A software-based optimization for design of steel halls

For steel halls with open sections and bolted end-plate connections

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To optimize steel halls for this thesis, an optimization tool is created. This tool creates a parametric model and optimizes this model to its costs. The connections in the tool are limited to beam-column connections.
The optimization starts with the input variables of the model, the most important input variable is the type of the beam-column connection. This can vary between a hinged, semi-rigid or fully rigid connection. Other inputs are the list of profiles that need to be considered, the loads acting on the hall and the main dimensions and topology.
With all of these inputs the parametric model can be created. This model is then put into the finite element software RFEM, which calculates all the internal forces and deformations in the structure. Then with python code created for this thesis the strength and deformations for the structure are checked according to NEN-EN 1993. In case the structure is not sufficient the profile sizes are increased. This keeps increasing until the structure is sufficient. For the connection design used in this study a database is created with all possible bolted end-plate connections of the four different connection designs used in this research. Of all these possible connections the stiffness and bending moment resistance were calculated with the component method. These values are added in the database.
With the selected connection input a list is created from this database with all the connections that have a stiffness within the range of § 10% of the wanted stiffness. Then for each connection in this list the cost is calculated. This list is then sorted on the costs from lowest to highest cost. After the complete connection list is created, the first connection of this list is checked in the component based finite element software IDEA StatiCa for the deformations and strength. In case the connection is sufficiently strong according to the Eurocode, the stiffness of the connection with the actual forces is checked with the component method. This is a python script created for this tool. In case the stiffness is not within the wanted range it checks the second connection from the list. After the connection loop all the results of the optimized structure are saved. When all the results are saved, the loop is repeated for different topologies and different connection types. With these results the most cost-efficient structure design can be found including the connection design.