The paper describes a method for estimating permanent and maximum (elastic plus plastic) deflections of a structure subjected to a force pulse loading of arbitrary shape and duration. The concept of artificially separating the response into purely elastic and purely plastic (i.e., rigid-plastic) stages is adopted. Previous applications have been to very short pulses. When the approach is applied to long pulses of only moderately large force compared to limit load magnitudes the interaction between elastic and plastic effects is more critical. The inclusion of plastic rate sensitivity and the determination of the duration of the initial elastic stage require new approaches. Insight is provided by studying a mass-spring (elastic-perfectly plastic) system of one degree of freedom. The duration of the elastic stage is chosen to maximize a specially defined work function. Comparisons are shown for examples of rate-independent and rate-sensitive frames between deflections given by the simple technique of the paper, final deflections obtained in laboratory tests, and maximum and final displacements furnished by the finite element code ABAQUS.

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