The load carrying capacity of steel structures, built of slender members like bridge cross‐sections, depends on coupled yielding and buckling of the stringers and the plate strips as well as on the global buckling. Therefore, the common techniques of modelling the limit load by an elasto‐plastic layer model fail. In order to overcome the difficulty a material law is developed, in which local buckling failure and yielding is considered. This is based on an energy function, which describes the elasto‐plastic intermediate and ultimate state of plates and webs dependent on only a few parameters. The application is shown on large scale examples of stiffened steel bridge decks.
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