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Engineering Structures 28 (2006) 207215

www.elsevier.com/locate/engstruct

Experimental investigation of aluminum alloy circular hollow section


columns
Ji-Hua Zhu, Ben Young
Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
Received 9 January 2005; received in revised form 13 July 2005; accepted 21 July 2005
Available online 4 October 2005

Abstract
This paper presents an experimental investigation of aluminum alloy circular hollow sections subjected to pure axial compression between
fixed ends. The specimens were fabricated using 6063-T5 and 6061-T6 heat-treated aluminum alloy. The test program included 29 column tests
which were separated into 4 test series of different type of aluminum alloy and cross-section geometry. Each test series contained at least 5 columns
with both ends transversely welded to aluminum end plates using the Tungsten Inert Gas welding method, and 2 columns without welding of end
plates. Hence, the effects of welding on aluminum alloy columns could be investigated. The specimen length ranged from 300 to 3000 mm in
order to obtain a column curve for each test series. The observed failure modes for the column tests include yielding, overall buckling, and material
yielding in the heat-affected zone. The test strengths were compared with the design strengths predicted by the American, Australian/New Zealand
and European specifications for aluminum structures. The purpose of this paper is to present the test results of aluminum alloy circular hollow
section columns with and without transverse welds, and to check the accuracy of the design rules in the current specifications.
c 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Aluminum alloys; Buckling; Column; Experimental investigation; Heat-affected zone; Structural design; Transverse welds

1. Introduction
Aluminum tubular members are used in curtain walls, space
structures and other structural applications, and these members
can be joined by welding. The aluminum tubular members
are normally manufactured by heat-treated aluminum alloys,
because heat-treated alloys have notably higher yield stress than
non-heat-treated alloys. The advantages of using aluminum
alloys as a structural material are the high strength-to-weight
ratio, lightness, corrosion resistance and ease of production.
However, when heat-treated aluminum alloys are welded, the
heat generated from the welding reduces the material strength
significantly in a localized region, and this is known as the
heat-affected zone (HAZ) softening. It is assumed that the heataffected zone extends 1 in. (25.4 mm) to each side of the
centre of a weld [1]. In the case of the 6000 Series alloys, the
heat generated from the welding can locally reduce the parent
metal strength by nearly half [2]. The effects of welding on
Corresponding author. Tel.: +852 2859 2674; fax: +852 2559 5337.

E-mail address: young@hku.hk (B. Young).


c 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
0141-0296/$ - see front matter 
doi:10.1016/j.engstruct.2005.07.012

the strength and behaviour of aluminum structural members


depends on the direction, location and number of welds. In
aluminum structures, welds are divided into two types, namely
(1) transverse welds and (2) longitudinal welds, for the purpose
of divining their influence on member strength. Generally,
transverse welds are often used in connections, whereas
longitudinal welds are used for the fabrication of built-up
members [3]. The current American Aluminum Design Manual
[1], Australian/New Zealand Standard [4] and European
Code [5] for aluminum structures provide design rules for
structural members containing transverse and longitudinal
welds. The behaviour of non-welded and longitudinally welded
columns has been extensively investigated. Summaries of
this research can be found in Mazzolani [2] and Sharp [6].
Recently, Rasmussen [7] proposed a column curve formulation
for aluminum alloy using a simple extension of the Perry
curve. Some numerical analyses have been performed on the
behaviour of aluminum columns containing transverses welds,
as mentioned by Mazzolani [2], whereas test data have been
reported by Brungraber and Clark [8], and there are not
many other test data available. Lai and Nethercot [9] reported

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J.-H. Zhu, B. Young / Engineering Structures 28 (2006) 207215

Nomenclature
A
COV
D
E0
kc

gross area;
coefficient of variation;
overall diameter of CHS;
initial Youngs modulus;
coefficient for compression members in the
AS/NZS Standard;
L
length of specimen;
le
effective length of specimen;
n
exponent in the RambergOsgood expression;
unfactored design strength of non-welded colPAA
umn calculated using material properties obtained from tensile coupon tests for American
Aluminum Design Manual;
25
unfactored design strength of welded column
PAA,w
calculated using material properties obtained
from tensile coupon tests of 25 mm gauge length
for American Aluminum Design Manual;
PAS/NZS unfactored design strength of non-welded column calculated using material properties obtained from tensile coupon tests for Australian/New Zealand Standard;
25
unfactored design strength of welded column
PAS/NZS,w
calculated using material properties obtained
from tensile coupon tests of 25 mm gauge length
for Australian/New Zealand Standard;
unfactored design strength of non-welded column
PEC9
for Eurocode 9;
PEC9,w unfactored design strength of welded column
calculated using non-welded material properties
for Eurocode 9;
experimental ultimate load of column (test
PExp
strength);
mean value of tested-to-predicted load ratio;
Pm
ry
radius of gyration for the CHS section;
t
thickness of section;
measured column overall geometric imperfecx
tions about x-axis at mid-length;
measured column overall geometric imperfecy
tions about y-axis at mid-length;
elongation (tensile strain) at fracture;
f
c
local buckling coefficient specified in the Eurocode 9;
heat-affected zone (HAZ) softening factor specihaz
fied in the Eurocode 9;
static 0.2% proof stress; and
0.2
u
static ultimate tensile strength.
numerical results for aluminum columns having longitudinal
and transverse welds.
The purpose of this paper is firstly to present a test
program on fixed-ended aluminum alloy circular hollow section
columns with and without transverse welds; and secondly, to
compare the test strengths with the design strengths predicted
using the American Aluminum Design Manual (AA) [1],

Table 1
CHS column test series
Test series

Material

Dimension D t (mm)

N-C1
N-C2
H-C1
H-C2

6063-T5
6063-T5
6061-T6
6061-T6

50 1.6
50 3.0
50 1.6
50 3.0

Note: 1 in. = 25.4 mm.

Fig. 1. Definition of symbols.

Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS) [4] and European


Code (EC9) [5] for aluminum structures.
2. Experimental investigation
2.1. Test specimens
The tests were performed on aluminum alloy circular hollow
section (CHS) columns. The test specimens were fabricated by
extrusion using 6063-T5 and 6061-T6 heat-treated aluminum
alloys. The test specimens were supplied by the manufacturer in
uncut lengths of 4000 mm. Each specimen was cut to a specified
length ranging from 300 to 3000 mm. The test program
included 21 fixed-ended columns with both ends welded to
aluminum end plates, and 8 fixed-ended columns without the
welding of end plates. In this paper, the term welded column
refers to a specimen with transverse welds at the ends of the
column to the aluminum end plates. The term non-welded
column refers to a specimen without transverse welds at the
ends of the column, but still using aluminum end plates in the
test. Therefore, the testing conditions of the welded and the
non-welded columns are identical, other than the absence of
welding in the non-welded columns.
The specimens were separated into four series, of different
cross-section geometry and type of aluminum alloy, as shown in
Table 1 using the symbols illustrated in Fig. 1. The specimens
were tested between fixed ends. The test specimens were
labeled such that the type of aluminum alloy, test series,
welding condition and specimen length could be easily
identified, as shown in Tables 25. For example, the label NC2-W-L300-R defines the following specimen.

J.-H. Zhu, B. Young / Engineering Structures 28 (2006) 207215

209

Table 5
Measured specimen dimensions for Series H-C2

Table 2
Measured specimen dimensions for Series N-C1
Specimen

Thickness t
(mm)

Diameter D
(mm)

Length L
(mm)

Area A
(mm2 )

Specimen

Thickness
t (mm)

Diameter
D (mm)

Length
L (mm)

Area
A (mm2 )

N-C1-NW-L300
N-C1-NW-L1000

1.58
1.55

50.0
49.9

299.5
1000.9

239.9
235.4

H-C2-NW-L300
H-C2-NW-L1000

3.05
3.06

49.7
49.7

300.3
1000.6

446.1
448.7

N-C1-W-L300
N-C1-W-L1000
N-C1-W-L1650
N-C1-W-L2350
N-C1-W-L3000

1.54
1.55
1.55
1.54
1.57

49.9
49.9
50.0
49.9
49.9

300.3
1000.8
1649.8
2347.2
3000.3

234.5
235.4
236.3
234.4
238.3

H-C2-W-L300
H-C2-W-L1000
H-C2-W-L1650
H-C2-W-L2350
H-C2-W-L3000

3.05
3.04
3.06
3.05
3.06

49.7
49.7
49.7
49.7
49.9

299.8
999.0
1649.0
2349.2
2999.7

446.8
445.5
447.7
445.7
449.9

Mean
COV

1.55
0.008

49.9
0.001

236.2
0.008

Mean
COV

3.05
0.002

49.7
0.001

447.2
0.004

Note: 1 in. = 25.4 mm; COV = coefficient of variation.

Note: 1 in. = 25.4 mm; COV = coefficient of variation.

Table 3
Measured specimen dimensions for Series N-C2

specimen was tested without welding to the end plates, then


the letters NW indicate a non-welded column specimen.
The next part of the label, L300, indicates the length of
the specimen, where the letter L refers to the column
length and the following digits are the nominal length of the
specimen in millimetres (300 mm).
If a test was repeated, then the letter R indicates the
repeated test.

Specimen

Thickness t
(mm)

Diameter D
(mm)

Length L
(mm)

Area A
(mm2 )

N-C2-NW-L300
N-C2-NW-L1000

3.06
3.05

49.8
49.8

299.7
1000.3

449.6
447.9

N-C2-W-L300
N-C2-W-L300-R
N-C2-W-L1000
N-C2-W-L1650
N-C2-W-L2350
N-C2-W-L3000

3.05
3.06
3.06
3.04
3.05
3.05

49.8
49.8
49.8
49.8
49.8
49.8

300.2
300.1
999.6
1649.6
2350.0
2999.5

448.3
449.3
449.0
446.8
447.7
447.7

Tables 25 show the measured cross-section dimensions of


the test specimens using the nomenclature defined in Fig. 1. The
cross-section dimensions shown in Tables 25 are the average
measured values at both ends for each test specimen.

Mean
COV

3.05
0.002

49.8
0.000

448.3
0.002

2.2. Material properties

Note: 1 in. = 25.4 mm; COV = coefficient of variation.


Table 4
Measured specimen dimensions for Series H-C1
Specimen

Thickness t
(mm)

Diameter D
(mm)

Length L
(mm)

Area A
(mm2 )

H-C1-NW-L300
H-C1-NW-L1000

1.56
1.56

50.1
50.2

299.8
1000.2

238.3
237.9

H-C1-W-L300
H-C1-W-L1000
H-C1-W-L1650
H-C1-W-L2350
H-C1-W-L3000

1.54
1.53
1.53
1.55
1.55

49.9
49.9
50.0
50.1
50.0

301.1
999.6
1649.8
2350.5
2999.6

233.1
232.7
232.9
235.6
236.0

Mean
COV

1.55
0.009

50.0
0.002

235.2
0.010

Note: 1 in. = 25.4 mm; COV = coefficient of variation.

The first letter indicates the material of the specimen, where


N refers to the normal strength aluminum alloy 6063-T5;
and H refers to the high strength aluminum alloy 6061-T6.
The second part of the label indicates the specimen
dimension, where C2 refers to a circular hollow section
with nominal cross-section dimension of 50 3.0 mm. The
cross-section dimensions for other sections are shown in
Table 1.
If a specimen had transverse welds to the aluminum end
plates, then W indicates a welded column specimen; if a

The non-welded and welded material properties for each


series of specimens were determined by longitudinal tensile
coupon tests. The term non-welded material refers to the
material of the specimen not being heat-affected by welding,
and the term welded material refers to the material in the
heat-affected zone (HAZ) that is heat-affected by welding. For
the non-welded tensile coupon tests, the coupon specimens
were cut from the curved faces of the CHS. For the welded
tensile coupon tests, the CHS specimens were welded with two
parallel welds along the longitudinal axis of each specimen,
and the coupon specimens were cut from the curved faces of
the CHS between the parallel welds. The dimensions of the
non-welded and welded coupons are identical, having a 6 mm
width and 25 mm gauge length. Holes having a diameter of
8.5 mm were drilled near the ends of the curved coupons,
and the coupons were tested between two pins. This avoids
the bending stress that could be introduced into the singlysymmetric shaped coupons during the test upon application of
tensile stress. All the welded tensile coupon specimens were
welded by the Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding method.
The filler metal was 4043 aluminum alloy in accordance with
the American Aluminum Design Manual [1]. During welding,
when the temperature on the surface of the coupons was
approximately 200 C, a voltage of 20 V and a current of
120200 A was used, depending on the different plate thickness
of the CHS. The welding was performed at a constant speed of
120 mm/min. The depth of the welds was approximately 5 mm.

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J.-H. Zhu, B. Young / Engineering Structures 28 (2006) 207215

Fig. 2. Schematic views of column test arrangement.


Table 6
Measured welded and non-welded material properties of tensile coupons
Specimen

E0
(GPa)

0.2
(MPa)

u
(MPa)

f
(%)

N-C1-W
N-C1-NW
N-C2-W
N-C2-NW

73.0
66.7
71.6
67.1

71.3
194.6
75.3
185.9

120.9
214.4
109.7
207.7

9.9
10.0
6.9
10.4

8
17
9
8

H-C1-W
H-C1-NW
H-C2-W
H-C2-NW

72.6
67.1
71.7
70.2

92.5
286.7
94.3
278.9

148.3
310.1
161.2
284.3

10.7
10.7
10.9
11.7

16
29
16
34

Note: 1 ksi = 6.89 MPa; W = welded tensile coupon of 25 mm gauge length;


NW = non-welded tensile coupon.

This welding procedure is identical to the transverse welding at


the ends of the column specimens. The coupons were tested
according to the Australian Standard AS 1391 [10] in a 250 kN
capacity MTS displacement controlled testing machine. The
measured material properties obtained from the coupon tests
are summarized in Table 6.
2.3. RambergOsgood expression
The measured stressstrain curves obtained from the tensile
coupon tests for the non-welded and welded materials were
used to determine the parameter n in the RambergOsgood
expression [11]. The parameter n is used to describe the shape
of the curve, which was obtained from the measured 0.01%
(0.01 ) and 0.2% (0.2 ) proof stresses, and is given by n =
ln(0.01/0.2)/ ln(0.01 /0.2 ). The values of n are shown in
Table 6.
2.4. Column tests
The test program included both the non-welded and welded
columns. Schematic views of the non-welded and welded
column tests are shown in Fig. 2. The welded column test
of specimen H-C2-W-L3000 is shown in Fig. 3. A servocontrolled hydraulic testing machine was used to apply
compressive axial force to the specimen. A moveable upper

end support allowed tests to be conducted at various specimen


lengths. A rigid bearing plate was bolted to the upper end
support, which was restrained against the minor and major axis
rotations, as well as twist rotations and warping. Hence, the
rigid bearing was considered to be a fixed-ended bearing, and a
special bearing was used at the lower end support.
In the non-welded column tests, two aluminum end plates
of dimension 130 130 15 mm were bolted onto the rigid
bearing and the special bearing. The ends of the non-welded
column were milled flat by an electronic milling machine to
an accuracy of 0.01 mm, to ensure full contact between the
specimen and the end plates. After the specimen was positioned
onto the bottom end plate, the ram of the actuator was moved
slowly toward the specimen until the top and bottom end plates
were in full contact with the ends of the specimen, having a
small initial load of approximately 1 kN. This procedure would
eliminate any possible gaps at the ends of the specimen, since
the special bearing was free to rotate in any direction. The
special bearing was then restrained from twist and rotations
by using horizontal and vertical bolts, respectively. Hence, the
special bearing became a fixed-ended bearing. The fixed-ended
bearing was considered to restrain both minor and major axis
rotations, as well as twist rotations and warping. Hence, the
non-welded column specimens were considered as fixed-ended
column tests.
The welded column tests were performed using the same
test rig as those of the non-welded column tests. However, two
aluminum end plates having the same dimension as the nonwelded column tests were transversely welded to the ends of
the specimen using the same welding procedure as the welded
tensile coupons. Hence, transverse welds were introduced at
both ends of the column. Initially, the top end plate of the
specimen was bolted to the rigid bearing plate. The load was
then applied at the upper end through the rigid bearing plate.
The ram of the actuator was moved slowly until the special
bearing was in full contact with the bottom end plate of the
specimen, having a small initial load of approximately 1 kN.
Once again, this procedure would eliminate any possible gaps
between the special bearing and the bottom end plate of the

J.-H. Zhu, B. Young / Engineering Structures 28 (2006) 207215

211

Table 7
Measured overall geometric imperfections at mid-length
Specimen

x /L

y /L

N-C1-NW-L1000
N-C1-W-L1000
N-C1-W-L1650
N-C1-W-L2350
N-C1-W-L3000

1/3028
1/7881
1/12 991
1/18 482
1/47 249

1/1969
1/5254
1/1732
1/36 963
1/11 812

N-C2-NW-L1000
N-C2-W-L1000
N-C2-W-L1650
N-C2-W-L2350
N-C2-W-L3000

1/3750
1/39 354
1/3511
1/12 336
1/59 046

1/1432
1/7871
1/24 589
1/15 420
1/3149

H-C1-NW-L1000
H-C1-W-L1000
H-C1-W-L1650
H-C1-W-L2350
H-C1-W-L3000

1/562
1/1968
1/11 809
1/2080
1/23 619

1/1514
1/8745
1/6495
1/2892
1/665

H-C2-NW-L1000
H-C2-W-L1000
H-C2-W-L1650
H-C2-W-L2350
H-C2-W-L3000

1/3750
1/7866
1/11 804
1/4111
1/3149

1/1640
1/5244
1/854
1/8408
1/2249

column. The bottom end plate of the specimen was then bolted
to the special bearing, and the bearing was restrained in the
same way as the non-welded column tests. Hence, the welded
column specimens were considered as fixed-ended column
tests. It should be noted that the testing conditions of the
welded and non-welded columns were identical, except for
the transverse welds which were introduced at the ends of the
welded column.
Strain gauges were attached in the axial direction at the
mid-lengths of the 300 mm length columns. Three laser
displacement transducers were used to measure the axial
shortening of the specimens. Displacement control was used to
drive the hydraulic actuator at a constant speed of 0.1 mm/min.
The use of displacement control allowed the tests to be
continued into the post-ultimate range. A data acquisition
system was used to record the applied load and the readings of
the laser displacement transducers, as well as the strain gauge
readings at regular intervals during the tests.
2.5. Measured overall geometric imperfections
Initial overall geometric imperfections were measured on
all specimens prior to testing, except for the short specimens
of 300 mm in length. The overall geometric imperfection
measurements comprised the flexural imperfections about both
the x- and y-axes of the CHS specimen. After the specimen
was properly positioned in the test rig, an axial force of
approximately 1 kN was applied to hold the specimen in place.
Theodolites were then used to obtain readings at the mid-length
and near both ends of the specimen. The measured overall
geometric imperfections at mid-length about the x-axis (x )
and y-axis ( y ) normalized with respect to the specimen length
(L) are shown in Table 7. The maximum measured overall
geometric imperfections at mid-length were 1/1732, 1/1432,

Fig. 3. Column test of specimen H-C2-W-L3000.

1/562 and 1/854 of the specimen length for Series N-C1,


N-C2, H-C1 and H-C2, respectively.
2.6. Test results
The experimental ultimate loads (PExp ) obtained from the
non-welded and welded column tests are shown in Tables 811.
It is shown that the welded columns reached 5476% of
the test strength of the non-welded columns. A welded
column test was repeated for specimen N-C2-W-L300 and
the difference between the two test results was 6.2%. Fig. 4
shows the applied load versus axial shorting curves for both
normal strength specimen N-C2-W-L2350 and high strength
specimen H-C2-W-L2350. The experimental ultimate loads
(PExp ) for both the non-welded and welded column tests are
also plotted in Figs. 58 for each test series. The observed
failure modes include yielding, overall flexural buckling, and
material yielding in the HAZ for the short welded columns as
shown in Figs. 58 for each specimen. Fig. 3 shows the overall
flexural buckling of specimen H-C2-W-L3000.
3. Design rules and design column curves
The design strengths of the aluminum alloy compression
members were predicted using the American Aluminum Design
Manual (AA) [1], Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS)
[4] and European Code (EC9) [5] for aluminum structures. The
design rules in the AA [1] Specification for calculating the
design strengths of non-welded aluminum columns are based

212

J.-H. Zhu, B. Young / Engineering Structures 28 (2006) 207215

Table 8
Comparison of test strengths with design strengths for Series N-C1
Specimens

Test

Comparison

Non-welded

PExp (kN)

PExp /PAA

PExp /PAS/NZS

PExp /PEC9

N-C1-NW-L300
N-C1-NW-L1000

48.5
45.9

1.04
1.08

1.16
1.12

1.07
1.11

Welded

PExp (kN)

25
PExp /PAA,w

25
PExp /PAS/NZS,w

PExp /PEC9,w

N-C1-W-L300
N-C1-W-L1000
N-C1-W-L1650
N-C1-W-L2350
N-C1-W-L3000

35.9
30.3
27.9
21.4
17.3

2.15
1.86
1.87
1.61
1.43

2.41
2.02
1.86
1.61
1.43

1.33
1.22
1.32
1.46
1.69

Mean
COV

1.78
0.156

1.87
0.203

1.40
0.129

Note: 1 kip = 4.45 kN; COV = coefficient of variation.


Table 9
Comparison of test strengths with design strengths for Series N-C2
Specimens

Test

Comparison

Non-welded

PExp (kN)

PExp /PAA

PExp /PAS/NZS

PExp /PEC9

N-C2-NW-L300
N-C2-NW-L1000

102.4
86.1

1.20
1.10

1.37
1.16

1.24
1.14

Welded

PExp (kN)

25
PExp /PAA,w

25
PExp /PAS/NZS,w

PExp /PEC9,w

2.06
1.92
1.99
1.65
1.35
1.22

2.30
2.15
2.16
1.65
1.35
1.22

1.40
1.31
1.44
1.28
1.33
1.56

1.70
0.208

1.80
0.256

1.39
0.073

N-C2-W-L300
N-C2-W-L300-R
N-C2-W-L1000
N-C2-W-L1650
N-C2-W-L2350
N-C2-W-L3000
Mean
COV

69.4
65.1
65.1
48.6
35.3
28.3

Note: 1 kip = 4.45 kN; COV = coefficient of variation.


Table 10
Comparison of test strengths with design strengths for Series H-C1
Specimens

Test

Comparison

Non-welded

PExp (kN)

PExp /PAA

PExp /PAS/NZS

PExp /PEC9

H-C1-NW-L300
H-C1-NW-L1000

75.9
71.7

1.11
1.16

1.25
1.17

1.13
1.20

Welded

PExp (kN)

25
PExp /PAA,w

25
PExp /PAS/NZS,w

PExp /PEC9,w

H-C1-W-L300
H-C1-W-L1000
H-C1-W-L1650
H-C1-W-L2350
H-C1-W-L3000

47.2
39.0
36.8
25.3
17.0

2.18
1.88
1.97
1.52
1.17

2.45
2.03
1.97
1.52
1.17

1.43
1.35
1.68
1.85
1.91

Mean
COV

1.74
0.228

1.83
0.270

1.64
0.151

Note: 1 kip = 4.45 kN; COV = coefficient of variation.

on the Euler column strength. The inelastic column curve, based


on the tangent modulus, is well approximated by a straight
line using buckling constants [6]. The buckling constants were
obtained from Tables 3.33 and 3.34 of Part I-B of the

AA Specification. Local buckling strength can be calculated


using an empirical formula which was first developed by
Clark and Rolf [12]. The design rules in the AS/NZS [4]
Standard for calculating the design strengths of non-welded

J.-H. Zhu, B. Young / Engineering Structures 28 (2006) 207215

213

Table 11
Comparison of test strengths with design strengths for Series H-C2
Specimens

Test

Comparison

Non-welded

PExp (kN)

PExp /PAA

PExp /PAS/NZS

PExp /PEC9

H-C2-NW-L300
H-C2-NW-L1000

129.6
119.6

1.04
1.06

1.16
1.07

1.06
1.10

Welded

PExp (kN)

25
PExp /PAA,w

25
PExp /PAS/NZS,w

PExp /PEC9,w

H-C2-W-L300
H-C2-W-L1000
H-C2-W-L1650
H-C2-W-L2350
H-C2-W-L3000

88.0
84.5
66.9
44.6
33.0

2.09
2.10
1.85
1.42
1.21

2.34
2.24
1.85
1.42
1.21

1.44
1.56
1.63
1.77
1.97

Mean
COV

1.73
0.232

1.81
0.274

1.68
0.123

Note: 1 kip = 4.45 kN; COV = coefficient of variation.

Fig. 4. Axial load versus shorting for specimens N-C2-L2350 and H-C2L2350.

Fig. 6. Fixed-ended column curves for Series N-C2.

Fig. 7. Fixed-ended column curves for Series H-C1.


Fig. 5. Fixed-ended column curves for Series N-C1.

aluminum columns are generally identical to those in the AA


[1] Specification, except that the AS/NZS Standard reduces
the yield load of the column using a parameter kc which
is not included in the AA Specification. The EC9 [5] Code
adopts the Perry curve for the column design, and values of
the imperfection factors are listed in Table 5.6 of the EC9
Code. The effect of local buckling on column strength is
considered by replacing the true section with an effective
section. The effective cross-section is obtained by employing
a local buckling coefficient c to reduce the thickness of the
element in the section.

Fig. 8. Fixed-ended column curves for Series H-C2.

214

J.-H. Zhu, B. Young / Engineering Structures 28 (2006) 207215

The strength of an aluminum column with transverse welds


(welded column) depends on the location and number of
welds [1]. For CHS columns with transverse welds at the
ends only, the design equations given by the AA and AS/NZS
specifications are identical to the design equations of nonwelded columns. However, the design strength of CHS welded
columns is calculated using the welded mechanical properties
and the buckling constants are obtained from Table 3.33
of Part IB of the AA Specification regardless of temper
before welding. It should be noted that the AA and AS/NZS
specifications specified the welded material properties should
be obtained from a 250 mm (10 in.) gauge length across a
butt weld. In this study, the welded material properties were
obtained from the welded tensile coupon tests with a 25 mm
gauge length parallel to the welds, and the material properties
were used in calculating the AA and AS/NZS design strengths
of the welded columns. The EC9 Code uses a factor haz to
consider the weakening effects of welding on column strength,
and haz is equal to 0.60 and 0.50 for the 6000 Series alloys of
T5 and T6 conditions, respectively, as shown in Table 5.2 of the
Code.
Tables 811 show the ratios of test strengths to unfactored
design strengths for Series N-C1, N-C2, H-C1 and H-C2,
respectively. In calculating the design strengths, the CHS
fixed-ended columns were designed as concentrically loaded
compression members, and the effective length (le ) was taken
as one-half of the column length (L). This is because the fixedended bearings are restrained against the major and minor axes
rotations, as well as twist rotations and warping. The design
strengths were calculated using the measured cross-section
dimensions, as summarized in Tables 25. Material properties
obtained from tensile coupon tests were used to calculate
the design strengths, and the 0.2% proof stress was used as
the corresponding yield stress. The AA and AS/NZS design
strengths of the non-welded columns (PAA , PAS/NZS ) were
calculated using the material properties obtained from tensile
coupon tests of the non-welded material. The AA and AS/NZS
25 , P 25
design strengths of the welded columns (PAA,w
AS/NZS,w )
were calculated using the material properties obtained from
tensile coupon tests of the welded material having 25 mm gauge
length parallel to the welds. The EC9 design strengths of both
the non-welded (PEC9 ) and welded (PEC9,w ) columns were
calculated using the material properties obtained from tensile
coupon tests of the non-welded material, while a factor haz was
used in calculating the welded column strengths as specified in
the Code. Figs. 58 show the non-welded and welded column
design curves for each test series. The theoretical elastic
flexural buckling loads of the fixed-ended columns are also
shown in these figures.
4. Comparison of test strengths with design strengths
The fixed-ended column test strengths (PExp ) are compared
with the unfactored design strengths predicted using the
American (AA), Australian/New Zealand (AS/NZS) and
European (EC9) specifications for aluminum structures, as

shown in Tables 811 for Series N-C1, N-C2, H-C1 and HC2, respectively. The test strengths are also compared with the
column design curves obtained from the three specifications, as
shown in Figs. 58. For the non-welded columns, it can be seen
that the design strengths predicted by the AA, AS/NZS and EC9
specifications are conservative, as shown in Tables 811. The
load ratios PExp /PAA , PExp /PAS/NZS , and PExp /PEC9 ranged
[1.041.20], [1.071.37] and [1.061.24] respectively, for all
series.
For the welded columns, it is shown that the design strengths
25 ) and AS/NZS (P 25
predicted by the AA (PAA,w
AS/NZS,w )
specifications are quite conservative, as shown in Tables 811.
For the 6063-T5 normal strength aluminum alloy of Series
25
and
N-C1, the mean value of the load ratios PExp /PAA,w
25
PExp /PAS/NZS,w
are 1.78 and 1.87, with the corresponding
COV of 0.156 and 0.203, respectively. For Series N-C2, the
25
25
and PExp /PAS/NZS,w
mean value of the load ratios PExp /PAA,w
are 1.70 and 1.80, with the corresponding COV of 0.208 and
0.256, respectively. Similar results were obtained for the 6061T6 high strength aluminum alloy of Series H-C1 and H-C2, as
shown in Tables 10 and 11, respectively.
The design strengths predicted by the EC9 Code (PEC9,w )
are also conservative for all welded columns. It is shown
that the design strengths predicted by the EC9 Code for the
welded columns of 6061-T6 high strength aluminum alloy are
relatively more conservative than the welded columns of 6063T5 normal strength aluminum alloy, as shown in Tables 811.
This could be due to a conservative value of haz being used for
6061-T6 aluminum alloy. For the normal strength aluminum
alloy of Series N-C1 and N-C2, the mean values of the load
ratio PExp /PEC9,w are 1.40 and 1.39, with the corresponding
COV of 0.129 and 0.073, respectively. For the high strength
aluminum alloy of Series H-C1 and H-C2, the mean values
of the load ratio PExp /PEC9,w are 1.64 and 1.68, with the
corresponding COV of 0.151 and 0.123, respectively. It can
be seen that the design strengths predicted by the EC9 Code
are less conservative compared with the AA and AS/NZS
specifications for the welded columns.
5. Conclusions
A test program on aluminum alloy circular hollow
section fixed-ended columns has been presented. The test
program consisted of column specimens with and without
transverse welds. Overall initial geometric imperfections
of the specimens were measured. A comparison of the
column test strengths with the design strengths predicted
by the American, Australian/New Zealand and European
specifications for aluminum structures has been presented.
The design strengths predicted by the three specifications
are conservative for non-welded columns, whereas the design
strengths predicted by the three specifications are even more
conservative for welded columns compared with non-welded
columns. Generally, the design strengths predicted by the
European Code are less conservative than the design strengths
predicted by the American and Australian/New Zealand
specifications for aluminum circular hollow section columns
containing transverse welds.

J.-H. Zhu, B. Young / Engineering Structures 28 (2006) 207215

Acknowledgment
The authors gratefully acknowledge the Asia Aluminum
Manufacturing Company for supplying the test specimens.

[6]

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