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The objective of this research is to evaluate the stiffness and strength demands on flange braces in metal building systems. This objective is accomplished by a targeted study of the effects of various attributes of metal building systems not fully addressed in existing bracing design procedures. Special emphasis is placed on attributes such as unequal brace spacing and stiffness, end brace point flexibility, nonprismatic member geometry, special requirements at knee joints and the specific configuration of combined girt/purlin, flange diagonal, diaphragm and X bracing systems used in metal building construction.
A sub-objective of the research is the demonstration of how virtual test simulation via full nonlinear finite element analysis may be applied to solve a structural engineering research problem that would be difficult to address by any other means. When conducted properly, virtual test simulation can serve as a valuable companion to experimental testing since attributes such as residual stresses and critical geometric imperfections can be controlled precisely and with relative ease in virtual test simulation.
Both highly simplified and more complex but relatively rigorous procedures are considered, with the ultimate goal being improved economy and safety of flange stability bracing in metal buildings.