Structural behaviour of an innovative cold-formed steel building system

Darcy, Greg (2005) Structural behaviour of an innovative cold-formed steel building system. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Cold-formed steel structures have been in service for many years and are used as shelters for both domestic and industrial purposes. To produce an economical product, manufacturers have typically based their designs on the simple portal frame concept. As there is almost a direct relationship between overall cost and the weight of steel in a portal frame structure, it is of great importance to provide a structure with the minimum amount of steel whilst providing structural adequacy.

Portal frame sheds have been refined continuously for many years, with only minimal amounts of savings in steel. Therefore, to provide even greater savings in steel, an innovative building system is required. Modern Garages Australia (MGA) is one of the leading cold-formed steel shed manufacturers in Queensland. MGA has recently developed such an innovative building system that has significant economic savings when compared with portal frame structures.

The MGA building system has two key differences to that of the conventional portal frame system. These differences are that the MGA system has no conventional frames or framing system, and it has no purlins or girts. This results in the MGA system being completely fabricated from thin cladding, which significantly reduces the quantity of steel. However, the key problem with this building system is that the load paths and structural behaviour are unknown, and therefore the structure cannot be analysed using conventional methods. Therefore, the objectives of this research were to first investigate the structural behaviour of this new building system and its adequacy for an ultimate design wind speed of 41 m/s using full scale testing. The next objectives were to use finite element analysis to optimise the original MGA building system so that it is adequate for an ultimate design wind speed of 41 m/s, and to develop a new improved cold-formed steel building system that has greater structural efficiency than the original MGA building system.

This thesis presents the details of the innovative MGA building system, full scale test setup, testing program, finite element analysis of the MGA building system and the results. Details and results from the optimisation of the MGA building system, and the development of a new improved cold-formed steel building system are also presented. The full scale experimental investigation considered the required loadings of cross wind, longitudinal wind and live load test cases and simulated them on the test structure accurately using an innovative load simulation system. The wind loads were calculated for a 41 m/s ultimate design wind speed. Full scale test program included both non-destructive and destructive tests.

The finite element analyses contained in this thesis have considered cross wind, longitudinal wind and live load cases, as well as the destructive load case of the MGA building system. A number of different model types were created and their results were compared with the experimental results. In general, two main model types were created. The first type consisted of a 'strip' of the MGA building system (Strip model) and the second modelled the full structure (Full model). Both of these model types were further divided into models which contained no contact surfaces and those which contained contact surfaces to simulate the interfaces between the various components such as the brackets and cladding.

The experimental test results showed that the MGA test structure is not suitable for an ultimate design wind speed of 41 m/s. This conclusion is a result of a number of observed failures that occurred during the extensive testing program. These failures included local buckling, crushing failures, and distortional buckling of the cladding panels. Extremely large deflections were also observed. It was calculated that for the MGA building system to be adequate for the design wind speed of 41 m/s, a cladding thickness of 0.8 mm was required. This also agreed well with the finite element analysis results which concluded that a cladding thickness of 0.8 mm was required.

In order to avoid the increased use of steel in the building system, a new improved cold-formed steel building system was developed and its details are provided in this thesis. A finite element model of this new improved cold-formed steel building system was created and the results showed that the new building system was able to achieve a load step equivalent to an ultimate design wind speed of 50.4 m/s and was approximately 250% stiffer than the original MGA building system, without any increase in the overall weight of the building system. It is recommended that this new improved cold-formed steel building system be further developed with the aid of finite element modelling and be tested using a similar full scale testing program that was used for the original MGA building system.

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ID Code: 16589
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Mahendran, Mahadeva
Keywords: cold-formed steel, innovative, steel building system, full-scale testing, innovative frameless structure, light weight building system, load simulation, non-linear analysis, and finite element analysis
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Greg Darcy
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:06
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:41

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