NSF-Sponsored Research to Conclude with Shake Table Testing
A partnership of leading cold-formed steel design researchers from top U.S. and Canadian universities and design professionals from the steel industry, including the American Iron and Steel Institute, have begun the final phase of a three-year research project to increase the seismic safety of buildings that use lightweight cold-formed steel for their primary beams and columns. Funded by a National Science Foundation grant, the researchers have already developed a series of computational models to determine how a complete building structure will perform during an earthquake. The next stage in the testing involves the construction of a two-story structure and testing on a “shake table” at the University at Buffalo. The building will undergo the rigors of a controlled earthquake to determine how it performs. There will be two phases to the shake table testing: Phase One will test only the structural components, which include the cold-formed steel skeleton and the OSB sheathing for the floor diaphragm and roof; and Phase Two will add non-structural components like stairs, gypsum sheathing and interior partitions. The objective is to advance cold-formed steel light-frame design in buildings to the next level and equip engineers to implement these performance-based seismic designs in their projects. The research team is led by Benjamin Schafer, Ph.D., P.E., of the Department of Civil Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University and a long-time member of two standards-developing committees of AISI ― the Committee on Specifications and the Committee on Framing Standards. Dr. Schafer’s team includes additional researchers from The Johns Hopkins University and Bucknell University, with input as well from colleagues at the University of North Texas, Virginia Tech, and McGill University. “This project has already resulted in several innovations that will immediately impact seismic cold-formed steel design standards, making buildings safer,” Schafer said. “Now comes the fun part—getting to see how all the research plays out on the shake table. One of the important deliverables from this project will be the transfer of our research results into an open source software framework. This data will then be made available to engineers, allowing them to see how their structural system designs will respond to an earthquake before they are constructed. This software will create cost efficiencies and potentially save lives.” Several steel industry partners are participating in the project, providing technical expertise and donating materials and additional funding. The steel industry partners include AISI, Bentley Systems, Incorporated, ClarkDietrich Building Systems, Devco Engineering, Inc., DSi Engineering, Mader Construction Company, Inc., Simpson Strong-Tie Company Inc., the Steel Framing Industry Association and the Steel Stud Manufacturers Association.