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Michael Stoner1, Weichiang Pang2

ABSTRACT: Cross-Laminated Timber is an engineered wood product with high rigidity and dimensional stability. It
is because of these properties that it has the potential to resist the impact loads that are part of the hazard associated with
flying debris in both tornadoes and hurricanes. According to debris impact testing standards, a 15-pound 2x4 is used to
represent the debris consistent with these events. These standards attempt to determine the response of wall and roof
assemblies to debris impact hazards that occur at various locations. For each of the experimental tests, a numerical
model was created in ABAQUS for future extrapolation of debris impact resistance. Through both experimental and
numerical testing, the resistance to debris impact loads of Cross-Laminated Timber could be determined for a range of
hazard levels in terms of debris speed, impact momentum, and kinetic energy. This paper describes both the
experimental tests that served to test a variety of impact locations and missile speeds as well as the numerical models
that were compared to the experimental tests. It also points to the potential applications of this information and outlines
the method for determining the debris impact resistance for other materials.

KEYWORDS: Cross-Laminated Timber, Debris Impact Testing, Dynamics, Clemson

1 INTRODUCTION 123 the setup of the experimental tests. The three main
impact locations required by these documents are the
As the markets for Cross-Laminated Timber in the panel center, the edge of the panel within 6 inches of the
United States grow, it becomes worthwhile to examine support, and in the corner within 6 inches of the support
the capabilities this new building material has to resist and top of the panel. These tests are meant to determine
the loads associated with hazards present in the region. the response of wall assemblies to impact in the point of
It has long been known that both hurricanes and highest stiffness near the support and the area of lowest
tornadoes produce debris that can cause significant stiffness near the center of the panel. There are three
damage to the building envelope. This damage is defined failure criteria in both FEMA P-361 and ICC
significant not only because it causes a direct danger to 500. The first describes a permanent panel deflection of
the occupants, but also because it leads to an increase in greater than 3 inches as measured from the inside of the
the wind-induced pressures as the structure develops wall assembly. The second defines the failure by the
internal pressure. Debris impact hazards are highly fracture of material on the inside of the wall assembly
variable and difficult to simulate due to a lack of that is sufficient to pierce 70# kraft paper mounted
statistical data, but are a leading contributor to building behind the panel. The final failure mechanism describes
envelope breaches according to extensive studies by the penetration of the missile through the wall assembly.
Minor [1]. Currently, testing standards for both In the case of CLT, its ability to resist the impact loads
hurricane and tornado hazards require testing against associated has not been extensively studied. Some
debris impacts are represented by a 2x4. The 2x4 is testing has been performed at the US Forest Products
meant to represent either a wall stud or roof truss Laboratory involving 3-ply and 4-ply CLT [6]. The
member from an adjacent structure. The testing of wall process for determining the response of CLT to debris
and roof assemblies against impact loads is referenced impact loading consisted of both experimental testing
for safe rooms and storm shelters in FEMA P-361 [2] and numerical simulation. Early experimental tests were
and ICC 500 [3]. These tests require a 15-pound 2x4 performed with missile velocities less than 100 mph to
with a velocity of 100 mph and reference ASTM E1886 collect information about the displacement and force
[4] and ASTM E1996 [5] for additional details regarding time histories of the panels. Subsequent tests were
performed at higher velocities to determine the failure
1 Michael Stoner, Ph.D. Student, Clemson University, USA, threshold of the CLT panels. Selected experimental tests at lower velocities were used to compare the finite
2 Weichiang Pang, Associate Professor Clemson University,
element models created in ABAQUS [7] to
experimentally collected displacement time histories.
The purpose of these numerical models was to study the The results of the 100 mph tests showed vulnerabilities
performance and behaviour of 3-ply CLT under impact of CLT to resist impact loads. For each of the three
loading. With an understanding about the performance impact locations, significant indentation occurred, and in
of CLT in debris impact events, it could be used as a the edge and corner tests, full penetration of the missile
structural material in safe rooms and storm shelters as occurred. An example of this damage is shown in
well as a debris impact resistant building envelope for Figure 3. With a span of only 4 feet, the energy that can
residential structures. be absorbed by the panel is significantly less than panels
with a span of 8 feet or 9 feet (typical story height in a
2 EXPERIMENTAL TESTING PLAN building). It is for this reason that more realistically sized
CLT panels were used for subsequent impact testing.
Several small-scale CLT panels were manufactured and
subjected to impact testing at Clemson University.
These panels were pressed using a 4-foot by 4-foot
Newman press. These panels were constructed using
No. 2 Southern Yellow Pine 2x6 lumber and were tested
with missiles having velocities of 80 mph and 100 mph
Each panel was tested with impacts at the panel center,
edge, and corner. The results of the 80 mph tests
showed the ability to capture displacement time history
data using Celesco SM2-7 string pots and force time
history data using Dytran 1210-V2 20,000-pound
Figure 3: Punching Failure with Debris Impact Testing
capacity piezoelectric load cells. An example of the
displacement time history captured during these tests is
shown in Figure 1. The point measured by the string pot
located 1 foot to the right of the panel’s center with the
missile impact location at the panel’s center. An In order to represent spans that are more realistic a series
example of the force time history captured by these tests of 8-foot by 8-foot panels were ordered from a
is shown in Figure 2. This load cell was located in the commercial CLT manufacturer. These panels were
top right corner of the CLT wall panel. made from Spruce, Pine, Fir – South (SPF-S). For
testing, the CLT panels were loaded into a steel frame
shown in Figure 4. The steel frame was constructed of
2 W6 wide-flanged steel shapes. The test panels were
attached to supporting perpendicular strips of CLT using
Displacement [in]

1.5 6-inch lag screws to provide suitably rigid boundary

conditions. A section view of the connection from the
1 panel to the support and the support to the steel frame
are shown in Figure 5. For the first set of full scale
0.5 experimental tests, the CLT test panel was supported
directly by the steel frame shown in Figure 5a. Based on
0 the results of the first test, additional support was
0 0.5 1 provided for the CLT panel and was connected using 6-
-0.5 inch lag screws shown in Figure 5b and Figure 5c.
Time [sec]
Figure 1: Displacement Time History of Point on CLT

Figure 2: Force Time History of Debris Impact of One Figure 4: Experimental Testing Frame Used to Support
Load Cell for 60 mph Test Wall Assemblies
The debris impact testing of full-size CLT panels were
initially performed with missile speeds of 60 mph.
These tests served to capture information on the near
elastic response of the panels where punch through
failure was not expected. The purpose of these impact
tests was to collect the displacement and force time
history for which the elastic parameters of the numerical
model could be calibrated. In addition, the behaviour of
B C these tests could be compared to the elastic plate
equations developed for orthotropic materials with
similar boundary conditions.
The three impact locations, center, edge, and corner,
were tested on the same 8-foot by 8-foot specimen of
SPF-S CLT. The summary of the permanent damage
caused by these tests is shown in Table 1. As expected,
each of these tests pass the failure criteria as defined by
FEMA P-361 and ICC 500.

Table 1: Summary of Permanent Damage Caused by 60

mph Debris Impact Testing
Figure 5: Details of Attachment of CLT Panels to Steel
Support without Supporting Elements (A) and with Impact Precise Indentation Permanent
Supporting Elements (B, C) Location Missile [in] Backside
Speed [mph] Deflection
The sensors on the panel were arranged in such a way to [in]
capture the most information from each test. The array Center 59.4 5/8" 1/4"
of sensors included four string pots and four load cells. Edge 62.2 1/2" 1/4"
The layout of these sensors is shown in Figure 6. The Corner 59.8 3/4" 3/8"
load cells were placed in the corners of the panel, while
the string pots and accelerometers were arrayed in a 2-
Pictures of the permanent damage observed from these
foot by 2-foot grid and meant to capture the response of
tests, namely the indentation of the panels due to the
each of the unique points on this grid.
missile impact are shown in Figure 7. The permanent
damage caused by these tests did not significantly vary
with each impact location.


Figure 7: Permanent Indentation Caused by 60 mph

Debris Impact Testing for Center (A), Edge (B), and
Corner (C) Impacts

Each displacement sensor gave an indication of the

displacement time history for a single point on the CLT
panel. For a single impact test where the missile impact
occurred at the center location, the results of all string
pots are shown in Figure 8. The results of the edge
impact and corner impact are shown in Figure 9 and
Figure 10.

Figure 6: Layout of Sensors for Debris Impact Tests

measured across the panel. The time history information
gathered by the debris impact testing also gave an
indication in the change of behavior of the panel with a
change in impact location. For the displacement sensor
at the center of the panel, the peak displacement was
largest during the center impact and reduced with both
the edge and corner impacts. Figure 11 shows the
change in displacement time history with each debris
impact test. The peak displacement measured by each
displacement sensor in each test are shown in Table 2.

Figure 8: Displacement Time History Recorded by

String Pots with Center Impact at 60 mph

Figure 11: Variation in Displacement Time History with

Changing Impact Location

Table 2: Summary of Peak Displacements Recorded

During Each Impact Test

Peak String Pot Number

Displacement [in]
Impact Location SP1 SP2 SP3 SP4
Center 0.40 0.78 0.95 0.85
Figure 9: Displacement Time History Recorded by Edge -* 0.61 0.65 0.61
String Pots with Edge Impact at 60 mph Corner -* 0.46 0.47 0.51
*No data captured by SP1 in these tests

In addition to the variation in displacement across the

panel, the force time history of each of the load cells
mounted behind the panel gave an indication on the
amount of load transferred to the supports. The
summary of the peak load measured by each load cell is
given in Table 3.

Table 3: Summary of Peak Loads Recorded by Load


Peak Load Load Cell Number

Impact LC1 LC2 LC3 LC4 Total
Figure 10: Displacement Time History Recorded by Center 2285 2310 2156 2309 9060
String Pots with Corner Impact at 60 mph Edge 3322 3966 1835 1859 10982
Corner 3694 6061 1672 1655 13082
When the debris impact occurred at the center there was
a distinct variation in the panel displacement with
The distribution of load and the total load measured by
respect to its position on the panel. As the impact moved
the load cells was consistent with the location of the
toward the edge and the corner of the panel, there was
impact. As the impact moved towards the edge and the
significantly less variation in the peak displacement
corner, the load cells closer to the load experienced It is evident from both the displacement time history
higher recorded load. In addition the total load measured information gathered by the string pots and the high
increased as the load moved toward the edge and corner speed camera footage that the response of the panel was
as the panel dissipated less energy through elastic isolated by adding additional supports to the test setup.
deflection of the panel and local panel deformation A comparison between the center impact at 60 mph with
(indentation). no additional supports to the center impact at 85 mph
In summary, the first series of full scale experimental with additional supports is shown in Figure 13. From
tests gave preliminary insight into the response of CLT this comparison, the behavior of the panel is similar for
to impact loads. Although this response was relatively the first two cycles, but the support flexibility
consistent through each test, high speed camera footage significantly decreases the response after these cycles.
showed appreciable flexibility in the supports. This
flexibility in the supports lead to the decision to add
additional supporting elements in an effort to eliminate
any support deformations during the test.


The second series of impact tests were performed with
missile speeds of approximately 85 mph. The summary
of these results is shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Summary of Permanent Damage Caused by 85

mph Debris Impact Testing

Impact Precise Indentation Permanent

Location Missile [in] Backside
Speed [mph] Deflection
[in] Figure 13: Comparison of Displacement Time History
Center 84.9 1-1/4” 1” with Additional Supports
Edge 84.1 1-1/8” >3”
Corner 80.9 1-1/2” 2”
The tests with additional supports showed a logorithmic
degredation of displacement shown in Equation (2):

Comparing the information from these tests to the results U

ln( n1 ) 
( )2
of the 60 mph tests, there was a significant increase in
,  2 (1)
the indentation and permanent deflection. In each case, n 
there was an increase of over 100% in the indentation 1 ( )2
and permanent backside deflection. There was also a
significant change in the deflection time history response In this equation, the critical damping ratio, ξ, is a
of the panel with new support conditions. The function of the natural logarithm of the ratio of the peak
displacement time history for each of the three string displacments (Un+1 and U1) where n is the number of
pots used is shown in Figure 12. cycles. Using the peak displacement in each cycle a
damping ratio of approximately 5% was calculated. In
addition the 1-inch of permanent deformation occuring
at the center of the panel was recorded by the string pots
and physically measured after the test. The permanent
deflection is shown in Figure 14.

Figure 12: Displacement Time History Recorded by

String Pots with Center Impact at 85 mph
Figure 14: Permanent Deflection Caused by Center
Impact of 85 mph Missile
Impacts occurring at the edge and the corner at calculated using the weak-axis modulus of elasticity
approximately 85 mph showed permanent deflections modified by a dynamic increase factor of 2.0. This
that were measured up to and exceeding two inches. In increase was used to account for the relatively short
both cases, these deformations were measured to the duration of the load. For a square panel, α = 0.01160 [8].
point on the inside layer of CLT which had partially In the case of a 3-ply CLT panel made of SPF-S, the
delaminated from the impact specimen. Photos of this deflection at the center of the panel from a 9,000-pound
deformation are shown in Figure 15. static force is calculated to be 1.7 inches. The 9,000-
pound force was equivalent to the force measured from a
60 mph debris impact test. This value is higher than the
experimentally measured deflection (0.95 inches). This
variation is likely due to the assumption that the panel
was isotropic and a possible additional increase in the
modulus of elasticity due to the short duration of the
load. Ultimately, the calculation serves as a simplified
verification of the magnitude of the deflections recorded
by the experimental testing. Ultimately, further
calibration and the development of a single degree of
freedom model could be used to estimate the response of
CLT to impact loads located near the center of the panel.


Figure 15: Deformation from Edge and Corner Impacts For a more detailed simulation of the experimental tests,
with Missile Speeds of Approximately 85 mph a dynamic explicit model of the 8-foot by 8-foot CLT
panel was created in ABAQUS. In the model, each 2x6
The edge and corner impacts both caused more piece of lumber was created using a 3D deformable solid
permanent damage due to the lack of energy dissipation element. The pieces of lumber were attached using
through elastic deformation. According to FEMA and cohesive contact elements with default damage
ICC definitions of failure, the center and corner impact properties and very high stiffness values. This
tests were considered passed tests, while the edge impact assumption was used, because there was no damage in
was considered a failed test. Further tests need to be the glue line visible in the 60 mph debris impact tests.
performed to determine the limit of CLT to resist these Finally, the wood was given orthotropic elastic
impacts near the supports. properties of SPF-S as listed in the US Wood Handbook
[9]. Similarly, the missile was assigned elastic
4 ANALYSIS AND NUMERICAL properties consistent with No. 2 Southern Yellow Pine.
VERIFICATION The boundary conditions assumed uniform bearing of
the outer 4 inches of the panel, consistent with the
Simplified analysis techniques were used to analyze the testing setup. An example of the model of the panel in
data recorded by the experimental testing. For a ABAQUS is shown in Figure 16.
comparison of the peak displacements that occurred at
the panel center, a static plate bending calculation was
used to predict the peak transient displacement of the
panel. In addition, a dynamic numerical model was
created in an attempt to match the displacement time
history captured by the experimental testing.


For comparison, the CLT panel was assumed to be
simply supported isotropic plate with a modulus of
elasticity equal to the weak axis modulus for a 3-ply
CLT panel. The plate bending equation for a simply
supported plate, developed by Timeshenko [8] is shown
in Equation (2):
Figure 16: ABAQUS Model of Debris Impact Testing
Pa 2
 MAX  (2)
D The first model simulated the debris impact at the center
of the panel with a missile velocity of 85 mph. The
comparison of the numerically simulated data to the
where the maximum deflection (ΔMAX) is a function of experimentally calculated data is shown in Figure 17.
the applied concentric point load, P; the panel
dimension, a; the flexural rigidity, D; and the aspect ratio
factor, α. The flexural rigidity of the panel was
We would like to acknowledge the assistance of United
1.5 States Forest Service Grant No. 16-DG-11083150-054
1 and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research
Displacement [in]

Fellowship Program (Grant No. 2015209393) for their

0.5 sponsorship of this research. We would also like to
0 thank Mengzhe Gu and Lancelot Reres for their help and
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 assistance throughout the experimental testing as well as
-0.5 Drs. Pat Layton, Thomas Cousins, and Brandon Ross for
their advice, help, and consultation throughout the
research project.
Time [sec]
Experimental Data Numerical Displacement
[1] Minor, J.E., 1994. Windborne debris and the
building envelope. Journal of Wind Engineering and
Figure 17: Numerical Comparison to Experimental Industrial Aerodynamics 53, 207–227.
Data for 85 mph Impact [2] FEMA. 2008. Design and construction guidance for
The comparison of numerical and experimental data community safe rooms. Second Edition. FEMA P-
shows good agreement in terms of the peak loads 361. Washington, D.C.: Federal Emergency
experienced by the panel; however, the experimental Management Association. 374 p.
period of the panel was not matched by the numerical [3] ICC/NSSA. 2014. Standard for the design and
model. Additional work needs to be done to allow for construction of storm shelters. International Code
extrapolation and prediction of CLT panel behaviour in Council/National Storm Shelter Association. ICC
response to additional impact loads. 500. Washington, DC: American National Standard
5 CONCLUSIONS [4] ASTM (2013). Standard Test Method for
Performance of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls,
Cross-Laminated Timber has shown potential to resist Doors, Impact Protective Systems Impacted by
impact loads associated with tornadoes and hurricanes. Missile(s) and Exposed to Cyclic Pressure
In order to understand this potential, experimental and Differentials. ASTM E1886-13a. West
numerical debris impact testing was performed. The Conshohoken, PA.
application of this information could allow CLT to act as [5] ASTM (2014). Standard Specificiation for
a safe room or as a debris impact resistant building Performance of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls,
envelope in tornado and hurricane prone regions. Door, and Impact Protective Systems Impacted by
Ultimately, this study lead to the following conclusions. Windborne Debris in Hurricanes. ASTM E1996-
 Additional experimental testing and numerical 14a. West Conshohoken, PA.
simulation is required in order to predict the [6] Falk, R.H.; Bridwell, J.; Hermanson, J. 2015.
response of traditional 3-ply CLT to debris impact Tornado safe rooms from commodity wood prod-
loads ucts: wall development and impact testing. Res.
 Simplified plate bending analysis could be used to Paper FPL-RP-681. Madison WI: U.S. Department
estimate the peak transient deflection of CLT panels of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products
if properly calibrated Laboratory.
 Using ABAQUS as a numerical approach to [7] ABAQUS (2014) ABAQUS 6.14 User‘s Guide,
estimating the behaviour of CLT to debris impact Dassault Systemes, Providence, RI, USA.
loads shows good agreement in terms of peak [8] Timoshenko, S. (1959) Theory of Plates and Shells.
displacements, but requires additional calibration to McGraw Hill, New York.
match the full time history response [9] United States Department of Agriculture, Forest
The purpose of this study was to determine the potential Service, Forest Products Laboratory. Wood
for CLT to resist impact loads. Using this information Handbook: Wood as an Engineering Material.
can inform the design of safe rooms and storm shelters, Madison, WI: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest
but it can also allow for the design of residential homes Service, Forest Products Laboratory, 2010. Print.
constructed using CLT that will better resist the loads
associated with hurricanes and tornadoes. Furthermore,
by performing numerous tests at various hazard levels
(debris speed, impact momentum, and kinetic energy), a
debris impact fragility curve can be developed. This
probabilistic understanding of the response of CLT to
debris impact loads can be used to develop estimated
loss models for CLT structures in hurricane and tornado