Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


College of Engineering


Mohammad Reza Eslami

Advisor Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Improvement of Rotation Capacity of Composite Beam-to-HSS Column Connections Using External Horizontal Stiffeners

Mahdi Afshar Arjmand

This thesis focuses on the analysis of out-of-plane deformation (OOP) in column flange located in the panel zone of composite beam-to-column steel connection, as a critical aspect of steel structural engineering. This type of connection is an integral component of steel structures, and understanding their behavior is essential for ensuring safety and performance. The investigation involves examining the causes, factors influencing, and potential mitigation strategies for out-of-plane deformation of HSS flange column in these connections. Beam-to-column connections play a vital role in transferring loads and maintaining structural stability. Out-of-plane deformation, where the flange displaces from its primary plane, can compromise the connection's performance. This study aims to shed light on the mechanisms causing out-of-plane deformation and explore techniques to minimize its effects. Out-of-plane deformation of column flange connections can result from various factors, including eccentric loading, bending moments, torsion, and material properties. Understanding these causes is crucial for accurate analysis and design. Analytical methods and numerical simulations, such as finite element analysis (FEA), are employed to predict and quantify out-of-plane deformation. Models are created to represent real-world connections, enabling the exploration of their behavior under different loads and conditions. The study investigates strategies to mitigate out-of-plane deformation, such as adding horizontal stiffeners, or vertical stiffeners. These approaches aim to enhance the column flange’s resistance to out-of-plane displacements and improve overall structural performance. Real-world case studies of steel beam to-column connections are analyzed to demonstrate the effects of out-of-plane deformation and the efficacy of mitigation strategies. The results highlight the importance of accurate analysis and design to ensure connection integrity. Based on the findings, the study proposes design guidelines for flange-column connections to minimize out-of-plane deformation. These guidelines provide engineers with insights into optimizing connection design and ensuring stability under varying loads.

The unique characteristic of beam-to-HSS column connections is the out-of-plane deformation of the HSS column flange at the beam web-to-column flange interface which can reduce contribution of the connection web to the overall resistance of the connection. To explore effect of the column flange OOP deformation, performance of three connection types, namely composite beam-to-HSS column connection, composite beam-to-HSS column connection with slab-column gap, and bare beam-to-HSS column connections are evaluated using pre-validated 3D finite element (FE) simulations. FE models can simulate low-cycle fatigue and post-rupture behavior of the connection. Comprehensive global and local responses are presented and discussed. It is found that column compactness, i.e., column’s width-to-thickness ratio, has considerable effect on maximum moment capacity, rotation capacity, post rupture residual capacity and energy dissipation capability of the connection. On the other hand, external horizontal stiffeners can significantly increase the rotation capacity of the connection. External horizontal stiffeners in steel beam-to-column connections are crucial for boosting structural efficiency and load-bearing capacity. Carefully designed, accurately placed, and securely attached, they ensure a reliable and safe system capable of withstanding diverse loads and environmental conditions, contributing to the long-term safety and stability of the entire steel structure.