Test and lower bound modeling of keyed shear connections in RC shear walls

Jesper Harrild Sørensen*, Morten Andersen Herfelt, Linh Cao Hoang, Aurelio Muttoni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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This paper presents an investigation into the ultimate behavior of a recently developed design for keyed shear connections. The influence of the key depth on the failure mode and ductility of the connection has been studied by push-off tests. The tests showed that connections with larger key indentations failed by complete key cut-off. In contrast, connections with smaller key indentations were more prone to suffer local crushing failure at the key corners. The local key corner crushing has an effect on the load-displacement response, which is relatively more ductile. In addition to the tests, the paper also presents lower bound modeling of the load carrying capacity of the connections. The main purpose of the lower bound model is to supplement an already published upper bound model of the same problem and thereby provide a more complete theoretical basis for practical design. The two models display the same overall tendencies although identical results are not possible to obtain, due to differences in the basic assumptions usually made for upper and lower bound analysis of connections. It is found that the test results, consistent with the extremum theorems of plasticity, are all lying within the gap between the upper and the lower bound solution. The obtained results finally lead to a discussion of how the two models can be used in practice. The primary merit of the upper bound model lies in its simplicity (a closed-form equation). On the other hand, the lower bound model provides safe results, but is more complicated to apply. It is therefore argued that the upper bound model may be used in cases, where calibration with tests has been carried out. The lower bound model should be applied in situations, where the design deviates significantly from the configurations of the available tests.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEngineering Structures
Pages (from-to)115-126
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Keyed shear connections
  • Lower bound solutions
  • Precast concrete
  • Push-off tests
  • Rigid-plasticity


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