Evaluating the Fracture Potential of Steel Moment Connections with Defects and Repairs
Stevens, Ryan T.
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Steel moment frames are a popular seismic-force resisting system, but it is believed that they are susceptible to early fracture if there is a stress concentration in the plastic hinge region, also known as the protected zone. If a defect is present in this area, it may be repaired by grinding and/or welding, but little research has investigated how the repairs affect the performance of full-scale moment connections subjected to inelastic rotations. Thus, the goals of this research were to establish the performance of full-scale moment connections with repairs and defects, then develop a method for predicting fracture of the full-scale specimens using more economical cyclic bend tests. To do this, six full-scale reduced beam section (RBS) connections were tested having arrays of repairs or defects applied to the flanges. The repairs were 0.125 in. deep notches ground to a smooth taper and 0.25 in. deep notches ground to a smooth taper, welded, and ground smooth. The defects were sharp 0.25 in. and 0.375 in. notches. In addition, 54 bend tests were conducted on beam flange and bar stock coupons having the same repairs and defects, power actuated fasteners, puddle welds, and no artifacts. Finally, Coffin-Manson low-cycle fatigue relationships were calibrated using results from the cyclic bend tests with each artifact (repair, defect, or attachment method) and used in conjunction with estimates of full-scale plastic strain amplitudes to predict fracture of full-scale specimens. All four of the full-scale moment connections with repairs satisfied special moment frame qualification criteria (SMF). One full-scale specimen with sharp 0.25 in. notches satisfied SMF qualification criteria, but the flexural resistance dropped rapidly after the qualification cycle. On the other hand, the specimen with sharp 0.375 in. notches did not satisfy SMF qualification criteria due to ductile fractures propagating from the notches. The proposed method for predicting fracture of full-scale connections was validated using the six current and six previous full-scale RBS specimens. This method underpredicted fracture for eleven of the twelve specimens. The ratio of the actual to predicted cumulative story drift at fracture had a mean of 1.13 and a standard deviation of 0.19.
General Audience Abstract
Moment connections in steel structures resist earthquake loads by permanently deforming the material near the connection. This area is called the protected zone and is critical to the safety of the structure in an earthquake. Due to this importance, no defects are allowed near the connection, which can include gouges or notches. If a defect does occur, it must repaired by a grinding or welding. These are the required repair methods, but there have be no tests to determine how the repairs affect the strength and ductility of the connection. This research tested six full-scale moment connections with defects repaired by grinding and welding, as well as unrepaired defects. A correlation was also developed and validated between the full-scale tests and small-scale bend tests of steel bars with the same defects and repairs. This relationship is valuable because the small-scale tests are quicker and less expensive to conduct than the full-scale tests, meaning other defects or repairs could be easily tested in the future. All but one of the six full-scale specimens met the strength requirements and had adequate ductility. The one test specimen that failed had an unrepaired defect. The relationship between the full-scale and small-scale tests underpredicted fracture (a conservative estimate) for the five of the full-scale tests and overpredicted fracture (unconservative estimate) for one test.
- Masters Theses