Gusset plate

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Gusset plate
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A large connecting plate used at panel points to join the chord and the web members.

Design Procedure

Traditional methodology employs general beam theory structural mechanics to analyze the gusset plates and estimate design stresses along a critical section. One of the assumptions of beam theory is that the individual components of stress caused by shear, axial force and bending can be decoupled from the aggregate complex stress state and analyzed independently without a significant loss in accuracy.[1][2] Below is outline of the design steps:

stress check:

  • determine axial forces in members connecting to a joint with gusset plate
  • determine gusset plate critical sections
  • consider portion of the gusset plate on one side of the critical section and determine (from equilibrium with member forces using free body diagram) shear, axial force, and moment (V, P, M) acting on the critical section
  • using V, P and M, calculate stresses in the gusset plate and compare with allowable stress

unsupported edge adequacy:


  1. Reggie Holt and Joseph Hartmann: Adequacy of the U10 & L11 Gusset Plate Designs for the Minnesota Bridge No. 9340 (I-35W over the Mississippi River), INTERIM REPORT, January 11, 2008 - provides detailed description of procedures used for gusset plate design, including limited historical background with focus on AASHTO specificiations
  2. J.J. Roger Cheng, Gilbert Y. Grondin, and Michael C.H. Yam: Design and behavior of gusset plate connections
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