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Concrete Column Interaction Diagrams


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What is an Interaction Diagram? Glossary
In short, an Interaction Diagram is a much faster way of analyzing a concrete column for large eccentricities
Contact W.E.
(aka large moments). An example of a Interaction Diagram has been included in Figure 1 (click the hyperlink
to expand the image). Become an Editor

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Figure 1: A Concrete Interaction Diagram Statics


(Click here for larger version) Mechanics of Materials
?

Fantastic! Now how do I use it? Structural Analysis


Don't fret, it's actually a lot simpler to read than it seems. I highly recommend you print out the large version of ?
the Interaction Diagram that you can find here before continuing. It will clarify my explanation of how to use
Aluminum
interaction diagrams greatly.
Concrete
1) The constants:
Masonry
Before you pick a interaction diagram you have to make sure you have the right one. That upper right hand ?
corner of every diagram has a section that we'll call the constants for now. This section is how you differentiate
Steel
one column from another. The following will usually be defined in the constants:
Wood
f'c = the strength of the concrete (e.g. 4 ksi)
fy = the yield strength of the steel in the column (e.g. 60 ksi)
Transportation
γ (gamma) = the ratio between the center-point of the steel reinforcement and the outside dimension of
the column. For example, if you have #8 bars with a edge distance of 2" on a 20" x 20" concrete column Water Resources
then γ would be: [20" - 2*2" (cover) - 1" (dia. of bar)] / 20" = 15/20 = 0.75
Lastly, it is important to differentiate between square tied columns and circular spiral columns in this Miscellaneous
section (you'll be able to tell the difference by the shape of the column in the upper right hand corner). In

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the example i've attached the column is a square tied column. edit SideBar

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Note: If any of the variables fall between constants then you can conservatively take the lower of the two
Concrete
interaction diagrams for your numbers.
Column Rebar
Steel Column
2) The horizontal and vertical axis:
Column Deflection
As you can see the two equations below make up the horizontal and vertical axis' of the interaction diagrams.

Pu
Kn =
f cAg

Pue
Rn =
fc Agh
where:
Pu = Factored axial load on the column (lbs or kips)
ϕ = Strength Reduction Factor
f'c = Strength of the concrete (psi or ksi)

Ag = The gross area of the concrete column (in2 )


e = Pu e will create the moment acting on the column (in kip-in or lb-in)
h = the dimension of the column perpendicular to the axis of bending (in)

These two variables represent an Axial Force variable and a Moment variable (notice how one contains e/h
and one does not). They are your starting point for figuring out where your preliminary point on the interaction
curve is. See Section 5 below to see some hints for getting started.

Note: These variables are unitless so make certain that all of the units in both of the above equations
cancel out.

3) The pg and e/h lines:


Two additional pieces of information on these graphs are the p g and e/h lines. These lines provide boundary
conditions once you figure out your vertical and horizontal axis variables. As you can see, p g represents the
amount of steel in the column. The higher the moment you have, the more steel you will need. Steel will also
greatly increase the axial capacity of a concrete column.

A st
pg =
Ag

The e/h line is a shortcut to not take the moment acting on the column into account. It is not necessary to solve
for both the e/h line and the horizontal axis (notice how they both have e/h, which is a variable that takes the
moment acting on a concrete column into account. Since I always like solving for both axis' I usually ignore this
step.

Note: An e/h of 1.0 represents a much larger moment than an e/h of 0.10

4) Why is ε on there?
In order to plot a point on the graph, you have to assume a phi (ϕ). The ε t = 0.002 (compression controlled
section) and et = 0.005 (tension controlled section) are on the diagram to be used as guides when assuming
a value for your strength reduction factor. At this point you may have to revisit your horizontal and vertical axis
variables and update your location on your interaction diagram (if you originally assumed compression
controlled and it ends up being somewhere between the two).

5) Any other hints for getting started?


Of course!

To get started assume a ϕ and check back later to make sure your assumptions were correct.
A good place to be is to have pg fall between 0.02 and 0.025
If the point is outside the last curve (pg = 0.08) then the section size is to small. The 8% steel content
keeps the column from getting to congested.

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If your moment is inside the fist curve (p g = 0.01) then your section size is to big.
Transverse reinforcement can be found the same way it's found for columns with small eccentricity (see
Concrete Tied Columns & Concrete Spiral Columns)

Where can i find them?


Most often these interaction diagrams are found in the Appendices of your Concrete books. Here are a few
websites where I have found additional ones:

http://www.struweb.com/interaction_order.html

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