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www.elsevier.com/locate/jcsr

J.M. Castro, A.Y. Elghazouli , B.A. Izzuddin

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College, London, UK

Received 4 October 2006; accepted 27 November 2006

Abstract

This paper deals with the behaviour of composite beams with particular focus on the effective slab width, which is required for simplified

structural analysis and design. Current design codes propose values for the effective width which are mostly a function of the beam span

ignoring in this way the influence of other important parameters. Several 3D numerical simulations are conducted in this paper in order to

illustrate these parameters and accordingly a new methodology is suggested for evaluating the effective width. The proposed approach is easier to

apply in comparison with other existing methods based on stress integration, and provides effective width values which result in a more reliable

representation of the actual beam state when simplified analysis is carried out. The application of the new method indicates that the effective width

is mostly related to the actual slab width and, in many cases, the values obtained can significantly differ from those proposed in design codes.

Validation of the new approach is carried out through comparison of simplified 2D models with the results obtained from a recent experimental

investigation as well as from more complex 3D numerical simulations.

c 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Effective width; Shear lag; Composite beams

1. Introduction

The enhanced stiffness, strength and ductility of composite

steelconcrete beams in comparison with RC and steel

counterparts, which result from the synergy between the two

materials, have been recognised for many years [17,30]. The

consideration of this type of member in the design process is

treated in a similar manner to that of steel and RC members,

i.e. through the application of traditional T-section analysis and

employment of simplified 2D models for the structural analysis.

This simplification however involves a number of assumptions,

most notably regarding the definition of the portion of slab

mobilised, referred to as the effective width. When a composite

beam deforms, shear strains develop in the slab and cause a

shear lag effect. This consists of non-uniform distributions of

normal stresses across the slab width and the non-planarity of

the slab cross-section. The effective width allows consideration

of this effect and it is typically used both for the structural

analysis and design stages.

The effective widths prescribed by current design codes

were established many years ago and are based on research

Corresponding author.

c 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

0143-974X/$ - see front matter

doi:10.1016/j.jcsr.2006.11.018

several research studies (e.g. Amadio and Fragiacomo [9],

Chiewanichakorn et al. [19]) have been performed which

recognised that the effective width is not a constant parameter

and changes with the development of inelasticity on the

composite member. This work resulted in various suggested

modifications for assessing the effective width.

In this paper, the behaviour of several composite beams

is assessed through detailed 3D numerical simulations which

provide an insight into the key parameters influencing the

effective width. A new proposed methodology for evaluating

effective widths is then described. The approach is more

consistent with underlying behavioural principles and is

also easier to apply compared to other existing procedures

but, at present, is limited to composite beams with full

interaction. The method is applied in a parametric study to

examine the influence of the various parameters governing

the effective width and to illustrate that this parameter is

largely related to the actual slab width. Finally, simplified 2D

numerical simulations are conducted to predict the response

obtained from a recent experimental study on a simply

supported composite beam as well as from more complex

3D analyses.

1318

The study of shear lag effects in composite systems started

during the sixties when several researchers extended existing

work on steel plates [31] and applied the concepts to composite

beams. Adekola [2] used the analytical solutions derived by

Allen and Severn [7] and calculated effective widths for

simply supported beams considering the variation of geometric

parameters. Several years later, Ansourian [10] applied the

finite element method to perform elastic analysis of fixed

composite beams. From the results, it was concluded that

accurate slab stresses are obtained when the effective width is

taken as one quarter of the span. On the other hand, to achieve

adequate accuracy in obtaining steel beam stresses, the use of

an effective width equal to the actual slab width was suggested.

Heins and Fan [24] presented an analytical method for

predicting the ultimate load behaviour of simply supported

composite bridge decks. The method involved the application

of the finite difference technique to solve a set of coupled

partial differential equations and elasto-plastic behaviour was

accomplished by a step-by-step incremental load procedure.

With the developed method, effective widths of slabs at ultimate

load were evaluated.

Fahmy and Robinson [23] investigated ten composite

cantilever beams incorporating ribbed metal deck and

representative of positive moment beam-to-column connections

of an unbraced frame. Nonlinear material behaviour and

shear interaction were considered in the analysis. Effective

widths for strength and stiffness calculations were determined.

This investigation proposed a direct relationship between the

effective width and the length-to-width ratio and the column

width-to-slab width ratio. Elkelish and Robinson [22] in a

similar study examined the influence of the type of loading on

the effective width. Results from this work have also indicated

higher effective widths in the inelastic range compared to those

for the elastic stage.

Brosnan and Uang [11] performed numerical studies using

ANSYS of composite L-beams (edge beams) and concluded

that the effective widths of slab in these systems are different

from those proposed in the codes for internal composite

beams (T-beams). More recently, Amadio and Fragiacomo [9]

conducted a series of parametric studies of simply supported

and cantilever composite beams using ABAQUS. Both elastic

and nonlinear analyses were performed and different levels

of shear connection were considered. The results for elastic

behaviour showed that the connection deformability is a very

important parameter on the evaluation of the effective width

for stress analysis. Proposed values were given for crosssections along the beam span. On the other hand, the full width

was proposed for stiffness calculations. The results from the

nonlinear analyses showed the enlargement of the effective

widths obtained for the elastic stage even reaching the full slab

widths in some situations. These conclusions were validated

with results obtained from experimental tests performed on four

composite beams [8].

From a review of the literature on effective width, the

complexity and inconsistencies surrounding this issue become

depends on a number of parameters such as the span, beam

spacing, boundary conditions, degree of shear connection, etc.

Clearly, the effective width is not constant along the span of

a composite beam and changes during the loading process

particularly at the onset of plasticity.

3. Existing definitions and provisions

There is no standard definition for effective width that can be

generally acceptable for all conditions. Two main approaches

for the evaluation of this parameter are often referred to in the

literature. One is related to the stress state of the slab and a

second to the stiffness of the composite beam.

The first definition is based on the stress distributions in the

slab, which is directly related to the shear lag phenomenon. In

this case, the effective width (beff ) is considered as the width

of slab that sustains a force equal to that in the actual slab,

assuming the longitudinal stresses (x ) to be constant across the

effective slab width and equal to the peak stress over the steel

beam centreline, as shown in Fig. 1. In mathematical terms, this

is expressed as follows:

beff =

1

[x ] y=0

+ b2

b2

x dy.

(1)

established. It can be applied to the top surface stresses in the

slab or at the mid-plane surface. Fahmy and Robinson [23] and

Elkelish and Robinson [22] employed a modified version of the

original definition as the effective width was evaluated from the

ratio of the total force developed in the slab to the integration of

stresses in the centreline of the beam through the slab thickness,

such that

R + tslab

R + b2

2

beff =

tslab

2

t

+ slab

2

tslab

2

x dydz

b2

[x ] y=0 dz

(2)

widths based on results from 3D finite element analysis. By

recognising that the stress pattern is not constant through the

slab thickness, the effective width was established in such a

way that the total force developing in the slab and its point of

application is the same in both the 3D model and in a simplified

T-section analysis.

The other approach, whereby the effective width is based

on stiffness calculations, involves the determination of the

deflection of a composite beam and then, from analytical

expressions, derivation of the equivalent second moment of

area that will cause the same deformation in the idealised

beam. From the equivalent second moment of area, an average

effective width is then estimated [3,11].

It is important to note that the effective widths derived from

the two approaches can be substantially different, as shown

by Brosnan and Uang [11]. Also, care must be taken when

dealing with an effective width based on stiffness in cases where

considerable shear connection deformation is expected.

1319

when compared to their European counterparts. In AISC 36005, no guidance is provided for continuous beams. However,

in the commentary document of the code [6], a simplified

approach is suggested for evaluating stiffness of continuous

composite beams which considers a weighted average of

second moments of area in the positive and negative bending

moment regions of the beam.

The effective width recommendations available in most

code provisions were derived on the basis of gravity loading

conditions. Therefore, different values of the effective width

would be expected for composite beams under lateral loading

conditions such as those due to seismic actions [21,16].

Eurocode 8 [14], specifically addresses this scenario by

proposing different effective widths to those prescribed in

Eurocode 4. In addition, Eurocode 8 also distinguishes between

effective widths for use in analysis and for strength calculations.

The values proposed are mostly a function of the span length

but are also dependent on column dimensions. Due to the

significant differences between the effective widths proposed in

Eurocode 4 and those proposed in Eurocode 8, designers may

encounter some difficulties during the design process.

In addition to the effective width proposals provided for

composite beams in building structures, similar recommendations are available for composite bridges. A detailed summary

and comparison of these proposals can be found elsewhere [4,

18]. It is worth mentioning that most provisions propose the effective width as a function of the span length and limited by the

distance between adjacent beams. However, in the AASHTO

specifications [1], the effective width is also a function of the

slab thickness. Another important observation is that most recommendations for building and bridge structures do not differentiate between effective widths for use in analysis and for

strength evaluation.

4. Detailed numerical assessment

codes normally provide simplified provisions. To discuss this,

European, British and North American provisions are briefly

summarised below.

The effective width proposed in design codes is typically

a function of the beam span. For example, Eurocode 4 [13]

recommends that the total effective width (beff ) should be

determined as the summation of the effective widths evaluated

on each side of the beam web (bei ). The value of bei is

equal to L e /8 but should not exceed the geometric width bi

which corresponds to half of the distance between adjacent

beams, where L e is the equivalent span corresponding to the

approximate distance between points of zero bending moment.

For typical continuous composite beams in frames, Eurocode

4 stipulates the equivalent spans illustrated in Fig. 2. It is also

worth noting that Eurocode 4 allows the adoption of a constant

effective width over the whole of each span. These provisions

are similar to those prescribed in the British Standard 5950 [12].

With regard to North American proposals for effective

width, the most recent AISC provisions [5] are relatively simple

positive bending moment is now investigated through a 3D

detailed model of a six metre composite beam analysed in

ADAPTIC [25]. The main aspects of the behaviour are pointed

out for both the elastic and inelastic stages. The beam consists

of a 120 mm thick concrete slab and a European IPE 300 steel

section. The total slab width is 2.5 m. Steel is assumed to have a

yield strength of 275 N/mm2 whereas the uniaxial compressive

and tensile strengths of concrete are 30 N/mm2 and 2 N/mm2 ,

respectively.

In terms of the numerical model, the steel section is

represented with 3D cubic elasto-plastic beam elements (cbp3)

[28] incorporating a fibre approach. On the other hand, the

concrete slab is modelled with a recently developed flat

shell element (csl4) [29] which has been validated against

experimental results [20]. This novel element is able to

efficiently reproduce the behaviour of geometrically orthotropic

slabs such as typical ribbed steel-decked composite floor

systems. Both beam and shell elements account for geometric

nonlinearities. Composite action is achieved through inclusion

of special link elements (lnks) [26] with rigid axial and bending

1320

and the slab. Note that full interaction is assumed, between

the steel beam and the slab, and that a layer of reinforcement

representing a ratio of 0.4% of the slab cross-section is

provided. A representation of the numerical model is shown in

Fig. 3.

With regard to the material models adopted, a typical

bilinear elasto-plastic model with strain hardening (stl1)

is employed for steel whereas for concrete a biaxial

model (con11), which accounts for the combined effects of

compressive nonlinearity and tensile crack opening and closure,

is adopted. In this model, compressive nonlinear response is

dealt with according to plasticity theory in which a biaxial

interaction surface is employed. Account is taken of the

hardening (before pre-crushing) and softening compressive

response. Tensile behaviour is considered through a smeared

crack approach assuming a fixed crack orientation. Softening

response in tension is incorporated to represent tension

stiffening effects. Further details of this model can be found

elsewhere [27,29].

In order to assess the parameters influencing the longitudinal

stress distribution in the slab, various loading conditions as

well as different slab widths and thicknesses are considered and

discussed below.

surfaces.

Focusing on the elastic range, the longitudinal stress

distribution across the slab is firstly examined. The beam is

loaded with a uniformly distributed pressure. In Fig. 4, the midspan stress distributions at top, middle and bottom surfaces

are depicted. It is clear from the figure that the stress pattern

is not constant across the slab thickness; hence difficulties

arise for the evaluation of effective widths based on stress

calculations. The nearly uniform stress distribution is also noted

for both middle and top surfaces. The shear lag effect is not

as visible as would be expected. The reason for this is related

to the low gradient of bending moment at the mid-span as

the beam is loaded with a uniformly distributed pressure. The

stress distribution at the bottom surface is also of interest as it

observes its tensile peak at the edges rather than at the centreline

of the steel beam. This can be attributed to the localised effects

arising from the presence of a rigid link.

The influence of slab width on longitudinal stress

distribution in the slab is now examined. This parameter is

directly related to the in-plane shear stiffness of the slab. The

larger the slab width, the lower the shear stiffness. Two new

composite beams are analysed in which the slab widths are

taken equal to 1.5 m and 3.5 m, respectively. The mid-span

stress distributions at the mid-surface are plotted in Fig. 5. As

expected, the shear lag effect is more evident for larger slab

widths.

A second parameter which is directly related to the inplane shear stiffness of the slab is its thickness. For thicker

slabs, the shear stiffness is higher and therefore the presence

of shear lag is attenuated. This trend is illustrated by observing

the stress distributions plotted in Fig. 6. It is clear that when

the slab thickness is smaller, the variation of the longitudinal

1321

Fig. 8. Top surface longitudinal stress distributions across slab width at midspan for increasing levels of deformation.

parameter is not as significant as that observed for the slab

width.

The last parameter investigated is the type of load. The

results presented above were obtained from a beam loaded

with uniform pressure. Two new cases are now analysed. In

the first one, a single point load is applied at the mid-span of

the composite beam whereas in the second case a line load

is applied at the mid-span of the beam, transversely to the

longitudinal direction. The stress distributions at mid-surface

are depicted in Fig. 7, which clearly demonstrate the influence

of the load type on the beam behaviour. When a single point

load is applied, the stress variation is very significant. Evidently,

if effective widths are derived on the basis of stress calculations,

the resulting values can be considerably different depending on

the load type.

4.2. Elasto-plastic behaviour

The inelastic behaviour of the composite beam is examined

in this section. In order to illustrate the change of stress pattern

in the slab for increasing levels of plasticity, a point load is

applied at mid-span to represent a case of significant shear lag.

In Fig. 8, the longitudinal stress distribution in the top surface

At 3.25 cm, the distribution corresponds to the point when the

stress at the centreline attains the peak. Similarly, for a vertical

deformation of around 6 cm, the peak stress is reached at the

slab edge.

Inspection of Fig. 8 reveals that compressive longitudinal

stresses in the slab tend to become uniform for increasing

demand levels. When the peak stress is reached at the

centreline, these fibres enter a softening regime (incorporated in

the concrete constitutive model) and stress redistribution occurs

in the slab. At a certain stage, the stresses at the edge are higher

compared to those at the centreline. The ratio between edge and

centreline stresses (edge /centre ) is depicted in Fig. 9.

Examination of Fig. 9 provides useful information regarding

the nonlinear behaviour of the composite beam. It is of interest

to point out that the stress ratio remains constant while the

beam response is fully elastic. However, a reduction in this ratio

is observed from a vertical deformation of about 1 cm. This

corresponds to the occurrence of first yield in the bottom flange

of the steel beam. At around 2.5 cm, the ratio between edge

and centreline stresses starts increasing due to the initiation of

nonlinear concrete response. After 3.25 cm, the peak stress is

attained at the centreline and the redistribution of stresses in the

1322

shown in Fig. 11, significant compressive stresses develop in

the transverse direction at mid-span around the beam centreline.

The numerical observations provided in this section

demonstrate the complexity of the stress state developing in

the slab of a composite beam. It is clear that shear lag effects

occur in the elastic range but, due to material nonlinearity, stress

redistribution develops in the slab. The concept of a single

effective width for use in both analysis and strength calculations

is therefore inaccurate and its use is not supported by either

numerical or experimental observation.

5. Proposed approach

5.1. Description

Fig. 10. Variation of top surface concrete stresses at mid-span with vertical

deformation.

Fig. 11. Top surface transverse stress distribution along the centreline of the

composite beam.

the stress ratio. For a vertical deformation of about 6 cm, the

peak stress is reached at the slab edge and another change is

observed in the stress ratio curve.

With regard to stress magnitudes, the high values recorded

for the concrete peak stresses are noteworthy. As indicated in

Fig. 8, concrete stresses reach values well above 30 N/mm2 ,

the uniaxial strength considered for concrete. In Fig. 10,

top surface concrete stresses at mid-span are plotted against

vertical deformation. It becomes clear from the figure that

concrete stresses at both centreline and slab edge reach values

markedly higher compared to the uniaxial strength considered.

This behaviour is intimately related to the confining effects

width of composite beams in the linear elastic range. The

method can be applied to beams under positive and negative

bending moment [15] but is currently limited to full-interaction

cases.

Rather than evaluating the effective width based on the

complex stress patterns developing in the slab, the approach

consists of finding equivalent second moment of areas from

results obtained using a 3D finite element model. This model

is similar to those employed before in the investigation of

composite beam behaviour.

By analysing the 3D model subject to a set of loading and

boundary conditions, the strain profiles () at the steel sections

and the corresponding curvatures () can be readily obtained,

as shown in Fig. 12.

Since the bending moment applied is also a known

parameter, the equivalent second moment of area (Ieq ) of the

cross-section can be easily derived by applying the expression

=

M

M

Ieq =

.

E Ieq

E

(3)

then be readily derived.

This approach has several advantages when compared

to those based on stress calculations. Firstly, it avoids the

complexity of stress integration. It also provides more accurate

representation of the behaviour as it maintains the location

of the elastic neutral axis for a given bending moment. This

is not however the case for stress-based methods in which

the effective width is evaluated by controlling the level of

internal forces in the slab whilst not ensuring that these are then

mobilised under the same bending moment in the simplified

1323

that it can be easily applied for obtaining effective width

distributions along the length of composite beams. It should

also be noted that this approach can be used directly for both

simply supported and continuous composite beams.

The suggested method may seem to imply that a Mbeff

relationship exists for a given composite beam. This is not

necessarily the case as curvatures in the 3D model are sensitive

to bending moment gradients. This observation is further

emphasised by the different stress patterns obtained for various

loading conditions (Fig. 7).

As noted before, despite its advantages, this new approach

does not currently incorporate beams with partial interaction.

This extension could be an interesting topic for future research.

It is also worth mentioning that the influence of the type of

shear connection is not considered in this approach. However,

this aspect is deemed to be more relevant in beams with

partial interaction and is obviously of extreme importance when

ductility and capacity issues are under investigation.

5.2. Illustrative examples

The applicability of the proposed approach is now examined

by applying it to some of the beams already investigated in

the detailed numerical study presented before in this paper.

Note that, unless stated otherwise, the beams are loaded with a

uniformly distributed pressure. The influence of four geometric

parameters is assessed by plotting the effective widths along the

beam.

The first parameter examined is the slab width (b). In Fig. 13

effective widths are plotted for three composite beams with slab

widths of 1.5 m, 2.5 m and 3.5 m.

As expected, a higher percentage of slab is mobilised for

the 1.5 m case. This is consistent with the low shear lag

present in this beam (Fig. 5) and confirms the higher in-plane

shear stiffness associated with this case. On the other hand,

for larger slab widths, the percentage of width mobilised is

smaller; however an increase of effective widths is observed.

The curves shown in Fig. 13(b) contradict the conventional

recommendation of considering the effective width uniquely as

a function of the span length. From the results, and focusing on

the effective width at mid-span rather than its variation over the

span, it is clear that the effective width is strongly dependent

on the actual slab width. It should also be noted that, in this

example, the value of L/4 proposed in most codes is only valid

for the composite beam with 1.5 m of slab width.

The second parameter studied is the slab thickness.

Two new variant beams are considered with 80 mm and

150 mm slabs respectively. The effective width distributions

are depicted in Fig. 14. The results obtained show that thicker

slabs are associated with higher in-plane shear stiffness and

consequently, with larger effective widths. Like the previous

parameter, the effective width is more sensitive to variations in

slab width rather than span length.

The influence of span length on the effective width

distribution is also examined. An additional composite beam of

10 m length is analysed and the results are presented in Fig. 15.

mobilised in the longer beam. The agreement with the estimate

of Eurocode 4 for this beam is noteworthy, which is not the

case for the 6 m beam. However, a better correlation between

the effective width and the full slab width is again confirmed.

The proposed method for effective width evaluation is now

applied to a cantilever beam loaded upwards at the tip. This

system is intended to represent a composite beam under lateral

loading spanning to an external joint. The slab edge is assumed

to be aligned with the column flange. Therefore, only an

assumed length (bc ) of 0.25 m is restraining the slab in-plane.

The objective is to investigate whether the proposed approach is

able to represent a reduced effective width in the contact region

with the column. The effective widths obtained are represented

in Fig. 16. The figure clearly shows a smaller effective width

in the contact region. The value obtained is around 2bc ,

i.e. 0.50 m. This corresponds to double the restrained length

which appears to be realistic.

The analyses described above illustrate the applicability of

the proposed method for effective width evaluation. Due to

its simplicity and efficiency, it can be used for performing

extensive parametric studies to quantitatively investigate the

parameters affecting the effective width in the elastic range.

It is important to note that the elastic effective widths

obtained at the mid-span of the beam are in the range of

1324

with previous observations of stress redistribution in the slab in

the inelastic range, suggests that consideration of full widths

for 2D frame analysis and strength evaluation appears to be

an alternative approach to current code proposals. To assess

the validity of this suggestion, two comparative studies are

undertaken and described in the following section.

6. Comparative studies

In order to assess the validity of adopting effective widths in

2D analysis larger than that prescribed in codes, a comparison is

performed hereafter between the results obtained from a recent

experimental study conducted by Amadio et al. [8] on a simply

supported composite beam (B4 specimen) and those obtained

from simplified 2D beam analyses. It should be noted that the

purpose of this section is not to check the accuracy of the

proposed approach described above but to investigate the global

and local response of composite beams, particularly when large

effective widths are adopted.

As illustrated in Fig. 17, the test specimen consists of a

3.8 m composite beam comprising a European HEB 180 section

which supports a 120 mm thick and 1.6 m wide concrete slab.

Full shear connection was achieved by using 56 headed studs

with 16 mm diameter and 100 mm height. The beam was loaded

1325

Table 1

Steel properties of the B4 specimen

Material

E (N/mm2 )

f y (N/mm2 )

(%)

Structural steel

Reinforcing steel

210 000

210 000

317

554

1

2

Table 2

Concrete properties of the B4 specimen

Property (N/mm2 )

Value

E

fc

ft

36 744

41.60

3.32

the mid-span. The mechanical properties of the materials for

specimen B4 are listed in Tables 1 and 2.

Like the 3D models employed before, the simplified 2D

models prepared in ADAPTIC consist of representing the

composite beam by two parallel lines of cubic elasto-plastic

beam elements (cbp2) incorporating a fibre approach. The

lower line corresponds to the steel section whereas the upper

line represents the concrete or composite slab. As shown in

Fig. 18, the two lines of beam elements are positioned at the

centroids of the two constituent parts and composite action is

achieved through inclusion of links (lnk2) with rigid properties.

Joint elements (jel2) are also incorporated at appropriate

locations within the links in order to model the interaction

effects as realistically as possible.

With regard to material modelling, a bilinear elasto-plastic

model (stl1) is adopted for both structural and reinforcing steel.

On the other hand, concrete nonlinear behaviour is accounted

for by adoption of a uniaxial constitutive model (con1)

featuring both compressive and tensile softening. In terms of

shear interaction, trilinear behaviour curves are assigned to the

joint elements based on the properties provided by Amadio

et al. [8].

An additional 3D model, similar to those described before in

this paper, is prepared in ADAPTIC to compare its accuracy in

predicting the response obtained from the test. Shear interaction

is considered using the same approach adopted for the 2D

model.

The global response of the composite beam obtained from

both the experiment and the analyses is shown in Fig. 19.

Inspection of the figure indicates the accuracy provided by the

simplified 2D model when the effective width is considered as

80% of the actual slab width. Both the initial stiffness and the

ultimate capacity are almost coincident with those observed in

the test and provide more accurate representation in comparison

with the case when the code effective width (L/4) is employed.

The excellent prediction provided by the 3D model is also

worth noting, although this model is computationally much

more demanding.

The local response is now examined by comparing the

momentcurvature relationships evaluated at the central region

of the composite beam which is under pure bending conditions.

The results from the various 2D models are compared with the

3D model due to absence of test results. In all the models,

the curvatures are obtained from the strain gradients of the

beam element representing the steel section, and the results

are presented in Fig. 20. The curves clearly illustrate the better

estimate provided by the 2D models adopting effective widths

larger than that proposed by the code. However it should be

mentioned that, for the same level of vertical deformation, large

effective widths lead to an overestimation of curvatures.

1326

incorporating shear interaction effects. However, it is of interest

to check the accuracy of adopting large effective widths in a full

interaction case. The same beam is now analysed assuming full

interaction. The global responses obtained for both 2D and 3D

models are provided in Fig. 21 whereas the momentcurvature

relationships are illustrated in Fig. 22.

Once again, the curves confirm the relative accuracy

provided by 2D models adopting effective widths approaching

the full slab width both in terms of initial stiffness and

strength. The initial stiffness ratios presented in Table 3 clearly

demonstrate that only a nearly full effective width can provide

a good estimate of the initial stiffness. With regard to the local

response, it is worth noting the underestimation of maximum

curvature provided by the 2D models for the same levels of

vertical deformation of the beam.

From the above discussions it becomes clear that

consideration of code effective widths led to an underestimation

of the stiffness and capacity of a composite beam. This effect

is more pronounced for small span beams. As the common

code expression for effective width is a function of the beam

span, relatively low values are expected for such beams. This

is reflected in smaller internal lever arms developing at the

cross-section level with the consequent underestimation of the

beam capacity. However, for the case of beams associated with

large slab widths, consideration of full effective widths leads to

realistic estimates in terms of stiffness but, in some cases, the

capacity can be overestimated as compared to more detailed

3D simulations, particularly when strain-hardening effects are

considered in the 2D analyses. Nevertheless, it is relevant to

point out that only full effective widths can provide a realistic

estimate of the moment capacity when plastic cross-section

analysis is performed.

7. Conclusions

In this paper, a new methodology for assessment of effective

width in composite beams is proposed. The method, which at

present is limited to full-interaction cases, is easier to apply in

comparison with existing procedures based on stress integration

and provides more accurate estimates of the effective widths

Table 3

Initial stiffness ratios between 2D and 3D models

Effective width (beff )

K 2D /K 3D

b

0.8b

L/4 0.6b

1.03

0.97

0.89

that the effective width is mostly related to the full slab width

but it also depends on a number of parameters such as the

slab thickness, the beam span and on the boundary conditions.

The effective widths obtained at the most stressed regions of

the composite beams considered were always above 80% of

the slab width. Additionally, detailed 3D numerical simulations

reveal that stress redistribution develops in the slab at the onset

of inelasticity. On this basis, comparisons with experimental

results demonstrate that better predictions of the response are

obtained when effective widths approaching the full slab width

are employed in 2D models.

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