Although it offers a wide variety of interesting properties such as fire resistance or durability, stainless steel has been used in limited amount in structures. It is a known fact that the design rules don't properly account for the additional benefits of stainless steel properties and are largely based on the specifications for carbon steel. Indeed, a number of similarities exist between stainless steel and ordinary carbon steel but there is sufficient differences to afford a specific treatment in design standards. And since stainless steel is an expensive material, it is important to accurately predict the resistance of structural members.
The present research work is dedicated to the study of cold-formed stainless steel profiles. It actually follows the life of a stainless steel construction element and falls on three fundamental topics: the material behavior, the through-thickness residual stress distribution and mechanical enhancement due to the cold-forming process and, last, the strength of concentrically compressed thin-walled columns.
Firstly, several constitutive models are characterized such as Teodosiu-Hu's micro-structural based hardening model, capable of predicting the behavior of the studied stainless steel grade submitted to biaxial loading causing plastic strain. This model accounts for the nonlinear hardening behavior, the anisotropy, the Bauschinger effect and more complex behavior such as the observed work-hardening stagnation under reversed deformation at large strains. For this purpose, a collection of tests is carried out including multiaxial tests such as tensile-shear tests and successive simple shear tests and plane-strain tests.
Secondly, the effects of the forming process on the mechanical properties are studied. To begin with, on the basis of the constitutive models developed previously, an analytical method that calculates the biaxial residual stress distribution in the walls and in the corners of cold-formed profiles is established. Based on the conclusions drawn from this theoretical analysis, a new formula for the evaluation of the actual mechanical properties is established.
This formula is not restricted to a single alloy or type of cross-section.
Current design standards are then used to calculate the strength of lipped-channel section columns failing by combined distortional and overall flexural-torsional buckling and the results are compared to tests. Indeed, full-scale tests on cold-formed stainless steel lipped channel section columns were achieved in the Structures Laboratory of the University of Liège. And, once verified against the test results, finite element models were used to generate additional results when necessary. The author then presents a new Direct Strength Method taking into account this phenomenon.
Finally, a wide amount of reference results are gathered from the literature, without limiting oneself to any kind of cross-section or stainless steel grade. This database is used to propose an improved formulation for the design of stainless steel thin-walled section columns failing by distortion, local or combination of local and overall buckling in the low slenderness range.