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1.

INTRODUCTION
Grid trusses and latticed domes are widely used in
building structures [1, 2]. The fast development of high
strength steel, new construction technology and
computer technology promoted the development of
space structures. Single-layer reticulated domes with
bolt-ball joints are one of the outstanding space
structures. The major merits of domes with bolt-ball
joint system include material saving, beautiful
appearance, high construction speed, and high
fabrication accuracy. However, buckling problems
become critical as the span of domes further increases.
So, it is important to study the parameters which have
major effect on the critical load of a dome.
The rigidity of a joint is one of the major factors
that have influence on the critical load of a single-
Direct Estimation of Critical
Load for Single-Layer
Reticulated Domes with
Semi-Rigid Joints
Feng Fan
1
, Hui-huan.Ma
2,*
, Zheng-gang Cao
3
and Shi-zhao Shen
4
1
Professor. School of Civil Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090,
P. R. China E-mail: fanf@hit.edu.cn
2
School of Civil Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090,
P. R. China. E-mail: mahuihuan@hit.edu.cn
3
School of Civil Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, P. R. China
4
Professor. School of Civil Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150090, P. R. China
(Received 21/04/09 - Revised version 23/12/09 Acceptation 12/01/10)
ABSTRACT: Numerical model of a bolt-ball joint system is established using
software ANSYS and verified through experiments. Based on the bending-
rotation curves of the bolt-ball joints obtained through numerical simulation, a
finite element model of single-layer reticulated domes with bolt-ball joint
system is established using nonlinear beam element with end spring elements
in software ANSYS. The analyses of the domes are carried out with different
parameters including bending stiffness, ratio of rise to span, rotation-stiffness,
ball size, asymmetric load distribution, tube section, support condition and
initial imperfection. Several key parameters having influence on the load
carrying capacity of a semi-rigidly jointed single-layer reticulated dome are
thus identified. Finally, formulas are established for direct estimation of critical
loads of semi-rigidly jointed single-layer reticulated domes under symmetric
and asymmetric loading conditions.
Key Words: Bolt-Ball Joint System, Numerical Simulation, Single Layer
Reticulated Dome, Critical Load, Asymmetric Load.
International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010 15
layer latticed dome. Fathelbab [3] concluded that
connection stiffness has a considerable effect on the
load-displacement behavior of a structure, and
considerable material saving and safer structures could
be achieved if the effect of actual joint properties
could be considered at the design stage. El-Sheikh [4]
found that the overall behavior and failure mode of a
structure are influenced by the bending stiffness of a
connection. The results of numerical model and
experiments of a single-layer latticed dome with ORTZ
joints (a joint system widely used in space structures,
especially in Spain) indicated that such factors as
geometry of dome, slenderness of members, rigidity of
joint and hypothesis of load have their influence on
behavior of a single-layer latticed dome [5]. H.H.Ma
[6] concluded that the bending stiffness of connections
*
Corresponding author: mahuihuan@hit.edu.cn
is one of the key factors influencing the critical load of
single-layer reticulated dome.
In analysis of space structures, conventional designs
and analyses of latticed domes are based on such an
assumption that the connection behaves either as a
pinned or rigid joint. However, the joints in most of the
space structures are semi-rigid and their actual
behaviors do not conform to either of the two
extremities. A bolt-ball joint system with partial bend-
bearing capacity is a typical semi-rigid joint system, and
a single-layer latticed dome with a bolt-ball joint system
should be categorized as a semi-continuous spatial
frame. Eurocode 3 recommends that the assumptions
made for structural analysis should conform to the
realistic behavior of connections. So, the structural
analysis of a semi-rigidly jointed dome should be based
on the model considering the rigidity of connections.
Areliable and effective method for prediction of the
behavior of a semi-rigid joint system is necessary for
the analysis of a latticed dome with semi-rigid joints.
Much work has been done on the prediction of the
mechanical characteristics of joints over the years.
However, the connection types are numerous and their
mechanical characters are different and complicated.
Because of this, it was very difficult to obtain the
mechanical behavior of these joints before except by
costly and time-consuming physical tests [4, 710].
With functions and capabilities of the finite element
software packages ANSYS developed, using finite
element analysis software ANSYS to simulate the
overall and detailed behaviors of a semi-rigid joint
system is an attractive option.
Latticed domes with semi-rigid joints were also
studied by researchers these years, especially for their
buckling performances. For example, the structural
performance of single-layer latticed domes with
MERO joints has been studied by Chenaghlou [11].
Murakami [12] analytically studied the elastic
buckling behavior of a semi-rigidly jointed single
layer lattice dome under gravity load. Kato et al. [13,
14] discussed the effect of semi-rigidity of joints on
the reduction of failure loads in spherical domes.
However, more parameters should be taken into
consideration when the analysis of a single-layer dome
with semi-rigid joints is carried out, and the key
parameters affecting the load carrying capacity of a
dome should be identified.
The ball joint systems are widely used in space
structures, such as a hollow spherical connector
invented by S. Du Chateau and the MERO joint system
designed by Dr Mengeringhausen. In this paper the
moment-rotation curves of a widely used bolt-ball joint
system are obtained through three-dimensional
numerical simulation using solid element SOLID45,
contact elements TARGET170 and CONTA173 in
finite element software ANSYS. The simulation
results were verified through experiments. With both
geometric and material nonlinearities taken into
consideration, an elasto-plastic stability analysis was
done for two kinds of single-layer latticed domes with
bolt-ball joints. The influences of many parameters,
such as bending-stiffness, torsional stiffness, ball size,
asymmetric load distribution, tube section, support
condition, on the critical load are investigated. Finally,
formulas are established for estimation of critical load
for a single-layer latticed dome with bolt-ball joint
system. They are convenient for structural designers to
use.
2. NUMERICAL SIMULATION AND
EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF BOLT-BALL
JOINTS
2.1. Geometric details and material
properties of joints
Details of the three type bolt-ball joint specimen used
in test [6] and numerical simulation are shown in Fig 1.
The system consists of spherical forged solid steel ball
joint, tubular members and fasteners (bolts and
sleeves). This joint system has sleeves between nodes
and end cones. After welding the end cones, the
members, which consist of the tube and the end cones
with bolts and sleeves, are connected to the nodes by
screwing the bots. The main difference between the
three specimens is the diameter of the bolt (d4) used in
the specimens. The stress-strain relationship for all
parts of joints was taken as elastically-perfect plastic
with a Poissons ratio of 0.3. The yield strength and
elastic modulus of ball node, end cone and sleeve were
taken as 235 MPa and 2.06 10
5
MPa respectively.
The yield strength and elastic modulus of ball node
was taken as 365 MPa and 2.0 10
5
MPa respectively.
The yield strength and elastic modulus of bolt
(including shank and nut) were taken as 430 MPa and
2.06 10
5
MPa respectively. All of these material
properties were taken from code for design of steel
structures in china. Fig 2 presents one specimen being
tested with monotonically increasing load using a
jacking apparatus in the middle of the specimen.
2.2. Finite element model
The presence of sliding, detaching, contacting between
different parts of the joint under loads are the primary
problems to be solved during the analysis. So, in order
to achieve an accurate numerical simulation of the
16 International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010
Direct Estimation of Critical Load fpr Single-Layer Reticulated Domes with Semi-Rigid Joints
Feng Fan, Hui-huan.Ma, Zheng-gang Cao and Shi-zhao Shen
behavior of a ball joint system, the model with contact
elements is established to simulate the complicate
interactive forces between two surfaces in contacting
with each other during loading. In the model, solid
element SOLID45 in ANSYS was used to simulate
every part of the bolt-ball joint as shown in Fig 3,
and at the same time, the interfaces between each two
parts (such as bolt and ball, bolt and sleeve, nut and
cone, sleeve and ball, sleeve and cone) can be
accurately simulated using CONTACT173 element
and TARGET170 element. The contact surfaces
simulated by CONTACT173 element and TARGET170
element located on the surfaces of 3-D solid elements
simulated by SOLID45 element.
SOLID45 is used for the 3-D modeling of solid
structures. The element is defined by eight nodes having
three degrees of freedom at each node: translations in the
International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010 17
Sectional view
Ball node
d1
d5
d
2
d
4
d
3
Bolt
Sleeve
Section A-A
A
A
R
End cone
1-ball; 2-high strength bolt; 3-steel tube; 4-end cone; 5-sleeve;
6-slot; 7-dowel pin; 8-deep-rich; 9-contact surfaces
Dimensions of connectors (mm)
Specimen 1 50
R d
1
d
2
d
3
d
4
d
5
39 114
114
114
41 20 31.2
Specimen 2 50 43.5 45 24 37.4
Specimen 3 50 51 48 48 42.1
5
2
1
8
9
6 7
4
3
Figure 1. Bolt-ball joint
Figure 2. General view of experimental set-up before
commencement of test
Ball Bolt End cone
Sleeve
Figure 3. Finite element model of bolt-ball joint
nodal x, y, and z directions. The element has plasticity,
creep, swelling, stress stiffening, large deflection,
and large strain capabilities. CONTA173 is used to
represent contact and sliding between 3-D target
surfaces (TARGE170) and a deformable surface,
defined by this element. The element are applicable
to 3-D structural and coupled field contact analyses.
These elements are located on the surfaces of 3-D
solid or shell elements without mid-side nodes. It has
the same geometric characteristics as the solid or
shell element face with which it is connected.
Contact occurs when the element surface penetrates
one of the target segment elements (TARGE170) on a
specified target surface.
2.3. Results and discussion
Comparisons of the moment-rotation (M-) curves
for the finite element analysis and test results for all
the three specimens are shown in Fig. 4. The definition
of the rotation is shown in Fig. 5. M is the bending
moment acting at the cone surface as shown in Fig. 5.
It can be seen from the comparison of moment-
rotation curves for three specimens that all the
specimens have a similar transformation process.
The relationship between the bending moment and the
rotation of the joint system is linear before the yield
strength, which indicates that the joint is in its elastic
stage, and the rotation increases rapidly with almost
the constant bending moment after the yield strength,
which indicates that the joint begins to enter its plastic
stage. The results of numerical simulation fit well with
the experimental results, especially in the earlier stage
of the curves, and the yield moments obtained through
numerical simulation and experiments are very close
to each other. Therefore, the solid model simulated in
ANSYS using contact element represents the actual
behaviors of the ball-joint system, and proves the
validity of the finite element model used for the
numerical simulation of the joint.
3. ELASTO-PLASTIC STABILITY OF
SINGLE-LAYER LATTICED DOMES
WITH BOLT-BALL JOINT SYSTEM
Based on the moment-rotation curves of the bolt-ball
joints established through numerical simulation in
ANSYS, the analysis of two kinds of single-layer
18 International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010
Direct Estimation of Critical Load fpr Single-Layer Reticulated Domes with Semi-Rigid Joints
0.00 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.10 0.12 0.14
0
1
2
3
4
5
Yield bending moment
Specimen 3
Specimen 2
Specimen 1
B
e
n
d
i
n
g

m
o
m
e
n
t

(
k
N
.
m
)
Rotation (rad)
Numerical simulation
Experimental
Cone surface

Figure 4. Comparison of moment-rotation curves


Figure 5. Scheme for Calculation of Rotation
Combin39
Beam189
z
y
o
kp1 kp2
x
Figure 6. Element used in dome model
latticed domes with bolt-ball joint system was carried
out. Both geometric and material nonlinearities are
taken into consideration to find out the overall behavior
of the domes. Fig. 6 presents the elements used in the
numerical models of two semi-rigidly jointed single-
layer domes named Kiewitt6 and Kiewitt8.
Three spring elements (COMBIN39 element) with
unidirectional freedom and nonlinear character were
used to simulate the bending and torsional capacity of
a bolt-ball joint by inputting COMBIN39 real
constants. The tube and ball in the model were both
simulated by beam element (BEAM189). The section
of the ball is greater than that of the tube because of its
bigger bending stiffness. BEAM189 is an element
suitable for analyzing slender to moderately stubby/
thick beam structures. This element is based on
Timoshenko beam theory. Shear deformation effects
are included. It is a quadratic (3-node) beam element
in 3-D. COMBIN39 is a unidirectional element with
nonlinear generalized force-deflection capability that
can be used in any analysis. The element has
longitudinal or torsional capability in 1-D, 2-D, or 3-D
applications.
Feng Fan, Hui-huan.Ma, Zheng-gang Cao and Shi-zhao Shen
The translations in the nodal x, y, and z directions of
the tube and ball are coupled. The structural models of
Kiewitt6 and Kiewitt8 single-layer latticed dome used
for analysis are as shown in Fig. 7.
3.1. Effect of bolt-ball joint bending
stiffness on critical load
The bending stiffness of a bolt-ball joint has a
significant effect on the behavior of a single-layer
latticed dome. The influence of the rigidity of joint on
the overall behavior of Kiewitt8 and Kiewitt6 single-
layer latticed domes were analyzed. The three different
moment-rotation curves established through numerical
simulation presented in Fig. 4 were used during the
analysis. It can be seen from the results presented in
Fig. 8 that the critical load carried by a dome with bolt-
ball system is much higher than that carried by a dome
with pin-joint system. The domes with a bolt-ball joint
International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010 19
L
L
(a) Model of Kiewitte6
f
f
(b) Model of Kiewitte8
L
L
Beam189 element
Cobin39 element
x
y
z x
y
z
x y
z
x
y
z
Figure 7. Model of single-layer latticed domes
Table 1. Number of rings of domes with different span and ratio of rise to span
L 30m 40m
f/L 1/8 1/5 1/4 1/3 1/2 1/8 1/5 1/4 1/3 1/2
Number of rings 5 5 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 8
system have better load-bearing capacity than that
with pin-joint system.
3.2. Effect of asymmetric load distribution
on critical load
Two different loads were defined: dead load which
was distributed uniformly all over the dome and live
load which was distributed across half of the dome.
Three different scale factors of live load to dead load,
p/g 0, p/g 0.25, and p/g 0.5, were analyzed.
As shown in Fig. 9, the critical load decreases as
ratio p/g increases. The load-bearing capacity of a
dome before buckling depends on membrane stress,
which reaches its ultimate value with increasing
external force and then changes to bending stress. The
tendency of a membrane stress towards bending stress
is restrained by a symmetric load. However, with the
unsymmetrical load, the dome subjects to non-uniform
force, and consequently, the membrane stress changes
to the bending stress quickly, leading to the buckling
of the domes, and the corresponding critical load is
therefore lower.
Tables 2 and 3 present the ratios of values. The data
in the table are results of critical loads of domes under
unsymmetrical load distribution divided by that of
domes under symmetrical load.
3.3. Effect of tube section on critical load
Four different section groups of tube were used for
analysis. As shown in Fig. 10, the bold line means
bigger section and the fine line means smaller section
in every section group listed in Table 4.
As shown in Fig. 11, the critical loads increases as
the tubular section increases.
3.4. Effect of joint torsional stiffness,
support system and ball size on
critical load
The torsional stiffness of a bolt-ball joint is small, and
so, it can be assumed to be one percent of its bending
stiffness. Five typical torsional stiffness coefficients,
0.01, 0.1, 1.0, 10, 100 (1.0 is the assumed torsional
stiffness), were taken into account for analysis.
Rotation of elements will not happen when a dome is
subjected to a load, because the torsional deflection of
nodes is restrained by symmetrical geometrical form
20 International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010
Direct Estimation of Critical Load fpr Single-Layer Reticulated Domes with Semi-Rigid Joints
Figure 8. Effect of bending stiffness of joint system on critical
load of 40m span Kiewitt6 domes
Figure 9. Effect of asymmetric load distribution on critical
load of 1/5 rise/span ratio and 40 m span Kiewitt8 domes
C
r
i
t
i
c
a
l

l
o
a
d

(
k
N
/
m
2
)
0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5
6
7
8
9
10
11
p/g
Dome with specimen1
Dome with specimen2
Dome with specimen3
Table 2. Coefficients for ultimate strength of Kiewitt8 domes for different load distribution
L 30m 40m
f/L 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/3 1/4 1/5
p/g 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5
Dome with specimen1 0.85 0.79 0.92 0.85 0.80 0.72 0.91 0.81 0.87 0.78 0.80 0.72
Dome with specimen2 0.84 0.76 0.88 0.71 0.84 0.72 0.87 0.78 0.85 0.75 0.84 0.75
Dome with specimen3 0.86 0.78 0.95 0.84 0.76 0.68 0.85 0.72 0.89 0.80 0.85 0.76
Table 3. Coefficients for ultimate strength of Kiewitt6 domes for different load distribution
L 30 m 40m
f/L 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/3 1/4 1/5
p/g 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5 0.25 0.5
Dome with specimen1 0.90 0.82 0.85 0.75 0.84 0.75 0.90 0.77 0.83 0.74 0.88 0.76
Dome with specimen2 0.84 0.75 0.88 0.71 0.83 0.73 0.92 0.84 0.85 0.75 0.78 0.74
Dome with specimen3 0.89 0.79 0.86 0.77 0.88 0.79 0.91 0.82 0.84 0.74 0.75 0.66
Feng Fan, Hui-huan.Ma, Zheng-gang Cao and Shi-zhao Shen
International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010 21
Table 4. Tube section groups
Group (mm)
number t(mm) Area(cm
2
) Inertia(mm
4
)
1 114 3 10.5 322.5
121 3.5 12.9 223.2
2 127 3 11.7 224.8
133 4 16.2 337.5
3 133 4 16.2 337.5
140 4 17.1 395.5
4 140 6 25.3 568.1
146 5 22.2 551.1
Main rib
C
i
r
c
u
m
f
e
r
e
n
t
i
a
l
Radial
L
Figure 10. Arrangement of section group
0
3
6
9
12
15
18
21
24
C
r
i
t
i
c
a
l

l
o
a
d

(
k
N
/
m
2
)
C
r
i
t
i
c
a
l

l
o
a
d

(
k
N
/
m
2
)
4 3 2 1
Tube section group
f/L = 1/3 f/L = 1/4
f/L = 1/5 f/L = 1/8
Kiewitt8 L = 30 m
Tube section group
Kiewitt6 L = 30m
0
3
6
9
12
15
18
21
24
4 3 2 1
f/L = 1/3 f/L = 1/4
f/L = 1/5 f/L = 1/8
Figure 11. Effect o tube section on critical load of domes
of a dome and the symmetrical load distribution. So, as
shown in Fig 12, the effect of torsional stiffness on the
critical load of a dome is small, and it is averaged at
about 2.4%.
Two types of supports, namely hinged support and
rigid support, were used for analysis. As shown in
Fig. 13, the effect of support condition on the critical
load of a dome is small, and it is averaged at
about 1.7%.
Six balls of 100mm, 150mm, 200 mm, 250mm,
300 mm, 350 mm in diameter, which are commonly-
used in practical projects, were used for analysis. The
rigidity of the ball is very big, and the weak link of a
dome is the junction between tubular member and ball
joint. So, ball size is not a major factor influencing the
critical load of a dome. As shown in Fig 14, the effect
of ball size on the critical load of a dome is small, and
it is averaged at about 3.5%.
3.5. Direct formula for critical load of
Kiewitt8 and Kiewitt6 domes
Based on the results obtained from parametric analysis,
we can concluded that the bending rigidity of joint,
span, ratio of rise to span and tube section are major
factors that influence the critical load of single-layer
domes with semi-rigid joints. The formula for predicting
limit loads of rigidly jointed reticulated Kiewitt6 and
Kiewitt8 domes [15] were given as:
(1)
Taking formula (1) as a reference, considering the
influences of the joint rigidity, the formula for the
q k
BD
R
cr

2
0.01 0.1 1 10 100
2
4
6
8
14
12
10
C
r
i
t
i
c
a
l

l
o
a
d

(
k
N
/
m
2
)
Rotational stiffness coefficient
f/L = 1/2 f/L = 1/3 f/L=1/4
f/L = 1/5 f/L = 1/6
Figure 12. Effect of joint torsional stiffness on critical load of
30 m span Kiewitt8 domes
critical loads of Kiewitt8 and Kiewitt6 domes with
bolt-ball joints can be expressed as:
(2)
(3)
(4)
where k
1
, k
2
and k
3
are the coefficients obtained from
the large number of the parametrical analysis. The
values of k
1
, k
2
and k
3
are given in Table 5. Parameter
R is the diameter of a dome; a is the number of rings of
a dome. The parameters are shown in Fig 15.
From Eqn (3) and Eqn (4), reflects the influence
on critical load caused by span (L), ratio of rise to span
(f/L) and the number of rings (a). in Eqn (2) is the
slenderness ratio of main rib in a dome.
(5)
where l, I and A are length, inertia moment and area of
main rib respectively, which reflect the influences on
critical load caused by different tube sections. B is the

l
I A /

2a
tan
/
/

( )
4
4
2
f L
f L
q k k k
cr

_
,

_
,

_
,

1 2
3
3
2
10 10 10

1
]
1
BD
R
2
22 International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010
Direct Estimation of Critical Load fpr Single-Layer Reticulated Domes with Semi-Rigid Joints
C
r
i
t
i
c
a
l

l
o
a
d

(
k
N
/
m
2
)
1/8 1/5 1/4 1/3 1/2
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
Ratio of rise to span
Hinged support Fixed support
Figure 13. Effect of support system on critical load of 30 m
span Kiewitt8 domes
Figure 14. Effect of ball size on critical load of 30m
span domes
Figure 15. Geometric parameters of dome
Figure 16. Derivation of Eqn. (5)
C
r
i
t
i
c
a
l

l
o
a
d

(
k
N
/
m
2
)
0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
Diameter of ball (m)
f/L = 1/3 f/L = 1/4 f/L = 1/5
Table 5. Values of coefficients k
1
, k
2
, k
3
Dome type Kiewitt8 Kiewitt6
f/L 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/8 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/8
k
1
1.49 2.38 3.39 2.82 1.05 1.96 2.99 3.93
k
2
4.79 1.41 2.67 2.43 0.45 1.40 3.06 3.93
k
3
23.71 25.18 33.30 13.62 1.14 2.21 5.04 1.41
R
L
f

/n/n
2
c
1
a
1
2
1

c
2
2
circumferential
r
a
d
i
a
l
Feng Fan, Hui-huan.Ma, Zheng-gang Cao and Shi-zhao Shen
average value of equivalent membrane stiffness in
radial and circumferential directions shown in Fig 16.
D is the average value of equivalent bending
stiffness in radial and circumferential directions. They
can be calculated using the following equations [15]:
(6)
(7)
It can be seen from Table 6 that most of the
aberrations are close to 5%. In addition, different
distribution of asymmetric loads is also an important
factor having an influence on the critical load of a
latticed dome. In order to extend the formula to
latticed domes under asymmetric loads, Eqn. (2) can
be transformed as shown below:
(8)
q k k k
cr q

_
,

_
,

_
,


1 2
3
3
2
10 10 10

1
]
1
BD
R
2
B
B B
D
D D

+
11 22 11 22
2 2
B
EA EA
B
EA EA
c
c
c
c
11
1
1
4
22
2
2
+ +

sin c oos
sin
4
11
1
1
4
22
2
2

D
EI EI
D
EI EI
c
c
+ +

cc
c

cos
4

International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010 23
Figure 17. Values of
q
for different loading
Table 6. Comparison of critical load obtained using Eq. (1) with that established using ANSYS
(q
cr1
means critical load obtained by Eqn. (1), q
cr2
means critical load obtained from elasto-plastic stability
analysis in ANSYS)
Section group 1 2 3 4
Aberr- Aberr- Aberr- Aberr-
Dome ation ation ation ation
type Span f/L q
cr1
q
cr2
(%) q
cr1
q
cr2
(%) q
cr1
q
cr2
(%) q
cr1
q
cr2
(%)
1/3 11.61 11.39 1.87 14.05 14.08 0.33 15.49 15.00 3.12 19.34 19.43 0.58
30 m
1/4 10.33 10.06 2.71 12.24 12.37 1.02 13.41 13.02 3.02 16.73 16.94 1.27
1/5 9.82 9.71 1.16 11.41 11.63 1.92 12.29 12.02 2.22 15.09 15.36 1.76
Kiewitt8
1/8 4.43 4.55 2.63 5.56 5.44 2.29 6.26 6.10 2.68 7.93 8.09 1.95
1/3 7.02 7.28 3.16 8.78 9.08 3.3 10.04 9.71 3.29 12.96 12.75 1.62
40 m
1/4 6.60 6.99 5.7 8.21 8.68 5.45 9.34 9.03 3.38 12.02 11.73 2.48
1/5 5.98 6.12 2.38 7.31 7.75 5.72 8.20 8.01 2.38 10.44 10.33 1.1
1/8 2.08 2.20 5.73 2.63 2.58 1.88 2.97 2.91 2.21 3.78 3.8 1.52
1/3 8.74 9.70 9.89 11.70 10.67 9.63 13.71 13.88 1.21 17.55 17.62 0.40
Kiewitt6 30 m
1/4 8.68 9.32 6.9 11.53 10.62 8.55 13.42 13.41 0.09 17.11 17.38 1.56
1/5 7.98 8.66 7.82 10.49 9.62 9.05 12.10 11.97 1.12 15.35 15.65 1.94
1/8 5.32 5.62 5.30 6.84 6.58 3.88 7.76 7.55 2.75 9.73 9.97 2.42
1/3 5.72 5.74 0.41 7.62 6.96 9.53 8.98 9.12 1.59 11.51 11.80 2.43
40 m
1/4 5.71 6.08 6.15 7.62 6.94 9.76 8.91 9.18 3.00 11.38 11.41 0.29
1/5 5.14 5.45 5.77 6.81 6.13 9.28 7.91 8.07 2.03 10.07 10.14 0.72
1/8 2.53 2.66 4.92 3.27 3.13 4.42 3.73 3.65 2.07 4.69 4.79 2.17
g
g
g
p
= 1.000
p
p/g = 0
p/g = 1/4
p/g = 1/4
= 0.835
= 0.835
q

The influence of the distribution of asymmetric load


can be taken into account using coefficient
q
, and the
values of
q
are given in Fig17 for different
distribution of load.
4. CONCLUSIONS
The analytical results of bending stiffness for joints
obtained through numerical simulation in ANSYS
using SOLID45, CONTACT173 and TARGET170
elements were verified through experiments, which
indicates that the actual bending stiffness of a bolt-ball
joint system can be properly predicted using the model.
Using nonlinear beam elements (beam189 element)
with end spring elements (combin39) in ANSYS,
Kiewitt8 and Kiewitt6 latticed domes with bolt-ball
joints were analyzed with the influence of bending
stiffness, torsional stiffness, ball size, asymmetric load
distribution, tube section, support system taken into
consideration. It can be seen from the results of analysis
that the rigidity of joint, span, ratio of rise to span,
tube section and distribution of asymmetric load are
major factors having influence on the critical load of
single-layer semi-rigidly jointed domes. Besides, the
effect of the torsional stiffness of a joint, ball size and
support condition on the critical load of a dome are
small, and they are averaged at about 2.4%, 3.5%, and
1.7% respectively.
From the results obtained through systematic
parametric analysis, a formula was established for direct
estimation of critical load during the design of a single-
layer dome with semi-rigid joints, and most aberrations
with the critical load obtained from the elasto-plastic
stability analysis in ANSYS are in the range of 5%. In
addition, the formula was also given for the case when
the distribution of asymmetric load is taken into
consideration. The formulas are convenient for the
structural designers to use in actual structural design.
The study on a single-layer latticed dome with
bolt-ball joints indicates that such a dome has a good
load-bearing capacity. It can therefore be concluded
that a single-layer latticed dome with semi-rigid joint
of bolt-ball system can be a good choice for a space
structure with a small or medium span.
ACKNOWLEDGENENTS
This work is supported by Natural Science Foundation
of China under Grant NO. 50778054.
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24 International Journal of Space Structures Vol. 25 No. 1 2010
Direct Estimation of Critical Load fpr Single-Layer Reticulated Domes with Semi-Rigid Joints