Experimental and numerical study on the performance of new prefabricated connections for free-form grid structures

Quan, Guan and Qi, Jiafeng and Wu, Hui and Ye, Jun and Gao, Boqing and Xu, Nengbing and Hu, Bo (2022) Experimental and numerical study on the performance of new prefabricated connections for free-form grid structures. Structures, 36. pp. 1050-1067. ISSN 2352-0124 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.istruc.2021.12.060)

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Abstract

Free-form grid shell structures are widely used for stadiums, airport terminals, exhibition pavilions, shopping malls and warehouses, however, the shape of the grid surface is usually complex. A flexible joint that can adapt to the curvature variation of the free-form surface is therefore important for assembling such structures. To meet the demand of various curvatures for single-layer free-form grid structures, a new type of prefabricated bolted joint is introduced in this paper. A series of in-plane bending tests were conducted to investigate the initial stiffness and the moment resistance of the joints. Coupon tests were carried out to study the material properties and provide parameters for a numerical study. FE models considering the geometric and material nonlinearity were developed and validated by the tests. Parametric studies were then carried out using the developed FE model to investigate the influencing geometric factors of the in-plane behaviours semi-rigid joints. The results demonstrated that the initial in-plane stiffness of the joints is dominantly controlled by the endplate thickness, the side plate thickness, the bolt diameter and the bolt row distance, while the moment resistance of the joint is governed by the endplate thickness, the side plate thickness, the sleeve cross-sections and the bolt row distance. Subsequently, FE analysis was carried out using the validated FE models to investigate the out-of-plane behaviour of the proposed assembled joint. The experimental and numerical study showed that the proposed joint has good rotational capacity and load-bearing resistance, therefore has the potential to be applied in the design and construction of free-form grid structures.