First Advisor

Thomas Schumacher

Term of Graduation

January 2021

Date of Publication

Fall 12-8-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering




Fillers (Materials) -- Testing, Fillers (Materials) -- Thermal properties, Structural frames



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 95 pages)


This research consists of experimental load tests and numerical simulations of structural steel connections with various filler materials to study the effect of non-steel fillers on the connection strength. Non-steel fillers are used in the steel connections to provide thermal insulation by reducing thermal bridging. Eight specimens having steel and polypropylene filler plates of various thicknesses were tested in the laboratory. The collected data were compared to a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) using ABAQUS to validate the numerical results. After validation, three parametric studies were conducted using ABAQUS to provide insight into general behavior of connections with a variety of fillers that could be used as thermal breaks. In addition, an extreme case of having air gaps instead of alternative fillers was also considered.

The Research Council on Structural Connections (RCSC 2014) suggests a reduction in the bolt shear strength when undeveloped fillers with a thickness of more than 0.25 inch are used while using any non-steel material is prohibited due the limited research available.

Most research studies have investigated the mechanical behavior of thermal breaks in either end-plate moment connections or slip-critical connections. No data is available for thermal breaks in bearing-type connections up to failure.

This research aims to study the effects of filler material properties such as modulus of elasticity and strength on bolt strength, as well as investigate whether the current equation in RCSC 2014 is applicable for alternative filler materials like polypropylene that has less than 0.5% of the steel modulus of elasticity and less than 10% of steel strength.


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