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.

What Makes Strong Frame® Special Moment Frames So Special

In a Structural Engineering Blog post I wrote last October, “Soft-Story Retrofits Using the New Simpson Strong-Tie Retrofit Design Guide,” one item I barely touched on at the time was the benefit of using Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong Frame special moment frames to retrofit vulnerable soft-story wood-framed buildings commonly found on the West Coast. In this post, I will be diving into more detail on a few features that make the Strong Frame special moment frame truly special.

In the recent release of the ANSI/AISC 358-16 (AISC 358-16), the Simpson Strong-Tie Strong Frame moment connection has been included as a prequalified special moment frame (SMF) connection.  Prequalified moment connections are structural-steel moment connection configurations and details that have been reviewed by the AISC Connection Prequalification Review Panel (CPRP) and incorporated into the AISC 358 standard. What’s unique about this newly prequalified connection is that it’s the first moment connection to be prequalified in AISC as a partially restrained (PR-Type) moment connection.

prequalified-connections

With this recent inclusion into AISC 358-16, we’ve also developed our newly released Strong Frame Design Guide  to help designers understand the differences in design and detailing between the Strong Frame connection and traditional SMF connections. The following are just a few of the key differences discussed in this guide.

SMF Yielding Elements

Traditional prequalified moment frames most often require a welded connection with either a weakened beam or a stiffened connection. SMF connections are designed so that the beam will yield as necessary under large displacements that may occur during a seismic event. The yielding of the beam section provides energy dissipation and is designed to ensure that the fully restrained beam-to-column connection isn’t compromised. The current design philosophy is the product of extensive testing of SMF connections based on studying the effects of the 1994 Northridge and 1989 Loma Prieta earthquakes in California. Figures 1, 2 and 3 below depict test specimens that demonstrate yielding at the designated areas of the beam.

special-moment-frame-development

The Strong Frame SMF has taken a different approach to the traditional connections by utilizing a Yield-Link® structural fuse designed to provide the energy dissipation for the beam-to-column moment connection. This is a modified T-Stub that has a reduced section in the stem. The yielding during a seismic event has been moved from the beams to the Yield-Link structural fuse. The fuse can be replaced after a major event, very much like an electrical fuse when overloaded. A traditional moment frame may require a much more invasive structural repair.

yielding-area-strong-frame

Beam Lateral Bracing

The traditional types of prequalified connections, as along with other proprietary connections included in AISC 358, all require the beam to yield so as to dissipate energy as discussed above. These types of connections require that the beam be braced to resist the lateral torsional buckling per code. However, it is difficult to meet the bracing requirements in the case of a steel SMF in a wood structure.

stiffness-model-beam-stability-wood-construction

With the Strong Frame SMF connection, the energy dissipation is moved from the beams to the Yield-Link structural fuses, with the connection following a capacity-based design approach. This allows the connection to remain elastic under factored load combinations. With the yielding confined to the structural fuses, inelastic deformation is not expected from the members and lateral beam buckling braces are not required. The beam can be designed to span the entire length without beam bracing. See also this blog post.

Column-Beam Relationship Requirements

Traditional SMF follow a strong column – weak beam requirement to ensure plastic hinging occurs in the beams and not the columns. If the energy dissipation takes place within such hinging in the beams, the column members will remain elastic so as to provide stability and strength for the above stories. If plastic hinges occur in the columns, there is a potential for the formation of a weak-story mechanism.

weak-story-mechanism

The Strong Frame special moment frame is unlike the traditional SMF, where the plastic hinges are formed by the buckling of the beam flange and web. In the Strong Frame SMF, the stretching and shortening of the links at the top and bottom of the Strong Frame beams are the yielding mechanisms. So instead of a strong column – weak beam check, the Strong Frame design procedure checks for a strong column – weak link condition where the ratio of the column moments to the moment created by the Yield-Link® couple is required to be greater than or equal to 1.0.

yielding-strong-frame-links

Installation

Traditional moment frame connections typically require welding in the field. Where bolted SMF connections are used, pretensioned bolts are necessary. Both welding and pretensioned bolts require third-party special inspection.

The Strong Frame SMF has been designed and tested as a 100% field-bolted connection. Unlike other bolted options, the Strong Frame’s field-bolted connections only need to be made snug tight. No onsite bolt pretensioning or special inspections are required with this system. This allows the beams and columns to be maneuvered into place, erected and installed in a fraction of the time needed for the welding, lateral-beam-bracing installation and additional inspections or repairs that traditional moment frames typically require.

T-Stub-link-installationv2

Design

One last item I’d like to discuss is the design service that Simpson Strong-Tie provides for the Strong Frame special moment frame. Whether you design moment frames only once in a while or on a regular basis, the Strong Frame design team will provide you with No-Equal design support at no additional cost. Designers receive a complete package that includes drawings and calculations, which are submittal-ready. This ensures that you’ll have a frame connection design meeting the latest codes and design requirements. Contact strongframe@strongtie.com for more information or to request design support.

To learn more about the special benefits and uses of Strong Frame moment frames, check out the following links:

“You Cannot Escape Responsibility Tomorrow by Evading it Today”

While the contents of this blog are certainly not what Abraham Lincoln had in mind when he made the statement that I’m using to title this blog post, it does speak volumes to the pertinence of what will be discussed today. “Design by others” or some variation of this appears in many parts of Simpson Strong-Tie details.

Simpson Strong-Tie receives technical calls from contractors and plans examiners inquiring about information that requires input from the Designer. When these calls occur during construction there can be confusion and frustration in the field because the Designer is needed to evaluate and resolve the issue. Designers and engineers that identify these conditions ahead of time will reduce confusion and delays on their projects.

Strong-Wall® Shearwalls

The Strong-Wall® shearwall product line uses several iterations of “design by others” within its installation details. It is important to note that many details within the installation drawings may require input from the Designer when certain conditions exist.

For example, Detail 7 on SSW2 shows an alternate first-story installation where the Steel Strong-Wall shearwall bypasses the floor framing and bears directly onto concrete. A ledger may be attached to the shearwall to support perpendicular floor framing. The specification of the hanger and attachment is project specific and would require evaluation by the Designer.
framing1

This condition is also on the Strong-Wall SB shearwall installation details as seen in the following detail. The detail is generic and requires attachment information from the Designer.  When these conditions do not exist on the project, it may be beneficial to cross out the detail or delete and state “not used” to lessen confusion during plan check and construction.

framing2

The note “Foundation Dimensions are for Anchorage only. Foundation design (size and reinforcement) by others” can be found in multiple locations on the Wood Strong-Wall,  Steel Strong-Wall and Strong-Wall Shear Brace detail sheets.

framing3

Soil type and loading conditions not related to the product design vary from project to project and cannot be designed into a one-size-fits-all foundation solution. Thus, the information provided by Simpson Strong-Tie in the installation drawings only addresses the concrete anchorage requirements of ACI 318 (Section D5.2.9/ACI 318-11; Section 17.4.2.9/ACI318-14). These details assume no reinforcement in the footing, resulting in rather large foundations. Since design requirements vary with every project, it’s important for Designers to evaluate and verify each condition.

The new Steel Strong-Wall shearwall grade beam solutions reduce the size of the footings required for anchorage. However, the Designer must specify the grade beam reinforcement for proper performance. The details for the grade beam solutions (see SSW1.1 sheet) are based on ACI 318 and testing that was conducted by Simpson Strong-Tie.

For the grade beam solutions, Designers have two options:

(1) Design grade beam to resist the moment induced from amplified forces to the anchor, or

(2) The lesser of the tabulated moment or the amplified LRFD design moment for seismic (ASD Shear / 0.7) x Ω0 x (SSW Height).

Furthermore, the Designer is responsible for specifying the size and number of shear and flexural reinforcement throughout the grade beam beyond the anchor reinforcement depicted in the details.

Delivery of forces to the Strong-Wall shearwall (to the top of wall), including properly sizing the structural members, should be based on project specific requirements.

Strong Frame® Moment Frames

Simpson Strong-Tie Strong Frame® ordinary moment frames and special moment frames contain similar requirements for the Designer. Moment frames have been discussed many times in this blog: Special Moment Frame Installation: What Structural Engineers Should Watch For, Steel Moment Frame Beam Bracing and Breaking News:  Simpson Strong-Tie Strong Frame Special Moment Frame Testing Today.

The notes on SMF2 state “Footing/Grade beam size and reinforcing shall be specified by the Designer as required to resist the imposed loads, such as foundation shear and bending, soil bearing pressure, shear transfer, and frame stability/overturning.”

Moment frame foundation solutions are based on satisfying the minimum concrete anchorage requirements. Detailing can be a crucial area for this product line as it is common to find deeper footings at these locations, which should be reflected on your construction documents.

Like Strong Wall shearwalls, Designers must evaluate the project conditions and detail the load path of the forces to the resisting element (in this case the Strong Frame moment frame). Ensuring proper transfer of forces that are detailed within your construction documents will reduce headaches down the road.

Strong-RodTM Systems

Strong-Rod™ systems are continuous rod tiedown solutions for multi-story, light-frame wood construction. These systems include Anchor Tiedown Systems (ATS) for shearwall overturning restraint and Uplift Restraint Systems (URS) for roofs. Both systems utilize the same components (i.e. bearing plates, rods, couplers and shrinkage compensation devices), however the detailing, design and locations of these two systems differs.

For ATS, the Designer is responsible for the following:

  • Developing the cumulative tension/compression loads,
  • Determining the system displacement requirements as defined in ICC-ES Acceptance Criteria AC316 to satisfy code required drift equations (this specifically addresses the holdown part of the Equation 4.3-1 of the 2015 Special Design Provisions for Wind and Seismic)
  • The location of each holdown/shearwall.

A more elaborate description of the Designer’s responsibilities for ATS can be found on page 23 of our  Strong-Rod Systems design guide (F-L-SRS15). Simpson Strong-Tie incorporates this information into our design of the system and provides calculations and installation drawings to the Designer for review (a sample two-story run is shown below).

framing4

For URS, there are two different approaches to design that have different level of responsibilities. The Designer has fewer responsibilities when specifying a rod with a “system (CRTS)” evaluation report per AC391, but they are still responsible for developing the project’s wind uplift loads, specifying URS details and designing systems for shearwall overturning.

More requirements must be taken into account when designing and specifying a rod system using steel components with a “rod-run only (CRTR)” AC391 evaluation report, or no report at all. (A more elaborate description of the Designer’s responsibilities for URS can be found on page 43 of the  Strong-Rod Systems design guide).

Based on the project information provided, the rod manufacturer will design and detail the system and submit calculations and installation drawings to the Designer for review.

Podium Deck Anchorage

The newest details published by Simpson Strong-Tie on podium deck anchorage solutions were developed to reduce the impact of an industry-wide challenge; resolving large tension forces (upwards of 50 kips) from four- to five-story narrow shearwalls into thin (often 10-14 inch thick) concrete podium decks. These solutions (e.g., design tables installation drawings and sample calculations), which are on our website, rely on special anchor reinforcement details using standard construction rebar.

framing5

More information about these solutions can be found this blog post and in the shallow anchor page on our website. It is important to note that the Designer is responsible for selecting the best anchorage detail to satisfy the demand loads based on his/her concrete specification and specific project conditions. The Designer is also responsible for designing and detailing the flexural reinforcement within the slab to achieve the amplified forces.

Summary

Adding standard installation details to your construction documents saves significant design time. However, the responsibility does not end with the copy-and-paste. The installation details by Simpson Strong-Tie contain details of many common applications. Some may not apply to your project, while others may require additional input from you. Of course, the Designer is permitted to use alternate details and is not limited to what is shown on the installation drawings. Providing complete information will save time and frustration during plan check and construction. Simpson Strong-Tie is here to answer questions and help with your next project. Please reach out to us by calling 800-999-5099 or by clicking here.

 

Breaking News: Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong Frame® Special Moment Frame Testing Today

Today the NEES-Soft project has begun testing the steel Simpson Strong-Tie® Strong Frame® Special Moment Frame as a retrofit option for soft-story buildings at the NEES outdoor shake table facility at UC San Diego. The testing is focused on validating the FEMA P-807 design procedure, which attempts to create a least-cost retrofit solution by only retrofitting the garage areas of problem buildings.

NEES-Soft Building. Image credit: John W. van de Lindt.

NEES-Soft Building. Image credit: John W. van de Lindt.

Two small shakes have been run this morning on the buildings, with the expected result of zero damage. The final shake for today, though, will be a large shake (1.1 g design spectral acceleration in the short-period range). UCSD has a live video link setup at http://nees.ucsd.edu/video/. There are various camera views of the building and interior, including our frames, and should be up during the test. The update speed is not real time. We are told this last test for today will run around 1:00 pm PST, but there is always significant leeway on this.

Testing of the Simpson Strong-Tie Strong Frame Special Moment Frame.

Testing of the Simpson Strong-Tie Strong Frame Special Moment Frame. Image credit: UC San Diego video feed capture.

NEES-Soft is a project to develop and demonstrate methodologies to retrofit soft-story woof-frame buildings. The project is a collaboration of five universities and industry representatives, and will include numerical analyses and experimental testing. Full scale testing of a four-story, 1920’s-style wood building has begun at UC San Diego’s outdoor shake table facility. The testing is used to validate a FEMA P-807 design procedure, which attempts to recreate a least-cost retrofit solution by only retrofitting garage areas of the buildings.

– Paul

Soft-Story Retrofits

In February 2007 I had the opportunity to volunteer for a Soft-Story Sidewalk Survey for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection. The purpose of the survey was to inventory buildings in San Francisco that appeared superficially to have soft or weak first stories. The volunteers were given a list of addresses to review and we recorded if the building was more than three stories tall, had five or more dwellings, and estimated what percentage of the ground level had openings in the walls. No structural analysis going on, just counting stories, mailboxes, doors and windows.

San Francisco soft-story structure. Photo credit: USGS.

San Francisco soft-story structure failure. Photo credit: USGS.

A collapsed house in San Francisco from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Photo credit: Adam Teitelbaum, AFP, Getty Images.

A collapsed soft-story in San Francisco from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Photo credit: Adam Teitelbaum, AFP, Getty Images.

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