Flexural–torsional buckling of fiber-reinforced plastic composite cantilever I-beams
A combined analytical and experimental study of flexural–torsional buckling of pultruded fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) composite cantilever I-beams is presented. An energy method based on nonlinear plate theory is developed for instability of FRP I-beam, and the formulation includes shear effect and bending–twisting coupling. Three different types of buckling mode shape functions of transcendental function, polynomial function, and half simply supported beam function, which all satisfy the cantilever beam boundary conditions, are used to obtain the eigenvalue solution, and their accuracy in the analysis are investigated in relation to finite element results. Four different geometries of FRP I-beams with cantilever beam configurations and with varying span lengths are experimentally tested under tip loads to evaluate their flexural–torsional buckling response. The loads are applied at the centroid of the tip cross-sections, and the critical buckling loads are obtained by gradually adding weight onto a loading platform. A good agreement among the proposed analytical solutions, experimental testing, and finite element method is obtained, and simplified explicit formulas for flexural–torsional buckling of cantilever beams with applied load at the centroid of the cross-section are developed. The effects of vertical load position through the cross-section, fiber orientation and fiber volume fraction on buckling behavior are also studied. The proposed analytical solutions can be used to predict the flexural–torsional buckling loads of FRP cantilever beams and to formulate simplified design equations.