Composite Design: Effective Width – Part 01


Prokon, a comprehensive suite of structural analysis and design software, includes four composite design packages within its full suite of modules: Beam, Continuous Beam (distinct from the Concrete section module), Filled Column, and Encased Column. While still gaining traction, composite arrangements are increasingly favored in South Africa for their economic design benefits.

However, utilizing these modules presents challenges, primarily due to their reliance on the Eurocode 4 standards, known for their complexity. Interpreting the Eurocodes often necessitates additional sources for clarification, particularly when calculating the Effective Width of a cross-section.

In both the Beam and Continuous Beam modules, users must specify the Effective Width as it’s not automatically calculated by the program. Referencing Eurocode 4, section 6.1.2 for the Effective Width verification leads back to section for calculation. This equation involves the distance between shear connectors within the cross-section, typically zero for Prokon modules due to the limitation of allowing only one row of shear connectors. The subsequent technical terms and equations in the code further compound the complexity of the task.

From Prokon’s Composite Continuous Beam module.

Typically, the Effective Width value equals Le/8 per side, or Le/4 for the full Effective Width (Le also shown as Lo in some sources). However, the code provides a helpful distinction: for a global analysis, the same value can be used throughout the model; when evaluating specific cross-sections, Figure 5.1 (see below) becomes relevant. For the global analysis Le (or Lo) can be simply the span length from support to support, simplifying the calculation process.

The application of these concepts within Prokon’s composite modules raises questions about their implications for design. Part 02 will delve deeper into how these principles apply in Prokon and their potential design impacts.

NB – It’s crucial to note that the above interpretation of the Eurocode 4 is intended as a guide and should be used at one’s own risk.

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