Q&A About Fabric-Reinforced Cementitious Matrix

On February 14, we hosted the third interactive webinar in the Simpson Strong-Tie Composite Strengthening Systems™ Best Practices Series: “Introducing Fabric-Reinforced Cementitious Matrix (FRCM).”

Simpson Strong-Tie engineering manager Brad Erickson, S.E., P.E., and Simpson Strong-Tie senior product manager Mark Kennedy, PMP, conducted an informative discussion of this new product solution. You can view the webinar in our Training Center and take a course to earn one hour of CEUs, PDHs and AIA LU/HSW credits. The course and webinar discuss installation steps, identify projects where FRCM would be ideal, and cite testing and industry standards associated with FRCM.

At the end of February’s webinar, we asked participants to submit further questions about this innovative product. We’ve answered some questions below and you can review all the FRCM webinar questions and answers here.

What is the cure time for overhead applications? When FRCM is applied to bridges and train tracks, how do we account for the vibrations’ effects on the cure process?

The initial set of the matrix takes approximately five hours, with the final set taking less than eight hours. For a project with potential vibration issues, it would be best to eliminate vibrations for the CSS-CM to achieve final set. If this closure would be an issue, a small field trial demo on this particular structure may be prudent to check how the vibrations affect the strength of the FRCM’s bond to the substrate.

If FRCM was used to strengthen a residential concrete foundation, could a two-part elastomeric coating be sprayed over it, and if so, how long should the FRCM be allowed to cure before being sprayed over?

Yes, an elastomeric coating could be placed on top of an FRCM installation. We would recommend waiting at least 28 days to allow the FRCM mortar to cure before applying the elastomeric coating. We would also recommend allowing the moisture content of the mortar to drop below 5% prior to applying elastomeric coating.

In practice how does one obtain the CSP profile? We find this difficult to obtain in the field.

Sandblasting, shotblasting and water-blasting could all provide a CSP 6-9 profile.

Could this be used in a soil nail wall in lieu of a shotcrete wall, or is it typically too thin? Anchoring the soil nails to the grid could be an issue, too.

FRCM should not be used as the primary structural system but could be used in combination with a reinforced concrete wall as a retrofit.

How many hours of training will the technician need to spray the matrix safely and properly, and what’s the cost associated with this training?

Training is provided at no cost and typically lasts about half a day.

What are the thickness limitations when using FRCM?

FRCM applications could be as thin as 1/2″ for one-layer grid installations or as thick as 3″ from the face of the substrate for up to four layers of grid. These dimensions do not include rock pockets or other voids in the substrate that can also be repaired with CSS-CM.

In view of the no-cover restrictions, how does this product meet fire-protection requirements?

We have a four-hour UL rating on our FRCM system. The matrix will also help the fire cover requirements of the rebar in the element being strengthened.

If surface preparation exposes existing reinforcement materials, or substantially reduces concrete cover for existing reinforcements, how do you provide the required concrete cover for the existing reinforcement?

The matrix of the FRCM system replaces the cover concrete removed during surface prep.

What surface preparation is required for fire-damaged concrete prior to FRCM application?

Demo to solid concrete and remediation to damaged rebar would be required prior to FRCM application.

Can’t you just prerake surfaces between layers?

That’s not required. Additional layers of matrix can simply be sprayed onto grid installed into previous layers of matrix.

Learn more: Webinar – Introducing Fabric-Reinforced Cementitious Matrix (FRCM)

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

Continuing education credits will be offered for this webinar.
Participants can earn one professional development hour (PDH) or 0.1 continuing education unit (CEU).

Q&A About MPBZ Moment Post Base

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

This past December, Simpson Strong-Tie hosted an interactive webinar in which product manager Emmet Mielbrecht and I discussed the development, testing, evaluation and applications of our new moment-resisting MPBZ moment post base. During the one-hour webinar, we explained the testing and evaluation criteria for new product development, test procedures, installation recommendations, allowable loads and the rotational stiffness of the connection. We also included a design example. In case you missed the discussion, you can watch the on-demand webinar and earn PDH and CEU credits here.

As part of the live webinar in December, Emmet and I led a lively Q&A session with the attendees. What follows is a curated selection of those questions and answers. Click here for more answers to participant questions. 

What is the most common ultimate failure mode?

It is concrete breakout.

How is wood shrinkage addressed?

We have evaluated wood shrinkage by testing, however, it is in review with ICC-ES. Additional information shall be made available upon approval from ICC-ES.

What was the actual strength of the concrete being used in the test (not the design value)?

It was 2500 psi, +/- 10 percent.

Breakout/pryout failure seems to govern allowable loads. Are there plans to test connection with adequate reinforcement to ignore breakout failure and achieve higher allowable moment loads?

Based on the overwhelming requests for higher loads we will be testing MPBX for:

  • Higher strength concrete
  • Reinforced concrete
  • Greater edge distances

Given overlap of steel, is one direction stronger than the other and Simpson uses the weak direction for tbl?

Yes, one direction is stronger than the other and the weak direction allowable loads are listed.

Technically, the stand-off tabs and side friction will also aid in the vertical load transfer, just extremely minimal.

Correct. Our tested loads are actually higher than the screw calculations. The code requires we use the lower of the two loads, so we use the SDS screws calculated capacity only.

Why is the 4×4 stiffer than 6×6?

The stiffness in the graphs is relative to the stiffness of the post. The 6×6 post is much stiffer, so the post base is less stiff as a percentage of the 6×6 post stiffness. The actual stiffness of the MPB66Z is stiffer than the MPB44Z.

Why a F1 value for wood? And you can use the higher wood values with a proper concrete design?

The F1 values listed in the allowable load tables are the lowest of concrete and wood assembly allowable loads.

Why aren’t uplift loads for the wood connection published?

The uplift loads are limited by the lesser of the wood or concrete capacity. We lumped those together under the concrete. This will be clarified in future publications.

Relative to deflection associated with rotation at the base is that considered elastic? In other words, when the load is removed will the deflection return to zero?

Yes. Deflection associated with rotation at the base due to applied loads within allowable load range is considered elastic.

Ready to learn more about MPBZ moment post base? See the rest of the Q&A questions here and you can watch the on-demand webinar and earn PDH and CEU credits here.

Watch a 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 MPBZ.

Simpson Strong-Tie® SET-3G™ Adhesive Offers a Ductile Solution for Post-Installed Anchorage near a Concrete Edge

Designing post-installed anchorage near a concrete edge is challenging, especially since the ACI provisions for cracked-concrete anchorage went into effect. In the following post, one of our field engineers, Jason Oakley, P.E., explains how SET-3G™ and Anchor Designer™ software from Simpson Strong-Tie make it easier to design a ductile anchor solution.

Engineers often provide holdown anchoring solutions near a concrete edge to help prevent overturning of light-frame shear walls during a seismic (or high-wind) event. Sometimes a post-installed anchor must be used if the cast-in-place anchor was mislocated or misinstalled, or is located where a retrofit or addition is needed. Since the cracked-concrete anchorage design provisions went into effect more than a decade ago, it has been challenging for engineers to offer a near-edge post-installed anchoring solution. This is especially true for structures subject to earthquake loads in seismic design category (SDC) C through F. Simpson Strong-Tie’s new SET-3G epoxy is the first anchoring adhesive in the industry to offer exceptionally high bond-strength values that permit ductile anchorage in concrete near an edge. This blog post will cover a specific example that focuses on Chapter 17 of ACI 318-14 to design a threaded rod, anchored with SET-3G adhesive, used to secure a holdown located 1 3/4″ away from a single concrete edge (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Design Example for SET-3G Adhesive Anchor Used to Secure a Holdown near a Single Concrete Edge

Before proceeding with our design example, some background information will be helpful. Section of ACI 318-14 provides four options for designing anchorage in concrete base material. This post will address the two most commonly chosen options for holdown anchorage, (a) and (d). Information on options (b), (c) and more can be found in one of our previous blog posts.

Option (a) requires the anchor system to behave in a ductile manner. To accomplish this, we must meet the following ACI 318-14 requirements:

1) Both the nominal concrete breakout and adhesive bond (pullout) strengths must be great enough by a certain margin to allow a ductile steel insert to exhibit sufficient axial plastic deformation before rupture (

2) The insert must be classified as ductile. A threaded rod conforming to ASTM F1554 Gr. 36 is one example of an insert that meets the ACI 318 requirements to qualify as a ductile steel element (see Ch. 2, definition for steel element, ductile).

3) The insert must have enough stretch length to achieve a meaningful level of axial deformation under tensile loading (

In many cases, engineers have used option (d), which requires that the earthquake force be amplified by an over-strength factor, Ωo. Option (d) makes ductility irrelevant by ensuring that the anchor system behaves in a linear elastic way during an earthquake. For light-frame shear wall construction, Ωo is 3, but it can be reduced to 2.5 for a structure having a flexible diaphragm. Unfortunately, choosing option (d) often results in an amplified earthquake force far greater than the post-installed anchor design strength. This has caused some engineers to resort to expensive solutions such as anchoring through an existing footing into a new reinforced footing underneath.

Anchor Design Software Can Help
The free Simpson Strong-Tie Anchor Designer software for ACI 318 makes it easy to design a ductile anchor system using SET-3G anchoring adhesive. Figure 2 is a screen shot of our design example. Here is a list of some input information, some of which is shown in the calculation summary and 3D-model tab of the software:
• Strength-level tensile demand load: Nu = 7,700 lb.
• Anchor: 5/8″-diameter ASTM F1554 Gr. 36 threaded rod (Fu = 58,000 psi)
• Embedment depth: 12 1/2″
• Single-edge distance: 1 3/4″ (typical for 2×4 stud wall)
• Concrete strength: f’c = 3,000 psi normal-weight concrete
• Cracked concrete
• Hole condition: dry

Figure 2. Simpson Strong-Tie Anchor Designer Software SET-3G Design Example Summary Output

Conveniently, the design strength value for each of the following failure modes — steel, concrete breakout and adhesive bond (pullout) — is summarized on the left. The 3D-model tab shows the anchor located 1 3/4″ away from a single edge with all other edges assumed to be infinite. Note that the adhesive bond (pullout) design strength governs. Before proceeding further, try to answer the following question: Is this anchor system ductile?
To see whether this anchor system is ductile, we first must determine the nominal strength for each failure mode. The nominal strength provides a better representation than the design strength of the relative expected tensile limit of each failure mode. To qualify an anchor system as ductile, section of ACI 318- 14 requires that the following relative strength conditions be met:

1.2 Nsa < Ncb and Na

The nominal steel strength, Nsa, is multiplied by 1.2 to account for the possibility that the ultimate tensile strength of the insert (threaded rod in our case) could be larger than expected. This check is important as it helps to increase the probability that non-ductile failure modes — namely, concrete breakout (Ncb) and adhesive bond (Na) — will not occur. The nominal strength for each failure mode can be calculated backwards from the design strength as follows:

Because the steel failure mode governs (1.2Nsa = 15,732 lb.) and the steel in this design example is ductile (ASTM F1554 Gr. 36), the anchorage is considered ductile. It’s important to note that the nominal strength does not include the material reduction factor, φ, which is 0.75 for steel and 0.65 for breakout and adhesive bond. It also does not include the 0.75 reduction factor for anchorage located in SDC C – F. This reduction factor accounts for the possibility of increased cracking and spalling in the concrete caused by seismic activity.

Next, the threaded rod must have a stretch length of eight times the nominal diameter of threaded rod (8d) according to — or, in our case, 5″. In our example, the sill plate is 1 1/2″ thick and the distance between the anchor nut and HDU5 base, SO, is 1 3/8″. SO will vary according to the holdown model and is published in the Simpson Strong-Tie Wood Construction Connectors catalog. To meet the 8d stretch length, the holdown will need to be raised 5″ – 1 1/2″ – 1 3/8″ = 2 1/8″ above the 2x sill plate (Figure 1). If the anchor needs to be extended with a coupler nut to reach the holdown, then the 8d stretch length should (1) only apply where the threaded rod is continuous and (2) never include the length of the coupler nut. Simpson Strong-Tie HDU holdowns can be raised up to 6″ (2 1/2″ for the DTT1 and 4 1/2″ for the DTT2) above the concrete surface (measured to the holdown nut) without having to consider additional rod elongation.

A nice feature of the Anchor Designer software is that it performs the ductility check and conveniently shows the results, highlighting in bold font which failure mode governs (Figure 3). The software will show you whether the anchor system, based on the design information entered by the user, is ductile or not.

Figure 3. SET-3G Ductility Check

We see that the anchor system, rated for a governing design strength of 7,727 lb. (adhesive bond), can resist the demand load of 7,700 lb. Dead load is not addressed here, but it should be included in the design because it reduces the net uplift force, Nu.

Next, we must choose a holdown. Since ASD values are listed for Simpson Strong-Tie holdowns, we must convert our demand load to an ASD level load. To simplify, we assume 100% seismic loading.

ASD level tensile demand load = 7,700 x 0.7 = 5,390 lb.

Figure 4 shows a list of predeflected holdowns that can be found in the Wood Construction Connectors catalog. For a DF/SP wood post, we find that the HDU5 is the best choice. This holdown is rated for 5,645 lb., exceeding the design load of 5,390 lb.

Figure 4. Simpson Strong-Tie Predeflected Holdowns
(HDU5 highlighted in yellow)

There you have it! A ductile anchor solution near a concrete edge is possible because SET-3G adhesive achieves some of the highest bond-strength values on the market. Ever since the building code started referencing the ACI anchorage design provision more than 10 years ago, engineers have been struggling to make concrete anchorage work for holdowns located near an edge. But now engineers have the option of designing with an adhesive anchor for a more cost-effective solution.

Additional information about Simpson’s newest adhesive, SET-3G, can be found at strongtie.com/SET3G.

Good Ideas Come from Many Places — “Necessity Is the Mother of Invention”

You never know where the next great product idea or innovation is going to come from — some of our best new ideas originate with the customers who use our current products. At Simpson Strong-Tie, we welcome any inspiration that can help us serve our customers’ needs even better. With so much competition, however, and because so much research and testing are entailed in developing each new product, the criteria that an idea must meet to gain eventual acceptance are necessarily quite rigorous. In this post, Steve Rotzin, Manager of Intellectual Property and Legal Services at Simpson Strong-Tie, outlines some of these criteria for your consideration.

All of us, at one time or another, dream up a product idea of some sort. My wife was once sanding the tongue-and-groove boards of our living room ceiling and she thought of a very cool idea of gloves that had Velcro on them and users could interchange sandpaper of various grit on any finger of the glove. If you’ve ever sanded anything, this actually made a lot of sense especially for complex shapes and tough to reach spots. I researched it and found out that someone had already thought of it and “patented it.”

We are no different here at Simpson Strong-Tie Company. We are constantly thinking of ways to make the very best products, incorporating innovative features to make the installation as easy and cost effective as possible. We also strive to exceed the performance requirements of the application in order to help build the strongest, safest possible structures. While these ideas are something we think about day in and day out, we also know you think about solutions as well. It’s you who encounter circumstances where our parts may not work as needed or fail to meet a specific need or application. These are the times we receive ideas from customers hoping we might adopt or develop an idea to meet their needs.

Annually, we receive a number of ideas from outside the company, even though they’re not something we actively solicit. The truth is that product ideas from consumers, especially ideas that come from consumers who work in the construction industry, are often relevant and timely. To make it easier for you to share feedback and ideas, we’ve set up a process whereby anyone who has an idea they’d like to share, can submit it to us for evaluation.

Here are some tips to help your product idea receive our fullest consideration, :

  1. Do Your Research — Has someone invented this before? You might be surprised by how many ideas have come and gone. Ideas that we think are novel and have never been attempted by anyone else have often been manufactured, sold and put out to pasture years before we thought of them. So do some research. Also, just because you don’t see the exact same thing doesn’t mean the elements which could be patented, or protected, in your device haven’t been claimed before in someone else’s patent.
  2. Protect Yourself — Make sure you’ve taken steps to ensure you are protected. Did someone else help you? Could someone else claim ownership? Have you filed for a provisional application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office? We cannot offer legal advice, but seeking legal advice from a patent professional is always a good idea.
  3. Cost Considerations — When we receive ideas, often those ideas overlook cost. Yes, they serve a need, but they’d probably never be manufactured or purchased because they would cost several times more than the market will bear. You can build a better mousetrap, but that doesn’t mean anyone will buy it. Be sure you’ve considered how much steel or material your product is using. Also, consider that things like “door hinges” and secondary manufacturing processes are steps that add cost and most likely will make the product too expensive to the end user. A product that significantly increases a structure’s overall volume or thickness isn’t advisable, either. Those are just a few factors you may want to consider.
  4. Approvals — Please consider what approvals your product might require. Products that arrive at Simpson Strong-Tie with ICC code reports, UL listing, IAPMO or other approvals or that are already patented receive the highest attention.
  5. How to Submit — if you’re still interested in submitting to Simpson, please visit strongtie.com/ideas. Print the documents, fill them out and return them to the name at the bottom of the form. Please be sure you’ve included pictures or drawings of your product or application.
  6. Timing — It may take some time for us to review your idea. Simpson does review most ideas, and those ideas that have all the elements discussed above usually receive the quickest response. If you have any questions, you are welcome to reach out to us.

Thank you for considering Simpson for your ideas.


How Computer Simulation Can Power Innovation

This week’s post was written by Frank Ding, Engineering Analysis & Technical Computing Manager at Simpson Strong-Tie. 

Computer-simulated product testing is being used increasingly in modern engineering and manufacturing because it provides a low-risk, time- and cost-efficient means of modeling system performance using a wide array of variables before a physical prototype has been created. The following Blog post outlines some of the uses and advantages of integrating this technology into the product development process.

The role of test simulation in product design might not be the general focus of the Structural Engineering Blog. However, you may have noticed that computer simulation plots have been cited in a few previous postings. Nowadays, it’s rare to talk about product development without mentioning computer simulation at some point. The aim of this post is to give you a better sense of how test simulation can benefit product development and innovation.

Simpson Strong-Tie is a manufacturing company specializing in structural product solutions. Product innovation has been key to the company’s success ever since the production of the first joist hanger in 1956 by the company founder, Barclay Simpson. And with increasing competition and market pressure, product innovation becomes ever more critical to the company’s bottom line.

The ultimate goal of product development is to produce the best design as efficiently as possible. At Simpson, physics-based computer numerical modeling and simulation already form a key tool in our design process. Research published by the Aberdeen Group in 2014 reported that best-in-class companies were leading the way in utilizing simulation software to arm their employees with the insight needed to develop and optimize today’s products.

Finite element analysis (FEA) tools have been an essential component of any engineer’s toolbox for years. The ability to create a virtual prototype or realistic representative model of a part or assembly before physical prototyping offers companies a much faster product development path than was previously possible. Most of the time, simulation is used early in the design cycle to investigate a set of predetermined candidate designs — in which it has proven to be a more efficient method than running physical tests alone for isolating the best design. At other times, simulation is used alongside physical validation tests to determine whether the design meets specifications and to explore potential failure modes.
How can simulation power innovation?

When Thomas Edison was asked about finding success amidst failure, he stated, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

With computer simulation, one can evaluate many design concepts in a shorter time than one can with physical prototyping. A virtual test workflow drastically reduces the design, prototype and test cycle that are required in a typical product innovation process. For example, a typical concrete product development cycle involves a long process of concrete pouring, curing and producing physical prototypes. The physical design iteration cycle could take months, whereas a simulation design cycle may take only a couple of weeks.

Another key part of the virtual design process is to try out many variations of design parameters in “what if” scenarios once the computer simulation model is validated and designers have the confidence to use simulation results to guide design decisions. With more and more affordable, high-performance computing power available from cloud or onsite servers, more complex simulations can be performed at a given time. As a result, a faster cycle of virtual trials speeds up the entire product innovation process. In many cases, hundreds of design concepts are virtually tested before physical prototyping begins.

Besides improving the speed of development and cutting costs, simulation also helps improve product quality. For example, the global and detailed aspects of product performance can be identified and measured easily using simulation. The insight gained from simulation can be used to troubleshoot product failure and optimize the design.

Simulation enables us to develop new products in a virtual environment built on real-world data with much lower cost or risk. Simulation is already an essential part of the innovation process. Simulation is powering modern manufacturing innovation. We will see this trend accelerate further in the future.

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 by watching our free webinar.

On December 6 we hosted an interactive webinar on the MPBZ moment post base, its evaluation, its testing and its applications. In this webinar, we discussed MPBZ moment post base product features, product development, design examples and much more. Attendees had an opportunity to ask questions during the event and you can find answers to those questions here.

Watch a 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 MPBZ.

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


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.

Holdown Anchorage Solutions

A couple years ago, I did a post on selecting holdown anchorage solutions. At the time, we had created a couple engineering letters that tabulated SSTB, SB and PAB anchor solutions for each holdown to simplify specifying anchor bolts. About a year later, a salesperson suggested we tabulate SSTB, SB and PAB anchor solutions for each holdown. You know, to simplify specifying anchor bolts…

This conversation reminded me of the difficulty in keeping track of where design information is. In the C-C-2017 Wood Construction Connectors catalog, we have added this material on pages 62-63. Which should make it easier to find. I thought I should update this blog post to correct the links to this information.

A common question we get from specifiers is “What anchor do I use with each holdown?” Prior to the adoption of ACI 318 Appendix D (now Chapter 17 – Anchoring to Concrete), this was somewhat simple to do. We had a very small table in the holdown section of our catalog that listed which SSTB anchor worked with each holdown.

The good old days! (Don’t use this today)

During the good old days, anchor bolts had one capacity and concrete wasn’t cracked. ACI 318 stipulates reduced capacities in many situations, different design loads for seismic or wind, and reductions for cracked concrete. These changes have combined to make anchor bolt design more challenging than it was under the 1997 Uniform Building Code.

This blog has had several posts related to holdowns. So, What’s Behind a Structural Connector’s Allowable Load? (Holdown Edition) explained how holdowns are tested and load rated in accordance with ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria. Damon Ho did a post, Use of Holdowns During Shearwall Assembly, which discussed the performance differences of shearwalls with and without holdowns, and Shane Vilasineekul did a Wood Shearwall Design Example. So I won’t get into how to pick a holdown.

Once you have determined your uplift requirements and selected a post size and holdown, it’s necessary to specify an anchor to the foundation. To help designers select an anchor that works for a given holdown, we have created different tables that provide anchorage solutions for Simpson Strong-Tie holdowns.

Two tables on pages 62-63 in the Wood Construction Connectors catalog summarize holdown anchorage solutions. The tables are separated by wood species (DF/SP and SPF/HF) to give the most economical anchor design for each post material. The preferred anchor solutions are SSTB or SB anchors, as these proprietary anchor bolts are tested and will require the smallest amount of concrete. When SSTB or SB anchors do not have adequate capacity, we have tabulated solutions for the PAB anchors, which are preassembled anchors that are calculated in accordance with ACI 318 Chapter 17.

The solutions in the letters are designed to match the capacity of the holdowns, which allows the contractor to select an anchor bolt if the engineer doesn’t specify one. They are primarily used by engineers who don’t want to design an anchor or select one from our catalog tables. We received some feedback from customers who were frustrated that some of our heavier holdowns required such a large footing for the PAB anchors, whereas a slightly smaller holdown worked with an SB or SSTB anchor in a standard 12″ footing with a 1½” pop-out.

To achieve smaller footings using our SB1x30 anchor bolts, we reviewed our original testing and created finite element (FEA) models to determine what modifications to the slab-on-grade foundation details would meet our target loads. Of course, we ran physical tests to confirm the FEA models. With a 6″ pop-out, we were able to achieve design loads for HD12, HDU14 and HHDQ14.

The revised footing solutions for the heavier holdowns require less excavation and less concrete than the previous Appendix D calculated solutions, achieving desired loads while reducing costs on the installation.

Part of the fun of structural engineering is that there are always new problems to solve. Let us know what holdown anchorage challenges or solutions you have to share!

What You Need to Know About Differences in Wind-Speed Reporting for Hurricanes

This week’s post was written by Darren Conrad, PE. Engineering Manager, Truss at Simpson Strong-Tie.

With Hurricane Irma wrapping up, the cleanup after Hurricane Harvey’s devastation underway in Houston and more big storms already churning in the Atlantic, it seems like a good time to discuss hurricanes and high wind. There is a great deal of good information out there to help us better understand hurricanes and their impact on people, structures and other property. To improve awareness of wind speeds and their measurement, this article will discuss a commonly misunderstood aspect of hurricane wind-speed reporting.

When a storm is approaching, you will hear meteorologists report wind speeds. They often refer to storm categories. These categories attempt to generalize expected damage to structures based on the wind speed of the storm. The wind speed for a given storm is a measure of the severity of the storm and the danger it poses to life and property. But how do meteorologists determine the wind speed that they are reporting? It seems so concrete and certain, but anyone who has been outside during a storm or windy day knows that wind isn’t constant at any one location over a period of time. It varies continuously in magnitude and direction over time. So how can something so variable be the subject of knowledge that is precise enough to be useful? How do we understand wind-speed measurements and make sure that when comparing them we are doing so in such a way that they are comparable? That is a great question.

The good news is that even though wind is variable, we have a commonly accepted way to measure wind speed and know something about a wind field or event that is occurring at a time and place. This is done by averaging measured wind speeds over specified lengths of time, or picking the highest average wind speed that occurs for a specified averaging interval from a longer period of time. A great resource for understanding how wind speeds are measured and reported can be seen here. From this explanation, it can be seen that a reported wind speed is meaningless without a specified averaging time. The shortest averaging intervals will yield the highest reported wind speeds. The longer averaging times will capture more peaks and lulls and yield lower reported wind speeds. The most common averaging intervals used to report wind speeds are three seconds, one minute and two minutes. Some countries even use a ten-minute averaging interval for reporting wind speeds. So the question arises, which average is correct? And the answer is, none of them and all of them. They are just different ways of looking at measured wind data. That is not very comforting, but one thing we can know is that none of them can be truly interpreted or compared without understanding this idea of averaging time. To make it more confusing, meteorologists and building codes do not use the same averaging interval when reporting or specifying wind speeds. This can lead to misunderstandings.

In general, you will hear meteorologists report sustained wind speeds when covering an approaching hurricane. They might also mix in some peak gusts, but for the most part they focus on sustained wind speeds. Sustained wind speeds for tropical cyclones use a 60-second averaging time. Sustained wind speed is also used by the Saffir-Simpson scale to roughly quantify the likely damage that the wind from a storm might cause typical buildings and other structures. There are criticisms of the accuracy of the Saffir-Simpson scale method, but it is widely used by the public to generalize about the severity of tropical cyclones; therefore, it is likely that the public might and commonly does attempt to compare reported sustained wind speeds to building-code-specified three-second-gust wind speeds to determine if their house or structure will withstand the storm. There is danger in making that comparison.

We need to be careful when comparing the reported sustained wind speed for a storm with the three-second-gust design wind speeds referenced in building codes and design standards. They are not the same and need to be converted before they can be compared for equivalence. After seeing the following example, one could easily see the possibility of the public or a public official comparing the sustained wind speeds reported by the weatherman to the wind speeds used by building codes and design standards and drawing conclusions that may underestimate the force and effect of the storm.

Let’s take a hypothetical situation where a building jurisdiction has adopted a wind speed of 130 mph three-second-gust design wind speed for structures built in that jurisdiction. There are various methods to convert wind speeds between different averaging times, and many factors that may need to be considered when doing that. One method for converting is the Durst method referenced in ASCE 7. Another more recent method recommended by the World Meteorological Organization provides a pretty straightforward conversion between sustained wind speed and three-second-gust wind speeds for near-surface applications. So for the sake of simplicity, we will use it for this example. If we convert a reported sustained wind speed of 130 mph to a three-second-gust average wind speed using this method, it equates to a three-second-gust wind speed for Off-Sea of 160 mph (Off-Sea is appropriate for an approaching hurricane). The adopted130 mph three-second-gust wind speed converts to 105 mph sustained wind speed. This difference could lead individuals in the path of the storm to underestimate its severity if they are not aware of the difference between averaging intervals for wind speeds. They could see the sustained wind speed of 130 mph being reported by the weather service when the storm is over open water and assume that their structure, or structures in their jurisdiction, will stand up fairly well. This would be a serious underestimate, since those structures would need to be designed to resist a 160 mph three-second-gust wind speed using ASCE 7 in order for that to be true. To say that a different way, one might think that their structure was designed for a Category 4 storm (130 mph sustained), when in fact it was actually designed for a Category 2 storm (105 mph sustained) using the Saffir-Simpson scale. Hurricane Irma at its maximum sustained wind speed of 185 mph would equate to a 227 mph three-second-gust wind speed using this conversion method. From a roof anchorage, lateral design and load path design perspective, the difference between 130 mph and 160 mph can be substantial, especially when the building is located on flat open terrain where Exposure C or Exposure D are appropriate assumptions for the design.

There is a lot more background and detail to this very complicated discussion, but the general point is to know your averaging times when comparing reported wind speeds, so as not to underestimate a storm’s force. If a storm is headed your way, hopefully you have already selected the proper hurricane tie for your structure; you have a well-defined and properly designed continuous load path; and you are protecting your exterior openings from windborne debris. Remember, the objective is not to protect the window or door product itself. Unless you are in the insurance business, you are preventing the breach of the opening to keep wind from pressurizing the structure, increasing loads on the structure and potentially causing catastrophic failure.

Know how to secure your structure against high winds, and be safe.

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.