In this tutorial, we’re going to work out exactly how to determine the plastic moment capacity of a cross-section. We’ll also explore the concept of moment redistribution with an illustrative example. By the end of this post you’ll be able to calculate the plastic moment capacity of any cross-section and understand in detail how moment redistribution occurs in a structure and ultimately how collapse can occur as a result of hinge formation.
So why is plastic behaviour so important to understand? It’s probably fair to say that most of our engineering analysis assumes linearly elastic behaviour. But in reality, if we limit our designs to purely elastic behaviour, we’re leaving a lot of structural capacity untapped. Structures very often have more load carrying capacity than a linearly elastic analysis suggests. In this post we’ll explore this reserve capacity.