Finite element analysis of doubler plate attachment details and load paths in continuity plates for steel moment frames
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This thesis presents results of research aimed at developing an improved understanding of the behavior of column panel zones reinforced with doubler plates in seismic resistant steel moment frames. A primary goal of the research was to develop data to support the development of improved design guidelines for welding doubler plates to columns, with and without the presence of continuity plates. The research addressed several issues and questions related to welding and detailing of doubler plates. This included evaluation of the effects of welding the top and bottom of the doubler plate in addition to the vertical edges, the effects of extending the doubler plate beyond the panel zone, and the impact of welding a continuity plate to a doubler plate. These issues were investigated through detailed finite element models of a simplified representation of the panel zone region, subjected to monotonic loading. The results of the research suggest that, in general, there is little benefit in welding the top and bottom edges of a doubler plate if the vertical edges are welded, particularly in terms of overall panel zone strength and stiffness. However, the top and bottom welds provide some benefit in reducing stresses on the vertical welds. The results also suggest that extending the doubler plate above and below the panel zone has little benefit for heavy columns of shallow depth, such as the W14x398 considered in this analysis. However, extending the doubler plate did result in approximately a 10-percent increase in panel zone strength for deeper columns, such as the W40x264 considered in this analysis. Finally, the results showed that welding a continuity plate directly to a doubler plate had no adverse effects on the doubler plate in terms of increased forces or stresses. Interestingly, welding the continuity plate to the doubler plate simply changed the load path for transfer of load from the beam flange to the column web and doubler plate, but did not change the stresses in the doubler plate. Further research is needed to validate these findings for more accurate representations of the panel zone region of the column and for cyclic loading.