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Raising the Grade

Raising the Grade

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Higher yield strength added to ASTM A706/A706M specification for low-alloy steel reinforcing bars
Higher yield strength added to ASTM A706/A706M specification for low-alloy steel reinforcing bars

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april 2010
By DaviD p. Gustafson
Rg  Gr
Hghe ed egh dded  astM a706/a706M ecc w- ee ecg b
STM Subcommittee A01.05, Steel Reinforcement, hasmade a significant revision to A706/A706M “StandardSpecification for Low-Alloy Steel Deformed and Plain Barsfor Concrete Reinforcement.”
The specification wasdeveloped in the early 1970s in response to the structuralengineering community’s requirements for steel reinforcingbars with controlled tensile properties for use in earth-quake-resistant structures and restricted chemicalcomposition for weldability. For a discussion of thehistorical and technical aspects of the specification, seeReference 2. From its inception in 1974, the ASTM A706/A706M specification covered only Grade 60 (420) bars, butas of December 2009, it includes requirements for bars witha minimum yield strength of 80 ksi (550 MPa) (designatedas Grade 80 [550]). The increased yield strength wasespecially encouraged by structural engineers, barproducers, bar fabricators, and contractors from seismicallyactive areas because higher strength bars can help reducecongestion of reinforcement and enhance constructibility,especially in earthquake-resistant structures.
PRoduCtion PRoof
In August 2006, the first draft of the proposed revisionwas developed by Subcommittee A01.05’s Task Group onReinforcing Bars, chaired by James G. Hutchinson,formerly with Gerdau Ameristeel, Knoxville, TN. Duringthe early vetting of the proposed revision, a major issuearose: was commercial production of Grade 80 (550) barspossible? Four producers, with mills located in California,Oregon, Washington, and South Carolina, volunteered tomake trial heats and resolve the issue.A heat is a batch of steel produced in a singlefurnace run. The size of a heat, therefore, depends ona mill’s particular equipment and production procedures.Trial heats produced in the four mills ranged fromabout 35 to 80 tons (32 to 72 tonnes). The trial heatswere rolled into several sizes of reinforcing bars,samples were tested, and the results confirmed that
Table 1:
asTm a706/a706m
Grd60 (420)Grd80 (550)
tee egh,mmm,  (Mp)80,000 (550)
100,000 (690)
 yed egh,mmm,  (Mp)60,000 (420)80,000 (550) yed egh,mxmm,  (Mp)78,000 (540)98,000 (675)
eongtion in 8 in.(200 mm) ngth, minimum %
n. 3, 4, 5, 6(10, 13, 16, 19) b1412n. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11(22, 25, 29, 32, 36) b1212n. 14, 18 (43, 57) b1010
Tensile strength shall not be less than 1.25 times actual yield strength
bars could be produced within the proposed limits ontensile properties and chemical composition.
tl  l rg
For both Grade 60 (420) and 80 (550) bars, ASTM A706/A706M prescribes minimum and maximum yieldstrengths as well as minimum tensile strengths (Table 1).The latest version of ASTM A706/A706M allows the yieldstrength to be defined using either the offset method(0.2% offset) or the drop of the beam (alternatively, thehalt in the gauge) of the tensile testing machine.High-strength reinforcing bars typically exhibit a“round-house” stress-strain curve, so it’s possible the offsetmethod will overestimate the value of the yield strengththat should be used in the strength design method ofACI 318. For reinforcing bars with a yield strength exceeding
april 2010
60 ksi (420 MPa), ACI 318-08, Section, requires thatthe yield strength is taken as the stress corresponding to astrain of 0.35%.
Likewise, ASTM A706/A706M requires thatthe stress corresponding to 0.35% strain is reported as notless than 60 or 80 ksi (420 or 550 MPa) for Grade 60 (420)or Grade 80 (550) bars, respectively.ASTM A706/A706M also imposes a minimum tensile-yield ratio, requiring tensile strength to be at least 1.25 timesthe actual yield strength (Table 1). The purpose of theminimum tensile-yield ratio, or minimum strain-hardeningrequirement, is to ensure that the bending momentincrease over the region of plastic hinging can beaccommodated (yield stress at one end of the region and,necessarily, a greater stress at the other end) to precludea premature brittle failure that would result from thesteel tensile strength being exceeded.
There is nocorresponding requirement for the minimum tensile-yieldratio of ASTM A615/A615M bars.As shown in Table 1, ASTM A706/A706M also requireslarger values of minimum elongation than ASTM A615/A615M. The more restrictive requirements for minimumelongation are intended to ensure ductile behavior inearthquake-resistant structures. For example, whileASTM A706/A706M requires 12% elongation for No. 8 (No.25) bars in either Grade 60 (420) or Grade 80 (550), ASTMA615/A615M requires only 8 and 7% elongation for No. 8(No. 25) bars in the respective grades.
Cmcl cmp
To accommodate the addition of Grade 80 (550) to thespecification, no modifications were made to the requirementsfor restricted chemical composition. The same limits onindividual chemical elements and carbon equivalent thatapply to Grade 60 (420) also apply to Grade 80 (550).
Why GRade 80 (550)?
ACI 318-08 requirements for specified yield strengthsof reinforcement and transverse reinforcement ( 
,respectively) dictated the yield strength limits in ASTMA706/A706M. Section 9.4 limits the values of
usedin calculations to 80 ksi (550 MPa). Sections 10.9.3 and21.1.5.4 do, however, allow exceptions for spiral andconfinement reinforcement. For these applications,
canbe up to 100 ksi (690 MPa).Many code sections also limit
to 60 ksi (420MPa): 
Section 11.4.2 for shear reinforcement (stirrupsfabricated from reinforcing bars); 
Section for torsion reinforcement; 
Section 11.6.6 for shear-friction reinforcement; 
Section for bonded reinforcement in prestressedconcrete members; 
Section 19.3.2 for reinforcement in shells and foldedplates; and
Section for reinforcement in special momentframes and special structural walls.
GRade histoRy 
Wrkg r  rg g
ASTM A431, which was issued in 1959, covered Grade 75reinforcing bars.
ASTM A432, which was also issued in1959, covered Grade 60 bars.
In 1968, Grade 60 and 75,along with Grade 40, were melded into ASTM A615.
Whenthe ASTM subcommittee began exploring the feasibility ofadding Grade 80 (550) to ASTM A706/A706M, committeemembers questioned why their predecessors hadselected Grade 75 rather than Grade 80, as the logicalchoice would be to maintain a progression with Grades 40,60, and 80 rather than Grades 40, 60, and 75. I believe therationale for the subcommittee’s choice of Grade 75 canbe traced back to the requirements in ACI 318-51.
Aprovision in that edition limited the nominal allowablecompressive stress in vertical column reinforcement to40% of
, but not to exceed 30,000 psi (207 MPa). AlthoughGrade 75 was not cited per se, the 1951 Code, in effect,permitted the use of column reinforcement with a yieldstrength of up to 30 ksi/0.40 = 75 ksi.ACI 318-56 included the same limit on allowablecompressive stress for working stress design, but it alsoincluded the strength design method (via an appendix).
 Provisions in the appendix limited the stress in tensileand compressive reinforcement at “ultimate load” to theminimum of
or 60 ksi. Whereas ACI 318-63
carried overthe 40% of
limit for working stress design from ACI 318-56,the strength design provisions changed. When reinforcementwas used with
in excess of 60 ksi (420 MPa), the yieldstrength used in design was required to be reduced to0.85
or 60 ksi (420 MPa), whichever was greater, unlesstension tests showed that the strain in the bars would belimited to 0.003 at the specified yield strength. ACI 318-63also permitted the use of Grade 75 bars in tension if tests onthe full-size typical structural members showed satisfactoryperformance with regard to cracking at service load.With the acknowledged benefit of hindsight, I believeGrade 80 should have replaced Grade 75 in the A615specification at about the time ACI 318-71
was issued.Perhaps the subcommittee considered such a replacement,but the modest 5000 psi (35 MPa) increase in minimumyield strength may not have been compelling. Shortlythereafter, there was a step backward as Grade 75 wasdeleted from the 1974 edition of the A615
specificationbecause a conflict existed between the yield strengthdefinitions in ASTM A615 and ACI 318-71. While ASTM A615required the minimum yield strength of 75,000 psi (518 MPa)to correspond to a tensile strain of 0.6%, ACI 318-71prescribed that the yield strength correspond to a strainof 0.35%. Grade 75 was reinstated in the 1987 edition ofASTM A615, with the provisions for yield strengthcompatible with those in the ACI Code.
Wrkg b astM a706  astM a615
In August 2006, when the ASTM Task Group on
april 2010
Reinforcing Bars decided to pursue the addition of ahigher yield strength to the ASTM A706/A706M specification,they had the benefit of starting with a “clean sheet ofpaper.” Hence, the task group’s focus was immediatelyon Grade 80 (550).It’s important to note, however, that while Grade 80(550) has also recently been added to ASTM A615/A615M,Grade 75 (520) has been maintained in the specificationfor at least the near-term.
This will accommodatedownstream users of Grade 75 (520) reinforcing bars thatuse bars for such things as roof bolts for the miningindustry. Thus, the current edition of the specification,ASTM A615/A615M-09b, includes Grades 40 (280), 60 (420),75 (520), and 80 (550). ASTM A615/A615M also permitsthe use of the offset method for determining the yieldstrength for Grades 60 (420) and 80 (550), and it requiresthat the stress corresponding to 0.35% strain is reportedand is not less than the minimum yield strength for eithergrade. As with those in ASTM A706/A706M, the tensilerequirements in ASTM A615/A615M-09b are in harmonywith Section of ACI 318-08.Although both ASTM A615/A615M and ASTM A706/A706M now cover Grade 80 (550) bars, it’s important tonote that ASTM A706/A706M continues to place upperlimits on yield strength—a fundamental requirement forsatisfactory use in reinforced concrete structuresdesigned to resist earthquakes. According to McDermott,
 the purpose of the maximum limitation on yield strengthis to ensure that the reinforcing bars will yield before theconcrete crushes, and so that excessive bending momentresistance is not induced within the region of plastichinging, which could induce high shear resulting in shearand/or bond failures. Whereas ASTM A706/A706M limitsthe maximum respective yield strengths for Grade 60 (420)and 80 (550) bars to 78 and 98 ksi (540 and 675 MPa), thereare no corresponding limits for ASTM A615/A615M bars.Revising ASTM A615/A615M to add Grade 80 (550) wasconsiderably less challenging than revising ASTM A706/A706M. The Task Group on Reinforcing Bars reviewed thetest results of several hundred heats of Grade 75 (520)bars produced by many steel mills. The review showedthat a large percentage of the Grade 75 heats would meetthe requirements of the proposed Grade 80 (550). Hence,the only aspect of the proposed revision that was intenselydebated was the marking requirement for the minimumyield strength designation.
Gr mrk
To distinguish the new bars, ASTM A706/A706M andASTM A615/A615M require identification marks rolledonto the surface of a deformed bar to denote the producer’smill designation, the size of the bar, the type of steel, andthe minimum yield strength designation. The “minimumyield strength designation” part of the marking schemefor Grade 80 (550) bars underwent an intense debateduring the final stages of the balloting process of theproposed revision. It was finally agreed that the markingrequired for yield strength would be either the number 80for Grade 80, 6 for Grade 550, or three continuouslongitudinal lines through at least five deformationspaces (Fig. 1). The type of steel is indicated by a letter Wfor bars meeting ASTM A706/A706M.
hoGnestad’s Vision aChieVed
As a “force” in the industry with regard to hisinvolvement and contributions to ACI 318 and to othercodes and standards, the late Eivind Hognestad establisheda legendary career at the Portland Cement Association. InOctober 1967, Hognestad delivered an invited presentationat the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute’s (CRSI) FallBusiness Meeting. The title of his presentation was
Fig. 1: Idntifiction mrks for rs mting aSTM a706/a706Mspcifictions: () Grd 80; nd () Grd 550()()

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