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Title No. 115-S50

Shear Tests on Composite Dowel Rib Connectors in

Cracked Concrete
by Martin Classen and Josef Hegger

In steel-concrete composite girders, composite dowel rib shear

connectors can be used to transfer shear forces between the concrete
slab and the steel section. In regions with negative bending moment,
where concrete cracking occurs, the shear capacity of composite
dowel connectors may be affected by transverse concrete cracks.
So far, the internal shear-carrying mechanisms of composite dowel
connectors in cracked concrete are not clarified, and existing shear
capacity models do not account for concrete cracking. Hence, the
present paper summarizes the results of 38 shear tests, providing
novel insights regarding the pryout failure in cracked concrete.
The tests were performed in an innovative test setup allowing the Fig. 1—(a) Different geometric types of rib shear connec-
investigation of the impact of crack spacing and crack width. Using
tors; (b) composite beam with single flange steel beam
the test results, the present paper analyzes the phenomenology of
(shear connectors were cut immediately into the steel web);
pryout failure in cracked concrete.
and (c) failure modes of composite dowels.
Keywords: composite structures; cracked concrete; pryout failure; rib
shear connector; shear tests.
of steel. Today, composite dowel connectors are predomi-
nately used in engineering structures such as prefabricated
INTRODUCTION composite bridges.7 However, due to their ease of manufac-
In steel-concrete composite girders, rib shear connectors ture, excellent load-bearing and deformation properties, and
can be used to transfer shear forces between the concrete suitability for slender concrete slabs, these connectors are
slab and the steel section. Rib shear connectors are produced being applied more than ever in building construction such
in burning regular recesses into the webs of steel members. as in composite floors or parking decks.
After encasing with concrete, the vertically embedded steel Figure 1(c) gives an overview of relevant failure modes
dowels and the interstitial concrete dowels ensure a struc- for composite dowels. Under static loading, the steel dowel
tural, interlocked connection (Fig. 1(a)). Currently, a distinc- may fail due to combined shear and bending stresses;
tion is made between composite dowels with either open (for in structures with low embedment depths, a concrete
example, puzzle- or clothoid-shaped1-3) or closed (perfobond pryout failure may occur. During the pryout process, the
shape4-6) recesses. In this paper, the focus is on the shear connector causes a blowout force, acting orthogonal to
behavior of rib connectors with open puzzle-shaped geom- the applied shear force toward the smallest concrete cover.
etry, which are usually called composite dowels or Crestbond The blowout force causes tensile stresses in the concrete
connectors in the literature. These innovative connectors cover, which lead to the occurrence of a concrete pryout
have been developed as an alternative for headed studs. The cone in the ultimate limit state. Due to phenomenological
main advantages of composite dowels compared to headed parallels, the development of design models for pryout
studs are higher shear capacity and stiffness as well as suffi- failure of composite dowels was inspired by approaches
cient deformation capacity, even in high-strength concrete. for describing the blowout failure of fasteners near-edges.8
Furthermore, composite dowels allow easy manufacturing Design approaches have been proposed by Zapfe,9 Seidl,10
and yield very resource-efficient composite members. and Heinemeyer.11 These models were recently consolidated
While headed stud connectors are usually welded upright to a general technical approval12 for composite dowels, as
onto the upper flange of steel members, composite dowels their application is currently not embodied in international
are burned immediately into the webs of steel members, standards (AISC 2005a,13 ACI 318-B,14 EC415). Herein, the
allowing single flange-steel beams to be used (Fig. 1(b)). shear resistance Ppo of a composite dowel is determined by
Herein, in contrast to conventional composite members with the tensile capacity of the activatable concrete breakout cone
double-flange steel sections and headed stud connectors, the (depending on hpo1.5√fc, with hpo representing the height of
relative ineffective steel part near the plastic neutral axis is
reduced to a minimum. Consequently, composite members ACI Structural Journal, V. 115, No. 3, May 2018.
MS No. S-2016.395.R3, doi: 10.14359/51701145, was received July 21, 2017, and
with single-flange steel beams have significantly increased reviewed under Institute publication policies. Copyright © 2018, American Concrete
bending capacity and bending stiffness when having the Institute. All rights reserved, including the making of copies unless permission is
obtained from the copyright proprietors. Pertinent discussion including author’s
same constructional depth and deploying the same amount closure, if any, will be published ten months from this journal’s date if the discussion
is received within four months of the paper’s print publication.

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Fig. 2—(left) Deficits of well-known shear test setups15 for investigations in cracked concrete; and (right) single pushout tests
by Döinghaus and Heinemeyer.
the cone and √fc describing the concrete’s tensile strength) anisms and explains the phenomenology of pryout failure in
multiplied with the factor (1/η), considering the angle of cracked concrete.
diversion between shear and blowout direction. In addi-
tion, the favorable influence of transverse reinforcement is DEVELOPMENT OF TESTING PROCEDURE
considered by means of an increase factor (1 + ρD,i), with ρD,i Analysis of well-known test setups
representing the ratio of transversal reinforcement. Further- For the investigation of shear connectors in cracked
more, the model contains reduction factors χx and χy to concrete several test setups16,17,20 with specific advantages
account for overlapping pryout cones of adjoining connec- and shortcomings have been proposed in the literature.
tors. The characteristic value of the longitudinal shear resis- In general, all test setups allow one to detect the effect of
tance for pryout failure in uncracked concrete is given by concrete cracking, yielding a reduction in composite dowels’
Eq. (1). Detailed background information to this formula as shear strength. However, a discussion19 of different experi-
well as its limitations are provided by Feldmann et al.12 mental setups makes clear that most of them provide merely
qualitative information rather than quantitatively assess-
PPo = χ x ⋅ χ y ⋅ 90 ⋅ h1po.5 ⋅ f c ⋅ (1 + ρD ,i ) (1) able results, as they do not allow to control essential testing
parameters such as the crack width and the crack spacing.
where fc is cylinder concrete strength (MPa); ρD,i is ratio The shortcomings of previously known test setups are
of transversal reinforcement; hpo is height of the concrete presented exemplarily in Fig. 2 based on a test setup by
pryout cone (mm); and χx and χy are reduction factors to Classen,16 which is comparable to most of the test setups in
account for overlapping pryout cones. the literature. Herein, the shear load is induced by a hydraulic
Until now, experimental and theoretical investigations jack placed between the test specimen and a crosshead fixing
focused on the application of composite dowels in concrete vertical reinforcing bar (Fig. 2(a)). Besides shear stresses in
compression chords, where concrete cracking is omitted. the composite connection, the test setup yields tensile stresses
However, if the concrete slab is exposed to tensile stresses in the concrete slab. These tensile stresses are transferred to
(for example, near the interior supports of continuous the concrete via vertical reinforcing bars sticking out of the
composite beams), transverse cracking occurs. Through this, concrete slabs. Due to the one-sided introduction of tensile
the composite dowels’ shear capacity may be affected. stresses, the test setup leads to an uneven tensile stress distri-
bution in the concrete slab (Fig. 2(b)). Therefore, in the upper
RESEARCH SIGNIFICANCE half of the slab, more and wider cracks occur (Fig. 2(c)).
Former shear tests16,17 from the literature indicate that Obviously, the setup does not provide a precise control of
transverse concrete cracks significantly reduce the shear the crack spacing, which is why the reproducibility of crack
capacity of composite dowel connectors with pryout failure, patterns for identical subtests cannot be ensured with this
but so far, the internal mechanisms controlling the pryout test setup (Fig. 2(c)). Moreover, it is not possible to analyze
behavior in cracked concrete have not been clarified. Further- the shear strength behavior at a defined (given) crack width,
more, existing design models9-12 for composite dowels do as the longitudinal tension in the concrete slab results from
not yet account for concrete cracking. Hence, the present the shear stress occurring at the same time. Hence, the crack
paper illustrates the results of 38 shear tests,18,19 providing widths are continuously growing with increasing shear stress
novel insights regarding the shear behavior of composite and cannot be controlled independently from one another.
dowels in cracked concrete. These tests were conducted in Consequently, the test setup allows neither monitoring of the
an innovative test setup allowing investigation of the influ- evolution of crack width and shear capacity nor the observa-
ence of crack spacing and crack width. Based on the test tion of the relation between crack spacing and pryout load.
results, this study analyzes the relevant load-carrying mech- For the discussed test setup,15 another problem applies,
which is well-known from standard pushout tests in

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Fig. 3—Test setup with single shear connectors for analysis of transverse cracking.
uncracked concrete. An inhomogeneous distribution of shear between the cracks and their relative location to the shear
forces to the composite dowels occurs in which the shear connector are given by metal sheets inlaid in the external
connectors lying close to the load introduction are stressed area of the concrete slab (Fig. 3(a)). Exposed to longitu-
by amplified shear forces (Fig. 2(a)). To avoid inhomoge- dinal tension, concrete cracks are initiated at these predeter-
neous shear force distributions, Döinghaus21 proposed the mined breaking points, which spread over the full width of
so-called single pushout test (Fig. 2(d)). Here, only a single the concrete slab. Using this method, a reproducible crack
shear connector is tested so that a definite allocation of pattern can be provided.
applied load and shear capacity can be made, but in the setup To control crack width and shear force independently
by Döinghaus, an inadvertent eccentricity arises between the from one another, the longitudinal tension required for the
load introduction and the resulting shear force (Fig. 2(d)). crack initiation is applied before starting the shear test. For
The moment caused by this eccentricity remains rather small that reason, the concrete slab provides recesses in which
for headed studs but becomes remarkable for composite load introduction plates can be fixed (Fig. 3(a) and 3(c)).
dowels. On the one hand, the higher moments are due to These load introduction plates are connected by rods at their
the longer lever arms for composite dowels as the shear upper and lower sides (Fig. 3(d)). The plates can be moved
force transmission takes place at half of the dowel’s height, apart from one another by tightening nuts threaded to the
whereas for the headed studs, the transmission happens at rods. Hereby, the concrete in the region of the inlaid sheets
the dowel base. On the other hand, the shear capacities of is spread and forced apart. Through the resulting tensile
composite dowels (dependent on material and dimensions) stresses, precise concrete cracks can be generated, enlarged
reach a multiple of the ultimate load of headed studs. Due to to a definite crack width and, afterward, get locked by
the large eccentricity and the high shear capacities, remark- blocking the nuts (Fig. 3(e)). With the test setup in Fig. 3, up
able moments for composite dowels arise in the single to three cracks with a minimal spacing of 75 mm (2.95 in.)
pushout test, which may falsify the test results. In summary, can be produced.
the identified shortcomings of presently known test setups
require the development of an innovative testing procedure. TEST SPECIMEN AND TEST PROGRAM
Production of test specimen
Proposal for an optimized test setup The test specimens consisted of single puzzle-shaped
To rectify the mentioned deficits, an innovative test setup composite dowels that were encased in 500 mm (19.7 in.)
was developed. This test setup is shown in Fig. 3. Here, only long, 750 mm (29.5 in.) wide, and 100 mm (3.9 in.) thick
one shear connector is tested so that a distinct allocation of reinforced concrete slabs (Fig. 4(a) to 4(c)). The steel dowel
test force and shear capacity exists. This way, inhomoge- had a web thickness of 12 mm (0.47 in.) and was made from
neous shear force distributions on different shear connec- structural steel S355 (fy = 355 MPa [51.5 ksi]). Its geometry
tors are omitted. The shear force is generated by a hollow is given in Fig. 4(e). The concrete slabs were realized with
piston cylinder. Inadvertent bending moments caused by a concrete C30/37 (fck = 30 MPa [4.35 ksi]) and a maximum
an eccentricity are prevented by the usage of an L-shaped grain size of 16 mm (0.63 in.). The embedment depth of the
frame (Fig. 3(a) and 3(b)). This frame is rigidly bolted to shear connector in the concrete slab was 70 mm (2.76 in.) so
the shear connector and allows a load introduction without that there was a concrete cover of 30 mm (1.18 in.) between
significant bending effects. The reaction forces are taken up the bottom of the steel dowel and the concrete slab’s surface.
by an abutment placed between the test cylinder and spec- A foam block was placed in front of the dowel to prevent
imen (Fig. 3(a) and 3(b)). an inadvertent transfer of forces between the dowel’s front
The developed test setup can be used to precisely analyze surface and the concrete (Fig. 4(b)). Furthermore, Fig. 4(c)
the influences of crack width and crack spacing. The spacing

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Fig. 4—Test specimen.
Table 1—Test campaign
Test n Crack pattern in a composite beam Specimen Crack spacing sr, mm (in.) Crack width wr, mm (in.)

Reference S0/SR0 3 Uncracked concrete

S1 2 ≥300 (11.8) 0.25 (0.01)

S2 2 ≥300 (11.8) 0.50 (0.02)

S3 3 300 (11.8) 0.25 (0.01)

S4 2 300 (11.8) 0.50 (0.02)

S5 2 150 (5.9) 0.25 (0.01)
of crack
location of S6 2 150 (5.9) 0.50 (0.02)
S7 2 150 (5.9) 0.25 (0.01)

S8 3 150 (5.9) 0.50 (0.02)

S9 2 75 (2.95) 0.25 (0.01)

S10 3 75 (2.95) 0.50 (0.02)

SR1 2 150 (5.9) 0.25 (0.01)

SR2 2 150 (5.9) 0.50 (0.02)

Influence SR3 2 150 (5.9) 0.85 (0.033)

crack width SR4 3 150 (5.9) 1.00 (0.039)
SR5 2 150 (5.9) 1.30 (0.051)
SR6 2 150 (5.9) 1.65 (0.065)

shows the metal sheets for the crack initiation as well as the the concrete slab, each recess was surrounded by two hori-
recesses for the installation of the load introduction plates. zontal reinforcement loops (Ø 10 mm [0.39 in.]), as can be
The reinforcement (reinforcing steel B500, fs = 500 MPa seen in the photo of the reinforcement in Fig. 4(d).
[72.5 ksi]) is depicted in Fig. 4(a) and 4(b), consisting of
transverse reinforcing bars (“1”: Ø 12 mm [0.47 in.]); stir- Test campaign
rups (“2”: Ø 10 mm [0.39 in.]) at 150 mm (5.9 in.) spacing The test campaign covered 38 shear tests on composite
and longitudinal reinforcing bars (“3”: Ø 8 mm [0.31 in.]). dowels with pryout failure in transversely cracked concrete
To provide sufficient confinement of the vertical recesses in and was structured in two stages. It was divided into a Test

664 ACI Structural Journal/May 2018

Fig. 5—Dowel characteristics (shear force-slip relationship) for different configurations of crack spacing. (Note: 1 kN =
0.225 kip; 1 mm = 0.039 in.)
Series S, in which the crack spacing and the location of the ally moving the nuts, the definite crack width got adjusted.
crack to the shear connector was varied, plus in a Test Series Thereby, inductive displacement transducers on the surface
SR to investigate different crack widths. Moreover, refer- and the bottom of the slab enabled the continuous moni-
ence tests with uncracked concrete were carried out. The test toring of the induced crack width (Fig. 3(e)). After reaching
campaign is summarized in Table 1. the intended crack width, the crack was locked by tightening
Test Series S included 10 tests (S1 to S10), each consisting the nuts. The procedure allowed to induce cracks with an
of two or three identical subtests. To analyze the influence accuracy of 0.01 mm (0.0004 in.).
of the spacing between adjoining cracks and the location After inducing the crack pattern, the shear force was
of the crack to the shear connector, five different crack applied with the hydraulic cylinder. At 40% of the expected
patterns with a definite crack spacing of either 75, 150, or ultimate load, 25 load cycles were performed to eliminate
300 mm (2.95, 5.9, or 11.8 in.) were considered. In contrast to the adhesive bond between steel and concrete. Afterward,
reinforced concrete beams, where the crack spacing usually the specimen was loaded until failure. The declining curve
depends on the diameter of the longitudinal reinforcement, of the force-slip relation was recorded, if possible, until the
the crack spacing in concrete slabs of composite beams is maximum test force dropped off 20%. During the test, the
induced by the stirrups, which represent discontinuities in slip in the composite connection, the lifting of the concrete
the concrete slab.22 Therefore, the chosen spacing between slab, as well as the crack widths were measured with induc-
adjoining cracks corresponded to common dimensions of tive displacement transducers.
stirrup spacing in composite beams. For all configurations,
the typical crack pattern of the composite beam is shown in TEST RESULTS
the fourth column of Table 1, while the fifth column illus- Impact of crack spacing and location of the
trates the tested specimen, in which the crack patterns were transverse cracks
simulated in the shear tests. For the crack spacings 300 and In Fig. 5, the shear force-slip relationships of Test Series
150 mm (11.8 and 5.9 in.), two crack patterns were shifted to S are presented for different configurations of crack spacing
sr/2 against each other (for example, test S1 and S3 for sr = and crack location. The characteristic dowel curves were
300 mm or S5 and S7 for sr = 150 mm). The tests of Series determined for a constant crack width of 0.25 mm (0.01 in.)
S were carried out with a uniform crack width of 0.25 mm in the left diagram and 0.5 mm (0.02 in.) in the right one.
[0.01 in.] (S1, S3, S5 etc.) and were afterward repeated with Same-colored dowel characteristics with dashed or drawn-
a width of 0.5 mm [0.02 in.] (S2, S4, S6, etc.). through curves belong to shear tests with identical crack
Test Series SR was aimed to reveal the impact of the trans- spacing but at different crack location (for example, S1-1
verse crack width on the shear strength of the composite and S3-2, Fig. 5, left).
dowels. Therefore, six shear test configurations (SR1 to The comparison of S1-1 and S3-2 demonstrates the influ-
SR6) consisting of two or three subtests each were carried ence of the crack location. Though both configurations had
out with a uniform crack pattern and constant crack spacing identical crack spacing, the dowel characteristics differ
of 150 mm (5.9 in.). Hereby, the crack widths were varied significantly. While the shear force-slip curve of test S1-1
from 0.25 to 1.65 mm (0.01 to 0.065 in.) to cover a wide is nearly congruent to the uncracked reference test, test S3-2
range of relevant crack widths in the ultimate limit state. with identical crack spacing shows a 20% decreased shear
capacity and a significantly reduced stiffness. Obviously, the
Testing procedure and measurements shift of the crack location by 150 mm (5.9 in.) had a striking
Before applying the shear force, the crack pattern was influence. This leads back to the transverse crack, which cuts
induced by forcing apart the load introduction plates. There- through the pryout cone in test S3-2, while it did not affect
fore, the plates were moved along the thread rods until the pryout cone in test S1-1 due to its modified location in
transverse cracks developed at the inlaid sheets. By gradu- the slab. In Fig. 6, the pryout cones and transverse cracks

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Fig. 6—Overview of different crack patterns. (Note: 1 mm = 0.039 in.)

Fig. 7—Relation between shear strength and crack spacing.

of the shear tests S1-1 and S3-2 are contrasted. The crack S9-1). This reduction of shear capacity by decreasing crack
patterns of both tests (S1-1 and S3-2) represent the border- spacing (or increasing the number of cracks) can also be
line cases for maximum influence (S3) and minimum influ- explained with the concrete pryout cones depicted in Fig. 6.
ence (S1) of the pryout cone by transverse cracks. Hence, for Based on the uncracked reference test S0-2, whose pryout
every other theoretical crack pattern with an identical crack cone length is nearly six times the pryout cone’s height, the
spacing of 300 mm (11.8 in.), the shear capacity would be resulting length of the pryout cone decreases with every
classified in between. Analogically, this applies to the other reduction of the crack spacing or with every increase in the
configurations with identical crack spacing but different number of cracks, respectively. The consequential reduc-
crack locations (for example, S7 and S5, with sr = 150 mm tion of the pryout cone surface yields the decrease of shear
[5.9 in.] in Fig. 5). For the shear tests with a spacing of capacity. Figure 6 (right, below) illustrates how transverse
75 mm (3 in.), only one crack location was investigated due cracks interfere with the formation of pryout cones. For
to the constricted dimensions of the specimen (Series S9). crack distances smaller than the length of the pryout cone
Consequently, no range of results can be indicated, but it (lout,uncracked = 240 mm [9.45 in.]), the cracks cut through and
is to be expected that the influence of the crack location for detached the originally coherent big pryout cone into several
smaller spacing is less pronounced. smaller pryout cone slices. The length of these pryout cone
Furthermore, the comparison of the shear force-slip rela- slices correlates with approximately the average crack
tionships in Fig. 5 illustrates that a reduction of the crack spacing sr of the transverse cracks (for example, Fig. 6: S9-2
spacing leads to a decrease of the average shear strength and S5-1).
of the composite dowels in cracked concrete (for example, Figure 7 summarizes the results of the studies on the
comparison of dowel characteristic curves S1-1, S7-2, and influence of crack spacing and crack location on the shear

666 ACI Structural Journal/May 2018

Fig. 8—Dowel characteristics and shear force-crack relations of Test Series SR.

Fig. 9—Relation between shear strength and crack width.

capacity of composite dowels in cracked concrete; therefore, slip relationships of Test Series SR are plotted together
the shear capacities of the tests were plotted over the spacing with the shear force-slip curve of the uncracked reference
of the transverse cracks. The trend lines in the diagrams test S0-3. Already for very low load levels, a character-
shows the reduction of the shear capacity with decreasing istic discontinuity can be observed in the force-slip curves
crack distances (or higher number of cracks). The large of the cracked specimen. This continuity is followed by a
scatter of the shear strength for crack distances of 150 short plateau, where the slip increases with the shear force
and 300 mm (5.9 and 11.8 in.) is due to the different crack remaining constant. This plateau is based on the steel dowel
locations. These different crack locations are indicated by moving forward into the opened transverse crack. After
quadratic or triangular data point markings in the diagrams. closure of this gap, the shear force increases uniformly again
The studies on the influence of crack spacing and crack until reaching the shear capacity. The comparison of the
location were carried out for a constant crack width of characteristic dowel curves clarifies that an increase of the
0.25 mm (0.01 in.) and were afterward repeated for 0.5 mm given crack width yields a significant reduction of stiffness
(0.02 in.). The comparison of the left (wr = 0.25 mm and shear strength of the composite dowels. Simultaneously,
[0.01 in.]) and the right (wr = 0.5 mm [0.02 in.]) diagram the deformation capacity of the composite dowels increased
in Fig. 7 demonstrates a slight reduction of the shear with the crack width. Furthermore, Fig. 8 (right) shows the
strength, based on the increased crack width. Hereinafter, development of the crack widths over the applied shear
these investigations on the impact of the crack width are force. Obviously, the crack width remained nearly constant
systematically expanded. throughout the shear test.
The correlation between shear strength and crack width
Impact of crack width is displayed in Fig. 9. Already at a small crack width of
The impact of the crack width on the shear capacity of 0.25 mm (0.01 in.), the shear capacity in the tests was remark-
composite dowels was investigated in Test Series SR. Before ably decreased compared to the reference test (a reduction
beginning with the shear tests, a uniform crack layout with of 14%). For larger crack widths of 1.65 mm (0.065 in.), the
constant crack spacing sr of 150 mm (5.9 in.) was induced. reduction of the shear strength reached approximately 50%.
The crack widths were varied from 0.25 mm (0.01 in.) (SR1) Figure 9 (left) illustrates the degressive correlation between
to 1.65 mm (0.065 in.) (SR6). In Fig. 8 (left), the shear force-

ACI Structural Journal/May 2018 667

Fig. 10—Pryout mechanism in cracked and uncracked concrete.
shear strength and crack width, which tends toward a hori- For composite dowels in uncracked concrete, the applied
zontal asymptote for very large crack widths. shear force is transferred from the steel dowel onto the
Furthermore, Fig. 9 (right) shows the pryout cones of the concrete dowel through contact compression stresses
specimen under different transverse crack widths. Whereas (Fig. 10, top right). Thereby, the axis of the resultant shear
for small crack widths, large pryout cones occurred, the force goes almost through the inflection point of the puzzle
pryout cone surface reduced with increasing crack width. geometry (half of the dowel’s height). Immediately in front
This is due to the effectiveness of the crack friction mech- of the steel dowel, a highly stressed concrete wedge arises.
anism that controls the transfer of shear stresses over the This concrete wedge is confined by the surrounding concrete,
crack. For small crack widths, the flanks of the transverse the stirrups, and the steel dowels so that shifting in any direc-
crack featured an effective interlocking so that the blowout tion is prevented and a multiaxial stress state develops. In
force, acting orthogonal to the shear force of the composite compressing the concrete wedge, a blowout force is caused,
dowel, was almost completely transferred over the trans- acting in the direction orthogonal to the applied shear force,
verse crack. Thereby, large and coherent pryout cones were toward the smallest concrete cover (Fig. 10, top right). When
generated and high shear capacities reached. In tests with the shear force is further increased, the tensile strength of
larger crack widths, the effectiveness of the crack friction the concrete in the region above the compressed concrete
was reduced so that the transfer of shear stresses over the wedge is exceeded and a lopsided pryout cone arises on the
crack was remarkably affected. Due to the reduced shear surface of the slab. Due to this pryout of the concrete cone,
transfer, the pryout cones could not bridge the discontinuity the confinement is released and the compressed concrete
in the concrete slab caused by the transverse crack. In conse- wedge collapses. In Fig. 10 (above left) the characteristic
quence, these pryout cones had significantly reduced dimen- fracture pattern of the reference test S0 is shown in a view of
sions and were detached or cut off by the transverse cracks the slab surface and cut through the slab. Herein, the length
(Fig. 9, right). lout,uncracked of the pryout cone is marked.
It is, in principle, the same structural behavior for the
ANALYSIS OF PRYOUT FAILURE IN CRACKED pryout of composite dowels in transversely cracked concrete
AND UNCRACKED CONCRETE slabs, but the transverse cracks in the concrete overlap and
All shear tests in cracked and uncracked concrete resulted influence the development of a multiaxial stress state and
in a pry-out failure of the concrete. This failure mode is char- the formation of pryout cones. Due to the transverse cracks
acterized by the break out of a concrete cone orthogonal to crossing the concrete dowel, the confinement is reduced so
the applied shear force. that, compared to the uncracked concrete, a smaller multi-
axial compression stress state develops. Besides the change

668 ACI Structural Journal/May 2018

of the stress state, a transverse crack causes a diversion of diverging phenomena of concrete failure (slender studs fail
the fracture crack path (Fig. 10, bottom right). The transfer due to concrete crushing, composite dowels due to pry out
of shear stresses over the transverse crack depends on aggre- when the concrete’s tensile strength is reached), it is not
gate interlock, which is predominately controlled by the possible to transfer the experimental findings of this paper to
crack width. Especially for wide transverse cracks, only the shear behavior of slender headed stud connectors.
small shares of the blowout force can bridge the crack, as On the contrary, when short, stocky studs are used for
the shear stress transfer is strongly delimited. This leads to an anchorage loaded in shear, pryout failure may occur for
a fragmentation and a remarkable reduction of the pryout these studs, as well. According to Anderson and Meinheit,29
cone size. Consequently, the shear strength of composite short studs are typically so stiff that under a direct shear
dowels in cracked concrete is reduced. Figure 10 (below) load, they bend primarily in single curvature. The deforma-
shows exemplarily the view of the slab surface and a cut tion results in the head of the stud “kicking back,” which
through the specimen S7. Obviously, the pryout cone has breaks out a pryout cone of concrete behind the stud. Up to
significantly smaller dimensions lengthwise (lout,cracked) as now, the pryout behavior of short, stocky studs in cracked
the pryout cone of the uncracked concrete (lout,uncracked). concrete had not been experimentally investigated, but due
to the phenomenological parallels to the pryout of composite
COMPARISON WITH HEADED STUD dowels, the authors believe that the failure of stocky studs in
CONNECTORS cracked concrete is also controlled by the parameters crack
To classify the experimental findings of this paper, it is location, crack spacing, and crack width. The experimental
useful to compare them with the behavior of headed studs. methods developed in this paper may serve as a starting
Here, it is useful to make distinction between headed studs point for future experimental research in pryout of stocky
with either slender or stocky geometry. studs in cracked concrete.
In uncracked concrete, the fracture of slender headed stud
connectors was analyzed by several researchers.23-25 It is either CONCLUSION AND COMPILATION OF ALL TEST
characterized by a ductile steel failure of the stud’s shank or RESULTS
a concrete failure in front of the stud’s welding root. Herein, The test campaign covered in total 38 shear tests on
the concrete crushes due to multiaxial compressive stresses. composite dowels in cracked and uncracked concrete. Table 2
Currently, the behavior of headed studs in cracked concrete lists the results of all performed shear tests. Here, the investi-
is rather poorly investigated. In the literature, several beams gated test parameters such as crack location, crack spacing,
tests in hogging moment regions26-28 have been documented, and crack width are summarized as well as the concrete
where only slight influence of concrete cracking has been compressive strengths fc,cube, which were determined by
found for the shear resistance of headed studs. However, accompanying material tests. Furthermore, Table 2 contains
due to plastic redistribution of shear forces in the composite the ultimate test force Pult (which corresponds to the dowel’s
connection, beam tests are rather inappropriate to assess the shear capacity) as well as the slip δult corresponding to Pult
shear resistance of headed studs. Johnson et al.20 were the and the deformability of the dowels, δu, which is defined as
first to perform shear tests on single headed studs in trans- the slip at 90% of the shear capacity in the post failure range.
versally cracked concrete. Depending on the amount of In conclusion of this paper, all major results are summa-
applied tensile stresses, the shear resistances of the studs rized as follows:
reduced to up to 64% of the shear capacity in the uncracked 1. For all performed shear tests on composite dowel
concrete. At the same time, a significant decrease in stiff- connectors, the pryout failure governed. For uncracked
ness was observed. At 80% of the fracture load, the relative concrete, the length and width of the resultant pryout cone
displacements in the composite connection were approxi- were approximately six times the height of the pryout
mately twice as large as in the corresponding test without cone. In tests with transverse cracks in the concrete slab,
transverse cracks. Despite having observed significantly the cracking decreased the dimensions of the pryout cone,
larger reductions in shear resistance in the tests, Johnson and leading to a reduction of the stiffness and the shear strength
Greenwood suggest reducing the design shear resistance by of the composite dowels.
a factor of 0.8 for slender headed studs in cracked concrete. 2. When the distance between adjoining transverse cracks
Until now, the mechanisms of shear behavior of slender with constant crack width was reduced (or the number of
headed studs in cracked concrete are not severely analyzed. transverse cracks was increased), the shear strength of the
The authors believe that transverse cracks, which cross the composite dowels decreased almost proportionally to the
region of confined concrete in front of the stud, interfere with crack spacing, whereas the pryout cone was cut through
the multiaxial compressive stresses and promote the collapse by transverse cracks so that instead of one coherent large
of the concrete confinement. However, at the same time, pryout cone, several smaller breakout cone slices resulted.
the local compression field in front of the stud suppresses Their lengths roughly corresponded to the average crack
the formation of concrete cracks, which damps their detri- spacing sr.
mental influence. Both interfering mechanisms need to be 3. The shear strength of composite dowels is greatly
analyzed and quantified in future investigations. Compared dependent on the present crack width. For large crack
to composite dowel connectors, the reduction in shear resis- widths, a reduction up to 50% of the shear strength was
tance attributed to transverse concrete cracks is expected to identified. This decrease in shear strength is based on the
be of minor relevance for slender studs. Due to significantly disrupted shear stress transfer in the crack. For small crack

ACI Structural Journal/May 2018 669

Table 2—Summary of test results
fcm.cube, MPa
Rest Crack location and spacing sr wr, mm (in.) (ksi) Pult, kN (kip) δult, mm δu, mm
S0-1 47.3 (6.86) 147.0 (33.05) 4.4 5.5
Reference S0-2 0 (0) 47.3 (6.86) 149.0 (33.50) 4.8 7.5
S0-3 47.3 (6.86) 156.0 (35.07) 4.4 6.2
S1-1 40.2 (5.83) 153.2 (34.44) 3.2 5.4
0.25 (0.01)
S1-2 40.8 (5.91) 137.3 (30.07) 2.9 4.7
S2-1 45.6 (6.61) 138.5 (31.14) 3.8 6.1
0.50 (0.02)
S2-2 37.9 (5.50) 122.8 (27.61) 5.2 6.6
S3-1 40.2 (5.83) 100.2 (22.53) 4.3 5.4
S3-2 0.25 (0.01) 40.8 (5.91) 124.1 (27.90) 4.7 7.2
S3-3 37.2 (5.40) 106.3 (23.90) 5.2 10.7
S4-1 45.6 (6.61) 110.2 (24.77) 3.3 5.0
0.50 (0.02)
S4-2 37.9 (5.50) 111.0 (24.95) 5.2 5.6
Influence S5-1 40.2 (5.83) 108.0 (24.28) 4.2 5.2
of crack 0.25 (0.01)
spacing/ S5-2 40.8 (5.91) 98.1 (22.05) 4.1 7.4
location S6-1 45.6 (6.61) 105.1 (23.63) 4.1 7.0
of the 0.50 (0.02)
cracks S6-2 37.9 (5.50) 108.5 (24.39) 4.7 6.0
S7-1 37.2 (5.40) 122.9 (27.63) 6.3 7.2
0.25 (0.01)
S7-2 40.8 (5.91) 134.1 (30.15) 4.2 5.4
S8-1 45.6 (6.61) 108.1 (24.25) 4.5 7.2
0.50 (0.02)
S8-2 37.9 (5.50) 123.9 (27.85) 5.7 7.7
S9-1 40.2 (5.83) 93.6 (21.04) 3.3 5.2
S9-2 0.25 (0.01) 40.8 (5.91) 127.7 (28.71) 4.4 6.0
S9-3 37.2 (5.40) 108.6 (24.41) 5.4 8.4
S10-1 45.6 (6.61) 101.3 (22.77) 2.3 4.7
0.50 (0.02)
S10-2 37.9 (5.50) 101.2 (22.75) 3.7 6.0
SR1-1 37.2 (5.40) 122.9 (27.63) 6.3 7.2
0.25 (0.01)
SR1-2 40.8 (5.91) 134.1 (30.15) 4.2 5.4
SR2-1 45.6 (6.61) 108.1 (24.30) 4.5 7.2
0.50 (0.02)
SR2-2 37.9 (5.50) 123.9 (27.85) 5.7 7.7
SR3-1 43.9 (6.37) 99.6 (22.39) 2.7 4.0
0.85 (0.033)
SR3-2 43.9 (6.37) 88.0 (19.78) 6.6 9.0
crack SR4-1 43.9 (6.37) 86.6 (19.47) 3.9 5.4
SR4-2 1.00 (0.039) 41.4 (6.00) 97.9 (22.01) 3.4 6.9
SR4-3 41.4 (6.00) 88.7 (19.94) 4.4 11.6
SR5-1 41.4 (6.00) 87.5 (19.67) 3.8 10.0
1.30 (0.051)
SR5-2 41.4 (6.00) 81.2 (18.25) 8.3 10.0
SR6-1 43.9 (6.37) 65.0 (14.61) 4.1 10.8
1.65 (0.065)
SR6-2 41.4 (6.00) 83.8 (18.84) 2.4 9.7

widths, the crack flanks have an effective aggregate inter- be bridged and the blowout force is concentrated on the side
lock so that high shear stresses can be transferred over the of the crack facing the shear connector. Consequently, the
crack. Thereby, parts of the blowout force, acting orthogonal pryout cone is cut by the crack.
to the shear force, are transferred over the crack so that a 4. The crack formation in concrete leads to a significant
coherent pryout cone on both sides of the transverse crack increase of the deformability of composite dowels. While
develops, whereas large crack widths lead to a reduction of the ductility of the analyzed composite dowels for slender,
the transferable shear stresses. Therefore, the crack cannot uncracked concrete slabs hardly reached the required defor-

670 ACI Structural Journal/May 2018

mation capability for ductile shear connectors of 6 mm and Rib Arrangement,” Journal of Constructional Steel Research, V. 66,
No. 10, 2010, pp. 1295-1307. doi: 10.1016/j.jcsr.2010.04.008
(0.236 in.), the cracking leads to a remarkable increase in 7. Hechler, O.; Berthellemy, J.; Lorenc, W.; Seidl, G.; and Viefhues, E.,
ductility. This characteristic is especially important to enable “Continuous Shear Connectors in Bridge Construction,” Composite
plastic redistributions in the composite connection. Through Construction in Steel and Concrete, V. VI, 2011, pp. 78-91. doi:
this, composite beams can transfer shear forces from regions 8. Furche, J., and Eligehausen, R., “Lateral Blow-out Failure of Headed
with cracked concrete and reduced shear capacity of the Studs Near a Free Edge,” Anchors in Concrete: Design and Behavior,
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9. Zapfe, C., “Trag- und Verformungsverhalten von Verbundträgern mit
OUTLOOK Betondübeln zur Übertragung der Längsschubkräfte,” dissertation, Institut
The results and findings of this experimental study are für Konstruktiven Ingenieurbau, Universität der Bundeswehr, München,
Deutschland, 2001.
the basis to develop theoretical model approaches for 10. Seidl, G., “Verhalten und Tragfähigkeit von Verbunddübeln in Stahl-
composite dowels in cracked concrete. In a companion betonverbundträgern,” dissertation, TU Breslau, 2009.
paper,30 the existing pryout model for composite dowels 11. Heinemeyer, S., “Zum Trag- und Verformungsverhalten von
Verbundträgern aus ultrahochfestem Beton mit Verbundleisten,” Schriften-
(refer to Eq. (1)) was extended by the influence of transverse reihe Institut für Massivbau RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Deutschland, 2011.
concrete cracking. The basic idea of the approach is to assess 12. Feldmann, M.; Kopp, M.; and Pak, D., “Composite Dowels as Shear
the shear resistance in comparing the force, which can be Connectors for Composite Beams—Background to the German Technical
Approval,” Steel Construction, V. 9, No. 2, 2016, pp. 80-88. doi: 10.1002/
transferred across the critical transverse crack by aggregate stco.201610020
interlock with the pryout force of the corresponding pryout 13. American Institute for Steel Construction (AISC), “Specification for
cone segment. Structural Steel Buildings (ANSI/AISC 360-05),” American Institute for
Steel Construction, Chicago, IL, 2005.
Furthermore, the pryout failure of short, stocky headed 14. ACI Committee 318-B, “Appendix D – Anchoring to Concrete, Code
studs in cracked concrete should be investigated. Here, the CB-30,” draft version, American Concrete Institute, Farmington Hills, MI,
experimental methods developed in this paper may serve as June 22, 2000.
15. Eurocode 4, “Design of Composite Steel and Concrete Structures
a starting point. The authors assume that the pryout failure of – Part 1-1: General Rules and Rules for Buildings (EN 1994 -1-1: 2004),”
studs in cracked concrete is controlled by the same parame- European Committee for Standardization, Brussels, Belgium, 2012.
ters (crack location, crack spacing, and crack width). There- 16. Classen, M., and Herbrand, M., “Shear Behavior of Composite
Dowels in Transversely Cracked Concrete,” Structural Concrete, V. 16,
fore, in the future, model approaches30 for the interaction of No. 2, 2015, pp. 195-206. doi: 10.1002/suco.201400100
composite dowels and transverse cracks may be adopted and 17. Research Project Preco-Beam, “Prefabricated Enduring Composite
transferred to stocky studs in cracked concrete. Beams Based on Innovative Shear Transmission,” Research Fund for Coal
and Steel, 2010.
18. Classen, M., “Zum Trag- und Verformungsverhalten von Verbundträ-
AUTHOR BIOS gern mit Verbunddübelleisten und großen Stegöffnungen,” PhD thesis,
Martin Classen is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Struc- RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Deutschland, 2016.
tural Concrete, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany. He received 19. Classen, M., and Hegger, J., “Pry-Out of Composite Dowels in
his degree in structural engineering in 2011 from RWTH Aachen University Cracked Concrete,” Stahlbau, V. 86, No. 3, 2017, pp. 256-268. doi: 10.1002/
and his degree as an International Welding Engineer from SLV Duisburg, stab.201710470
Duisburg, Germany, in 2015. He received his PhD in 2016 from RWTH 20. Johnson, R. P.; Greenwood, R. D.; and van Dalen, K., “Stud
Aachen University. His research interests include analysis and design of Shear-Connectors in Hogging Moment Regions of Composite Neams,” The
reinforced concrete structures and composite structures. Structural Engineer, V. 47, No. 9, 1969, pp. 345-350.
21. Döinghaus, P., “Zum Zusammenwirken hochfester Baustoffe in
Josef Hegger is a Professor in the civil engineering department at Aachen Verbundträgern,” PhD-Thesis, RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Deutschland, 2002.
University. He received his diploma in 1979 from Aachen University 22. Ramm, W., and Elz, S., “Zur Duktilität von Gurtplatten im Negativen
(RWTH Aachen) and his PhD in 1985 from the Technical University Braun- Momentenbereich,” DAfStb-Forschungskolloquium, Kaiserslautern, 1995.
schweig, Braunschweig, Germany. His research interests include shear, 23. Ollgaard, J. G.; Slutter, R. G.; and Fisher, J. W., “Shear Strength
high-strength concrete, prestressed concrete, detailing, and textile-rein- of Stud Connectors in Lightweight and Normal-Weight Concrete,” Engi-
forced concrete. neering Journal (New York), V. 8, No. 2, 1971, pp. 55-64.
24. Oehlers, D. J., and Coughlan, C. G., “The Shear Stiff-
ness of Stud Shear Connections in Composite Beams,” Journal of
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ACI Structural Journal/May 2018 671

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