The work of this thesis sets out to give a clearer in-depth understanding of the failure mechanics of thin-walled compression members which are associated with complex interactions between the different buckling modes during the loading process. This thesis employs the finite element method in order to examine the effect of the modelling techniques imposed at the section junctions of short struts and to investigate the influence of the local and global end conditions with regard to support and loading on the compressive response of various sections, i.e. I-sections, plain channel sections, box-sections, and lipped channel sections. The thesis also details appropriate finite element modelling strategies and solution procedures taking due account of the influence of material nonlinearity and geometrical imperfections for the determination of the coupled mode interactive response of thin-walled compression members. A detailed account of the complete loading history of the compression members from the beginning of loading through to final collapse is given in the thesis. This involves elastic local buckling, nonlinear elastic and elasto-plastic post-buckling interaction behaviour and yield propagation leading to the development of an appropriate failure mechanism which causes final collapse and unloading.
A new finite element modelling strategy has been developed in the thesis with particular reference to being able to deal with the classical assumption of the stress-free in-plane boundary conditions existing at the section junctions of short length strut members during post-local buckling. Also, for fixed-ended columns, with particular reference to singly-symmetric plain channel sections, it has been shown that column deflections are initiated from the onset of local buckling for the case of the constituent plate elements of the section being locally rotationally constrained at their ends. Such columns should not therefore be considered as an overall bifurcation problem of the locally buckled member.
In the case of the pinned and fixed-ended boundary conditions of the columns, the finite element simulations are shown to be able to accurately describe the rather different complex failure mechanics with a high degree of imperfection sensitivity being shown to be in evidence for the pin-ended case. Considerably good agreement has been shown to occur with the independent simulations of other researchers using the finite strip method of analysis, with the analytical solution procedures of others and with the findings from independent test work and this has provided confidence in the viability and usefulness of the modelling strategies and solution procedures developed in this thesis.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.