critical
load is converted into the solution to eigenvalue problem,
such as
([K]-[G]){} = {0}

5.04
5.14
4.01
5.33
3.37
3.12
4.07

1.22
1.81
2.09
2.79
3.09
3.14
4.11

4.31
4.33
3.15
4.51
2.14
2.27
2.97

7.30
7.32
6.28
6.29
4.19
1.89
3.16
356 356 6.4 (Case 1)
356 356 9.5 (Case 2)
305 305 9.5 (Case 3)
305 305 12.7 (Case 4)
203 203 9.5 (Case 5)
152 102 6.4 (Case 6)
152 152 9.5 (Case 7)

I-shaped
I-shaped
Unstiffened

rmin

Unstiffened

rt

3000

Section

Table 3Properties of unstiffened cruciform- and I-shaped section beams.

7.30
7.32
6.28
6.29
4.19
1.89
3.16

I-shaped
I-shaped
I-shaped
I-shaped
Unstiffened

rmin

Unstiffened

rt

5000

Unstiffened

rmin

Unstiffened

vrt

10,000

Span (mm)

4Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite

(8)

where K, G, and are the element stiffness matrices,


element geometric stiffness matrix, and the eigenvector
of displacements corresponding to an eigenvalue respectively. K and G are expressed as
K 11 K 12 K 13

K 22 K 23
[ K ] =

K 33

sym

K 14

K 24
K 34

K 44

(9)

G11 G12 G13

G22 G23
[G] =

G33

sym

G14

G24
.
G34

G44

(10)

To obtain critical load using the minimum eigenvalue, Equation (1) is solved. The solution is consisted two
steps: the static analysis is to calculate the stress stiffness
matrix. Prestress option must be used. Then, eigenvalue

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Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite5

Table 4Properties of stiffened cruciform-shaped section beams.


Section

356 203 6.4 6.4 (Case 1)


356 152 9.5 9.5 (Case 2)
356 203 9.5 9.5 (Case 3)
305 152 9.5 9.5 (Case 4)
305 203 12.7 12.7 (Case 5)
203 102 9.5 9.5 (Case 6)
152 102 6.4 6.4 (Case 7)

Span
3000 mm
rmin

rt

10.71
9.19
10.63
8.82
9.31
5.79
4.65

4.96
3.77
5.00
3.90
5.12
3.25
3.03

analysis is achieved to obtain the eigenvalue and eigenvector, namely, buckled mode. Subspace iteration method
and block Lanczos method are methods that are used in
ANSYS.
To obtain the minimum eigenvalue and correspondingly consider the critical load, Equation (1) can be solved.
The solution is consisted two steps: The static analysis to
calculate the stress stiffness matrix with prestress option
is carried out as the first step. Then, eigenvalue analysis
is achieved to obtain the eigenvalue and eigenvector. Subspace iteration method and block Lanczos method are the
basic solution methods utilized by ANSYS.
Consequently, the critical buckling stresses are
numerically calculated using ANSYS code for seven geometries and varying span lengths with unstiffened, stiffened
cruciform- and I-shaped section. As a general observation, the present FEM results are in a good agreement and
convergence with closed-form solutions.

Figure 2Finite element model for unstiffened cruciform-shaped


section.

5000 mm
rmin

rt

10.71
9.19
10.63
8.82
9.31
5.79
4.65

5.07
4.05
5.25
4.34
5.65
4.37
3.89

10,000 mm
rmin

rt

10.71
9.19
10.63
8.82
9.31
5.79
4.65

5.57
5.17
6.28
6.01
7.66
7.68
6.58

5 Results and discussion


In this study, the torsional, flexural, and flexural-torsional
buckling behavior under pure axial compression of thinwalled FRP members is analyzed by means of numerical
simulations. The standard finite element procedure is
used to derive stability of FRP thin-walled members.
The comparisons of critical buckling stresses among
closed-form solution, FSM, and the finite element results
are given in Tables 57 for span lengths of L = 3000, 5000,
and 10,000 mm. The results obtained from closed-form
solution in tables are normalized critical stresses acquired
using Equations (4) and (5).
The comparison between the values of normalized
buckling loads and FEM and reported by Naderian [24]
is given in Figures 35. In these figures, the vertical axis
shows normalized buckling loads obtained by FEM, the
closed-form solution, and FSM [24].
As shown in tables and figures, FSM more accurately
predicts the buckling stresses than the finite element
solution. In FSM, obtained values are in excellent agreement with the closed-form solution, whereas FEM results
are a bit different from the results obtained from the
closed-form solution for some span lengths. Such difference between FEM and FSM is a consequence of the
displacement approach. FEM is used for polynomial
displacement function in all directions, whereas FSM is
utilized for both simple polynomials in some directions.
Also, continuously differentiable smooth series is used in
other directions in FSM. Furthermore, the series should
implement the probable boundary conditions at the end
of the strips. In addition, an increase in the number of
elements used in FEM provides acceptable results with
little variation in buckling stresses obtained from closedform solution. It is no doubt that a mesh density is influenced by the convergence of the solution. The results
obtained from FEM with the finer mesh are provided that

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6Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite


Table 5Normalized critical buckling stresses of FRP unstiffened cruciform-shaped section beams.
Section

356 356 6.4 (Case 1)

356 356 9.5 (Case 2)

305 305 9.5 (Case 3)

305 305 12.7 (Case 4)

203 203 9.5 (Case 5)

152 102 6.4 (Case 6)

152 152 9.5 (Case 7)

Formulation

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]
Present
Buckling type
Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]
Present
Buckling type
Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]
Present
Buckling type
Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]
Present
Buckling type
Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]
Present
Buckling type
Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]
Present
Buckling type
Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]
Present
Buckling type

the critical stresses are in convergence in the closed-form


solution.
The results can be expressed as follows:
Buckling occurs in flexural modes for longer columns
(L = 10,000 mm) for Cases 37 with unstiffened cruciformshaped section. For the short to moderate length (L = 5000
mm), buckling takes place flexural modes in Cases 57.
Finally, the short lengths (L = 3000 mm) exhibit torsional
modes. As a consequence, the dominant global buckling
mode in the majority of cases is torsional for unstiffened
cruciform-shaped section. Similarly, for longer columns
(L = 10,000 mm) for Cases 6 and 7, flexural buckling modes
are occurred for stiffened cruciform-shaped section.
The torsional buckling modes are dominant for short
lengths (L = 3000 mm) and the short to moderate length

Span (mm)
3000
5.85
0.16
0.16
0.19
Torsional
5.87
0.36
0.35
0.33
Torsional
4.32
0.49
0.47
0.51
Torsional
4.35
0.87
0.84
0.87
Torsional
1.93
1.05
1.05
0.85
Torsional
0.39
1.07
0.38
0.49
Flexural
1.09
1.88
1.04
0.92
Flexural

5000

2.11

0.16

0.16

0.16
Torsional

2.12

0.35

0.34

0.30
Torsional

1.56

0.47

0.47

0.44
Torsional

1.57

0.82

0.83

0.83
Torsional

0.69

1.04

0.67

0.55
Flexural

0.14

1.08

0.14

0.17
Flexural

0.39

1.86

0.38

0.34
Flexural

10,000

0.53

0.15

0.15

0.15
Torsional

0.53

0.34

0.34

0.28
Torsional

0.39

0.45

0.38

0.32
Flexural

0.39

0.82

0.38

0.32
Flexural

0.17

1.04

0.17

0.13
Flexural

0.04

1.08

0.03

0.048
Flexural

0.09

1.85

0.10

0.078
Flexural

(L = 5000mm) are for stiffened cruciform-shaped section.


Therefore, it is generally shown that the possibility of
flexural deformed configuration for stiffened cruciformshaped section is less than unstiffened cruciform-shaped
sections. For I-shaped section columns, buckling only
occurs in flexural modes for all lengths. In other words,
there is no possible torsional buckling mode for I-shaped
section for examined cases. Therefore, there is major difference concerning the I-shaped section and cruciformshaped columns: buckling types of I-shaped section
columns for all lengths are always associated with flexural instability.
For the long length case, it is shown that critical
buckling stress values obtained from FEM are slightly
different than those calculated with the closed-form

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Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite7

Table 6Normalized critical buckling stresses of FRP stiffened cruciform-shaped section beams.
Section

356 203 6.4 6.4 (Case 1)

356 152 9.5 9.5 (Case 2)

356 203 9.5 9.5 (Case 3)

305 152 9.5 9.5 (Case 4)

305 203 12.7 12.7 (Case 5)

203 102 9.5 9.5 (Case 6)

152 102 6.4 6.4 (Case 7)

Formulation

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]

Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]

Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]

Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]

Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]

Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]

Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Ref. [24]

Present

Buckling type

solution and FSM. However, for the short case and short
to moderate length, FEM results are in good agreement with the closed-form solution. If the span length
increases, the normalized critical buckling stresses
decrease. The present FEM predictions show good agreement with results with closed-form solutions and FSM
for short lengths. Furthermore, it is clear that the probability of flexural buckling increases for longer columns,
whereas the torsional buckling becomes more noticeable
for the short lengths and the short to moderate lengths.
In general, torsional buckling is more dominant than
flexural buckling mode for examined cases. However, it
is worthy of mention that flexural buckling dominates for
I-shaped section in all cases. The buckling mode shapes
are given in Figures 68 for stiffened cruciform-shaped

Span (mm)
3000
12.56
2.69
2.64
2.65
Torsional
9.28
1.55
1.55
1.49
Torsional
12.37
2.75
2.74
2.70
Torsional
8.52
1.66
1.68
1.53
Torsional
9.52
2.87
2.94
2.82
Torsional
3.68
1.16
1.16
1.12
Torsional
2.37
1.01
1.10
1.14
Torsional

5000

4.52

1.01

1.02

1.09
Torsional

3.34

0.65

0.65

0.70
Torsional

4.45

1.09

1.11

1.20
Torsional

3.06

0.74

0.75

0.91
Torsional

3.42

1.26

1.30

1.60
Torsional

1.32

0.75

0.73

0.91
Torsional

0.85

0.60

0.47

0.60
Torsional

10,000

1.13

0.30

0.31

0.32
Torsional

0.83

0.26

0.26

0.37
Torsional

1.11

0.39

0.39

0.45
Torsional

0.76

0.35

0.35

0.42
Torsional

0.86

0.57

0.59

0.66
Torsional

0.33

0.58

0.36

0.29
Flexural

0.21

0.42

0.12

0.17
Flexural

section (203 102 9.5 9.5, Case 6) for L = 3000, 5000, and
10,000 mm, respectively. As shown in figures, the torsional buckling mode occurred for span length of L = 3000
and 5000 mm, whereas deformed configuration is flexural buckling mode for L = 10,000 mm.
If the radius of gyration of the section about the weak
axis (rmin) is bigger than the equivalent radius of gyration
(rt), the torsional buckling consists for unstiffened stiffened
cruciform- and I-shaped section for examined span lengths.
There are also noticeable differences between the
buckling stresses the stiffened and unstiffened cruciformshaped sections. When compared with the unstiffened
and stiffened cruciform-shaped sections, it is seen that the
critical buckling stress is increased in the stiffened cruciform-shaped sections. The stiffeners provide increasing

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8Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite


Table 7Normalized critical buckling stresses of FRP I-shaped section beams.
Section

356 356 6.4 (Case 1)

356 356 9.5 (Case 2)

305 305 9.5 (Case 3)

305 305 12.7 (Case 4)

203 203 9.5 (Case 5)

152 102 6.4 (Case 6)

152 152 9.5 (Case 7)

Formulation

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Present

Buckling type

Closed-form flexural
Closed-form torsional
Present

Buckling type

buckling resistance compared to the unstiffened cruciform-shaped sections.


Numerical studies show that critical local buckling
stresses in I-shaped section sections are higher than those
in unstiffened cruciform-shaped sections with similar
properties (Table 8).
The critical buckling stress always decreases, whereas
the length increases for unstiffened, stiffened cruciformand I-shaped section columns. The maximum critical
stress occurred in stiffened cruciform-shaped section
columns. The critical stress for I-shaped section columns
is bigger than unstiffened cruciform-shaped section
columns for all case numbers.
The flexural-torsional buckling stresses are increased
when the thickness of the web (or flange thickness) is
increased for unstiffened cruciform- and I-shaped section
(Table 9). Similarly, it is seen that the flexural buckling
stress increases when the length of web (or length of the
flange) is increased (Table 10). Tables 11 and 12 show the
effect of the vertical (or horizontal) stiffener width and

Span (mm)
3000

5000

10,000

2.04
2.79
2.15
Flexural
2.06
2.89
2.24
Flexural
1.09
1.76
1.24
Flexural
2.23
3.12
2.48
Flexural
0.50
1.24
0.58
Flexural
0.56
1.07
0.66
Flexural
0.97
1.82
1.12
Flexural

0.73
1.05
0.64
Flexural
0.74
1.14
0.64
Flexural
0.39
0.78
0.34
Flexural
0.80
1.36
0.71
Flexural
0.18
0.80
0.16
Flexural
0.20
0.62
0.18
Flexural
0.34
1.15
0.31
Flexural

0.18
0.31
0.14
Flexural
0.18
0.40
0.14
Flexural
0.098
0.37
0.078
Flexural
0.20
0.62
0.16
Flexural
0.045
0.61
0.036
Flexural
0.051
0.44
0.04
Flexural
0.087
0.88
0.070
Flexural

thickness on the critical buckling stresses, respectively,


for stiffened cruciform-shaped sections. Similarly, the
flexural buckling stress increases if the vertical (or horizontal) stiffener width or the vertical (or horizontal) stiffener thicknesses is increased. Varying the vertical web
depth is also influenced on the flexural-torsional buckling stresses. Tables 13 and 14 show the effect of the vertical (or horizontal) stiffener width and thickness on the
critical buckling stresses for stiffened cruciform-shaped
section.

6 Concluding remarks
A finite element formulation has been used to study the
flexural-torsional buckling of thin-walled pultruded FRP
members composed of unstiffened, stiffened cruciformand I-shaped section under uniform compressive loads.
The results show global buckling of FRP thin-walled

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Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite9

L=3000 mm

L=3000 mm
3

1.1
1

2.5

0.9
0.8

0.7
0.6

1.5

0.5
0.4

0.3
0.5

0.2
0.1

0
Case 1

Case 2

Case 3

Case 4

Case 5

Case 6

Case 1

Case 7

Case 2

Case 3

Case 4

Case 5

Case 6

Case 7

L=5000 mm
1.6

L=5000 mm
0.9

1.4

0.8
1.2

0.7
0.6

0.5

0.8

0.4

0.6

0.3

0.4

0.2

0.2

0.1

Case 1

Case 1

Case 2

Case 3

Case 4

Case 5

Case 6

Case 2

Case 3

Case 4

Case 5

Case 6

Case 7

Case 7
L=10,000 mm

L=10,000 mm

0.7

FEM

0.40
FEM
0.35

0.6

0.30

Closedform

0.5

0.25

FSM

0.4

0.20

Closedform
FSM

0.3

0.15

0.2

0.10
0.1

0.05
0

0
Case 1

Case 2

Case 3

Case 4

Case 5

Case 6

Case 1 Case 2 Case 3 Case 4 Case 5 Case 6 Case 7

Case 7

Figure 3Comparisons of normalized buckling results for unstiffened cruciform-shaped section.

members with open sections. Furthermore, the crosssection geometry on the critical buckling stresses is
investigated.
The critical stresses can be evaluated by solving
eigenvalue problem. The results show that the critical
stresses obtained from FEM are in good agreement with
those obtained from the closed-form solutions. Naderian [24] proposed the use of FSM to design unstiffened,

Figure 4Comparisons of normalized buckling results for stiffened


cruciform-shaped section.

stiffened cruciform-shaped section. As shown, results


obtained by FSM are computationally more efficient than
FEM.
Numerical examples showed the performance,
accuracy, and efficiency of FEM for the stability of thinwalled members. FEM provided the means to distinguish
between flexural and torsional buckling modes for different span lengths. Concerning the design of I-shaped
section members that only exhibit flexural buckling

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10Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite

L=3000 mm
2.5

1.5

0.5

0
Case 1

Case 2

Case 3

Case 4

Case 5

Case 6

Case 7

Figure 6Buckling mode shapes of stiffened cruciform-shaped


section for L = 3000mm (torsional buckling).

L=5000 mm
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
Case 1

Case 2

Case 3

Case 4

Case 5

Case 6

Case 7

L=10,000 mm
0.2

Closed-form

FEM

Figure 7Buckling mode shapes of stiffened cruciform-shaped


section for L = 5000mm (torsional buckling).

0.18
0.16
0.14
0.12
0.1
0.08
0.06
0.04
0.02
0
Case 1

Case 2

Case 3

Case 4

Case 5 Case 6 Case 7

Figure 5Comparisons of normalized buckling results for I-shaped


section.
Figure 8Buckling mode shapes of stiffened cruciform-shaped
section for L = 10,000mm (flexural buckling).

mode, it seems that structural model should be based on


the flexural instability. However, this has not been the
path for unstiffened, stiffened cruciform-shaped section.
Numerical studies show that critical buckling stresses
in I-shaped sections are higher than those with similar
properties unstiffened cruciform-shaped sections. In
particular, global buckling is related to the section
properties and span length. The torsional and flexural

buckling modes generally occurred for short and intermediate-to-long lengths, respectively. The possibility of
flexural instability occurrence in long thin cross-section
is higher.
There is major difference concerning the unstiffened and stiffened cruciform-shaped section columns:

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Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite11

Table 8Comparisons normalized buckling stresses of FRP unstiffened cruciform- and I-shaped section beams.
Section

Span (mm)

356 356 6.4 (Case 1)

356 356 9.5 (Case 2)

305 305 9.5 (Case 3)

305 305 12.7 (Case 4)

203 203 9.5 (Case 5)

152 102 6.4 (Case 6)

152 152 9.5 (Case 7)

3000
5000
10,000
3000
5000
10,000
3000
5000
10,000
3000
5000
10,000
3000
5000
10,000
3000
5000
10,000
3000
5000
10,000

Unstiffened cruciform-shaped
Closed form
0.16
0.16
0.15
0.36
0.35
0.34
0.49
0.47
0.39
0.87
0.82
0.39
1.05
0.69
0.17
0.39
0.14
0.04
1.09
0.39
0.09

Present

0.19
0.16
0.15
0.33
0.30
0.28
0.51
0.44
0.32
0.87
0.79
0.32
0.85
0.55
0.13
0.49
0.17
0.048
0.92
0.34
0.078

I-shaped section
Closed form

Present

2.04
0.73
0.18
2.06
0.74
0.18
1.09
0.39
0.098
2.23
0.80
0.20
0.50
0.18
0.045
0.56
0.20
0.051
0.97
0.34
0.087

2.15
0.64
0.14
2.24
0.64
0.14
1.24
0.34
0.078
2.48
0.71
0.16
0.58
0.16
0.036
0.66
0.18
0.04
1.12
0.31
0.070

Table 9Effect of the web (or flange) thickness on the normalized critical buckling stresses for unstiffened cruciform-shaped section.
Unstiffened cruciform section

356 356 6.4 (Case 1)


356 356 9.5 (Case 2)
305 305 9.5 (Case 3)
305 305 12.7 (Case 4)

Span (mm)

FEM

Closed form

3000

FSM [24]

0.19
0.33
0.51
0.87

0.16
0.36
0.49
0.87

0.16
0.35
0.47
0.84

FEM
0.16
0.30
0.44
0.79

Closed form

5000

FSM [24]

10,000
FEM

Closed form

FSM [24]

0.16
0.35
0.47
0.82

0.16
0.34
0.47
0.83

0.15
0.28
0.32
0.32

0.15
0.34
0.39
0.39

0.15
0.34
0.38
0.38

Table 10Effect of the web (or flange) thickness on the normalized critical buckling stresses for I-shaped section.
I-section

356 356 6.4 (Case 1)


356 356 9.5 (Case 2)
305 305 9.5 (Case 3)
305 305 12.7 (Case 4)

Span (mm)
3000
FEM

Closed form

2.15
2.24
1.24
2.48

2.04
2.06
1.09
2.23

5000
FEM

Closed form

0.64
0.64
0.34
0.71

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0.73
0.74
0.39
0.80

10,000
FEM

0.14
0.64
0.078
0.16

Closed form

0.18
0.18
0.098
0.20

12Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite


Table 11Effect of the web (or flange) length on the normalized critical buckling stresses.
Unstiffened cruciform section

152 152 9.5 (Case 7)


203 203 9.5 (Case 5)
305 305 9.5 (Case 3)
356 356 9.5 (Case 2)

Span (mm)
3000
5000

FEM Closed form FSM [24]


FEM Closed form FSM [24]

0.92
0.85
0.51
0.33

1.09
1.05
0.49
0.36

1.04
1.05
0.47
0.35

0.34
0.55
0.44
0.30

0.39
0.69
0.47
0.35

0.38
0.67
0.47
0.34

10,000
FEM Closed form FSM [24]

0.078
0.13
0.32
0.28

0.09
0.17
0.39
0.34

0.10
0.17
0.38
0.34

Table 12Effect of the web (or flange) length on the normalized critical buckling stresses.
I-section

152 152 9.5 (Case 7)


203 203 9.5 (Case 5)
305 305 9.5 (Case 3)
356 356 9.5 (Case 2)

Span (mm)
3000

FEM

Closed form

1.12
0.58
1.24
2.24

0.97
0.50
1.09
2.06

5000
FEM

Closed form

0.31
0.16
0.34
0.64

0.34
0.18
0.39
0.74

10,000
FEM
0.070
0.036
0.078
0.14

Closed form

0.087
0.045
0.098
0.18

Table 13Effect of the vertical (or horizontal) stiffener width on the normalized critical buckling stresses.
Stiffened cruciform section

Span (mm)
3000

356 152 9.5 9.5 (Case 2)


356 203 9.5 9.5 (Case 3)

FEM

Closed form

FSM [24]

1.49
2.70

1.55
2.75

1.55
2.74

5000
FEM

0.70
1.20

Closed form

FSM [24]

0.65
1.09

0.65
1.11

10,000
FEM

0.37
0.45

Closed form

FSM [24]

0.26
0.26

0.39
0.39

Table 14Effect of the vertical (or horizontal) stiffener thickness on the normalized critical buckling stresses.
Stiffened cruciform section

356 203 6.4 6.4 (Case 1)


356 203 9.5 9.5 (Case 3)

Span (mm)

FEM

Closed form

3000

FSM [10]

2.65
2.70

2.69
2.75

2.64
2.74

stiffeners in FRP cruciform-shaped section columns


increased the flexural rigidity and decreased the torsion
rigidity of the section.
This study shows that FEM is convenient for accurately estimating the flexural and torsional buckling of

FEM
1.09
1.20

Closed form

5000

FSM [10]

10,000
FEM

Closed form

FSM [10]

1.01
1.09

1.02
1.11

0.32
0.45

0.30
0.39

0.31
0.39

FRP thin-walled members. Therefore, FEM is used as


design guidelines for effective utilization of these products with structural safety.
Received September 16, 2013; accepted September 21, 2013

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Y. Pekbey and E. Ghanbari: Flexural-torsional buckling of FRP thin-walled composite13

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