Advancing the Steel Deck Industry Through Innovative Research

The Steel Deck Institute (SDI) is involved with several innovative projects that are helping set enhanced industry standards for the engineering, design, manufacture, and field use of steel decks. These projects include American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) research fellowship funding by the Steel Deck Institute, ongoing commitments to the Reliability 2030 project, and rewriting SDI’s Code of Standard Practice.

AISI Fellowship Program – 2023 Winners Funded by the Steel Deck InstituteNow 10 years old, the AISI has provided fellowships and research grants between $6,000 and $10,000 to universities to look at challenges that arise in the AISI S100 and AISI S310 standards.
This year, the fellowship funded four projects, two of these projects were co-funded by the SDI for research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the direction of Dr. Hannah Blum.
Blum is doing pioneering work in the steel industry, including the use of virtual reality and augmented reality for steel fabrication and construction. The Steel Systems Innovation Research Lab at UW-Madison has collaborated on several SDI-funded projects in the past, including a focus on:

  • Design of Shear Connectors Welded Through Steel Deck: A Reanalysis of Existing Data
  • Inelastic Analysis and Design of Bare Steel Deck Diaphragms Using Instantaneous Center Method
  • Develop and Construct Prototype Vacuum Box for Future Steel Deck Testing
    Under the 2023 grants, Blum’s students will get hands-on experience with the research process and an introduction to cold-formed steel, working on two specific projects.

System Reliability of Steel Roof Deck
This fellowship will study the reliability of multi-flange CFS sections, specifically steel roof deck profiles that are commonly used on open web steel joists or steel beams in roof assemblies.

The goal will be to develop an increased flexural strength for a roof deck, similar to that currently permitted for floor joists in AISI S240-20, North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Structural Framing. Coupled with a parallel effort on steel joist reliability, project results are expected to increase the cost-effectiveness of assemblies using steel joists and steel deck by recognizing system reliability, making these more competitive with wood products.

By examining the behavior of the elements in the system and looking at the variabilities in strength and properties, the goal is to create best practices for steel deck systems that are more reliable than the current standard and create greater usable strength for steel roof decks.

Inelastic Analysis and Design of Bare Steel Deck Diaphragms Using the Instantaneous Center Method

AISI S100, North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members sets a minimum edge distance requirement for a compliant arc spot weld. This fellowship will attempt to reconcile the required edge distance requirement in AISI S100 with the existing database of welded diaphragm tests through an inelastic analysis of bare steel deck diaphragms using the instantaneous center method.

Whereas the industry has traditionally looked at diaphragms using an elastic approach, this research project uses an inelastic analysis. The instantaneous center method takes into account how fasteners deform under load in a nonlinear response curve to determine the best placement.

Reliability 2030

Several SDI-funded projects fit into a larger overall initiative that AISI has called Reliability 2030. The SDI, along with other organizations, is supporting research to look at the relationship between elements in a steel building assembly. This goes beyond examining a single beam or piece of deck, looking at how all elements come together to make cold-formed steel construction more usable, easier to design, and more cost-effective.

For example, an SDI-funded multi-project research program will look at individual joists, individual roof decks, roof decks as a system, and joists and decks together. There will also be a diaphragm reliability study to the actual safety of the roof diaphragm. This research intends to show how these different elements provide greater structural integrity working in concert. It may be possible, for example, to gain 10% to 15% more usable strength by looking at these components as a system rather than an individual deck panel or an individual steel joist.

The Steel Deck Institute and the Steel Joist Institute (SJI) also have a series of future projects laid out to benefit the industry. The two current projects through the AISI fellowship program at UW-Madison will feed into another project that’s going to look at the reliability of a roof deck system using open web steel joints with the steel deck and installation board along with the bridging between the joints as an entire system.

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You can view current ANSI/SDI standards, download manuals and handbooks, and view industry White Papers on the SDI website

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