An explicit formula is presented for the design of welded steel plates subjected to uniform lateral pressure, on the basis of a designer-specified level of acceptable permanent set, including that due to welding. The formula is derived from a combination of theoretical and experimental studies and shows good agreement with experimental results. For the convenience of designers the formula is also given in the form of design curves. The paper also delineates the areas of application of this and other formulas for laterally loaded plating. In brief, the paper shows that for static and quasistatic loads the formula derived herein is more accurate than formulas based on either the pseudo-elastic or the rigid-plastic approach. As the load becomes more dynamic the rigid-plastic approach becomes more appropriate, and for high-speed impact loads the rigid-plastic approach is best. For quasistatic loads, such as slamming, the formula presented herein is somewhat conservative while the rigid-plastic formulas are somewhat optimistic. A similar formula for concentrated loads (such as wheel loads) will be presented in a subsequent paper.

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