Inactive members

Tekla Structural Designer
Tekla Structural Designer

Inactive members

Single span members can be made inactive for analysis and design while still being kept in the model for load distribution and for determination of effective lengths.

This feature is particularly useful for industrial structures, as frequently not all the secondary beams are included in the analysis and design model, but they are still required to distribute load in the structure and act as restraints to supporting members.

An inactive member is totally ignored in the solver model as is any load carried by it. Therefore, to allow the load to be distributed it is instead decomposed to nodal forces in a pre-analysis decomposition stage - this happens for all applied loads on inactive members on the basis of the members being simply supported.

Which members can be made inactive?

Only single span beams, braces, analysis elements, purlins and rails have the potential to be inactive. They each have an Active setting in the properties which defaults to 'on' but can be unchecked.

Note: Members cannot be made inactive if:
  • they are multi-span, or,
  • they support another member (active or inactive)

To make a member inactive

By selecting the Show/Alter State Active attribute in a Review View, inactive members are color coded allowing the active/inactive setting to be toggled graphically.

Alternatively, you can change the setting manually in the Properties window as follows:

  1. Select the member in a 2D or 3D view.
  2. In the Properties window deselect Active.

Inactive member load decomposition

The first stage of load decomposition treats active and inactive members in exactly the same way.

This is then followed by a second stage of load decomposition for the inactive members only, as follows:
  • End reactions are calculated for the inactive members.
  • These are then applied as nodal forces to the supporting members.

After decomposition has taken place analysis can proceed with the inactive members removed from the solver model.

In the below example, by using the Show/Alter State Active attribute one beam has been made inactive. The view shows decomposed loads - note that the inactive beam still has slab load decomposed to it in the same way as the active beams (as a result of the first decomposition stage).
The effects of the second decomposition stage can be seen by switching to a Results View showing major moments.

In the second stage the end reactions of the inactive beam have been applied as nodal forces to the supporting edge beams in the first bay causing moments to be generated in them, (without this second stage the two supporting beams would have otherwise been completely unloaded.)

No moments are generated in the inactive beam itself because after the decomposition has taken place it does not exist in the solver model.

Typical usage cases for inactive members

There are potentially many uses for inactive members, the following being some examples.

Industrial Structures

Inactive members can be used in conjunction with ancillaries in order to apply loads to the structure while not themselves participating in the analysis.

In the below example an area ancillary decomposes load on to two inactive beams, which is then applied as nodal forces on to the supporting members.

Purlins and Rails

In large portal sheds, purlins and rails may be included in the model to act as a means of load distribution; the engineer would not want to see the forces in them when reviewing forces in the main structural members, or consider the small axial loads that develop in purlins and rails when gravity loadcases are analysed.

By setting the purlins and rails to be inactive these goals are achieved.

This is demonstrated in the below example - in the top view the purlins are rails are active, consequently small forces develop in them in gravity combinations and the results views are quite clutterred with values that are of no interest to the engineer.
In the second view the purlins and rails have been set inactive, providing a clearer display and showing the values the engineer would expect/assume from such a combination.

Grouped Design

Design can be speeded up by enabling group design and limiting the number of active members in a group.

This is demonstrated in the below example of a regular floor, all beams in the group apart from one have been made inactive which significantly reduces the design time.
Note: When making the non-critical beams inactive to speed up design:
  • You are responsible for choosing critical beam(s)
  • Primary beams cannot be set to inactive

To support stairs at a slab edge

If an area ancillary stair spans onto a slab edge, in order to decompose the stair load on to the slab you can add an inactive member along just that part of the slab edge to which the stair attaches.
Provided that the slab is meshed for 3D analysis, the inactive member provides a load path - the load becomes point loads on slab at each end inactive member (i.e. at the edges of the stair).