Journal article

Experimental investigation of the influence of integral mechanical attachments on structural behaviour of timber folded surface structures

Structural behaviour of timber folded surface systems greatly depends on the connections ability to transfer the occurring forces between the adjacent elements and finally to the supports. This paper focuses on multiple tab-and-slot joints (MTSJ), where digital prefabrication is used to integrate connectors through plate geometry. Multiple plates assembled within a large scale folded surface structure were tested to examine the influence of connection detail type on its global structural behaviour. For this purpose an innovative test setup was devised that approximates uniformly distributed surface load. The connection details used were chosen with respect to preliminary small scale bending tests. Three groups of distinct large scale structures were tested: (1) structures with miter joint detail and adhesive applied along the edges; (2) structures with open slot MTSJ; and (3) structures with closed slot MTSJ. Extensive investigation into the load bearing behaviour and failure propagation for each of the three different types of structures has been conducted. For analysing their feasibility, the tested structures were also reviewed in terms of fabrication time, assembly and on-site construction. The obtained results show that even though adhesively joined structures provide highest structural stiffness, they exhibit multiple disadvantages when considering building scale applications. Open slot MTSJ structures results indicate that these joints cannot provide sufficiently reliable structural behaviour. Structures with MTSJ closed slots show that their joint geometry greatly improves both the ultimate load-bearing capacity as well as stiffness. Furthermore, by transferring the edge occurring forces mainly in compression, they provide additional ductility to the global system. Within the scope of this paper, closed slot MTSJ proved to be a very efficient connection type which can constitute a robust folded structural system made as a multiple assembly of thin timber plates.

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