Wood stressed-skin panels : an investigation into their behaviour, load distribution and composite properties

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Stressed skin panels (SSPs) offer enhanced reliability and load-bearing capacity, potentially generating new opportunities for the use of timber in multi-storey residential, industrial, commercial and public buildings. However, in Australia, the design code for timber structures, AS 1720.1-1997 (Australian StandardTM 1997), does not make the most of the structural capabilities of this technology. In order to address this shortcoming, a major research project commenced in 2002 at the University of Technology, Sydney to investigate and quantify the structural performance of SSPs. This thesis details the research processes and outcomes from investigating the structural behaviours of SSP constructions. The project, which has emphasised that the sheathing and joists of SSP assemblies act compositely together, provides design recommendations that will ensure the safe and efficient design of SSP structures. This PhD project focuses on the short-term behaviour of SSP structures subjected to quasi-static loading of serviceability and ultimate regime. The full-scale specimens are subjected to third-point loading (two uniformly distributed line loads) and centre-point loading (single uniformly distributed line load and concentrated point load). Effects of changing the physical integrity (skin discontinuities) and the boundary conditions (buckling restraint at the support) of the specimen are investigated. On the other hand, the long-term behaviour and specimen responses to and effects of in-plane loading, dynamic excitation, cyclic loading and loading history are outside the scope of this PhD research. Investigating multiple-span SSP systems and installing blockings inside the span are also excluded. The experimental work involves full-scale testing of 27 simply supported single-span specimens, constructed in a variety of configurations and subjected to a series of non-destructive and destructive tests. This testing program enables the identification of the serviceability and ultimate responses, quantification of the two-way action, and characterising of the composite properties of SSP systems. It also permits quantification of the effects of discontinuing the skin and restraining buckling at the supports. Two numerical models are developed within the framework of this project, that is, a mathematical procedure is derived from grillage theory and a finite element model is assembled using ANSYS software. Both models are capable of accurately predicting the serviceability responses of SSP structures. This project puts forward design recommendations, culminating in the outline of a proposal to amend the Australian code for the design of timber structures (AS 1720). The current edition of this code, AS 1720.1-1997 (Australian Standard™ 1997), provides incomplete guidelines for the design of SSP systems. The recommendations offer Australian engineers a thorough and reliable design procedure for SSP systems.
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