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Nonlinear buckling may be evaluated in SAP2000 using Nonlinear static analysis. This procedure takes an iterative approach while implementing P-Delta and Large-Displacement effect. Structural response is shown by plotting selected joint displacements against load application. A softening behavior may be observed in this plot, indicating the onset of buckling, and the condition of instability which follows.


  • Nonlinear analysis. During Nonlinear-static buckling analysis, the total load is applied incrementally. Stiffness and response are evaluated at each increment. Between each displacement step, stiffness may change due to the following effects:

    • P-Delta effect, which involves large tensile or compressive stresses on transverse bending and shear behavior.
    • Large-Displacement effect, in which deformed configuration is considered when assembling the equilibrium equations.
    • Nonlinear material behavior, in which performance incorporates inelastic response. SAP2000 implements material nonlinearity using frame hinges and nonlinear layered-shell objects.
  • Comparison. Because Nonlinear-static buckling analysis considers material nonlinearity while generating buckling response, results are often more realistic than those of Linear buckling analysis. The results of Nonlinear-static analysis are indicated by a plot of deformed configuration against load application. This plot displays the softening behavior which indicates the onset of buckling.


The CSI Analysis Reference Manual is an excellent resource for information on buckling. We recommended the following chapters: