A New Way to See Whether FRP Is Right for Your Project

This week’s post was written by Griff Shapack, FRP Design Engineer at Simpson Strong-Tie. 

Specifying our Composite Strengthening Systems™ (CSS) is unlike choosing any other product we offer. In light of the unique variables involved with selecting and using fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) solutions, we encourage you to leverage our expertise to help with your FRP strengthening designs. To get started, we first need to determine whether FRP is right for your project. The fastest way to do that is for you to fill out our Design Questionnaire. Our new Excel-based questionnaire collects your project information and helps you use the existing capacity check to evaluate whether or not FRP is suitable for your project per the requirements of ACI 562-16 Section 5.5.2. After the feasibility study, the questionnaire creates input sheets specifically for your project.

Getting Started

Step 1

Open the FRP Design Questionnaire spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel. If a yellow warning appears at the top of the sheet, click “Enable Content” to ensure that the workbook will function properly. You will start on the worksheet tab named “Main”. “Main” will be the only worksheet tab when you begin, but more worksheet tabs will be created as you use the spreadsheet.

Step 2

Enter the project information and your contact information in Section 1 of the worksheet. The contact information should be for the Designer that you would like Simpson Strong-Tie to work with for this project’s FRP design. See Figure 1.

Step 3

Enter the FRP strengthening information in Section 2 of the worksheet. If the application will require an existing capacity check, an input form requesting the information needed for the check will appear in Section 3 of the worksheet.

Figure 1. Project information and FRP strengthening information.

Step 4                                                                                                                        

For members that support gravity loads, an existing capacity check must be performed to verify that FRP strengthening is suitable before a design can be generated. For these members, the spreadsheet will generate a check table for you in Section 3 of the worksheet. Enter the number of members to be checked and the dead load (D), live load (L) and snow load (S) for each member. Use consistent units for the input. See Figure 2. The spreadsheet will calculate the demand-to-capacity ratio (DCR) for each member. The ratio must be less than or equal to 1.0.

  1. A result of “OK” means the existing capacity check is passed. Proceed to Step 5 below.
  2. A result of “NG” (no good) means the existing capacity check is failed and FRP strengthening is not likely to be suitable. However, consider contacting Simpson Strong-Tie about your design condition to ensure that this is the case.

Figure 2. Existing capacity check.

Step 5

You are now ready to create an element input worksheet for those members that passed the existing capacity check. Click “FRP Questionnaire” from the Excel menu bar. Then click the “Input Sheet” button in the ribbon bar. See Figure 3.

Figure 3. “Input Sheet” button.

This will create an element input worksheet as a new worksheet tab. See Figure 4.

Figure 4. Element input worksheet.

Enter the number of elements to be checked and fill in the design information for each member. The “No. of elements” cell features a drop-down menu with the numbers 1–5, but any number can be typed into the cell. (Each member should have passed the existing capacity check in Step 4.) See Figure 5.   

Figure 5. Element input worksheet.

Step 6

If you would like to add different member types that need to be strengthened, click “Another Type of Strengthening” button in the ribbon bar. See Figure 6. This will create a new “Main” worksheet. Repeat the steps above, until all strengthening types and member data have been entered.

Figure 6. “Another Type of Strengthening” button.

 Step 7

When you have finished inputting all required data, save the spreadsheet file and email it to css@strongtie.com. You should expect confirmation of receipt from us within one business day.

From there, if FRP is a viable option, you can decide to utilize our no-cost, no-obligation design services. Our team will design a unique solution specifying the most cost-effective CSS products that address your particular needs. The design calculations, drawings, notes and specifications are prepared by Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Services and can then be incorporated into the design documents that you submit to the building official.

Don’t know which FRP solution is the right one for you? We do. Give our new Design Questionnaire a try, and let us be your partner during the project design phase. Our new Excel-based questionnaire collects your project information and helps you use the existing capacity check to evaluate whether or not FRP is suitable for your project per the requirements of ACI 562-16 Section 5.5.2 or AASHTO FRP Guide Spec Section 1.4.4. After the feasibility study, the questionnaire creates input sheets specifically for your project. For projects in Canada designed per the requirements of CSA S806 or CSA S6, please use our fillable PDF questionnaire to collect your information.

Learn more at strongtie.com/products/rps/css/frp-engineering-design.

Advanced FRP Design Principles

In this free webinar we will dive into some very important considerations including the latest industry standards, material properties and key governing limits when designing with FRP.


AC398 Now Includes Moment Evaluation of Cast-in-Place Post Bases

This week’s post was written by Jhalak Vasavada, Research & Development Engineer at Simpson Strong-Tie.

When we launched our new, patent-pending MPBZ moment post base earlier this year, the evaluation of the moment capacity of post bases was not covered by AC398 – or by any other code, for that matter. There wasn’t a need – there were no code-accepted connectors available on the market for resisting moment loads.

We proposed adding moment evaluation to the AC398 and presented our research to the ICC-ES committee in June. After a thorough review, which included a public hearing, the provision was approved. Here are some details about the revisions to this acceptance criteria.

What is AC398?

AC398 is the Acceptance Criteria for cast-in-place cold-formed steel connectors in concrete for light-frame construction.

Acceptance criteria are developed to provide guidelines for demonstrating compliance with performance features of the codes referenced in the criteria. ICC-ES develops acceptance criteria for products and systems that are alternatives to what is specified in the code, or that fall under code provisions that are not sufficiently clear for the issuance of an evaluation report.

The criteria are developed through a transparent process involving public hearings of the ICC-ES Evaluation Committee (made up entirely of code officials), and/or online postings where public comments were solicited.

How is the moment load evaluated?

The MPBZ moment post base is a cast-in-place post base designed to resist uplift, download, lateral and moment forces. This blog post in February describes how it works, how it was tested and includes a design example. Since the MPBZ falls under the specialty inserts category of cast-in anchorage, it is not covered by the provisions of chapter 17 of ACI 318-14. Therefore, the MPBZ was evaluated based on AC398 for anchorage to concrete.

Our engineers worked closely with ICC-ES and the American Wood Council to develop evaluation criteria for moment. This revision to the criteria for moment evaluation and testing was posted for public comments on the ICC-ES website, and then presented by our engineers at the ICC-ES committee hearing last June. The presentation included the design, use, testing and load rating of the MPBZ. Following the hearing, and a thorough review, the committee approved the proposed revision to AC398.

What are the revisions to AC398?

With reference to moment evaluation, a few of the key changes to AC398 are:

  1. Moment Anchorage Strength: Similar to tension and shear anchorage strength, the available moment anchorage strength shall be determined using the equation

Where F = applied horizontal test force used to determine moment strength (lbf)

D = vertical distance from top of concrete member to the applied lateral test force F (ft.) (moment arm)

Other terms are as previously defined for tension and shear anchorage strength equations.

  1. Rotation: Testing of moment base connectors subject to an applied moment shall include measurement and reporting of the connector rotation as determined by the relative lateral displacement of gauges positioned 1″ and 5″ above the top of the connector.
  2. Side Bearing: Testing of moment base connectors that rely on bearing of the wood member against the side of the connector to resist moment loads shall address wood shrinkage.

Learn more about the MPBZ in our free upcoming webinar.

Join us live on December 6 for an interactive webinar on the MPBZ moment post base, its evaluation, its testing and its applications. In this webinar, we will discuss MPBZ moment post base product features, product development, design examples and much more. Attendees will also have an opportunity to ask questions during the event. Continuing education units will be offered for completing this webinar. Register today here.

Upcoming free MPBZ webinar.

Join Simpson Strong-Tie R&D engineer Jhalak Vasavada, P.E., and Simpson Strong-Tie product manager Emmet Mielbrecht for a lively and informative discussion of this new product.


Beat Building Drift with the New DSSCB Drift Strut Slide Connector from Simpson Strong-Tie

This week’s post was written by Clifton MelcherSenior Product Manager at Simpson Strong-Tie.

Structural engineers concerned with building envelopes are always looking for better solutions that help isolate the cladding from the primary structure in conditions where large building drift is a concern. Simpson Strong-Tie has an answer with a unique and innovative solution, the new DSSCB (drift strut sliding clip bypass).

The DSSCB is used to anchor cold-formed steel framing to the primary structure in bypass applications. The DSSCB is a clip that slides inside standard struts that most engineers and contractors are already familiar with. These struts will typically be attached to structural steel. However, there is also a cast-in-place strut option referred to as a strut insert. Many different manufacturers of these struts exist, but three common manufacturers are Unistrut®, PHD and B-line. The strut and strut insert requirements for the DSSCB can be found in the Simpson Strong-Tie DSSCB flier (F-CF-DSSCB17).

The DSSCB has many design features that make it easy to use, cost-effective and designer-friendly.

  • The DSSCB clip has uniquely formed inserts that twist into place easily with minimal friction
  • The clip features squaring flanges that help keep the clip square inside the strut
  • Shoulder screws (included) prevent over-drilling and increase overall capacity
  • Pre-engineered design offers clip, strut and anchorage solutions
  • Pre-punched slots provide a full 1″ of both upward and downward deflection
  • Sight lines facilitate proper screw placement

The DSSCB is also a hybrid clip and accompanies both slide applications as well as fixed applications. In addition to vertical slots, the clip also has round circular holes for fixed-clip conditions. This will make the clip more versatile and limit inventory.

Another great use for this product is for panelized construction. The DSSCB makes it a snap to anchor finished panels to the slab without having to waste time drilling and installing anchors. Locking panels into place is also simple with a DSHS connector clip that can be easily slid into place and attached with only one (1) #10 screw.

Accommodating for building drift and commercial panel construction just got easier with the Simpson Strong-Tie DSSCB!

Design Example

Load required at bypass slide condition attached to steel with ASD reactions of 450 lb. tension (F2) and 422 lb. compression (F3) – based on CFS DesignerTM software or hand calculations

Stud member = 600S162-43 33 ksi at 16″ o.c. – based on CFS Designer software or hand calculations

Per page 4 of the DSSCB flier (F-CF-DSSCB17), allowable F2 = 785 lb. and F3 = 940 lb. for slide-clip connector (shown below)

Per page 7 of the DSSCB flier (F-CF-DSSCB17) allowable loads of F2 = 475 lb. and F3 = 2,540 lb. for strut allowable anchorage with 1″ weld at 12″ o.c. using a 13/16″ strut (shown below)

Note that, at a strut splice (if required), maximum load is not to exceed F2 of 865 lb. per note 6 on page 7 (shown below)

6.  For any connector occuring within 2″ of channel strut splice, load not to exceed — F= 865 lb. and F= 785 lb.

Check connector and strut/anchorage:

F2 (tension):                           Pmax = 450/ minimum of (785,475) = 0.95 < 1 ok

F3 (compression):               Pmax = 422/ minimum of (940,2540) = 0.45 < 1 ok

FAQs:

Q: How are the products sold?

A: The clips are sold in kits of 25. For the DSSCB43 and DSSCB46, one polybag of 83 screws is included. For the DSSCB48, two 55 screw polybags are included. The DSHS will be sold separately from the clips and come in bags of 100. The struts will not be sold by Simpson Strong-Tie.

Q: Can I use the 1 5/8″ x 1 5/8″ strut for the fixed-clip application?

A: No, the fixed-clip application was tested only with the 13/16″ x 1 5/8″ strut. The 1 5/8″ x 1 5/8″ strut would overhang more, which we calculate could reduce capacities.

Q: When should I use the DSHS clip?

A: The DSHS clip should be used where you want to fix the clip in place in the F1 (in-plane) direction. This clip will most likely be used for panelizing, but could be used for stick framing as well when adjustment is required before locking the clip in place.

Q: Why are there two tables that I need to use to determine my connector capacity?

A: One table is for the capacity of the clip, and the other table is for the capacity of the strut/anchorage. Two tables give the designer more flexibility in the design as well as an understanding of what is controlling the failure.

Q: How do I accommodate load requirements at a strut splice?

A: Note 6 to the Strut Channel Allowable Anchorage Loads to Steel table states the capacity of the strut with a clip directly at the splice. The values are based on assembly testing. Refer to page 7 of the flier.

Q: How do I accommodate load requirements at the strut end?

A: Note 10 to the Strut Channel Allowable Anchorage Loads to Steel table states that the connector load is to be located a minimum of 2″ from the end of the strut channel. Note 2 to the Concrete Insert Allowable Load Embedded to Concrete table gives a reduction capacity for end conditions. Reference pages 7 and 8 of the flier.

Q: Why do we show an F1 load on a drift clip?

A: The drift clip without the DSHS does not support any load in F1 direction. F1 load is only supported if a DSHS clip is used in conjunction with the DSSCB clip. This is also noted (note 4) on the DSSCB Allowable Slide-Clip Connector Loads and the DSSCB Allowable Fixed-Clip Connector Loads tables. Refer to pages 4 and 6 of the flier.

Q: How do I accommodate higher concentrated loads at jambs exceeding my typical stud loads?

A: Note 7 to the Strut Channel Allowable Anchorage Load to Steel table gives the capacity of the strut/anchorage if the strut is welded directly at the clip. Refer to page 7 of the  flier.

Q: Can I drive PAFs into my strut?

A: No. The shot pin tool will not fit inside the strut channel.

Q: If I want to attach my strut to the steel edge angle with screws, what brand should I use?

A: Simpson Strong-Tie makes great fasteners, and we would recommend these fasteners (#12-24 Strong-Drive® Self-Drilling X Metal screw). However, you can use any brand fastener provided they meet our Pss and Pts capacities minimum nominal strength values in General Notes for Allowable Connector Load Tables on page 8 of the flier.

Q: At a double-stud condition, is it acceptable to double the capacity if I use two (2) clips?

A: It is acceptable to double the capacity of the DSSCB slide-clip or fixed-clip table loads (pages 4 and 6 in flier). However, the load should not exceed the load listed in the Strut Channel Allowable Anchorage Loads to Steel table (page 7 in flier). If a load is exceeded, please follow note 7 on page 7 of the flier by adding a weld connection directly at the concentrated load. This will allow you to have a wider anchor spacing for your typical studs and only reinforce the higher concentrated loads with connections directly at these locations.

Introducing the New and Improved Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Wall® Bracing Selector

This week’s post was written by Caleb Knudson, R&D Engineer at Simpson Strong-Tie.

It’s been said that the World Wide Web is the wave of the future. Okay, maybe this is slightly outdated news, as it’s been 25 years since Bill Gates penned his internet tidal-wave memorandum, but it’s a good lead-in to this week’s blog topic – web apps. More specifically, those apps that have been developed to address the wall-bracing requirements defined in the International Residential Code® (IRC). Designers and engineers have no doubt noticed that over the last several code cycles, the wall-bracing provisions in the IRC have become increasingly complex. To help navigate these requirements and calculate the required bracing length for a given wall line, Simpson Strong-Tie introduced the Wall-Bracing-Length Calculator (WBLC) a few years back, as discussed in an earlier blog post. I’ll also mention that the WBLC has since been updated to the 2015 IRC.

Those familiar with the wall-bracing provisions in the IRC know that there are twelve intermittent wall-bracing methods and four continuous-sheathing methods to address wall-bracing requirements. Each of these methods may be used in most applications, and, while some provide advantages over others, the code-based methods provide Designers with quite a bit of flexibility. However, there may be cases where the site-specific conditions are beyond the scope of the IRC, or there just isn’t enough available full-height wall space to accommodate the required wall-bracing length. These cases are most likely to occur at large window openings or at garage fronts.

Let’s take the following example of a house on Lake Washington – assuming the house is being designed in accordance with the IRC. Presumably, one might prefer to have unobstructed lake views, which of course means lots of large picture windows and not much room left for braced wall panels. Let’s also suppose you’ve got a brand-new Chris Craft that you’d like to protect against the weather when it’s not in the water – this means wide garage doors and, again, not much room for conventional wall bracing.

So what do we do now?

Thankfully, the International Residential Code provides some guidance. Section R301.1.3 states that when a building, or portion thereof, is outside the scope of the IRC, the element(s) may be designed in accordance with accepted engineering practice. The code goes on to state that the extent of the design shall be such that the engineered element(s) are compatible with the performance of conventional methods prescribed in the code. That creates some additional options for our tool box. We could design a site-built shearwall; however, due to aspect-ratio limitations defined in the Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic (SDPWS), we still may not be able to get the lake views and wide garage we want. The next option, and one we’ll focus on here, is the code-approved prefabricated Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong-Wall® shearwall.

In an earlier blog post, as previously mentioned, we introduced the Strong-Wall Bracing Selector (SWBS) and defined just how we determine equivalence to conventional bracing methods. We further described the benefit of using the selector in conjunction with the Wall-Bracing-Length Calculator (WBLC). To refresh your memory, when Designers start with the WBLC to determine required wall-bracing-lengths for up to seven parallel wall lines, they can export those bracing lengths as well as project and jobsite information directly to the SWBS with the click of a button. The SWBS will then provide a list of Strong-Wall panels that provide an equivalent bracing length, evaluate their anchorage requirements, and return a list of pre-engineered anchor solutions for a variety of foundation types.

On to the present: We just launched the Strong-Wall Bracing Selector web app version 2.0, and there are a few new features worth noting.

First, I’ll mention that all Strong-Wall solutions have been evaluated according to the 2015 I-Codes. Next, and hopefully this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, the original wood Strong-Wall shearwall (SW) is being phased out with guaranteed availability through December 31, 2018. In light of this planned obsolescence, we have removed the SW solutions from the latest version of the bracing selector.

Here’s the good news – and this is big: We’ve now added the new Strong-Wall wood shearwall (WSW) to the app and recommend this as a replacement for the SW in all applications. In the interim, while the original wall is still available, version 1.0 of the bracing selector app may be used if an SW bracing solution is required.

Lastly, we’ve provided the Designer with a bit more flexibility and control over the Strong-Wall bracing solutions provided by the app. If you recall, version 1.0 provided a solution using the minimum possible number of Strong-Wall panels to satisfy the bracing length requirement. We’ve changed that in version 2.0; Designers may still select a solution using the minimum number of panels, but they may also select the exact number of Strong-Wall panels to satisfy their wall-bracing-length requirements. Typically, it’s desirable to address the bracing requirement with the minimum number of Strong-Wall shearwall panels possible. Sometimes, however, it may be advantageous to increase the number of panels used, in order to decrease the Strong-Wall panel width used for a solution or to reduce anchorage requirements, i.e., lesser footing dimensions and anchor embedment depths. Stated a little differently, we’re providing the option to find the right balance between the braced wall panel design and the anchorage design – i.e., the Goldilocks zone for prescriptive wall bracing.

So now that we’ve reviewed just why a Designer may need to specify a Strong-Wall shearwall in prescriptive applications and how the Wall-Bracing-Length Calculator and Strong-Wall Bracing Selector web apps help to navigate this process, we’re interested to see what you think. Is there any additional functionality that you’d like to see in the future, or are these apps just right for your design needs? Let us know in the comments below.

Q&A About CFS Designer™ Software

I recently had the pleasure of presenting a webinar with Rob Madsen, PE, of Devco Engineering on our CFS Designer software, “Increase Productivity in Your Cold-Formed Steel Design Projects.” The webinar took place on September 28, and a recording is available online on our training website for anyone who wasn’t able to join us. Viewing the recording (and completing the associated test) qualifies for continuing education units and professional development hours. The webinar covers how to use the CFS Designer software to design complex loading conditions for beams, wall studs, walls with openings, and stacked walls using cold-formed steel studs, tracks, built-up sections, and even custom shapes. We received some excellent questions during the webinar, but due to time constraints were only able to answer a few during the live webinar. Rob and I did get a chance to answer all the questions in a Q&A document from which I’d like to share some excerpts. The complete Q&A webinar list can be accessed here, or through the online recording.

Where can I download the CFS Designer program?

Please visit strongtie.com/cfsdesigner to download a free 14-day trial version of the software or to purchase a license. Webinar attendees should check their email for a special discount code. There are different licensing options based on the number of users.

Is the price for the software an annual subscription fee or is it a one-time purchase price? Is there any maintenance cost?

There’s no annual maintenance fee or subscription fee. You pay only a one-time fee for the license. CFS Designer is based on an update-and-upgrade program. All updates to the program are free to licensed users and occur every few months to correct software bugs and add functionality. Upgrades, which include new design modules and updated code information, will require an additional purchase. Simpson Strong-Tie anticipates releasing upgrades on a two-year cycle, and the next upgrade has a projected release of early 2019. If you elect not to upgrade your version of the software, the current version you have will still work, but will not have the new upgrade features.

Is CFS Designer fully compliant with AISI S100-12?

CFS Designer is compliant with AISI S100-12. You can also access earlier versions of the AISI Specification in CFS Designer by selecting Project Settings/Code and selecting the version.

Are load inputs in ASD or LRFD? Do the load combination factors have to be applied prior to entering loads in the program? Should factored or unfactored loads be input?

The current software is all in ASD (allowable strength design). The next upgrade version will feature up to eight stories of stacked x-bracing and shearwalls, which will be in LRFD. Everything else will be in ASD. The stacked x-brace and shearwalls will be LRFD because of the ACI requirements for concrete. We will also make it much more clear in this version which input is ASD and which is LRFD.

What is a web stiffener? How would you use one at a stud, header, or jamb?

A web stiffener is typically a stud or track piece that is used to support the wall stud or joist from crippling at a point load or bearing support. There are different ways to design a stiffener at different locations. Some examples include using a cut piece of stud or track attached to the stud or using a clip attached to the beam. Essentially, a web stiffener is a member that is added to the stud to help stiffen the stud from crippling.

Does this program take into consideration the cold work of forming in the design/analysis?

Yes, per AISI the program’s Project Settings default is to include cold work of forming in the design and analysis.

We generally try to size our cold-formed members to avoid the need for web stiffeners, just to save on construction and material costs. Something that helps quite a bit with the web bending and crippling calc is the bearing length. Are there code requirements for bearing lengths, or is this simply based on how much bearing we anticipate the member to have at its supports?

There are no specific code requirements for calculating bearing length for web crippling; the calculation is usually based on engineering judgment and connection detailing to determine how much bearing there will be at the support. A reasonable bearing length may be the length of the connection clip you are using for the attachment. Since web crippling is a “bearing” phenomenon, where attachments are made through the web, provided the attachment is not isolated near a flange, you may not need to consider web crippling. For stud-to-track types of connections, it’s common to use the track leg length as the bearing length.

Does this software give any stud-to-stud connection calculation like stud tearing and shearing? Checks?

The studs are designed per the AISI code for shear, moment, web crippling, axial load, and the related code-required interactions. Net-section rupture near connections is not checked by the CFS Designer™ software.

What is the difference between flexural bracing and axial bracing?

Flexural bracing is bracing that is used to increase the moment capacity of the stud, and axial bracing is bracing that is used to increase the axial capacity of the stud. These might be the same for your design, but we have given the user the ability to designate different spacings.

Do you have recommendations for how to properly terminate bridging at the end of the wall?

We agree that termination of bracing is often overlooked by engineers and should definitely be considered in design. Accumulation of bridging forces should also be considered. AISI S100-12, D3.3 and AISI S240-15 D3.4 provide methods of estimating brace forces. Simpson Strong-Tie has provided some suggestion in our cold-formed steel typical details sheets that show our SFC clip as one method to properly terminate a line of bridging.

Can the kicker connection be used on the underside of concrete fill over metal deck?

Yes! The SJC kicker connection has been tested and code listed to support diagonal brace loads. Simpson Strong-Tie has also provided a wide range of anchorage solutions for the kicker application that include connecting to the underside of concrete fill over metal deck. Concrete over metal deck may be normal weight or sand-lightweight with f’c of 3,000 psi minimum and 2.5″ minimum slab height above upper flute. Minimum deck flute height is 1.5″ (distance from top flute to bottom flute). Please visit strongtie.com for more information and design tables.

Why do some engineers use steel posts welded to a base plate for low wall applications?

For walls that are not top-supported, some Designers use a welded steel post at a certain spacing and infill with cold-formed steel studs and a top track. Simpson Strong-Tie has developed an innovative moment-capacity connection called the RCKW rigid kneewall kit, which can support many of these same conditions using cold-formed steel studs and eliminate the need for structural steel.

Are there any plans to expand the software capabilities?

We have a long list of enhancements and additions for the software and will continue to make the software more efficient, more user friendly, and with additional design capabilities.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us for the webinar and sent us questions. For complete information regarding specific products suitable to your unique situation or condition, please visit strongtie.com/cfs or call your local Simpson Strong-Tie cold-formed steel specialist at (800) 999-5099.

Introducing the Building Strong Blog

Building Strong Blog

This week we want to let you know about a new resource, the Building Strong blog. It’s very different from the SE Blog in that it ranges beyond the topics important to structural engineers to cover issues and various perspectives that help construction professionals of all disciplines design and build safer, stronger structures as efficiently as possible. We developed the new industry blog to highlight issues and topics that are of special interest to construction and building professionals. Through semi-monthly articles, the blog will cover topics ranging from rising labor costs to innovative technologies and the changing landscape of the building industry.

The Building Strong blog will cover topics on:

  • Safety, codes, and compliance
  • Residential and commercial construction
  • Decks and outdoor living
  • Building resilience
  • Emerging trends and industry insights
  • Collaborations and giving
  • Pro tips

We’re excited to offer the Building Strong blog. If you enjoy the SE Blog, this new content will give you a fresh take on timely topics affecting our industry. Check it out today!

What Structural Engineers Need to Know About the New OSHA Silica Dust Standards

This week’s post was written by Todd Hamilton, PE. ICI Field Engineer at Simpson Strong-Tie.

In March of 2016, the United States Department of Labor issued new OSHA standards on how crystalline silica dust should be handled in various workplaces including within the construction industry. The changes are intended to limit workers’ exposure to and inhalation of silica dust on the jobsite. These regulations will replace the current standard, which was issued in 1971. Compliance with the new rules will be required on construction jobsites starting September 23, 2017, and will be enforced through OSHA from that time forward.

Crystalline silica is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in sand, sandstone, shale and granite, and since some of these materials can be found on jobsites on their own or as a component of a construction material such as concrete and mortar, changes to how workplaces contain and dispose of silica dust will affect the way our industry operates. Some of the processes performed on a construction jobsite that can expose workers to crystalline silica dust are drilling, grinding and sawing concrete and masonry; jackhammering; and sand blasting. Inhaling crystalline silica can lead to long-term illness and early death. Illnesses caused by inhaling silica dust include silicosis, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The new OSHA standards do the following:

  • Reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift. Previous PEL was 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an eight-hour shift.
  • Require employers to use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to keep worker silica exposure within the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high-exposure areas; develop a written exposure-control plan; offer medical exams to highly exposed workers; and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposure.
  • Provide medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and give them information about their lung health.
  • Provide flexibility to help employers – especially small businesses – protect workers from silica exposure.

Beyond that, the OSHA standards offer three methods an employer can use to demonstrate compliance:

  • A list of common jobsite activities and the required engineering control method, plus the additional respiratory protection (if needed) to meet the 50 PEL.
  • For activities/protection methods not included in the preceding list, the use of credible third-party assessment is allowed to show that the exposure level is < 50 PEL. This includes data from universities, trade associations, etc. that can be used provided they are based on conditions similar to, or more inherently hazardous than, the employer’s current conditions.
  • Manufacturers can generate their own data on their workers’ exposure level using an air-monitoring system.

Visit the US Department of Labor’s OSHA website for more in-depth information and useful links.

All these new requirements directly affect contractors onsite, but it’s also important for structural engineers to have an understanding of them. Beyond that, there are some key things that structural engineers should consider when specifying products such as post-installed anchors where the installation process includes drilling concrete, which does generate crystalline silica dust. Back in 2006 when Acceptance Criteria 308 was adopted, it made a lot of changes to how adhesive anchors are tested and qualified, but it also required that the manufacturers’ printed installation instructions (MPII) be published as part of the code report. This tied the published data in the code report to the installation procedures that could be used to achieve those data. And with the adoption of ACI 335.4 in 2015, the requirement for the MPII to be included in the code report continues. Therefore, with MPIIs being a part of the code report, a structural engineer needs to understand the importance of having an installation method that accounts for silica dust generated during the installation process and verify that the MPIIs include an installation process which utilizes a high-efficiency dust-collection system.

To get a better understanding of how these high-efficiency dust-collection systems work, let’s look at the Simpson Strong Tie Speed Clean™ DXS dust extraction system. This system was developed through a partnership with Bosch. Here is a video that clearly explains the system and its method:

So as structural engineers, we should consider what the MPII says when we are specifying a product.  Does it have an installation procedure, such as the Simpson Strong-Tie/Bosch DXS, that properly controls the crystalline silica dust generated? Does the code report lock the contractor into a specific brand of vacuum? Some code reports may only allow the use of a specific brand and model of vacuum and drills that can be used, which in some cases could require the purchase of new tools.

The new OSHA standard is very beneficial to installers because it will protect them from potential long-term health hazards. When it comes to anchor installation, the new regulations, along with compliant technologies such as the Speed Clean DXS, will eliminate the blow-brush-blow installation method that creates a lot of harmful airborne crystalline silica dust and is also often a source of installation error. Even though it will take time and effort for contractors and engineers to come to grips with the full ramifications for their projects, the new regulations are a positive development for the construction industry.

The Top 5 Helpful Tips for Using CFS Designer™ to Optimize Your Workflows

Back in April of last year, I had the opportunity to show how our new CFS Designer software  could help structural engineers “go lean” in their design process by eliminating repetitive tasks (while still meeting required design standards, of course!). Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with hundreds of engineers in person to teach them about CFS Designer and how it can help them improve and optimize their workflows. As a power user of the software, I want to share my top tips for letting CFS Designer help you save the maximum amount of time.

Tip #1. You need to create only one design file for each project.
CFS Designer has to generate lots of code-compliant designs quickly, but that doesn’t mean you need to end up with dozens of unrecognizable file names on your desktop. The software includes a very handy WorkSpace area in the lower left-hand area of the screen that enables you to save all your wall, jamb, header, and general interaction designs in a single project space. This means that you will be saving only ONE file for each project, a feature that can save you a lot of confusion over time.

Figure 1. The orange box is highlighting the file name (which doubles as the Project Name on the summary reports), which shows up at the top of the WorkSpace area. In this example, I’ve added just one beam/stud model for the sake of simplicity.

Tip #2. Quickly duplicate similar wall sections or design types by right-clicking on the model name in the WorkSpace.
On cold-formed steel projects, there are often very similar wall sections or jambs that you’ll need to design. They may have slightly different parapet heights, different loading or different wall widths. Instead of starting from scratch and creating a new section every time, CFS Designer allows you to right-click on any existing design. The right-click action brings up a “Duplicate” pop-up which lets you create an identical model in your WorkSpace. You then have the ability to change the model name, make slight modifications, and then re-save your project to see it show up as a new model in the WorkSpace area.

Figure 2. Here’s where to right-click in order to get the “Duplicate” pop-up to appear.

Tip #3. Expand the “Member Forces” and “Connection Summary” sub-menus in the Beam Design module to get real-time updates of the reaction loads, member stresses and connection solutions.
A critical area of member design is the reaction points, because it doesn’t really matter whether your cold-formed steel member is adequately designed if the connection points don’t have a solution. Many engineers I met with thought they had to click on the “Summary Report” button every time they wanted to know the reaction forces, waiting anywhere from 10 to 15 seconds for the PDF file to load and then having to scroll through to find the correct section. Thankfully, there’s a much quicker way to view the reactions. CFS Designer instantly updates the reaction values on the design screen, but the onscreen menus that have this useful information need to be opened up first. Within the Beam Design module, click on the small down arrows to the left of “Member Forces” and “Connection Summary,” and that will expand these two useful sections and display the design information without your having to wait and generate the output. On a related note, another useful area to keep an eye on during design is the very bottom of the screen, where green text will let you know when your maximum member stress and web crippling check are compliant, red text will alert you if your member design is insufficient, and the deflection ratio limit is always displayed.

Figure 3. Here’s where to find the collapsed “Member Forces” and “Connection Summary” menus.

Figure 4. Click on the arrows to the left of the menu titles to see your important design information in detail.

Tip #4. Use the “WorkSpace Report” button for a one-click method of combining ALL the individual summary pages into a single PDF file.
After you’re done generating all your different models and saving them to your WorkSpace, you’re probably going to want to generate the output files you can print and add to your calculation package for submittal. One engineer I met with a couple of years ago told me that this was the most dreaded step because it meant she had to open each model, click on the “Summary Report” button, wait those 10–15 seconds for the PDF file to generate, and then print it out or save it. For large projects, this would need to occur 20–30 times – yikes! Thankfully, a huge part of the development of CFS Designer relies on feedback such as this to help Simpson Strong-Tie continuously improve the program’s functionality. The latest version of CFS Designer introduces a “WorkSpace Report” button, which takes a single click to create all of the summary reports for each model type, saved in a single PDF file.

Figure 5. Be sure to use the “WorkSpace Report” button to save yourself a ton of time generating all your printable output.

Tip #5. Use the onscreen tip pop-ups. Small gray question mark icons are strategically placed throughout CFS Designer to offer helpful tips and tricks for specific input boxes.
Structural engineers are expected to know a lot, but it isn’t always necessary to remember all the details if you know where to look them up. Because the information requested by some of the input boxes may not be completely self-evident, we built in some handy pop-up tips to help out. A small gray circle with a question mark inside makes its appearance next to input boxes. Hovering your mouse over one of these question marks will cause an info box to appear, letting you know what information is required, what code section to reference, or what design methodology is being used. I have found these pop-up tips to be immensely helpful, especially in conjunction with the program’s User’s Manual (located under the Help menu, at the top of the program).

Figure 6. I got this box to pop up by hovering over the question mark next to the “Load Modifiers” section of the Beam Input module. If you search for “Load Modifier” in the User’s Manual, it will direct you to the relevant AISI code section.

I’ve had fun sharing some of my top tips with everyone today, but there is a great opportunity coming up to learn even more about our CFS Designer software from one of the original developers of the software. Join me and Rob Madsen, P.E., Senior Project Engineer from Devco Engineering, for a one-hour live demo of the software and connection solutions. Rob has been described as one of the premier structural engineers in the cold-formed steel design arena, and he will walk you through detailed wall stud, jamb, header and stacked wall design examples using CFS Designer. I’ll be presenting on the innovative, tested and code-listed product solutions that Designers can use to save time in addressing the critical connection points in CFS design. We hope you can join us for the live demo, but if you have other commitments at that time, a recording of the webinar will be made available on our website for your viewing convenience. The course will also earn professional development hours (PDHs) and continuing education units (CEUs) for any folks who need credits to renew their professional licenses.

Bonus Tip: Sign up for our upcoming CFS Designer™ webinar on Thursday, September 28!

Further Reading

For additional information or articles of interest, check out these available resources:

    • AISIStandards – A free download of all the cold-formed steel framing standards adopted by the 2015 International Building Code.

 

    • CFSEI – The Cold-Formed Steel Engineering Institute, an incredibly useful technical and professional resource for Designers of cold-formed steel structures, with a huge library of technical notes.

 

 

 

Q&A About Advanced FRP Strengthening Design Principles

Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey and this disaster in Texas. To help with relief efforts we are donating $50,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Employees at our Houston warehouse are safe and the employees from our McKinney branch will be doing as much as they can to help with relief efforts.

This week’s post was written by Griff Shapack, PE. FRP Design Engineer at Simpson Strong-Tie.

On July 25, 2017, Simpson Strong-Tie hosted the second interactive webinar in the Simpson Strong-Tie FRP Best Practices Series, “Advanced FRP Design Principles,” in which Kevin Davenport, P.E. – one of our Field Engineering Managers – and I discussed the best practices for fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) strengthening design. The webinar examines the latest industry standards, proper use of material properties, and key governing limits when designing with FRP and discusses the assistance and support Simpson Strong-Tie Engineering Services offers from initial project assessment to installation. Watch the on-demand webinar and earn PDH and CEU credits here.

During the live webinar, we had the pleasure of taking questions from attendees during the Q&A session. Here is a curated selection of Q&A from that session:

While I see how you improve the flexural capacity of a beam, how do you increase its shear capacity to match new moment strength?

ACI 440.2R recommends checking the element for shear if FRP is used to increase flexural strength. U-wraps can be used to provide shear strengthening of a beam.

Are there any “pre-check” serviceability checks (deflection, vibration, etc.) similar to the ACI 440 strength check that you recommend when considering the use of FRP?

ACI 440.2R contains a few serviceability checks on the concrete, rebar and FRP that can be performed once you have designed a preliminary strengthening solution.

Are these strengthening limits for gravity loads only? What about for a seismic load combination?

Yes, the strengthening limits are just for gravity loading. Seismic loading does not require an existing capacity check as it is highly unlikely for the FRP to be damaged during a lateral event.

Did Simpson Strong-Tie perform load tests on FRP repaired timber piles?

We are currently testing our FRP products as applied to timber piles at West Virginia University. We have also implemented a full-scale testing program on damaged timber piles at our own lab using our FX-70® fiberglass jacket system.

Will any of your seminars cover FRP and CMU? Seismic applications?

Yes, these are topics we are considering for future webinars.

The 0.6 limit for compressive stress can be very limiting. Can this value be evaluated on a case-by-case basis? The Euro code allows higher limits on compressive stress?

Our designers will report this value, along with the section addressing this check from ACI 440.2R, to the EOR and discuss whether the EOR would like to proceed with the FRP strengthening on his or her project.

Which engineer (EOR or Delegated Engineer) is responsible for specifying the scope of special inspections?

We provide a draft FRP specification to the EOR to use in their final determination of the special inspection requirements for a project. It’s in the owner’s best interest to hire a qualified special inspection agency on an FRP installation project.

For complete information regarding specific products suitable to your unique situation or condition, please visit strongtie.com/css or call your local Simpson Strong-Tie RPS specialist at (800) 999-5099.

Advanced FRP Design Principles

In this free webinar we will dive into some very important considerations including the latest industry standards, material properties and key governing limits when designing with FRP.


The New Way to Connect with Strong Frame®

The April SE blog article, What Makes Strong Frame® Special Moment Frames So Special, explained the features and benefits of the Yield-Link® structural fuse design for the Strong Frame® special moment frame (SMF) connection. In this blog, I will be introducing the Yield-Link end-plate link (EPL) to the Strong Frame connection family.

What is the EPL?
The EPL connection (Figure 1) is the latest addition to the Strong Frame Strong Moment Frame (SMF) solution. The new EPL connection can accommodate a W8X beam which is approximately a 33% reduction in beam depth from a W12X beam. The frame is field bolted without the need for field welding which means a faster installation. The snug-tight bolt installation requirement means no special tools are required. The EPL SMF connection has the same benefit of not requiring any additional beam bracing as the T-Stub connection. The frame can be repaired after a large earthquake by replacing the Yield-Link connection. Since the shear tab bolts will be factory installed, installation time for the frame is reduced by 25% making the EPL connection one of the most straightforward connections to assemble.

Figure 1: New Yield-Link EPL connection

Why Did We Develop the EPL?
The development of the EPL came from strong interest and numerous requests to offer a solution with more head room for clearance of retrofit projects or enhancement for new construction using a shallower beam profile. The original T-stub link design has the shear tab welded to the column flange. The geometry of the shear tab meant that a W12X beam is required to accommodate the Yield-Link Flange. In Figure 2, you can see that a shallower beam profile will bring the Yield-Link flange closer to each other and limit the attachment of the shear tab. A new connection was needed.

Figure 2: Yield-Link flange interference with shear tab

Figure 3: 3 Bolt configuration with notched flange plate. (The 3rd bolt is on opposite side of beam.) The asymmetric layout produced uneven force distribution in the bolts.

How Did We Develop the EPL?
Multiple configurations were studied, including a notched flange plate with 3 bolts (Figure 3) to avoid interference with the shear tab connection to the column. In the end, a compact end plate link combining the shear tab and Yield-Link stem in a single connection was the final design. However, many questions loomed over the prototype. How will the single end plate design perform in a full scale test? Will the new configuration change the limit state? These questions needed to be studied prior to launching an expensive full-scale test program with multiple samples and configurations. Numerous Finite Element Analysis (FEA) models were studied and refined prior to full scale testing of a prototype. Modeling included ensuring the stem performs as a fuse (Figure 4) as discussed in the April blog and the integrity of the shear tab is maintained in the compact design. Figure 5 shows a graph comparing the analytical model to the actual full scale test. The full scale test with a complete beam and column assembly was performed to the requirements under AISC 341 Section K. The full scale test passed the requirements for the SMF classification as can be seen in Figure 6 for the specimen with 6-inch columns and 9-inch beam.

Figure 4: Equivalent Plastic Strain Plot of Yielding-Link Stem

Figure 5: Full Scale Test vs. Analytical model

Figure 6: Moment at Face of Column vs. Story Drift

Where Can I Get More Information?
The EPL is now recognized in the ICC-ES ESR-2802 code report as an SMF. EPL solutions are also offered in the Strong Frame Moment Frame Selector Software. Want to see how the new connection and member sizes can expand your design options? Visit www.strongtie.com to download the new Strong Frame Design Guide or contact your Simpson representative for more information.