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J. Construct.

Steel Research 15 (1990) 255-285

Shear Connection between Composite Slabs and Steel


R. M. Lloyd & H. D. Wright*

University of Wales College of Cardiff, School of Engineering, Division of Structural
Engineering, PO Box 917, Newport Road, Cardiff CF2 1XH, UK

(Received 6 June 1989; revised version received 6 September 1989;

accepted 1 December 1989)


An investigation is reported in which 42 'through-deck' push-out tests were

conducted on specimens that incorporated trapezoidal profiled steel sheets
and headed shear connectors. Objectives of the tests were (a) to study the
effects of varying basic through-deck push-out test parameters in order to
recommend a standard configuration for such tests and (b) to study the
effect of practical sheeting-joint details on connection strength. On finding
that ultimate connection strengths for the majority of the tests fell below
current code-design values, a method to predict the observed ultimate
strengths was sought. The method presented is based upon a wedged-shear-
cone failure mode as observed throughout the tests.


Ac A r e a of concrete
b Slab breadth
br M e a n trough width
Dp Over-all profile depth
Ds Over-all slab depth
fcu Characteristic concrete strength
h Over-all height of stud

*To whom correspondence should be addressed.

J. Construct. Steel Research 0143-974X/90/$03.50 ~) 1990 Elsevier Science Publishers Ltd,
England. Printed in Great Britain
256 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

hp Projection height of stud (h - Op)

k Connection modulus
N N u m b e r of studs per trough
Qk Characteristic connection resistance
s Stud spacing (transverse)
w~ Over-all trough width
w2 Width of trough bottom flange
x Stud off-centre dimension


Composite beams formed by connecting the concrete slab to the support-

ing steel sections have been in use for many years, particularly in bridge
construction. Much of the research 1-3 into this form of construction has
concentrated on the situation whereby the concrete slab has a fiat soffit
formed with conventional shuttering. The shutters often abut the top
flange of the steelwork, which allows intimate contact between the
concrete and steel. In this situation, the connectors may be shop-welded to
the top flange of the steelwork.
Recently, composite connection between steel beams and composite
slabs has been made possible and has been used to great effect in m o d e r n
office buildings. The composite slab is cast by using a p e r m a n e n t profiled
steel-sheet form, which acts compositely with the topping concrete by
virtue of chemical bond and physical keying. 4 As the profiled steel sheet is
laid over the structural steelwork, there is no direct connection between
the concrete and the main steel section. The shear connectors therefore
have to be welded through the steel sheeting on site. A typical floor
constructed in this manner is shown in Fig. 1.
In the design of composite beams, the strength of the shear connection is
of great importance. The direct shear strength of connectors may be
evaluated by using a representative model test known as the push-out test.
A standard arrangement for such a test is given in several codes of
practice, 5"6 including BS5400, 7 and is shown in Fig. 2. This arrangement,
with two solid-concrete blocks into which the connectors are e m b e d d e d ,
models a composite beam formed with flat soffit slabs.
No defined alternative is suggested for beams with profiled steel
sheeting. Fisher 8 conducted through-deck push-out tests and found that
specimens that included the profiled steel sheeting reduced both the
strength and stiffness of the connection for several c o m m o n American
profiles. He presented an empirically based reduction formula (eqn (1)
Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 257

y she.

Shear Studs" / ~ ~ n i V e r s a l Beam

Fig. 1. Typical floor construction.

254 x 146 43 kg/m T Beam


i 150

Fig. 2. Standard CPl17 push-out test.

below) to convert solid-slab shear strengths into ribbed-slab connector

Qkr,~ = 0.36(br/Op) Qk~,d (1)
Reduction formulae to convert solid-slab shear strengths into ribbed-
slab connector strengths are included in several current codes of practice.
These formulae are usually of the form shown in eqn (2):
(0"85/V~-) ( b r / O p ) [ ( h / O p ) - 1] ---~1.0 (2)
Several researchers 9-11 have since shown that these reduction formulae
are unreliable and, in general, overestimate the strength of a ribbed-deck
258 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

This paper details an experimental study of push-out tests that were

carried out to investigate the behaviour of through-deck welded connec-
tors used in composite slab, composite beams. The initial aim of the study
was to establish a standard format for through-deck push-out tests. In
addition, the effects of practical sheeting details upon connector charac-
teristics have been investigated.
From this work, it has been possible to produce design guidance for the
reduced resistance of stud shear connectors that are welded through
profiled steel sheeting.


Through-deck push-out tests present additional variable parameters, over

and above those of the standard tests, which may affect the results. Such
parameters include the depth and geometry of the sheeting, stud positions,
and size of slab sections used. A full parametric study of all of these could
not practically be attempted. Several constant parameters, at values
typical of current practice, were therefore maintained throughout the test
The major variables investigated were slab width, slab height, and the
a m o u n t and position of reinforcement. Tests were also conducted to
investigate the effects of applying transverse loading to the slab during the
test. In addition, practical details of jointing the steel sheeting over the
support beams were simulated in several tests.
For tests in which the size of the slab sections and reinforcement size and
position were varied, the geometry of the profiled steel sheeting was
chosen to ensure that it was representative of current practice but favoured
no particular manufacturer. The profile used is shown in Fig. 3(a) and is
that suggested by the Steel Construction Institute in its design guide. 12The
profile was folded from 1.2-mm flat galvanised sheeting in the University
of Wales workshops. This decking had no stiffening ribs in the flanges, and
the shear studs could therefore be welded centrally in the troughs. For the
remaining tests, a contemporary 1.2-mm-thick deck (Alphalok), manufac-
tured by Alpha Engineering Services, was used (Fig. 3(b)). Alphalok
incorporates a re-entrant portion of sheeting on the upper flange and has a
large central stiffening rib in the lower flange. Consequently, the studs had
to be welded to one side of the stiffener. For the purpose of the tests, the
studs were positioned in the rear of the troughs (see Fig. 6 described later),
this arrangement being chosen to ensure that the greater portion of
concrete occurred in front of the stud under shear loading.
A typical 'light' slab thickness of 115 mm was chosen for all the tests with
Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 259


125 2~ 125
.N /
\ \ A
A 1 120 20 140

Fig. 3. Profiles used in push-out tests. (a) S.C.I generic profile. (b) Alphalok.

100-mm-long x 19-mm-diameter headed shear studs. Normal-weight con-

crete of nominal strength 35 N/mm 2 was used throughout the tests and was
produced with aggregate of maximum particle size 10 mm.
The first variable to be investigated was the width of the slab. By using a
c o m m o n slab height of 900 m m , five sets of tests with widths of 450,675,
900, 1125 and 1350 m m were carried out. All included a layer of A98 mesh
reinforcement laid directly upon the upper flanges of the deck.
Tests to investigate the effect of reinforcement details on behaviour
were then carried out. A193 and A142 mesh-reinforcement tests were
conducted for comparison with the A98 mesh tests already conducted. In
addition, several tests were conducted with the mesh placed at the level of
the stud head, i.e. with 20-mm concrete cover.
A single set of tests was conducted next to determine the effects of
reducing the number of profile pitches in the specimens. The tests were
constructed with two pitches to give a slab height of 600 m m for
comparison with the three-pitch (900-ram) tests previously conducted.
The application of transverse moments to a set of push-out tests was the
last comparison made with the S.C.I. deck. Transverse m o m e n t was
applied to a 900-mm 900-mm (three-trough) specimen by means of four
heavy-duty sash clamps secured between the two slabs on the outer edges
of the upper and lower troughs. Between each clamp and the concrete
slab, on one side of the specimen, was a load cell connected to a digital
readout. Prior to application of the main load, the clamps were tightened,
an even pressure being maintained on each, until a longitudinal crack
260 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

appeared centrally along the specimen. This load was then maintained on
the clamps throughout the main test. This arrangement more accurately
simulated the real action of a slab hogging over the beam.
The final comparisons investigated practical sheeting details upon
connection characteristics. A set of control tests was conducted with
sheeting continuous over the beam, and three practical details were then
considered: sheeting discontinuous along the beam line with a butt joint
adjacent to the shear connectors; sheeting discontinuous along the beam
line, with a staggered stud pattern used to ensure that both sheeting
portions were fixed to the beam; and finally sheeting running parallel to
the beam with a lap joint adjacent to the shear connectors.
General arrangements for the tests are shown in Figs 4, 5 and 6 and
individual test details are given in Table 1. For each test arrangement,
three identical tests were carried out to confirm behaviour. Typical
specimen instrumentation is shown in Fig. 7.
All the specimens were cast in purpose-built formwork that allowed a
range of slab widths and various numbers of troughs to be cast onto a
standard length of 'I' beam. The specimens were cast in an inverted
position to ensure that voids would not form directly behind the stud shear
connectors. Striking of the formwork was carried out 24 hours after
casting, and each specimen was cured under damp hessian for seven days

Varies 450 - 1 3 5 0 rnm

100 x 19 115
Studs !

, +, _ i


Mesh R e i n f o r c e m e n t 55
Varies in Size a n d P o s i t i o n

Fig. 4. Profiled sheet p u s h - o u t tests. G e n e r a l a r r a n g e m e n t - - S e r i e s S+ (All tests except S-9.)

Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 261


6001 T1300

I!I r
A142 Mesh Reinforcement 55
at Top of Deck

Fig. 5. Profiled sheet push-out tests. General arrangement--Tests S-9.


100 x 1 9 115
Studs ~300
hee , [ncluded

A142 Mesh Reinforcement 155
with 40 mm Cover

Fig. 6. Profiled sheet push-out tests. General arrangement--Series A. (Note: Test A4 has
sheeting parallel to steel section.)

Test Details

Test Slab dimensions Reinforcement Comments Profile

Width Height A rea Position"
(mm) (mm) (mm 2)

S1 450 900 A98 TOD SCI

$2 675 900 A98 TOD SC1
$3 900 900 A98 TOD SCI
$4 1125 900 A98 TOD SCI
$5 1350 900 A98 TOD SCI
$6 900 900 A193 TOD SCI
$7 900 900 A 142 TOD SCI
$8 90(I 900 A 142 HOS SCI
$9 600 60(1 A 142 TOD SCI
SI0 900 900 A142 HOS Transverse moment applied SCI
A1 900 90(1 A142 40 mm Alphalok
A2 900 900 A142 40 mm Adjacent butt joint Alphalok
A3 900 900 A142 40 mm Butt joint and staggered studs Alphalok
A4 900 900 A 142 40 mm Parallel deck and adjacent lap Alphalok

"TOD Top of deck

H O ~ - H e a d of stud
40 mm--Cover
Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 263

Steel frame supporting

gauges secured to steel

Gauges omitted on this

side for clarity

Fig. 7. Profiled sheet push-out tests. Typicalinstrumentation.

and tested after 28 days. All tests were conducted under strain control in
order that the load-carrying capacities of the connectors could be
monitored after the ultimate load had been reached.


With the exception of test groups S-1 and A-4, all tests behaved in a
generally similar manner. Just prior to the ultimate load being reached or
as the ultimate load was reached, minor horizontal and vertical surface
cracks were accompanied by the concrete separating from the steel
sheeting. After ultimate load, the slabs were seen to ride over the sheeting
and cause extensive profile distortion. The slab portions remained intact
throughout the tests, although extensive cracking was often evident
towards final failure. After the tests, the concrete slab portions could be
easily removed to leave wedge-shaped cones of concrete around the stud
positions. Figures 8 and 9 show the typical failure modes of the specimens.
The concrete failure cones can be seen to be wedged in shape and do not
appear to correspond exactly with the established pyramidal pull-out cone
models. 9,1
The full-wedged concrete shear-cone failure, described above, occurred
in the lower two troughs of most slabs, with the top trough displaying
either a smaller wedged shear-cone failure or stud-shear failure. This
Fig. 8. Typical failure mode.

Fig. 9. Typical failure mode.

Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 265

Fig. 10. Beam-test wedged cone.

difference in the upper stud is probably caused by the lack of restraint to

the sheeting above the stud.
The failure mechanism of the connection in these push-out tests has
been confirmed as being identical to that found in a composite beam test.
Francis 13 conducted a series of full-scale beam tests by using a profiled
steel sheet of the same geometry. After one of these tests, an area of
concrete around a stud was removed with a diamond saw. It was possible
to lift the portion of concrete slab away from the profile with minimal force
to reveal an identical cone of concrete formed around the stud. This is
shown in Fig. 10.
Figure 11 shows a typical plot of load against relative movement
between slab and beam (slip) for these tests compared with that for
standard fiat-slab push-out tests. 14 The graph shows a high initial stiffness
and an uneven zone approximating to a plateau signifying failure, followed
by a significant drop in load-carrying capacity. There is, however, a
residual strength in the order of half the ultimate load that could be
sustained to relatively high levels of slip.
Specimens from test set S-1 generally exhibited rib-shear failure. In this
form of failure, the concrete shears along a plane level with the upper
flange of the sheeting. Whereas rib-shear failure occurred to varying
degrees in the lower troughs of these specimens, failure of the top trough
was similar to that of the larger specimens. Figure 12 shows a typical
rib-shear failure.
266 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

0 , I I 1 I 1 1 I I I

0 1 2 3 4 5 I3 7 8 9 10
Slip (mm)

Fig. 11. Load-slip-curve comparison. CPl17 (0) and profiled sheet ( + ).

Fig. 12. Rib-shear failure.

Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 267

Fig. 13. Alphalok wedged cone.

Where Alphalok sheeting was used (test groups A), very high initial
stiffnesses were again evident, and ultimate loads were slightly higher than
those of the earlier tests. Again, concrete cones were wedged in shape,
although they possessed a larger surface area than those of test groups S.
This was probably due to the influence of both the off-centre stud position
and the re-entrant portion of the deck geometry affecting the shear path.
Figure 13 shows a typical slab after failure.
The specimens in test group A-4 were cast with the ribs of the sheeting
lying parallel to the beam. Failure in these tests occurred either as a result
of longitudinal shear along the rib or by stud failure. The proximity of the
sheeting lap joint did not appear to affect the behaviour.
For many of the tests, relative movement between the concrete slab and
the beam section (Gauge B) was measured as well as that between the steel
deck and the beam section (Gauge F). Figure 14 shows a typical
comparison of these readings, through the elastic-load range of a test. It
268 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

Load (kN)





0.5 1 1.5 2 2,5 3

Slip ( r a m )

Fig. 14. Typical vertical-displacement curves. Side 1 (O)--Gauge B; Side l ( + ) - - G a u g e

F; Side 2 ( * ) - - G a u g e B; Side 2 ( D ) - - G a u g e F.

k (kN/mm)
550 r
450 ~

350 i D c: j

2 5 0 i- J
:3 D D
i D c3
150 D D2 D + #

5 0 [{. . . . . . ....... i...........~_ .........~_ . . . . . .

30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 B0 85
fen (N/ram 2 )

Fig. 15. Concrete strength versus connection modulus. CP117/BS5400 ( + ) and profiled
sheet (D).

k (kN/mm)

500 t D 2

4OO 4I a

ooT i
10o A

450 675 900 1125 1350
Slab Width (ram)

Fig. 16. Slab width versus connection modulus. Series S tests.

Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 269

Characteristic Connection Resistances

Test Qk (/Stud) Normalised Qk (/Stud) fcu

set (N/mm 2)
Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 1 Test 2 Test 3
(kN) (kN) (kN) (kN) (kN) (kN)

S1 96.3 96.2 93.3 85.1 85-0 82.5 44.8

$2 83.3 83.8 78.3 82-9 83.4 78-0 35.3
$3 79-2 100-0 90.5 74.6 94-1 85-2 39.5
$4 95"8 91.7 100.0 83.3 79.7 86-9 46.3
$5 100-2 108-5 100-0 89"8 97.2 89.6 43.6
$6 97-3 101"0 98.0 87.0 90.3 87.6 43.8
$7 100-5 95-0 89.2 97.4 92.0 86.4 37"3
$8 76.5 94-0 91.3 71-9 88.4 85"8 39.6
$9 85.7 90.7 88-7 80-4 85-1 83.2 39.8
S10 96-7 97.5 97.5 92.4 93-2 93.2 38-3
A1 113.3 107.0 113.8 108.0 102.0 108.5 38-5
A2 109.5 104.7 103.8 102.2 97.7 96.9 40-2
A3 98.0 102.7 95.8 93.4 97.9 91.3 38-5
A4 105.7 104.7 111.3 97.4 96.5 102.6 41.2

can be seen that slip of the steel sheeting relative to the b e a m is in the
region of half or less of that of the slab relative to the beam.
Connection moduli for each specimen of groups S were calculated by
using the secant values at half the ultimate load as suggested by Johnson 15
and plotted against cube strength in Fig. 15 and slab width in Fig. 16. In
both cases, the scatter of results precludes the establishment of correla-
tion. H o w e v e r , the stiffnesses of the connections can be seen to be
consistently higher than those achieved from conventional push-out
specimens. 14
A characteristic connection resistance per stud has been calculated by
dividing the ultimate load achieved in each test by the n u m b e r of
connectors used in the test. These values are plotted against concrete
strength in Fig. 17. The low connection resistances achieved in the current
tests can clearly be seen by the comparisons, shown in the figure, with the
design values suggested by BS54007 and E C 4. 6 Table 2 gives ultimate
connection resistances for each test along with the normalised resistances.
Figure 18 shows characteristic connection resistances from test groups S
plotted against the slab width. The ultimate resistances have been
normalised to a c o m m o n concrete strength (35 N/mm 2) in proportion to
the square root of the cube strength. Increasing the width of the specimen
can be seen to have little effect on the connection resistance.
270 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

Qk tkN)
j / / . -

_ - - - ~ "~ EC-4

looL::: . . . . ~ __} n =E_ ..... ~ . . . .

9o! ~

81) [: q

70 t ~ . . . . ~ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3(I 35 40 45 50
fcu {N/mm Z)

Fig. 17. Concrete strength versus connection resistance. Series S tests (D) and Series A
tests ( x ) .

Qk (KN)
100 i

90 ! LD

80 i- t3 D
i F3

70 L. . . . . I ........ = ...... z ......

450 G75 900 1195 1350

Slat) Width

Fig. 18. Slab width versus connection resistance. Series S tests.

qk lkN)
1 Ill

1 O0
:] c:

,! '
9() I g E{

/i N "
~Ill t r: cl
/ [g

90 100 110 lEO 130 140 150 160 170 IBO 190 200
Reinforcement Area (mn~)

Fig. 19. Reinforcement area versus connection resistance. Series S tests. Top of deck (E])
and head of stud ( + ) .
Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 271

The normalised connection resistances are also plotted against areas of

reinforcement included for each test in Fig. 19. The location of the
reinforcement is also noted in this figure. The variations in reinforcement
quantity and position appear to have little effect on the resulting
connection resistance. This result was confirmed from observations of the
wedged shear cones in these tests. In the extreme case, where the mesh is
laid on the upper flange of the profiled sheeting with one wire running as
close as possible to the shank of the stud (i.e. providing maximum
interference to the cone), no variation in shear-cone shape was observed.
The application of transverse moment to a push-out test specimen
appears to raise the ultimate connection capacity only marginally (see
Table 2), with the connection modulus appearing unaffected. The only
notable deviation in the characteristics of the tests where transverse
moment was applied over normal tests was in the ability of the specimens
to maintain high levels of load long after ultimate load had been reached.
From the normalised connection resistances for test groups A, as given
in Table 2, it can be seen that the inclusion of sheeting joints adjacent to
the studs or within a staggered stud arrangement causes only a very small
reduction in over-all connection resistance.


A method for predicting connection resistance can be found in an assumed

load-carrying mechanism that has been derived from observations of the
failure modes.

Failure mechanism

During the early stages of loading, there is negligible separation between

the concrete and the profiled steel sheeting. Figure 20 shows the lower
flanges of the profiled steel sheet firmly anchored to the steel beam by the
through-deck welds. The webs and upper flanges of the sheeting are
restrained from deforming by the proximity of the concrete slab, which is
itself anchored in position by the headed studs. This 'lock-in' effect
enables the steel sheeting to resist shear.
As the ultimate load is approached, plastic stud deformation is coupled
with local concrete crushing in front of the stud base and in front of the
sheeting web at the rear of the trough. Deck deformations result from this
as shown in Fig. 21. The bond between the concrete and the deck will
break, and the concrete slab then tends to ride up and over the profiled
through @@- -- T k

Deck Welds // Headed

knchor Studs Anchor
Concrete Slab
Concrete Slab

3 Deck Ridge

L )ec.k I)efol'ltla| iOh:~

I I,oeal Cru~hin~
Web Resists I
~L~f " Slip t

~h~,ar F a i l u r~,

--@ --
I~_ i ! I ]B

Fig. 20. Elastic-load-carrying mechanism, :ig. 21. Failure mechanisn~. rig. 22, Longitudinal shear path,
Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 273

sheeting. Areas of concrete locked around the studs shear from the main
slab forming the cones observed in the tests, whereas the ribs of the slab
outside the cone area remain intact.
The final failure mode appears to be caused by a combination of the
(a) longitudinal shear along the path of least resistance ( A - K in Fig.
(b) pull-out, where the surrounding slab is forced up to leave a cone of
concrete around the stud;
(c) bearing of an area of concrete behind the stud (shaded in Fig. 21) on
the rear profile web;
(d) free-edge breakout where the separation of the deck in front of the
concrete rib effectively creates a free edge (since the shear load
applied at the stud and rear-trough web are in the direction of the
free edge, failure may occur16).

Determination of the cone geometry

The suggested failure mechanism and test observations from series S have
been used to develop a geometric approximation to the surface area of the
failure cone.
The major shearing planes between the slab and the cone can be
modelled as two triangular surfaces lying on the path of least resistance
( A - K in Fig. 22), running from the head of the stud to the junctions of the
upper flanges and webs of the profiled steel sheeting. The dimensions of
the cones observed during testing are given in Table 3 and suggest that a
45 plan development for the rear shear surface from the stud (A,B,C in
Fig. 23(a)) is a suitable approximation of this plane.
Developing the cone across the top of the trough at 45 (on plan) from
the rear shear surface to define the front shear surface (C,D,E in Fig.
23(a)) again gives close correlation to the observed test-cone dimensions.
This development emphasises the effect of free-edge-breakout failure
within the depth of the trough as noted earlier.
Secondary planes are then defined between the head of the stud and
lines joining the upper flanges of the profiled steel sheeting (A,C,D and
B,C,E in Fig. 23(a)).
The concrete within the trough of the sheeting appears to be subject to a
complex stress regime where not only free-edge-breakout forces are
applied but pull-out forces also act. From the test information of cone
shapes, it would appear that a suitable approximation would involve a 45
shear plane vertical to the lines A - D and B-E. This is demonstrated in Fig.
274 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

Wedged-shear-cone Dimensions

Stud Mean cone dimensions u

F(; H-I D-E A-B

(mm) (mm) (mm) (turn)

Top 1t3 514 372

Middle 326 666 429 157
Bottom 271 531 389 133

Mean/' 298-5 598-5 409 145

"See Fig. 22.

hMiddle and bottom only.

By neglecting the small areas shaded in Fig. 23(a), an expression for the
total surface area of the wedged cone can be developed and is given in eqn
(3). This expression can be extended, as given in eqn (4), to accommodate
double-stud arrangements by the addition of a further term accounting for
the central section shown shaded in Fig. 24:
A~(ss) = 2w, X/w~/4 + h~ + w, ~ + 2w2X/~ (3)

Ac(ds) = A~(ss) + 2sX/w~/4 + h~ (4)

Cone-failure surfaces have also been proposed by Hawkins and
Mitchell,9 who suggested that a pyramidal cone shape could be used. The
expressions developed by Hawkins and Mitchell are given in eqns (5a) and
(5b) for single studs:
A~(ss) = 2k/2(hbr) (5a)
where hp < wl/2,
A,.(ss) = 2X/2(2h~ + Dpbr) (5b)
where hp > w1/2.
A comparison of the surface areas produced by using the authors'
m e t h o d and those produced by using the pyramidal shape (eqn (5a)) is
given in Table 4. These areas are quoted for several variations in profile
geometry and stud height. It can be seen from this table that the surface
area of a cone calculated by using the authors' method is between 1-49 and
2.23 times as large as the equivalent pyramidal cone. In addition, the
sensitivity of each cone to the changes in sheeting geometry and stud
Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 275

Mean Test
I .

D E Approximation

Fig. 23. (a) Wedged-shear-cone geometry; (b) centre-linesection.

Fig. 24. D o u b l e - s t u d w e d g e d - s h e a r cone.

Area Comparison

Profile Wedged cone Pyramid cone

wl = 150 52 697 35 355

w2 = 100
h v = 40
hp = 60 75 449 42 426
+43"2% +20%
Dp = 75 75 528 40 659
+43"3% +15%
Wl = 175 86 643 38 891
+64"4% + 10%
wl = 175 91 839 42 426
w2 = 125 +74"3% +20%
276 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

height can be investigated from this table. Small changes in geometry and
stud heights will result in up to 74% change in the authors' cone area
compared with 20% change in the pyramidal cone area.
The cone areas will be shown to be significant in the prediction of
ultimate connection strength, and the additional sensitivity of the authors'
cone shape is instrumental in the accuracy of the method, which will be
demonstrated in the next section of the paper.

Characteristic connection resistance

Hawkins and Mitchell '~ presented a formula of the type shown in eqn (6),
which gave a prediction of characteristic connection resistance"
Qk = KA V"]~.,,A , (6)
This was based upon the potential shear or friction developed on the
surface area of the 45 pyramidal-shaped pull-out cone as defined by eqns
(Sa) and (5b). In eqn (6), K represents an empirically derived shear-
friction factor and Z varies according to the type of concrete used.
Hawkins and Mitchell 9 obtained a K value of 0.45 from experiments on
38-ram- and 76-ram-deep decks. Jayas and Hosain 1 obtained a value of
0-61 for K when 38-mm-deep decks were tested and a value of 0.35 for K
when 76-mm-deep decks were tested with a A value of 1 for normal-weight
concrete and 0.85 for lightweight concrete. Using the experimental results
for the series S tests on 50-mm decks, the authors obtained a value of 0.36
for K. All of these results and those of Harding .4 are plotted in Fig. 25.
It is clear from this figure that the friction factors obtained by assuming a
pyramidal cone are best-fit lines to data that show considerable scatter.
The authors' test results do not substantiate this method.
The authors believe that approximating the concrete shear failure to a
pyramidal cone in this manner is too insensitive to variations in deck
geometry and stud height. Consequently, the relationship between
connection resistance and cone area was investigated in more detail.
Test results for series S and those of earlier workers 9'm'~4 were used to
plot the graph shown in Fig. 26. The logarithm of the characteristic test
resistance per stud is plotted against the logarithm of the cone-surface area
multiplied by the root of the concrete strength, the wedged-cone-surface
areas being found from eqns (3) and (4).
Figure 26 shows a clear correlation of test data with a straight line. The
original data can therefore be represented by the parabolic relationship
given in eqn (7):

Ok = 0"92(A~~"[,.~ )..34,~ (7)

Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 277

120 0.61 J&H (38mm) 0.45 H&M
I" 0.35 J & H
/ ," j / / . ~ (76ram)





50 I00 150 200 250 300 350
Ac ~ * 103

Fig. 25. Quit versus A~[f~]'5--pyramid. Profiled sheet (Q); Jayas & Hosain data t0 (+);
Hawkins & Mitchell data 9 (~t); and Harding data 14 (D).

I,I)(;I ql.~/$hld )


1 i i i i
4.5 4,75 5 5.25 5.5 5.75
LOG(A,:'(/Stud)f2T~S )

Fig. 26. Log Qult versus logAc[fc]'5--wedged, y = 0.349x- 0-036( ). See Fig. 25
for key.

By simplifying the constants, a suitable design formula is obtained that

may be used to predict connection resistance in terms of wedged-shear-
cone area (eqn (8)):
Qk = (AcV'-f~-cu) 0"34 (8)
The relationship between both these expressions and the test data is shown
in Fig. 27.
The majority of test results fit this relationship very closely. These
include results from tests made by using square and trapezoidal decks. The
results also include tests in which single studs were welded in each trough
and those in which paired arrangements were used.
278 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

1~0 Q k t S t u d Ok = 0.92 ( Ac fff~uu ) 0 . 3 4 9

J q k = ( Ac ~ )O.34

Profiled Sheet

Jayas & Hosain

H a w k i n s et al


oH 0 200 400 600

X R o b i n a o n 87 & 88

- - J
Ac(/Stud) fj~ * 10 a

Fig. 27. Q.,, versus A,.[]~.] 5--wedged.

Woh ~ I~lange l'roe

To l l e f o r m

1 No



End Trough

Fig. 28. End-web deformation.

Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 279

However, one particular test result, obtained by Robinson H (Robin-

son's results are very recent and were not included in the development of
eqn (8)), is significantly lower than the proposed design method and
hence deserves comment. The result is from a double-stud-arrangement
test in a relatively wide profile. Robinson connected the slab portions of
the push-out test specimens to the steel beam with shear studs welded in
one trough of the decking only. It is noted that the connectors are placed
close to the edge of the slab, i.e. in the end trough. Although this edge is
not in the direction of shear, the absence of a full-sheeting trough behind
the connection prohibits the rear web from contributing to the shear-
carrying capacity of this test. This is shown diagrammatically in Fig. 28. It
is felt that this effect, emphasised by using a stud pair, led to the unusually
low ultimate connection resistance.
The ability of the deck to assist in the connection has been confirmed by
Chi, 17 who carried out three push-out tests with the slab portions
connected to the beam simply by spot welds in each rib of the profiled
sheeting. Chi found that considerable connection strength existed despite
the fact that the concrete and steel sheeting were not mechanically


Rib shear was observed in all of the 450-mm-wide specimens tested by the
authors. Hawkins and Mitchell also observed rib-shear failure in one of
their specimens and expressed concern that, in the absence of a satisfac-
tory prediction model, care should be taken in the detailing of edge beams
when deep profiles were used.
From observations of the 450-mm-wide specimens, it was apparent that
rib-shear occurred in some of the troughs, whereas failure some way
between rib-shear and cone failure occurred in others. It was therefore
deduced that the width of the specimens was close to the limit beyond
which rib-shear failure becomes critical. It is possible to approximate the
rib-shear surface area in a similar way to that used for the wedged-cone
approximation, i.e. by following the path of least resistance ( A - K in Fig.
22). The resulting expressions for single- and double-stud arrangements
are given in eqns (9) and (10).

Ac,(ss) = wl ~ ~ + b ~/W~l/4 + h 2 (9)

A=,(ds) = wa X/(b - s)2/4 + h~+ (b - s) W'W~l/4+ h~, + 2s k/w~l/4+ hp2 (10)

280 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright

Both of these expressions include the breadth of the slab as a variable. As

the breadth of slab reduces, these equations predict that the rib-shear-
failure surface area also reduces and beyond a certain breadth, bcr,
becomes smaller than the wedged-shear-cone surface area. At this point, it
can be assumed that the failure mode will change from a cone failure to
rib-shear failure. If the major forces acting over these surfaces are
assumed to be similar, it is possible to equate the two areas to obtain a
value for the critical breadth of slab below which rib-shear failure is likely
to occur.
The results of this exercise for single- and double-stud arrangements are
presented in eqns (11) and (12).

bcr(ss) = A,.(ss)/h~ ~ p - w,/2hpX/A,.(ss) 2 + 4h-4 (11)

bcr(ds) = bcr(ss) +s (12)

The first of these equations was applied to the profile geometry used in test
series S, reported earlier in this paper, and gave a critical specimen width
of 473 mm. All the 450-mm specimens tested in the experimental
programme failed in rib-shear to some degree. The second equation was
applied to the tests reported by Hawkins and Mitchell '~ where several
profile geometries were used. The only specimen of breadth less than that
calculated to produce rib-shear is the only specimen reported by Hawkins
and Mitchell to have failed by rib-shear.


The experimental study reported in this paper has confirmed that the
resistance of through-deck welded shear-stud connectors cast in slabs with
profiled steel sheeting as permanent formwork will depend upon the
geometry of the sheeting and stud height. The ultimate resistance of the
connection between these slabs and the steel beam can be considerably
less than the connection in solid slabs.
The failure mode of the connection can be one of concrete shear, with
the concrete slab moving up and over the deck to leave a wedge-shaped
cone of concrete around the shear stud. When the slab is narrow, the shear
plane extends for the full width of the slab and produces rib-shear failure.
Maintaining the stiffness of the profiled steel sheeting in a longitudinal
direction beyond the shear-connector position is essential in order to avoid
further reduction in connector strength. A full rib of concrete should be
Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 281

provided beyond the connector position in order that the full strength of
the connection is obtained.
As the profiled steel sheeting and concrete act together during the early
loading range there is increased resistance to slip over that for a plain slab,
and this enhances the over-all stiffness of the composite connection.
A geometric approximation to the surface area of the wedged shear
cone has been derived and presented for single studs and stud pairs. The
approximations are more sensitive to variations in deck and stud geometry
than those for pyramid-shaped cones.
A parabolic relationship between the wedged-cone-surface area and the
connection resistance has been determined from the authors' test results
and those of several other researchers. This is of simple form and gives
more accurate results than the Fisher formula proposed for the new British
Standard BS5950 Pt 3.
An equation to predict the minimum specimen width that can be used
before rib-shear failure occurs is also presented. The formula closely
predicts the critical widths for the test specimens that exhibited rib-shear
The main aim of the experimental programme was to define a standard
size of test that could be used for through-deck push-out tests. It is
suggested that at least three full pitches of the profile under consideration
are used and that a width 200 mm wider than that calculated to avoid
rib-shear is used. Both these dimensions will vary with the geometry of the
profile and the height of the stud. A conservative square slab where the
size is determined by the profile pitch ( 3) has been adopted as a standard
for future tests in Cardiff.
Secondary aims of the programme were to investigate if reinforcement
size and position would have an effect on connector strengths. Variations
in size and position of reinforcement had no discernible effect. It would
also appear that transverse slab bending has little effect on the ultimate
connection resistance.
Although this paper presents work on a model test, the results are
applicable to full-scale composite beams that use slabs cast with profiled
steel sheeting acting as permanent formwork. Push-out tests are the main
way of predicting stud strengths for composite beams with solid slabs.
Experimental verification of stud strengths for composite beams formed
with composite slabs would require tests to be conducted for every
combination of deck geometry and stud height. The simple formulae
presented in this paper obviate the need for this expensive testing. It is also
believed that the rib-shear limit could be applied in edge-beam design to
determine the minimum edge distance.
282 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright


This investigation has been funded by the Civil Engineering C o m m i t t e e of

the Science and Engineering Research Council, with additional assistance
from the Steel Construction Institute. The authors wish to thank their
sponsors and also acknowledge the help and assistance given by the
technical staff in the University.


1. Mainstone, R. J. & Menzies, J. B., Shear connectors in steel-concrete

composite beams for bridges. Concrete, 1 (1967) 291-302.
2. Oilgaard, J. G., Slutter, R. G. & Fisher, J. W., Shear strength of stud
connectors in lightweight and normal-weight concrete. A1SC Eng. J., 8(2)
(1971) 55-64.
3. Johnson, R. P. & Oehlers, D. J., Analysis and design for longitudinal shear in
composite T-beams. Proc. ICE, 71 (1981) 98%1021.
4. Wright, H. D., Evans, H. R. & Harding, P. W., The use of profiled steel
sheeting in floor construction. J. Construct. Steel Res., 7 (1987) 279-95.
5. CP117, Pt 1: 1965. Composite construction in structural steel and concrete.
Pt 1. Simply-supported beams in building. British Standards Code of
Practice, British Standards Institute, London, 1965.
6. EC 4 (Draft): 1985. Industrial processes: Building and civil engineering:
Common unified rules for composite steel and concrete structures. Commis-
sion of the European Communities, Brussels, 1985.
7. BS5400: Pt 5: 1979. Steel, concrete and composite bridges. Pt 5. Code of
practice for design of composite bridges. British Standards Institution,
London, 1979.
8. Fisher, J. W., Design of composite beams with formed metal deck. AISC
Eng. J., 7(2) (1970) 88-96.
9. Hawkins, N. M. & Mitchell, D., Seismic response of composite shear
connections. ASCE J. Struct. Eng., 110 (1984) 2120-36.
10. Jayas, B. S. & Hosain, M. U., Composite beams with perpendicular
ribbed-metal deck. Taken from: Behaviour of headed studs in hollow
composite beams. Structural Engineering Report No. 30, Department of
Civil Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada,
11. Robinson, H., Multiple stud shear connections in deep-ribbed metal deck.
Can. J. Civ. Eng., 15 (1988) 553-69.
12. Steel-framed multi-storey buildings. Section 1, Structural design recom-
mendations for composite floors and beams using steel decks. C O N S T R A D O
13. Francis, R. W., The design of composite elements. PhD thesis, University of
Wales, College of Cardiff, to be submitted.
14. Harding, P. W., The behaviour of composite floor decks. PhD thesis,
University of Wales, College of Cardiff, to be submitted.
Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 283

15. Johnson, R. P., Composite Structures of Steel and Concrete. Volume 1:

Beams, Columns, Frames and Applications in Buildings. Granada Publishing
Ltd, 1975.
16. Embedment properties of headed studs. Design Data 10. T.R.W. Nelson
Division, 1977.
17. Chi, W. J., Experimental investigation into shear capacity of composite
steel/concrete beams utilising profiled steel sheeting. MSc thesis, University
of Wales, College of Cardiff, 1985.

A P P E N D I X : A P P L I C A T I O N OF T H E U L T I M A T E - L O A D -

By considering an off-centre stud placed within a profile trough, as shown

in Fig. A1, a similar cone-development regime to that used for central
studs can be applied. A geometric approximation can be developed for the
surface area of such a cone and extended for a stud pair as shown in eqn
(A1) (ignoring shaded areas of Fig. A1).

Ac = (wJ2 + x) ~/(wJ2 + x) z + h~
+ (3wl/2 + x) "X/(wl/2 - x) z + h~
+ w1N/4(wl/2 + x ) z + 2h~
+ 2w2V~p
+ s(~/(Wl/2 + x) 2 + h~ + V'(Wl/2 - x) 2 + h~,) (A1)

where x is +ve to the front of the trough.

This can be regarded as a general wedged-shear-cone surface-area
formulation, which can be used for central or off-centre studs in a single or
double (side-by-side) configuration.
On considering the wedged-shear cones observed in specimens using the
Alphalok profile, it is apparent that the cone extends to the re-entrant

~~~/'/ // \ \\ ///// \\\ ~'\

Fig. AI. Off-centre wedged-cone development.
284 R. M. Lloyd, H. D. Wright




Fig. A2. Alphalok wedged-cone development.

T I,~-,[11

Fig. A3. Front/rear shear-cone comparison.

portion of the profile behind the trough. The general wedged-shear-cone

formula can, however, be used to d e t e r m i n e the surface area of the cone
by adjusting the top-trough width, w], to be the top-trough width + the
distance to the re-entrant portion and by amending the off-centre
dimension to suit as shown in Fig. A2.
H o w e v e r , by considering a general profile with a stud placed at the front
of the trough and then at the rear of the trough, it can be seen that the
greater surface area will be obtained for the stud placed in the front of the
trough (Fig. A3). This will in turn produce a greater predicted connection
capacity for the stud at the front of the trough when it is generally known
that the favourable position for a stud is in the rear of the trough.
Superimposing the results of the series A tests and the results of earlier
workers, where off-centre studs have been used, onto the ultimate-
connection-capacity prediction curve (Fig. A4), a roughly even scatter of
results can be seen on either side of the curve. It can be seen that tests in
Shear connection between composite slabs and steel beams 285

Qult/Stud 0.349
120 Qult = 0.9;2 ( Ac ~ )
, +
+ . +

0 Ac ~ ) 0.34



D Front

0 i t i i i

200 400 600 800 1000

Ac(/Stud) ~ * 10

Fig. A4. Quh versus Ac[fc]S--including o/c studs.

which studs were placed in the rear of the trough generally fall above the
predicted curve, whereas tests with studs placed in the front of the trough
fall below the curve by similar amounts.
It is apparent that simply changing the sign of the off-centre dimension
in the wedged-cone-surface-area formula would render the results for
off-centre studs close to the curve. However, there is no justification for
such an action, and hence at present the method should be confined to
central studs and central stud pairs only.
Consider again Fig. A3; whereas the over-all surface area of the cone
for the rear stud is much smaller than that for the front stud, it can be seen
that the area of the forward-facing shear surface (A,B,C) is much greater
than that of the front stud (C,D,E). On the assumption that the
longitudinal shear force along the path of least resistance (Fig. 21) is the
major force acting on the wedged cone, it is obvious that the forward-
facing surface of the cone is the major surface resisting such forces. Work
is now in progress to investigate the possibilities of using a weighting factor
in the surface-area expression or to neglect the less important parts of the
cone in order to predict more accurately the connection capacity for
off-centre studs by using the wedged-shear-cone-surface-area method
described in this paper. This work will be the subject of future publica-