A Finite Element Approach to Reinforced Concrete Slab Design

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Deaton, James B
Will, Kenneth M.
Kahn, Lawrence F.
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The objective of this study was the development of a procedure in GT STRUDL to design reinforced concrete flat plate systems based on the results of finite element analysis. The current state-of-practice of reinforced concrete flat plate design was reviewed, including the ACI direct design and equivalent frame techniques, the yield line method, and the strip design method. The principles of these methods along with a critical evaluation of their applicability and limitations were presented as motivation for a finite element based design procedure. Additionally, the current state-of-the-art of flat plate design based on finite element results was presented, along with various flat plate modeling techniques. Design methodologies studied included the Wood and Armer approach, based on element stress resultants, and the resultant force approach, based on element forces. A flat plate design procedure based on the element force approach was embodied in the DESIGN SLAB command, which was implemented in GT STRUDL. The DESIGN SLAB command provides the user the ability to design a slab section by specifying a cut definition and several optional design parameters. The procedure determines all nodes and elements along the cut, computes the resultant moment design envelope acting on the cross-section, and designs the slab for flexure in accordance with provisions of ACI 318-02. Design examples presented include single-panel flat plate systems with various support conditions as well as multi-panel systems with regular and irregular column spacing. These examples allowed for critical comparison with results from experimental studies and currently applied design methods in order to determine the applicability of the implemented procedure. The DESIGN SLAB command was shown to produce design moments in agreement with experimental data as well as conventional design techniques for regular configurations. The examples additionally showed that when cuts were not oriented orthogonally to the directions of principle bending, resulting designs based on element forces could significantly under-reinforce the cross-section due to significant torsional effects.
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