The exact tangent and secant stiffness matrices of an initially curved beam
-column element under predominant axial force and end moments are derived.
The stability function of solving the differential equilibrium equation for
the beam-column element is further extended to allow for the important eff
ect of member initial imperfection. The accuracy of this developed element
makes the convergence rate for equilibrium and resistance against divergenc
e batter than that by the conventional cubic element or other currently ava
ilable elements. The use of a single element per member is adequate enough
for the extreme case of a column with both ends tired, in which even two cu
bic elements cannot generate an accurate result. As a single element can su
fficiently model a member, the second-order analysis, the nonlinear integra
ted design and analysis, and the advanced analysis become simple, reliable,
and easy to use for practical design. The present element can also be used
as a benchmark element for second-order elastic analysis of 2D and 3D fram
es and represents the ultimate solution for the imperfect element under Tim
oshenko's beam-column theory.