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Influence of Joint Eccentricity and Rigidity on

the Load Capacity of a Space Truss Sub-

Dr L. C. Schmidt*, P, R. Morgan* and P, W. Phang*

SYNOPSIS Chords 25x25x 32RHS Area:277mrn:

Webs 269x32 CHS Area=24Zrnrn:
Experimental testing of bolted and welded space truss
sub-assemblages with large joint eccentricities has ~ _ ~ 0 86rn
W e b members omltled m plan
displayed satisfactory performance. Tests have been
[_-hh~.}.},hl ~f
carried out on five sub-assemblages from a double laver
(plate-like) space truss configuration. The distinctive
features of the configuration employed were chord I'I-FI'I:}+~'I~ . soppo,, po,o~
I ti~; ; ~}'t,~it ; i ,oadpo, ot
member continuity and the resulting large joint
eccentricities. The particular layout adopted fitrnished L7"~ I 22m:8 54n~

orthotropic behaviour for stiffness and strength, so two (o) f RUSS LAYOUT ( Offer Coulthord )
sub-assemblage configurations were adopted. To
provide control and comparisons a welded con-
centrically jointed sub-assemblage was tested in addi-
tion to the bolted and welded sub-assemblages. Crqtcal
-- slrul
Although the large joint eccentricities reduced sub- ConhgurQhon A Conhgurahon B
assembktge stiffness attd peak load capacity, the con-
tinuity of chords largely offset these reductions even
when bolted joint details were used;for the welded joint
cases peak load capacities were at least 50 per cent
higher again. The stiffness of such systems is seen to be
sensitive to member and joint imperfections, and joint

1 INTRODUCTION dimensions in m m
The results of testing substructures from a space truss
can reflect, to some degree, the structural behaviour of (b ) SUB - ASSEMBLAGE LAYOUT

the parent space truss. These sub-assemblages, being

smaller systems, are relatively easier and cheaper to Figure 1 Truss and sub-assemblage
analyse, build, and test to destruction. Figure I(a)
shows the type of flat space truss considered herein bolted joint was originally used by Schmidt et al. ~5) in
from which the sub-assemblages were derived, and the ultimate load test of a full-size fiat space truss, the
Figure I(b) a typical sub-assemblage. This paper is con- layout of which is shown in Figure l(a). Although the
cerned with the testing of five such sub-assemblages chord members were continuous, continuity of the
past their ultimate load capacities, and each was desig- joints as a whole was not designed into the system. The
ned to fail at the central panel of the top chord. layout of the members, and the joint detail used in the
The design of jointing systems in space trusses has upper and lower chord layers, provided different end
usually aimed for concurrency of all members framing restraints for chord members in orthogonal directions.
into joints 13), as the presence of large eccentricities at The truss was therefore orthotropic with respect to
joints can reduce the stiffness and load capacity of a strength. The truss provided an ultimate load capacity
space trus# ~,~-7). The jointing system used in the sub- that was 54 per cent greater than that expected of a
assemblages was non-proprietary and comprised simple concentrically pinned truss. Continuity of chord
structural SHS members bolted together (see Figure 2). members, and the gradual build-up of chord force in the
This simple bolted connection featured continuity of truss, had offset significantly the deleterious effects of
chord members and large joint eccentricities. The eccentricity.
Influence of Joint Eccentricity and Rigidity on the Load Capacity of a Space Truss Sub-Assemblage 17

It has been recognised that member-joint slip reduces

the effective a,dal stiffness of a structural member' *.a~
but little work has included the effects of slip in the
structural analysis of space trusses. The random nature
of slip, both in magnitude and occurrence, in a highly
statically indeterminate space truss makes the
theoretical modelling of slip in space truss analyses
difficult. Hutchings ~:~ developed a structural analysis
program for non-linear systems which incorporated a
simplified model of member-joint slip that was assumed
to occur only once for each member and at constant
load. As slip has been observed to reduce the axial
stiffness of structural members throughout the elastic
load range of the member, it can be expected that the Figure 3 Sub-assembhtge configuration B bolted
stiffness of a space truss can also be reduced by the
occurrence of member-joint slip. sub-assemblage is unstable if the nodes are assumed
This paper compares the behaviour of space truss pinned. However, the actual sub-assemblages tested
sub-assemblages whose members are connected were stabilised by the rigidity of the joints caused by
eccentrically by bolted or welded joints. The influences chord member continuity and tightening of the bolts.
that these joints have on initial stiffness and ultimate Welding of the joints had this stabilising effect as well.
load capacity are discussed. With respect to the structural members, the sub-
assemblage was statically dcterminate. Thus the
2 EXPERIMENTAL INVESTIGATION ultimate load capacity of the sub-assemblage was deter-
2.1 Sub-assemblage tests mined by the axial peak load capacity of the critical
In order to assess the ultimate load capacity obtainable strut shown in Figure I(b).
by sub assemblages using the simple bolted joint, two
such structures were tested. Joint detail and member
Table 1 Numbering of sub-assemblages tested
htyout produced two different configurations which
represented the orthotropic properties of the simple Sub assemblage and Description of
test |lurl'lhcr contiguration
bolted space truss mentioned earlier. The two con-
tigurations, labelled A and B, arc illustrated in Figures 1 A (l~ltcd)
2 and 3 respectively, taken in conjunction with Figure 2 A (welded)
3 B (bolted)
l(b). 4 B (welded)
Thrce other sub-assemblages were welded to 5 concentrically v,cldcd
eliminate slip and relative member rotation. One was of
conliguration A, one of configuration B, and the other,
Displacement transducers were mounted to measure
shown in Figure 4, had concentrically welded joints. the vertical displacements of nodes 3 and 4. The
Table 1 gives a summary of the sub-assemblages tested
average of these displacements gave the central
and the numbering system used.
displacement of the sub-assemblage under test. A load
The sub-assemblage test layout is shown in Figure
cell placed in series with the loading jack gave the total
l(b). The loads were applied at nodes 3 and 4. The
load applied to the sub-assemblage.
loading system consisted of a manually operated jack
The l o a d - d e f o r m a t i o n behaviour of the sub-
which pullcd the sub-assemblage vertically downward
assemblages is shown in Figure 5. Because the sub-
by means of a load-sharing beam. Translational
restraints were applied at nodes 1, 2, 5 and 6.
With 22 members, 10 nodes and 7 restraints, the

F'~ure 2 Sub-as.~emblage configuration :! bolted F(~"~re 4 Sub-as~embla,~,e concentricallv-wehted

18 Journal of Constructional Steel Research: Vol. t. No. 4: Septentber 1981

"A "I - : com.T,r~'ss or ~ o,..qd ~'~
r - , e t e s . S~q,jem:-s, ~,.~
E'~ mZ;:ll M E NTAL C U R V E S
! Com~igur~bon & boi'ted
i Com'~gurOhOn A we!ded /
3 Configuration B bolted /
- C~mt,gurat~om ~ we;,~_~ i

5 COnCentr Cal~ welded ~F
,~i~ .~eT? M e m b e r -" g l C J '5~ 2 , 7 e m e r ' t
z 60

~0 so

(b) Neb Member 7
ii /
,/ CJ~ n d 5plGcement
~ 30 (d


C } Wob Member ] t a~eH d*~.plClcomer't

8 16 2- J2 4(3 48
Cet, trCll d~.!{ec{~o,'~ ( r T l m ) l"i,k'ur(' 7 Rcvt'rsc o'cli('al butdtn of wel* memhcr$" (elavtt'c range)

l"n,,ure 5 ]'hcoretical houtrd~ to the ultimate load ('up~u'ilic.~ o f

[ht' ~Uh tZ~V 'tttl~lctt:'v
2.2 Element tests
Compression tests were pcrrormed on the square tube
assemblages are statically determinate with respect to chord members. Idcaliscd end restraint conditions wcrc
the nt,mber of structural members, the peak loads of simulated st} that upper and lower hounds to the c o m
each sub a s s e n l b l a g e occurred at the sanle time as the pressive bchaviour of the critical struts within the sub-
:txial peak load i)t" the corresponding critical strut. asscmblages could bc obtained. The thrcc conditions
Strata gauges were located on the critical strut a n d o n simulatcd wcrc fully lixcd, pin jointed conccntric, and
various web members to obtain the axial ft)rccs in these pin jointed with an ccccntricity of onc half thc member
members. Displaccmcnt transducers were mounted in width.
parallel with thc members (two per member) in order to Element tests were also performed on the web
mcasurc their axial displacements. The axial members. Each member was loaded axially in a series
l o a d - d i s p l a c c m e n t behaviour or thcsc members within of tension and compression tests. This test program
the sub-assemblage was therefore obtaincd. All the provided information about the cffccts of slip on the
critical struts in the five sub-assemblages were axial stiffness of the web mcmbcrs. Each cnd of these
monitored, but in the case of the web members only wcb members was bolted to an end piece that was
those in the bolted sub-assemblages. Some of the web gripped by the jaws of a testing machine.
member rcsuhs arc shown in Figure 6. The bolts were Thc results for the element tests of the wcb members
tightened to approximately 40 Nm. It is noted that the and the idealised strut characteristics or the square tube
slip load and slip magnitudc varied from member to chord members are given in Figure 7 and Figure 8
member. respectively.

-- I compression 8O
/.~ -- 2 compression welded to e n d p l a t e )
12 --- ] lensi0n 7O
} , " ~, 60
:::///KI I ./" [heorlhcQI clppro~lmol Orl
5 5 C.oncen t r i : ~ . . . ~

10 Eccentr~cally p,nned
0 02 O" 06 08 I0 12 ~ ~6
A~IOt d~sp:Ocement (ram)
AxJat d,splacement (ram)
: tk'hrd 6 tV~':~ mt'zn/~('r cltttr{t<'tdrt'Ttt'(" ( ~t~b lwetvtt)/("4 3) linear
/.(ul runk'c ]-I,~,tlr(' (~" ,,'[rt~[ h,~I~; ~)/";qlidr(' tI~l~(' chor(g' rth'tnh~'r~ "
Influence of Joint Eccentricity and Rigidity on the Load Capacity of a Space Truss Sub-Assemblage 19

CONFIGUR/I,TION /I, --'Z ~... 2"Z'Z analysis and a pin-jointed truss analysis respectively,
$how~ on te~'~ h a r l d ~ide "- ~ ~ ' ~
both using a concentric-joint sub-assemblage.
In order to simulate the bolt flexibility of the bolted
sub-assemblage joints, the torsional rigidity of those
rigid links corresponding to the bolts was reduced to
four millionths of that of the square hollow section of
the chord members. This figure was found to be reason-
able by a series of trial sensitivity analyses. The
2 t ~ . ~ ~ CONFIGURAT
%how on r i g h t ~ n c r %ide theoretical estimates of the elastic stiffnesses of sub-
O,menslon$ ,n m m assemblages 1 and 3 were thus obtained, and are given
Figure 9 Analytical sub-assemblage(s) configurations A and B in Figure 10 as curves A b and Bb respectively.
Other effects were now included in the theoretical
analyses in an attempt to improve prediction of the
3 THEORY experimental results and test the sensitivity of the sub-
3.1 Sub-assemblage stiffness assemblage stiffness to different factors.
A theoretical study of the effects of eccentricity on sub- The rigid-joint frame analyses of the idealised
assemblage stiffness in the elastic range was attempted eccentric-joint sub-assemblage were repeated for con-
by the use of an idealised theoretical model of the figurations A and B, but with an initial out-of-
joints. The structural effects of joint eccentricities were straightness in the critical struts. This imperfection was
modelled by the use of short rigid links which con- modelled by placing a node at mid-length of the critical
nected the structural members of the sub-assemblage. strut that was displaced from the straight line between
The idealised models of the joint eccentricity are shown the end nodes by 5 mm in each direction of the
in Figure 9, and all joints are assumed rigid. To prevent principal axes of its cross-section. This assumption
early compressive failure the web members adjacent to represents an out-of-straightness to member length of I
supports for the welded sub-assemblages 2, 4 and 5 to 170. These theoretical estimates of the stiffness of
were made one size larger, 33.7 mm diameter by sub-assemblages 2 and 4 are marked t2 and t4
3.2 mm thick. A structural analysis computer program respectively in Figure 11.
for linear systems was used. Figure 10 shows the results Effective axial stiffnesses of the critical struts and
of the analyses together with their corresponding web members within the bolted sub-assemblages were
experimental results. Curves A and B are the initial obtained using the element tests represented in Figures
theoretical results to be compared with experimental 7 and 8. These effective axial stiffnesses of the
curves 2 and 4. To provide bounds to the stiffness, structural members were included in the calculations by
curves f and p were obtained by a rigid-joint frame

100 t2

I00 :rYES

~olted ~VES
8o G
- 50

qa 40
> 30



8 E6 2~ 32 z.O ~8
8 lB Z~. 3Z /..0 /-8 Central deflection (rnrn]
Central deflect=on (ram)
Figure 11 Load-deflection cun'es of sub-assemblages (modified
Figure 10 Load-dtJleetion cur~'es of sub-assemblages analyses)
20 Journal of Constructional Steel Research: Vol. 1, No. 4: September 1981

the use of equivalent moduli for the appropriate eccentricity twice because it was assumed that the end
structural members. This use of equivalent moduli forcing moments due to eccentricity were not
included the effects, in the element tests, of eccentricity, transferred to the web members, owing to the flattened
initial out-of-straightness, slip. and flattening of the web and bolted web member ends. Although the equivalent
member ends. In order not to account for eccentricity moduli obtained this way included the effect of slip, it
twice, the rigid-joint frame analysis using these was recognised that other imperfections were also
equivalent moduli was performed on a concentrically- included. However, from Figure 7 the reduction in the
jointed sub-assemblage. Hence curves t l and t3 in axial stiffness of the web members owing only to slip
Figure 11 should be improved theoretical estimates of was very significant, and varied from member to
the stiffnesses of sub-assemblages 1 and 3 respectively. member.
Finally attempts were made to include the effect of
member-joint slip as measured in the sub-assemblage 3.2 Sub-assemblage load capacity
tests themselves. Equivalent moduli for the web Theoretical upper and lower bounds were obtained for
members were derived from Figure 6 which was the load capacities of the sub-assemblages using the
obtained from the bolted sub-assemblage tests. The idealised strut characteristics of the square section
slopes of these curves represent the reduced axial chord members given in Figure 8. The bounds (a), (b)
stiffness of the web members within the bolted sub- and (c) to the theoretical or expected ultimate load
assemblage, which is consistent with those obtained in capacities shown in Figure 5 were obtained by ignoring
the element tests of these web members (see Figure 7). web member effects and simply assuming that the
For simplicity, all the web members within each sub- critical strut within the sub-assemblage buckled as:
assemblage were assumed to have the same axial load-
deformation characteristic curve although this is not (a) a fixed-ended strut,
consistent with the randomness usually associated with (b) a concentrically-pinned strut, and
slip. For a given curve of Figure 6, curve I for example, (c) an eccentrically-pinned strut.
the varying axial stiffness of the web member may be The ultimate load capacity of a concentrically-
approximated by straight lines of constant stiffness pinned sub-assemblage predicted in terms of a steel
between various load levels. Assuming that the axial design code such as the Australian Standard Steel
stiffness was obtained in this way for the web members Structures codd s~, is also shown in Figure 5. The two
in a particular load range, a rigid-joint frame analysis bounds (d) and (e) were obtained assuming the yield
was performed to give the sub-assemblage stiffness for stress of the steel in the critical strut to be 250 MPa and
the same load range. Repeated analyses were then 540 MPa respectively. The higher figure reflects the
performed, assuming the web member axial stiffness material used in the sub-assemblages as shown by
was that obtained from the same curve of Figure 6 for tensile tests on the chord members. (See Figure 12.)
the successive load ranges, to give the full sub-
assemblage load-deflection curve. Similar sets of 4 DISCUSSION
analyses using other curves in Figure 6 give a scatter of 4.1 Sub-assemblage stiffness
sub-assemblage stiffnesses. Figure 13 shows the results Ttae tdeahsed models of jo,nt eccentrtctty used in the
obtained for configurations A and B. The series of analyses reflected the large difference in sub-
analyses described above was performed using the assemblage stiffness between configurations A and B
idealised eccentric-joint models of Figure 9, and the pin (Figure 10).
effect of the bolts at the web member ends was For the welded sub-assemblages comparisons of the
modelled as discussed earlier. theoretical curves A and B with the test curves 2 and 4
It is noted that the use of the eccentric-joint model showed large discrepancies. Curve A overestimated the
for the analyses here did not consider the' effects of stiffness of curve 2 by 22.5 per cent and curve B over-
estimated the stiffness of curve 4 by 52 per cent. By
25 4mm AHS including the effects of initial out-of-straightness in the
180 I0 "/. elongation above analyses, the test curves 2 and 4 were now over-
t~,.,X CYj~t = 606 MPa
estimated by 16 per cent and 46 per cent respectively
~,so 33 7ram CHS
36 % elongctt,on by the theoretical curves t2 and t4 in Figure tl.
120 C)'y = 260 MPa C)'utt = 368 MP,a
For the bolted sub-assemblages, the large difference
- 90 in stiffness between configurations A and B was also
26 9ram ~ CHS "~
26 "1. e l o n g a l , o n highlighted by the theoretical curves Ab and Bb of Figure
,~ 6o
C~y = 257 MPa, C~utl = 372 MP~ I0. Once again, however, the discrepancies between
3O test and theory were large. Curve At, overestimated the
0 i i stiffness of curve ! by 133 per cent and curve Bb over-
10 20 30 t..O 5O estimated the stiffness of curve 3 by 140 per cent.
Ax,ol d,splccemen! (ram)
Improved estimates using equivalent moduli for the
Figure 12 Tension tests of tube members chord and web members are shown in Figure I I. The
Influence of Joint Eccentricity and Rigidity on the Load Capacity of a Space Truss Sub-Assemblage 21

theoretical curves, tl and t3, overestimated the test stiffness of the sub-assemblages tested. The imperfec-
curves 1 and 3 by 41 per cent and 61 per cent tions considered explicitly were joint eccentricity,
respectively. These differences were probably due to the member out-of-straightness, and joint slip. By using
placement of the displacement transducers, used equivalent member moduli some account was also
primarily to measure axial strains in the member, that taken of the geometrical treatment (end flattening) of
did not permit measurement of all relative slips between web members in the fabrication process.
chords, bolts, and webs or the isolation of motion due
solely to slip. The use of equivalent moduli for the 4.2 Sub-assemblage load capacity
structural members in the analyses attempted to take The ultimateload capacitiesof eachof the sub-
into account imperfections including slip. assemblages tested were determined by their respective
Figure 10 also shows the theoretical estimate (curve critical strut axial load capacities. For the sub-
f) of the stiffness of the concentrically-welded sub- assemblages with eccentric joints, the difference in joint
assemblage (curve 5). Curve f overestimated the details and member arrangements between configura-
stiffness of curve 5 by 55 per cent. A pin-jointed truss tions A and B resulted in differing magnitudes and
analysis gave curve p which did not differ very much directions of eccentricites, The relative deleterious
from curve f. While there might possibly have been effects of these eccentricities on the two configurations
errors involved in the theoretical modelling of the are illustrated in Figure 14. Consequently, the axial
eccentrically-jointed sub-assemblage because of the peak load of the critical strut in sub-assemblage 3
flattened web member ends and joint slip, there should (configuration B, bolted) was much lower than that in
be relatively little error in the theoretical modelling of the sub-assemblage I (configuration A, bolted). The
the concentrically-welded sub-assemblage. However, as same situation applied to the critical struts of sub-
observed, there were still large discrepancies between assemblages 2 and 4, although the effects of welding
test and theory in this case. This large discrepancy in had offset the deleterious effects of eccentricity sig-
the concentrically-welded sub-assemblage was con- nificantly. The directions of buckling of the critical
sistent with those for the eccentrically-jointed sub- struts in sub-assemblages 1 to 4 were consistent with
assemblages mentioned above. the directions of the end forcing moments due to
Figure 13 shows the results of analyses to isolate the eccentricity as shown in Figure 14. As a result, the sub-
effects of slip on sub-assemblage stiffness. From Figure assemblage peak loads and stiffnesses were also
7 it is observed that slip reduced the axial stiffness of influenced by the different eccentricities between the
the web member. It is expected therefore that slip will two configurations (see Figure 5). Sub-assemblage 2
reduce the sub-assemblage stiffness as well. However, (configuration A, welded) was similar in structural
analyses showed that slip was not the only factor behaviour to the concentrically-welded sub-assemblage.
influencing sub-assemblage stiffness; the other In this case, the restraining moments almost nullified
imperfections also contributed to the reduced stiffness the end forcing moments.
observed in the tests. Figure 5 shows that the experimental peak loads for
The analyses performed took account of several all the sub-assemblages tested were within the upper
imperfections to investigate their relative effect on the and lower bounds marked. It is noted that all the sub-
assemblages tested, except sub-assemblage 3
1 (configuration B, bolted), provided ultimate load
A B/ capacities greater than that which would be expected
from a concentric pin-jointed sub-assemblage. Even in
sub-assemblage 3, the ultimate load capacity reached


M~Critical st r u t
O If," \~I
experimental ...... -h--
Critical ~ A

Central deflection(mm)
Figure 13 Theoretical with slip effects (for configurations Figure 14 End forcing moments caused by joint eccentricity (for
A and B) configurations A and B)
22 Journal of Constructional Steel Research: Vol. 1, No. 4: September 1981

89 per cent of that expected of a concentric pin-jointed assemblages of substantial ultimate load capacities. The
sub-assemblage. On the other hand, the ultimate load simplicity of the joint, or other variants of it, could
capacity provided by sub-assemblage 3 was greater provide an economical jointing system for space
than the design ultimate load capacity expected of a trusses, without significant loss in strength when com-
concentric pin-jointed sub-assemblage using 250 grade pared with concentrically-connected mechanical
steel. systems.
The large difference between the load capacities for Although peak load capacities of the sub-assemblage
the fixed-ended and pin-ended cases exists because of were satisfactory with even the bolted configurations,
the slenderness ratio of 136 chosen for the critical strut. special attention should be paid to the stiffness of such
For smaller slenderness ratios the difference would be systems. The stiffness is seen to be highly sensitive to
less, and the influences of the end forcing or restraining member and joint imperfections, including joint slip at
moments caused by the web members would not be so bolts; but the sub-assemblage stiffness is still within
significant. The slenderness ratio adopted has reasonable bounds.
highlighted the influence of chord continuity, web
member eccentricity, and joint rigidity. REFERENCES
I CLArKSON. J. A. The Ultimate Load Analysis of Square
5 CONCLUSIONS Pyramidal Unit Space Trusses. MEngSc Thesis. University of
Melbourne. 1975.
Welding of the simple eccentric joint layout eliminated 2 IIUTCrIINGS. R. Non-Linear Behaviour of Trusses. MEngSc
slip and forced flexural interaction of the web and Thesis, University of Melbourne. 1970.
3 MITCtlELL. K. An Introduction to Jointing Systems. AISC
chord members. As a consequence the eccentrically-
Seminar - Space Structures Papers, University of Melbourne.
welded joint provided sub-assemblage ultimate load November 1975.
capacities of !.5 and 1.8 times those of the bolted joint O'MEAGHEr. A. The Ultimate Load Behaviour o f a Space Truss.
MEngSc Thesis, University of Melborne, 1978.
for configurations A and B respectively. In view of the
much higher strength achieved by the welded eccentric Influence o f Eccentricity and Continuity on the Inelastic
connection it could, under special circumstances, be a Behaviour o f a Space Truss. Sixth Australasian Conference on
the Mechanics of Structures and Materials, University of
worthwhile alternative to the bolted joint. A similar
Canterbury, N.Z., August 1977.
result could probably also be achieved in larger systems SCIIMIDr. [.. C.. MORGAN. P R, and SrI(VI!NS. I,, K. The Influence of
by the use of multiple bolt connections between hnperfections on the Behavh~ur of a Space Truss. Second In ter
national Conference on Space Structures, University of Surrey.
members. September 1975.
The large eccentricities at joints reduced the stiffness S('IIMIDr. l.. C.. MORGAN. P. R. and S'I[:VENS. t.. K 'l".ffects of
and peak load capacity of the sub-assemblages. Imperfections on Space Frame Stiffness." t'roceedings of
American Society of Civil Engineers. January 1977, STI.
floweret, in the case of the particular jointing system S['ANDARI)S ASSOCIATION OF AUS I'RALIA.S,-I.-1 Steel Structures
used, joint rigidity provided by chord member con- Code. Australian Standard 1250: 1975. Sydney, 1975.
tinuity offset these reductions to some extent. As a Contributions discussing this paper should be received by the Editor
result, the simple bolted joint used here provided sub- before I January 1982.

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