Cold-formed RHS T joints with initial geometrical imperfections

Building constructions, buildings and structures

Generally, numerical simulations of structures are carried out in such a way as to most accurately repeat their real behavior. The current rules for finite element modeling of tubular joints oblige scientists and engineers to construct their numerical models considering initial imperfections. However, not all joints are sensitive to initial imperfections. Often consideration of initial imperfections brings no reasonable improvements in the accuracy of results, but severely complicates numerical simulations. In such cases, the effect of geometrical imperfections can be effectively replaced by a simple theoretical equation or neglected entirely. This paper evaluates the effect of initial geometrical imperfections on the structural behavior of cold-formed rectangular hollow section T joints. Imperfections are simulated using the conventional approach for thin-walled structures, applying corresponding buckling modes to the perfect geometry. The paper analyzes several buckling modes and their combinations to identify the most rational technique for simulation of imperfections under in-plane bending and axial loading. Based on the obtained results, parametric studies are conducted to investigate the effect of initial imperfections on joints with various geometry and material properties. The results demonstrate that initial imperfections reduce the resistance and initial stiffness of joints. However, the observed effect has been found sufficiently small to be safely ignored in computational analyses.