Self-Aligning Structural Connection for Precast Concrete Wall Panels


  • Kate Cunningham Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Brunswick, Canada
  • Alan Lloyd 1 Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Brunswick, Canada
  • Samira Rizaee Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Brunswick, Canada


Due to the rise in modular construction in recent years, precast concrete construction has become increasingly common and as a result there has been a focus on improving the process. It has become popular as it can reduce construction times, be higher quality, and be more cost effective for large-scale projects; however, the industry has identified the lack of available connections for precast elements as a significant area for improvement, as well as the overall efficiency of the construction process. To address these issues, a bolted connection for use in total precast construction projects between wall panels was designed. The new connection is self-aligning and aims to reduce the accumulation of tolerance errors that can occur in precast construction. To do this, the connection uses a perforated steel frame within the wall panels that u-shaped inserts are bolted to. The frame is responsible for maintaining squareness and alignment rather than the surrounding concrete and the improved accuracy may allow for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components to be installed in     the wall framing in the plant and further reduce on-site construction times. For the horizontal connection between adjacent wall panels, a z-plate is used between u-shaped inserts, while for the vertical connections that span across floor slabs, a long flat bar connects the u-shaped inserts. This examined the fit of the connections and tested this by assembling three concrete wall panels, two lower panels and one upper panel, to assess the constructability of both the connection types.




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