New Technique to Improve the Ductility of Steel Beam to Column Bolted Connections: A Numerical Investigation

Mohamed Shaheen, Galal Mohamed, Lee Cunningham, Andrew Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A novel method to improve the robustness of steel end plate connections is presented in this paper. Existing commonly adopted techniques alter the stiffness of the beam or the end plate to improve the connection’s robustness. In this study, the robustness is enhanced by improving the contribution of the bolts to the rotational capacity of connections; the higher the bolts’ elongation, the higher the rotational capacity that can be achieved. However, the brittleness of the bolt material, combined with its small length, results in negligible elongation. Alternatively, the load path between the end plate and the bolts can be interrupted with a ductile element to achieve the required elongation. This can be achieved by inserting a steel sleeve with a designated length, thickness, and wall curvature between the end plate and the washer. The proposed sleeve should be designed so that its ultimate capacity is less than the force in the bolt at failure; accordingly, the sleeve develops a severe bending deformation before the failure of any connection components. Using a validated finite element model, end plate connections with various parameters are numerically investigated to understand the performance of the sleeve device. The proposed system substantially enhances the rotational capacity of the connections, ranging between 1.37 and 2.46 times that of the standard connection. It is also concluded that the sleeved connections exhibit a consistent elastic response with the standard connections, indicating the proposed system is compatible with codified elastic design approaches without modification. Furthermore, for a specific connection, various ductile responses can be achieved without altering the connection capacity nor configuration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-942
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2021


  • end plate connection
  • robustness
  • rotational capacity
  • ductility

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