Continuous beams of aluminum alloy tubular cross sections. I: Tests and FE model validation

M.-N. Su, Ben Young, L. Gardner

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers.The aims of this study are to generate experimental data and develop numerical models for aluminum alloy continuous beams, and to utilize the results to underpin the development of revised design methods for indeterminate structures. This paper presents an experimental program and finite-element (FE) analyses for two-span continuous beams (i.e., five-point bending) of square and rectangular hollow sections (SHSs and RHSs). The experimental program comprised 27 five-point bending tests with three different positioning of loads. The testing procedures and key results are reported. The test specimens were manufactured by extrusion, with 18 of grade 6061-T6 and 9 of grade 6063-T5 heat-treated aluminum alloys. The test specimens were nonslender sections, and mostly of Class 1 proportions. Generally, the specimens failed by the formation of a collapse mechanism comprising three plastic hinges. The distances between the supports and the loading points were varied in order to form the first plastic hinge in different locations, to achieve different load levels between the first hinge and collapse, and to change the rotation demands on the first hinge that formed. The FE models were developed and failure was defined as either when a plastic collapse mechanism was formed or the material fracture strain was reached on the tension flange, whichever occurred first. The numerical models were first validated against the experimentally obtained load-deflection responses, as well as the failure modes. The experimental and FE ultimate loads were both found to be beyond the theoretical loads corresponding to the formation of the first hinge as well as the calculated plastic collapse loads. A key characteristic of aluminum alloy, strain hardening, is shown to be particularly significant in both the experimental program and the numerical investigation. The validated FE models are used to generate numerical results through parametric studies in the companion paper. The development of design rules for indeterminate aluminum alloy structural systems is then described.
Original languageEnglish
Article number04014232
JournalJournal of Structural Engineering (United States)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aluminum alloys
  • Continuous beams
  • Experimental investigation
  • Indeterminate structures
  • Metal and composite structures
  • Numerical models
  • Plastic design
  • Square and rectangular hollow sections
  • Testing
  • Tubular sections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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