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A Beginner's Guide to the Steel Construction Manual

Chapter 3 - Tension Members

© 2006, 2007, 2008 T. Bartlett Quimby

Section 3.1
Tension Member Overview
Tensile Yielding Last Revised: 08/07/2008

It is now time to actually learn how to design something! We start with tension members because they are
Tensile Rupture relatively simple. There are only a few limit states to worry about.
Failure Path Tutorial
Now that we are ready, please turn to Chapter D of the AISC specification (page 16.1-26) and let's get started.
Tensile Yielding
& Tensile Controlling Limit States
Rupture of
In SCM Chapter D we look at three limit states that relate to the member itself. We will then look to SCM Chapter J
to look at some connection related limit states at apply to connecting elements and/or end conditions of general
tension members.
Bolt Bearing on
The SCM Chapter D limit states that we will consider are:
Block Shear  Tensile yielding
 Tensile rupture
Sections In SCM Chapter J we will look at the limit states of:

Tension Limit  Tensile yielding of connecting elements

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State Summary  Tensile rupture of connecting elements

 Bolt bearing on the edge of the bolt hole
Example  Block shear rupture of strength at end connections of tension members

Homework As discussed in an earlier chapter, limit states represent conditions that limit the usefulness of a member. Generally
Problems only one of the limit states will control the design. All must be checked to ensure that your member is adequate for
its intended purpose. The following sections present the limit states as implemented by the AISC specification. The
References example problems show how the limits are applied.

A brief overview of the limit states is presented here.

Report Errors or
Make Figure 3.1.1 illustrates "failures" Figure 3.1.1
Suggestions associated with the various strength Tensile Strength Limit States
based limit states. You can click on each Click on each sub figure to get better view
Purchase Hard of the drawings to get a larger view with
Copy more annotations.

Figure 3.1.1(a) shows the end of a W

Make Donation
section attached to a short connecting
plate. The other drawings in the set
illustrate the various strength based
failure limit states for the W section.

Note that the connecting plate shown is a

separate member and has its own set of
limit states that used to define it's tensile
strength. For this example, we will only
focus on the capacity of the W section.

Tension yielding is illustrated in Figure

3.1.1(b). This failure mode looks at
yielding on the gross cross sectional area,
Ag, of the member under consideration.

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Consequently, the critical area is located

away from the connection as shown.
Strength of the section equals the gross
area, Ag, times the minimum yield stress,
Fy, of the member.

Tensile rupture occurs in the next

section of the W section at the
connection. In this case we have two
potential failure paths that see the full
force of the member. These are shown in
Figures 4.1.1(c) and 4.1.1(d). It is
common to have multiple potential failure
paths. Each valid path must be
investigated. Tensile rupture is
complicated by the need to get the forces
out of the flanges, through the web, and
into the bolts. This means that we need
to account for the stress concentrated in
and around the bolts. This will be
discussed in further detail later. The
capacity of each failure path equals the
effective net area, Ae, times the tensile
stress, Fu, of the member.

Block shear occurs when a "block" of

the member is "torn" out as depicted in
Figures 4.1.1(e) and 4.1.1(f). Block shear
is characterized by a failure that includes
both tension (i.e. normal to the force) and
shear (i.e. parallel to the force) failure
planes. Like tensile rupture, there are

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frequently multiple valid failure paths that

must be investigated. The capacity of each failure path is a sum of the capacities of each of the failure surfaces in
the path. Each tension area capacity equals the tension area (either gross or net) times a tensile stress (yield or
ultimate). Each shear area capacity equals the shear area (either gross or net) times a shear stress (yield or

The three strength based limit states shown here are three of the four possible failures to be considered for the W
section. Bolt bearing, the fourth strength limit state, is not reasonably shown in these figures and is treated later.
The limit state that results in the lowest capacity for the member controls the capacity of the member.

Note that the capacity of the connection is the lowest of the capacity of the two connected members or the
fasteners. This chapter deals with the capacity of the connected members, not the fasteners. The fasteners are
addressed in chapter 5.

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