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Received: 28 May 2017 Revised: 7 February 2018 Accepted: 15 March 2018

DOI: 10.1002/tal.1493

RESEARCH ARTICLE

Experimental and numerical studies on ribbed bracing system


Ali Arzeytoon | Vahab Toufigh

Department of Civil Engineering, Sharif


University of Technology, Tehran, Iran Summary
Correspondence Ribbed bracing system (RBS) is an innovative structural system designed to eliminate
Vahab Toufigh, Department of Civil
the buckling of braces and enhance the behavior of structures under seismic loads. In
Engineering, Sharif University of Technology,
PO Box 11365‐11155, Azadi Avenue, Tehran, this study, a collaborative performance of 2 RBS devices bracing a frame was assessed
Iran.
numerically and experimentally. In the numerical phase, the collaboration of ribbed
Email: toufigh@sharif.edu
braces at various stages of reversal loading was elaborated mathematically and was
Funding information used for representing the system using finite element modeling. In the next phase,
Road, Housing, and Urban Development the numerically observed behavior was validated experimentally by conducting cyclic
Research Center of Iran
quasistatic tests of the proposed configurations. Two alternative RBS configurations—
called completely closed (CC) and improved centering (IC)—were considered in this
regard. Various characteristics of CC‐ and IC‐RBS configurations were evaluated using
validated methods, after which they were compared against configurations of concen-
trically braced frames and buckling‐restrained braces. The stiffness and the energy
absorption capacity of CC‐RBS configuration were shown to exceed all the consid-
ered bracing types. IC‐RBS, on the other hand, showed the lowest residual drift.
The CC‐RBS configuration was also shown to have excellent performance under mod-
erate loadings experienced under service level.

KEY W ORDS

behavior improvement, buckling elimination, energy absorption, experimental, lateral stiffness,


ribbed bracing system

1 | I N T RO D U CT I O N

Recent research has revealed the advantages and disadvantages of various lateral load‐resisting systems in withstanding seismic excitations. A few
alternatives can be considered given the current practice in steel construction. The ability of moment frame (MF) systems to undergo seismic exci-
tations through stable hysteretic behavior makes them an appealing alternative. However, the dependence of this system on the details of the
beam–column connections make it susceptible to poor‐controlled construction conditions.[1–3] On the other hand, concentrically braced frames
(CBFs) benefit from high stiffness even as their hysteretic behavior is characterized by buckling of the compressional member. Buckling leads
to asymmetric behavior, which is also subject to cyclic deterioration brought about by low‐cycle fatigue.[4] Various efforts have been made to alle-
viate the asymmetric behavior of conventional bracing members and reduce the extent of behavioral deterioration.[5,6] One of these efforts has led
to development of buckling‐restrained braces (BRBs).[7] In BRB members, compressional buckling is eliminated by providing confinement and
enhancing the lateral stability of the brace section.[8,9]
Golafshani et al.[10] proposed RBS as a new and innovative solution for buckling. The initial idea of RBS was attaching a supplemental part
(see Figure 1a) to a conventional bracing system (see Figure 1b), which could release compressional actions and resist tensional forces. The sup-
plemental device provided a one‐way ribbed interaction between a cylinder and a shaft. The axial force acting on either side of the brace mem-
ber was transferred through the adjoined device. Under tension, the device ribs stuck together and allowed the internal force to be transferred
between brace parts. Therefore, the brace yielded and effectively absorbed the input seismic energy by plastic deformation. When the loading
changed to compression, the ribbed shaft slid freely into the ribbed cylinder to prevent compression force and buckling of the brace.

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https://doi.org/10.1002/tal.1493
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FIGURE 1 The configuration of the ribbed bracing system (RBS)[10]: (a) general idea and (b) frame equipped with RBS

Previous experimental and numerical studies have approved the feasibility of the idea behind RBS and its advantages as a passive control sys-
tem. Before testing RBS specimens, the efficiency of a hypothetical RBS in improving the seismic performance of frame structures was assessed
by Tabeshpour et al.[11,12] These researchers approved the potential of RBS for reducing the seismic base shear experienced by the frame in com-
parison with conventional braces and MFs. In addition, the seismic input energy was found to decrease in RBS‐equipped structures due to the
shift in the fundamental period of structure. In line with the previous study on assessing RBS potentials, Arzeytoon et al.[13] presented nonlinear
time history analysis of braced frames and showed that RBS‐equipped frames reduced seismic demands even compared with BRB frames. They
also demonstrated that a large portion of seismic input energy was absorbed by the RBS system, and it minimized the hysteretic energy dissipated
in beams and columns. After proving the RBS idea through numerical investigation, the first experimental programs were conducted on RBS by
Sahafipour[14] and Fallah[15] using cyclic axial loading of RBS specimens with alternative axial mechanisms—these are illustrated in the forthcoming

FIGURE 2 The first ribbed bracing system


(RBS) specimen and the test subassembly[15]:
(a) the first constructed RBS specimen and (b)
the test subassembly in the strong floor
ARZEYTOON AND TOUFIGH 3 of 16

sections of this article. As shown in Figure 2, RBS specimens were subjected to cyclic axial loading. The test results showed that the specimens
could behave as expected theoretically and that a close match was observed between theoretical and experimental hysteretic curves of RBS
specimens.
Further assessment of RBS potentials when used within a laterally loaded frame is the objective of this study. Before conducting experimental
studies, collaborative performance of two RBS devices used for bracing a frame was assessed through a conceptual and numerical study. In other
words, special characteristics of ribbed braces at various stages of reversal loading provide a rather complicated behavior for the frame assembly.
This behavior is first elaborated mathematically and is then used for representing the system using finite element (FE) modeling. FE modeling is
considered a powerful numerical tool whose calibration is aimed in this study. Incorporating the FE method, performance evaluation can be
achieved for systems that cannot be affordably tested. Two alternative RBS configurations were considered in this regard, and their behavioral
aspects were numerically studied prior to performing experimental tests.
At the experimental phase, two half‐scale MFs equipped with RBS devices were fabricated and instrumented with necessary sensors. The
specimens were then subjected to quasistatic cyclic loading, and their lateral response was measured at different deformation levels in terms
of resisted lateral forces. The force–deformation hysteresis curves so obtained were used finally for assessing the validity of previous numerical
predictions. For this purpose, the previously developed FE models were modified to exactly match the specimens' condition.

2 | T HE O R E T I CA L S TU D Y O F R BS BE H A V I O R

As stated above, a theoretical study was performed on RBS devices and assemblies prior to conducting an experimental program. The details of
this study for various configurations and load transfer mechanisms are presented in this section.

2.1 | Behavior of individual ribbed braces


General configuration of an RBS device is composed of three major parts. These are ribbed jaws, ribbed shaft, and the lateral and main spring
as illustrated in Figure 3. The ribbed shaft and the ribbed jaws are the key elements of RBS (see Figure 3) and act to prevent the brace from
buckling under compressional forces. In addition to these elements, some springs are placed in the outside rim of the jaws—named lateral
springs—which connect the jaws to the enclosing box called jaws box. These springs allow minor lateral movement of the jaws required for
the shaft ribs to slide along the jaw ribs. They also prevent this movement when the ribs are subjected to tensile loading. The part of an
RBS that yields is called the straight rod (energy rod in Figure 3): This is intended to absorb input energy by experiencing plastic elongation.
The energy rod is surrounded by the rod box, whose role depends on the selected load transfer mechanism of RBS—this is fully described in
the next section.
The connection of the jaws box to the rod box (marked “zone A” in Figure 3) can be designed in two different ways. These designs provide
two alternative mechanisms for preventing compressional buckling and the premature damage consequent to it. The RBS devices designed follow-
ing these two mechanisms are called completely closed RBS (CC‐RBS) and improved‐centering RBS (IC‐RBS).

2.1.1 | CC‐RBS mechanism


In this mechanism, free sliding of the compressed shaft within the ribbed jaws leads to an irreversible shortening of the brace. This permanent
length reduction leads the tensile forces to activate immediately after the loading direction is changed. A cycle of loading for a CC‐RBS is sche-
matically shown in Figure 4. The cycle starts in tensional direction and continues until a plastic elongation is formed in the member. Unloading the
brace to a zero‐load condition will cause a plastic residual elongation of Δr1 in the energy rod (point A through D in Figure 4). Reversing the loading
to compressional direction causes the ribbed shaft to freely slide into the jaws until the previous plastic elongation Δr1 is neutralized, and the brace
reaches a total deformation of zero (point E). Further compressional loading causes the brace to undergo a negative deformation with a magnitude
of Δr2 (point F). A permanent length reduction equal to Δr1 + Δr2 occurs in the RBS device at this stage. Reloading the brace in tensional direction
(points F to H) will immediately cause tensional stresses in the brace since the engagement of the ribs prevents the device to deform freely in
tensional direction.

FIGURE 3 General ribbed bracing system configuration


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FIGURE 4 Kinematics of completely closed ribbed bracing system

FIGURE 5 Kinematics of improved‐centering ribbed bracing system

2.1.2 | IC‐RBS mechanism


In IC‐RBS configuration, the length of the rod box is longer as compared with CC‐RBS (see Figure 5). The distance between this box and the jaws
box can be adjusted to reach 0 with an acceptable precision. An initial tension‐loading in IC‐RBS causes a force–deformation behavior similar to
CC‐RBS. When the brace is unloaded from tension, the plastic elongation of the energy rod causes a gap between the rod and jaws boxes. By
ARZEYTOON AND TOUFIGH 5 of 16

reversing the load to compression, the ribbed shaft slides into the jaw until the created gap is neutralized and the boxes are in contact again. From
this stage on, due to the contact between the rod and jaws boxes, the axial compression is directly transmitted through the jaws box. Movement
of the jaws box, in turn, leads to nearly free shortening of the end spring. This spring is designed to allow faster return of the jaws box on load
reversal. In this mechanism, the ribbed shaft is completely released from axial compression: This prevents the ribs from sliding into one another.
On reversing the load to tension, the spring force returns the jaws box to the initial position where the gap had just reached 0. Tensile forces can
be stimulated again in RBS after reaching this position.
During this loading cycle (Figure 5d), the permanent length reduction occurring in the RBS device is equal only to the plastic elongation of
the energy rod. This value is considerably smaller than the permanent shortening occurring in a similar loading cycle of CC‐RBS. As can be seen
from the experimental load reversal in Figure 6,[15] a great recentering is provided by the IC‐RBS mechanism. Nevertheless, the energy dissipa-
tion capability of this mechanism is lesser than CC‐RBS. Cyclic loading in both CC‐ and IC‐RBS continues until the energy rod reaches its ulti-
mate strength and fails.

2.2 | Assembly behavior


After evaluating the behavior of individual RBS members, the behavior of RBS assemblies composed of two devices placed within a pinned frame
was studied theoretically in this section. Various loading stages were considered to elaborate the load‐carrying mechanism provided by this sys-
tem. The stiffness of the structure was mathematically assessed for the two, formerly described CC‐ and IC‐RBS devices. The axial stiffness of the
brace members was assumed to equal k for tensile loading and 0 for compression.

2.2.1 | Behavior of a CC‐RBS assembly


A schema of the deformed assembly along with the forces and deformations experienced by the two braces at different loading stages is shown in
Figure 7a. By starting the loading in a positive direction, the whole lateral load was initially carried by device 1 working in tension. Meanwhile, the
compression device (device 2) deformed freely and underwent a permanent shortening. At point b (Figure 7b), opposite axial deformations with
magnitudes equal to Δ < Δy were experienced by the braces. These deformations led to axial forces that equaled +kΔ and 0 in braces 1 and 2,
respectively. Reversing the applied load at point b caused the b‐c branch of the load–displacement curve (Figure 7a) to begin. During this phase,
braces 1 and 2 were unloaded from tension and loaded in tension, respectively. Despite the loading branch at which only one member resisted
lateral loading, both braces were activated during the unloading phase. Therefore, the stiffness of the unloading branch was twice the loading
branch. At point c, the assembly returned to its initial state. However, an elongation equal to Δ was experienced by brace 2: This was subjected
to compression in the previous stage. At the same point, brace 1, subjected to tension at the previous stage, bore no axial deformation. Hence, the
resultant lateral load resisted by the assembly at this stage reached a value of kΔ. Continuing the loading in this direction (moving from point c to
point d), brace 1 started undergoing a free permanent deformation without any contribution to the lateral load‐resisting mechanism. Brace 2, how-
ever, went up and resisted the lateral loading. The assembly stiffness, therefore, fell again to k at the c‐d branch. Reversing the lateral load again at
point d, the assembly stiffness rose again to 2k. Driving the assembly to its initial position at point e led to equal tensile forces in both braces. The
resultant lateral load resisted by members reached to 0 again at this point. With both braces prestressed and ready to carry the applied loading, the
assembly stiffness became equal to 2k at this stage.
Considering the above linear but inelastic load–displacement reversal of the CC‐RBS assembly reveals some special characteristics of this
assembly. While the braces were acting in their elastic regime, the assembly showed a remarkable contribution toward absorbing the input energy.
Absorbing energy, however, does not disrupt the self‐centering ability of the assembly in elastic behavior. Furthermore, the assemblage was char-
acterized by an increased lateral stiffness brought about by an inherent pretensioning of the members. A combination of these features endows a
CC‐RBS assembly with an excellent vibration performance under service loadings.

FIGURE 6 Experimental hysteresis loops of (a) completely closed ribbed bracing system and (b) improved‐centering ribbed bracing system[15]
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FIGURE 7 (a) Forces and deformations experienced by members at various loading stages of a completely closed ribbed bracing system
assembly and (b) the idealized hysteresis loops of a completely closed ribbed bracing system assembly

Assuming an idealized elastoplastic behavior for braces behavior, brace 1 was driven into inelastic behavior at the end of the second reversal
(point g). The idealized hysteresis obtained by repeating the cycles with increasingly enlarging amplitudes is shown in Figure 7b. After surpassing
the members' plastic limits, the assembly reacted to lateral loading with a constant stiffness of 2k.

2.2.2 | Behavior of an IC‐RBS assembly


As mentioned previously, the IC‐RBS mechanism relies on the main spring to return to its initial state after free deformation under compressional
loading. This feature provides the IC‐RBS assembly with a simple behavior as compared with CC‐RBS. The load–displacement reversals of an ide-
alized IC‐RBS assembly are compared in Figure 8 with those of a CC‐RBS. Theoretically, the IC‐RBS assembly benefits from perfect self‐centering
behavior at the expense of reduced stiffness and energy absorption capability.

2.2.3 | Behavior of RBS assembly against other bracing systems


In this section, a conceptual assessment was performed between cyclic behavior of RBS assemblies and two other bracing systems including a CBF
and BRBs. For comparing the cyclic behavior of assemblies composed of various brace types, FE method was utilized. The FE model employs

FIGURE 8 Comparison between load reversals of improved‐centering ribbed bracing system (IC‐RBS) and completely closed ribbed bracing
system (CC‐RBS) assemblies
ARZEYTOON AND TOUFIGH 7 of 16

macroelements such as beam–columns and trusses. To concentrate on braces behavior and obtain results comparable with the theoretical curves
derived above, the models were simplified and idealized. The OpenSees[16] program was used for this purpose. The geometry of the models devel-
oped is shown in Figure 9.
For modeling the assembly evaluated in the previous section, the braces and the pin‐ended columns were represented using truss elements.
However, an elastic beam–column element represents the beam by using a truss element in order to prevent the occurrence of a geometrical sin-
gularity. To resemble the pin‐ended condition, the inertia moment of the utilized beam–column element was set to a negligible value. To make the
assembly behavior independent from the beam and columns behavior, an infinite cross‐sectional area was used for the beam and the columns. As
stated before, this could simplify assembly behavior by eliminating the contribution of beam and column elements in lateral deformation of the
assembly. The details used in the idealized OpenSees model are illustrated in Figure 9a.
For modeling the idealized CC‐ and IC‐RBS assemblies, the braces behavior was represented by using elastoplastic and elastoplastic‐with‐gap
materials. For CC‐RBS braces, immediate yielding of material in compression generated the physical behavior. The IC‐RBS braces, however,
showed an elastic (reversible) behavior in compression. To represent zero strength of these braces, a zero stiffness was assigned to them in com-
pression loading.
A symmetric elastoplastic material represented the axial behavior of BRB. Nevertheless, modeling compressional buckling of conventional
braces required additional effort. Previous researchers have proposed various methods for modeling axial behavior of buckling struts.
Uriz and Mahin[17] proposed a method to divide the strut into a number of distributed plasticity (fiber) beam–column elements with an initially
imperfect geometry. Considering the internal second‐order moments caused by axial loading becomes possible at this geometry by employing a
corotational geometric transformation method. This method was examined in this study and was found to be computationally expensive; gener-
ated results were also found to be highly dependent on model properties. The affected model properties included imperfection ratio, fineness of

FIGURE 9 Idealized OpenSess assembly used for comparing the behavior of various brace types: Modeling details and stress–strain of
completely closed ribbed bracing system (CC‐RBS), improved‐centering ribbed bracing system (IC‐RBS), and buckling‐restrained brace (BRB)

FIGURE 10 Axial force–deformation of a strut with kl/r = 80: (a) Simulated through an empirical method using SNAP 2D‐X program[17] and (b)
obtained from experiment[18]
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fiber meshing, rotational stiffness considered at the end of strut, and the formulation (i.e., force or displacement) used for the distributed plasticity
elements. Another method that tries to avoid the complexity of the first method is based on empirical axial stress–strain relationships calibrated
versus the experimental results. An example is the axial stress–strain behavior employed by SNAP‐2DX for a strut having slenderness (kl/r) equal
to 80: This is shown in Figure 10 along with the experimental results obtained for the specimen.
This method is preferable over the first method due to the simplicity it provides regarding the purpose of this study. The OpenSees software,
however, does not provide an implementation for the phenomenological axial stress–strain suggested for a buckling strut. To compare the behav-
ior of a typical CBF with RBS and BRB, a new uniaxialMaterial object, named BucklingStrut, was developed into the OpenSees program. The force–
deformation reversals of this material are shown in Figure 11 for loading cycles, which started from different directions.
The normalized lateral load–displacement hysteretic curves obtained using the idealized OpenSees model for different brace types are shown
in Figure 12. The buckling strength of the conventional brace was assumed to equal 50% of their tensional yield strength as a typical brace
characteristic.
The model results obtained for the CC‐ and IC‐RBS models match well with the descriptive curves given above. The hysteretic response of
CC‐RBS demonstrates the completeness of its hysteresis curve and its high energy absorption, similar to that of the BRB. According to this figure,
maximum energy absorption was provided by the CC‐RBS and BRB assembly. The energy absorption of IC‐RBS and CBF are approximately 26%
and 31% of the CC‐RBS and BRB, respectively. Minimum residual displacement was experienced by the IC‐RBS assembly. The IC‐RBS assembly
also absorbed the minimum hysteretic energy within all brace types.

3 | EXPERIMENTAL PROGRAM

As previously noted, previous experimental studies on RBS included only axial testing of individual RBS specimens. An experimental program was
conducted in this study to validate performance of this system when used as part of a frame structure. Two half‐scale frames equipped with CC‐
and IC‐RBS members were tested for this purpose. This experimental program attempts to validate the theoretically derived assessment presented
in the previous section. The details of this study are presented in this section.

3.1 | Test setup


Cyclic testing of two approximately half‐scale, one‐story, and one‐bay RBS specimens were performed. The design of the proposed RBS config-
urations started from determining the dimensions of the energy rod, the ribbed shaft, and the boxes contributing to resisting the applied axial
loads. For this purpose, the code‐required axial force computed at the base of a three‐story braced frame with a 15 × 15 m2 plan was considered.
This structure was subjected to the load values specified according to the Iranian 2800 standard[19]: A value approximately 280 kN was estimated
for the aforementioned brace force.
After determining the brace axial demand, it was reduced by a 1/4 factor to account for the specimen scaling factor which is one half. The RBS
properties required for withstanding this force determine the cross sections of the beam and column members following a capacity‐based method.
This method guarantees the concentration of inelastic behavior in brace members as well as the beam hinges. The diameter and net length of the
brace (rod) were 15 mm and 78 cm, respectively.

FIGURE 11 The BucklingStrut hysteresis


model developed in OpenSees: (a) Loading
starts from tension, and (b) loading starts from
compression
ARZEYTOON AND TOUFIGH 9 of 16

FIGURE 12 Comparison between idealized hysteretic curves and brace behavior of the completely closed ribbed bracing system (CC‐RBS) and
improved‐centering ribbed bracing system (IC‐RBS) assemblies with those of the buckling‐restrained braces (BRBs) and concentrically braced
frames (CBFs)

An overview of the test setup is shown in Figure 13. The specimen was fastened to a reaction frame and loading was applied using two jacks
placed between the specimen and the reaction frame at two ends of the top beam.
The dimensions and manufacturing details of the two specimens are provided in Figure 14 and Figure 15, respectively.
Linear variable displacement transducers were placed on the frame to record the displacements. Additionally, individual strain gauges were
placed at RBSs at the columns, in the beam, and on gusset plates (Figure 16) in order to monitor their performance.
The mechanical properties of the materials used in fabricating the specimens are shown in Table 1; the springs properties are tabulated in
Table 2. The specimens were subjected to a displacement‐controlled quasistatic cyclic loading.

FIGURE 13 Overview of ribbed bracing system test frame


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FIGURE 14 Details of ribbed bracing system (RBS) frame specimen (dimensions in centimeters)

FIGURE 15 Dimensions of ribbed bracing system specimen (in millimeters)

FIGURE 16 Test frame and typical locations of the instrumentation devices. LVDT = linear variable displacement transducer; SG = strain gauge
ARZEYTOON AND TOUFIGH 11 of 16

TABLE 1 Material properties used in ribbed bracing system

Part Material Yield stress (MPa) Ultimate stress (MPa)


Pinned connection CK47 473 622
Cylinder S235JR 236 405
Ribbed shaft CK47 473 622
Ribbed jaws CK47 473 622
Boxes S235JR 236 405
Energy rod Carbon steel 315 440

TABLE 2 Springs characteristics


Part Length (mm) Outer diameter (mm) Inner diameter (mm) Stiffness (N/mm)
Main spring 254 50 25 20.6
Lateral spring 38 20 10 18.6

Details of the connection are presented in Figure 17. All the materials used for frame elements—including beam, columns, pinned base, and
connection plates—were steel ST‐37. The electrode E7018, according to AWS classification, was used for welding column plates and beam–col-
umn–brace joint components, and E6013 was utilized for other connections.
Bolted flange plate moment connections utilize plates welded to column flanges and bolted to beam flanges as a prequalified connection
according to AISC 358‐10. Flange plates are welded to the column flange using complete joint penetration groove welds and beam flange connec-
tions are made with high‐strength bolts. The beam web is connected to the column using a bolted shear tab with bolts in short‐slotted holes.

3.2 | CC‐RBS specimen


3.2.1 | Experimental observations
The hysteretic loops obtained experimentally for the CC‐RBS specimen are shown in Figure 17. Yielding was first detected at a drift of approx-
imately 0.4% in one of the braces. According to the average of measured strain values, yielding continued to occur at the end regions of the beam
elements after being initiated in the braces: This was as expected according the specimen's design philosophy.
No degradation was observed in the hysteresis loops until a story drift of 3%. The ever‐increasing lateral loads reached approximately 125 kN
at this story drift. In this stage of loading, the out‐of‐plane deformation of the beam started to become visible. During the test, some slippage was
evident at the bolts used for connecting the top and bottom flanges to the beam flanges. This slippage was responsible for part of the pinching
observed in load–displacement hysteresis shown in Figure 18. This pinching was also partly a result of the free sliding of the ribbed shaft between
two sequential ribs. That is, if loading was reversed just before the ribs slid along one another at a particular position, a free movement of about
3 mm occurred in the brace. Although ribs' spacing was selected to minimize such an effect, a minor pinching of the hysteresis curve resulted from
this free sliding. For this test, lateral–torsional buckling was prevented by using a lateral bracing system representing the effect of the floor slab
and the cross beams in an actual structure. The test was finally terminated at the 2.5% drift (41‐mm displacement) when the fracture of the brace
was observed, as shown in Figure 19. The cumulative plastic strain of the energy rod was approximately 19.8% (155 mm).

FIGURE 17 Beam–column–brace connection


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FIGURE 18 Hysteretic loops of completely closed ribbed bracing system specimen

FIGURE 19 Fracture and plastic


deformation of brace: (a) Fracture of the brace
and (b) plastic deformation of the rod at the
end of the test

3.2.2 | Evaluating theoretical findings against test results


As previously stated, the objective of this experimental program was to validate the findings obtained theoretically about the behavior of the RBS
frames. For this purpose, the finite element model previously shown to resemble the idealized behavior of CC‐RBS assembly was developed and
verified against the test result. In other words, moment‐resisting connections were used in the numerical model to thoroughly match the tested
assembly. The flexural behavior of the beams and columns—assumed previously to be rigid—was modeled using distributed plasticity fiber ele-
ments, and the perfectly plastic behavior of the braces was replaced by a kinematic hardening rule with an 8% post‐yield stiffness ratio. The
matching obtained between experimental and numerical hysteresis curves is shown in Figure 20. The hysteretic energy absorbed by the specimen
and the model are also compared in the same figure. According to this figure, a satisfactory match exists between the numerical and experimental
results. This can be regarded as a validation for the theoretical findings presented in Section 2.2.1.

3.3 | IC‐RBS specimen


3.3.1 | Experimental observations
The overall design of the IC‐RBS specimen follows the approach previously described for the CC‐RBS assembly. The sizes and sections used for the col-
umns, the beam, and the braces were the same as CC‐RBS. In addition, the specimen was subjected to a displacement history similar to the previous test.
ARZEYTOON AND TOUFIGH 13 of 16

FIGURE 20 Validating the numerical model developed for the completely closed ribbed bracing system assembly by comparing against test
results. (a) Hysteresis curves and (b) Normalized hysteretic energies (NHEs) absorbed at different cycles

The hysteretic response of the IC‐RBS specimen is shown in Figure 21. As before, the IC‐RBS specimen was also loaded up to a story drift of
4%. The specimen responded elastically up to a story drift of approximately 1%. After this drift level, significant inelastic behavior was observed.
The specimen continued to carry the load with the mechanism envisioned in the design concept. At this point, a slight out‐of‐plane curvature was
observed at the beams but the system was able to maintain its stability. The cumulative plastic strain of the energy rod was approximately 20.2%
(158 mm).
As can be seen, a flag‐shaped hysteretic response was developed and the braced frame constantly returned to a displacement near to 0 on
load removal. A slight pinching could also be observed for the IC‐RBS specimen before commencement of the free displacement corresponding to
the IC‐RBS behavior. This pinching could be identified at the unloading branch where stiffness reduction started before the hysteresis curves
reached the horizontal axis.

FIGURE 21 Hysteretic loops of improved‐centering ribbed bracing system specimen

FIGURE 22 Axial force versus displacement for completely closed ribbed bracing system (CC‐RBS) and improved‐centering ribbed bracing
system (IC‐RBS)
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FIGURE 23 Validating the numerical model developed for the completely closed ribbed bracing system (CC‐RBS) assembly by comparing against
test results. (a) Hysteresis curves and (b) NHEs absorbed at different cycles

Hysteretic response of IC‐RBS was similar to tension‐only bracing. But, IC‐RBS showed improvements over a tension‐only system. A major
disadvantage of a tension‐only bracing system is the absence of resistance to lateral forces in the reversed compressive loading at the interface
between the end of the tensile performance of a brace and the beginning of the strain in the other brace. This resulted in impact loading on the
connections and the structural elements. In addition, the accumulated residual deformations in the structure led to an increase in lateral displace-
ment in each cycle. This can lead to failure of the bracing member, increase in the lateral displacement of the structure, and, consequently, damage
to nonstructural elements. However, under reversed compressive loading in the IC‐RBS brace, sliding of ribs occurs until the plastic elongation of
the brace is neutralized. In this situation, further compressive loading yields in a movement of the jaws box and compression of the restoring
spring. Neutralizing the plastic brace elongation provides a self‐centering ability to this configuration. The self‐centering ability and the reduced
residual drifts of an IC‐RBS prevented accumulation of plastic drifts in sequential cycles of inelastic loading. Therefore, smaller maximum drifts
were experienced by IC‐RBS under severe ground motions.
Regarding the force–displacement diagrams obtained for the CC‐RBS and IC‐RBS braces (Figure 22), the participation rate of the braces in
bearing the lateral force was about 67%: The force of the braces was 80 kN relative to the total force of the braced frame of 120 kN. This reflects
the high contribution of RBS braces to total frame resistance and energy absorption, as well as prevention of plasticity in beams and columns.

3.3.2 | Using test data for evaluating theoretical findings


As in the case of CC‐RBS assembly, the idealized OpenSees model previously used in Section 2.2.2 was developed in this section to resemble the
conditions of the tested assembly. Identical changes to those applied for the CC‐RBS assembly were also applied to the idealized IC‐RBS assembly.
The numerical and experimental hysteresis curves are compared in Figure 23. Again, the good agreement between the hysteresis curves and the
energy values absorbed at different cycles validates the numerical model. Therefore, the theoretical findings presented in Sections 2.2.2 and 2.2.3
can be confidently accepted.

4 | S U M M A R Y A N D C O N C L U S I ON S

The lateral behavior of RBS used in conjunction with a portal frame was assessed in this study. The study composed of a numerical and an exper-
imental phase. The experimental program was considered as a validation for the established numerical methods and the findings obtained using
them. Two different RBS configurations offering different load‐carrying mechanisms were considered throughout the study. The first configura-
tion, called CC‐RBS, was characterized with an irreversible length reduction when subjected to compressional loading. Having increased lateral
stiffness, this configuration did not provide self‐centering under plastic loading. The second configuration, named IC‐RBS, did not undergo perma-
nent length reduction and offered an ideal self‐centering capability. The validated numerical model was also used to compare the performance of
CC and IC configurations against CBFs and BRBs.
The key findings of the experimental and numerical investigations performed on CC‐ and IC‐RBS configurations can be listed as

• Cyclic loading of a CC‐RBS assembly in its pre‐yield regime reveals an inherent self‐pretensioning feature for this configuration. This feature
provides the assembly with a remarkable energy dissipation capability even in the elastic range. This feature also brings about an increased
lateral stiffness.

• The stiffness of IC‐RBS is half of the CC‐RBS due to the contribution of only one brace in carrying the lateral loads. The self‐centering feature
of this configuration, although ideal for eliminating post‐earthquake repairs, leads to a minimal energy absorption capability. The lower stiff-
ness of this configuration is also responsible for reducing its energy absorption index.
ARZEYTOON AND TOUFIGH 15 of 16

• The hysteretic response of CC‐RBS demonstrates the completeness of its hysteresis curve and its high‐energy absorption, similar to that of
the BRB assembly.
• Compared against CBF, CC‐RBS benefits from larger energy absorption. Although the stiffness of a CBF fluctuates by occasional buckling of
the compressional member, the overall stiffness of this system is comparable with that of a CC‐RBS. Nonetheless, CBF suffers from a highly
asymmetric behavior due to compressional buckling. Buckling is also expected to adversely affect the performance of a conventional brace by
imposing low‐cycle fatigue and the behavioral deterioration caused by it.

After validating the lateral performance of RBS assemblies, a future study may employ the verified numerical models for accurate investigation
of multistory RBS frames. Various structural response parameters need to be evaluated for such structures. The response modification and deflec-
tion amplification factors also need to be evaluated by accounting seismic uncertainties.

ACKNOWLEDGEMEN TS
This research work was supported by funding from the Road, Housing, and Urban Development Research Center of Iran. The authors gratefully
acknowledge the support from this agency.

ORCID

Vahab Toufigh http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2462-980X

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Ali Arzeytoon is currently a PhD student in Sharif University of Technology. He received his MS degree in structural engineering from Uni-
versity of Tehran in 2012 and his BS degree in civil engineering from University of Tehran in 2009. His research interests include structure
repairs and rehabilitation, seismic resistant steel buildings, passive control of structures, and analytical and experimental evaluation on seismic
performance of ribbed bracing system. He can be reached through email: arzeytoon@mehr.sharif.ir.
16 of 16 ARZEYTOON AND TOUFIGH

Vahab Toufigh is an associate professor in Civil Engineering Department in Sharif University of Technology. He received his BS in civil engi-
neering in University of Arizona in 2007. He also received his MS and PhD in University of Arizona. He has published papers in different areas
of civil engineering. His research interests are rehabilitation and strengthening as well as laboratory testing of structural components. He is
also working on innovative passive control systems in Structural Engineering. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Arizona.
He can be reached through email: toufigh@ sharif.edu.

How to cite this article: Arzeytoon A, Toufigh V. Experimental and numerical studies on ribbed bracing system. Struct Design Tall Spec
Build. 2018;e1493. https://doi.org/10.1002/tal.1493