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Chapter 2. Tension members.

2.1 Introduction
2.2 Types of Tension Members
2.3 Effective area
2.4 Types of Failure
2.5 Design value of axial tension force
2.6 Slenderness ratio
2.7 Members subjected to combined tension and bending
Reference: EBCS-3. Design of steel structures.
2.1 – Introduction
Axially loaded tension members are used mainly as members of the roof truss, truss for bridges
and as tie to take horizontal forces on industrial buildings.
• A structural member subjected to two pulling forces applied at the two ends is called as
tension member.

• The members and connections are so arranged that the eccentricity in the connection and
bending stresses on the member are not developed.

• The bending moment due to self weight of the member is neglected.

• The bottom chords of roof and bridge trusses, Steel cables in suspension and cab1e-stayed
bridges, cab1es-supported roofs, guyed microwave and radio communication towers and
power transmission towers, elevator cables are classic examples.

Figure 1 Tension members in structures

2.2 Types of Tension members
1. Wires and Cables

Wires are used for hoisting purposes and as guy wires in steel stacks and towers and cables are
used as floor suspenders in suspension bridges.

2. Bars and Rods

These are used as tension members in bracing systems, sag rods to support purlins between

3. Plates and flat bars

These are used as tension members in transmission towers and foot bridges

4. Single and built up structural shapes

This consists of a single structural shape or built up from a number of structural shapes. Angles,
Channels and I sections are used.

• For carrying greater tension the members have to provide larger net area and therefore built
up sections might be the only effective choice.

• The use of single structural shapes is more economical than built up sections. However, the
latter may be required under any of the following situations:

 The tensile capacity of a single rolled section is not sufficient.

 The L/r ratio (the ratio of the un-braced length to the minimum radius of gyration) does
not provide sufficient rigidity.

 the effect of bending combined with the tensile behavior requires a large lateral stiffness

 usual connection details require a particular cross section

 Aesthetic control

2.3 – Effective area.

The effective area is taken as Net Area. The net area of cross-section or element section shall be
taken as it gross area less appropriate deductions for all holes and openings. When calculating
net section properties, the deduction of a single hole shall be the gross cross sectional area of the
hole in the plane of its axis. Provided that the fastener holes are not staggered, the total area to be

deducted for fastener holes shall be the maximum sum of the sectional areas of the holes in any
cross-section perpendicular to the member axis.

When the fastener holes are staggered, the total area to be deducted for fastener holes shall be the
greater of:

1. The deduction for non-staggered holes.

2. The sum of the sectional area of all holes in any diagonal or zigzag line extending
progressively across the member or part of member, less s2t/4p for each gauge space in the
chain of holes. See Fig. 4.

Figure 2 Possible cases

Therefore the net width dn can be computed by using the following formula which is known
as “the chain formula”.

d n  total width  nd 
Where: n – number of holes in the chain of holes
a – number of diagonal space p in the chain
s – is the pitch, the spacing of the centers of two consecutive holes in the chain
measured parallel to the member axis
p – is the spacing between the centers of the holes measured perpendicular to the
member axis
d – diameter of holes.
Finally the net area should be the net width x thickness of the plate: dn x t.
Note: The diameter for holes is given in Table 6.1 of the EBCS-3.

2.4 Types of failure

• Gross section yielding

Considerable deformation of the member in longitudinal direction takes place before it fractures,
making the structure undesirable.
• Net section rupture
The rupture of the member when the net cross section of the member reaches the ultimate stress.
• Block shear failure
A part of member at the end shears out due to the use of high bearing strength of the plate and
high strength of bolts in smaller connection length.

2.5 Design value of axial tension force.

The design value of the axial force is Nt , Sd  Nt , Rd

where: Nt, Rd = design tension resistance capacity of the cross-section, taken as a smaller of either
the design plastic resistance Npl,RD of the gross section or the design ultimate resistance Nu,Rd of
the net section at the bolt hole
Af y
1. The design plastic resistance of the gross section is N pl , Rd 
 M1
0.9 Aeff f u
2. The design ultimate resistance of the net section at the bolt hole is N u , Rd 
Where: A – gross section area (area without reduction).
Aeff – effective area.
fy – stress at the yield point of the steel.
fu – ultimate tensile stress.
2.6 Slenderness ratio.
Even if the tension members are not under the action of reversal stress, to avoid damages
during the transportation and erecting of the members, its slenderness ratio is limited to 350.
2.7 Members subjected to combined tension and bending.
To check members under simultaneous action of tension and bending moment the following
criterion may be used:

N Sd M y , Sd M z , Sd
  1
N pl , Rd M pl , y , Rd M pl , y , Rd

Example 1
Calculate the net critical area for the bolt distribution shown below.

Chain (1) dn = 15 – 2 x 1 = 13 cm.
2 x 32
Chain (2) s = 3; p = 3 d n  15  4 x1   12.5 cm
4 x3

2 x 32 2 x 4 2
Chain (3) s = 4; p=3 d n  15  5 x1    14.17 cm
4 x3 4 x3
Chain (4) dn = 15 – 3x1 =12 cm

Therefore the Net Critical Area = 12 x 0.5 = 6 cm2.

Design example 2
Calculate the maximum design load for the plate of the example Nr 1. Steel grade Fe = 360.
1. The design plastic resistance of the gross section.

Gross area A = 15 x 0.5 = 7.5 cm2

Yield strength fy = 23.5 kN/cm2 (Table 3.1, EBCS-3).
Partial safety factor γM1 = 1.1 (Section 4.1.1, EBCS-3).
7.5 x 23.5
N pl , Rd   160.2 kN
2. The design ultimate resistance of the section at the bolt holes.

Effective area Aeff = 6 cm2.

Ultimate resistance fu = 36.0 kN/cm2 (Table 3.1 EBCS-3)
Partial safety factor γM2 = 1.25

0.9 x6 x36
Nu , Rd   155.52 kN

Therefore, the design force is 155.52 kN.

Example 3.
Determine the design strength of two angles 100 x 100 x 10 in grade Fe 430 used as a welded
bracing member.

Because there are no holes (welded connection), only design plastic resistance must be checked.
The partial safety factor for the section γM1 = 1.1.
The design plastic resistance is:
Af y 2 x1920x 275
N pl , Rd    960000 N  960 kN .
 M1 1.1
Example 4
Determine the design strength for the two angles of the example Nr 3 if now are used as a bolted
bracing member with single row of 16.5 mm holes at each leg of the angle.

The partial safety factor is γM2 = 1.25

The effective area is the net area. Anet = 3840 – 4 x 16.5 x 10 = 3180 mm2
0.9 Aeff fu 0.9 x3180x 430
N u , Rd    984528 N  484.528 kN  960 kN
M2 1.25
Therefore, the design strength of the bolted bracing member is controlled by the yield strength of
the full section.
Thus, Npl,Rd = 960 kN.

Example 5
Check the section used as a main tie of the roof truss shown in the Figure below. The section is
formed with 2 unequal leg angle 100 x 75 x8 mm. Steel grade Fe 430 is used. The joint was made
with 7 bolts diameter 20 mm as shown. The acting tensile force is 630 kN.

Steel Grade Fe 430 fy = 275 Mpa = 27.5 kN/cm2

fu = 430 Mpa = 43.0 kN/cm2
Gross area for one angle 100 x 75 x 8 = 13.49 cm2
dhole = d + 2 = 20 + 2 = 22 mm (Table 6.1, EBCS-3)

1). Plastic resistance of the gross section:

2 x13.40x 27.5
N pl , Rd   670 kN
2). Ultimate resistance of the net section at the bolt holes.
Calculation of the Aeff. S = 3.5 cm and p = 4.1 cm.

Calculation of Nu, Rd.

0.9 x 20.88x 43
N u , Rd   646.44 kN
Checking for the maximum slenderness ratio.

Slenderness ratio = Leff / kmin; minimum radius of gyration kmin = 1.62 mm.

Slenderness ratio = 300 / 1.62 = 185 < 350 OK.

The design tension resistance capacity of the cross-section is 646.44 kN, therefore, because
646.44 kN > 630 kN, the section 1-1 used for design is adequate.