The paper describes experimental and numerical analyses on a completely new connection system developed for CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) constructions. The innovative solution herein proposed, named X-RAD, consists of a point-to-point mechanical connection system, fixed to the corners of the CLT panels. This connection, that is designed to be prefabricated, is made of a metal wrapping and an inner hard wood element which are fastened to the panel by means of allthreaded self-tapping screws. Such system permits to reduce significantly the number of bolts/fasteners required to assemble two or more panels together or to connect them to the foundation. This results in the enhancement of the installation process in terms of speed, quality and safety. One of the reasons that fuelled the development of the presented system, is the desire of offering a solution to those issues (e.g. to satisfy ductility and energetic dissipation requirements) commonly related to the seismic safety of timber structures. In other words there was the will of defining a system able to guarantee an adequate level of ductility and energetic dissipation.
This paper presents the numerical-experimental analysis of an innovative connector for CLT structures. The connection system, named X-RAD, has generated a new approach to CLT constructions, characterized by precision and effectiveness. Thanks to the possibility of assembling the X-RAD connectors directly within the factory, the CLT panels can be lifted during the production phases, transported to the construction site and assembled by the use of a sole element represented by the steel elements placed at the corners of the different panels. The X-RAD components in fact are meant to be pre-assembled in the factory by using all-threaded self-tapping screws, so that the system could act as a lifting point for the positioning operations. Several experimental tests are presented and analysed: tests on screws and monotonic tests on different load configurations. The test outcome lead to the mechanical characterization of the connector. X-RAD has been studied also with an analytical approach: the different load configurations have been solved “at limit” condition by the use of equilibrium. The experimental and analytical approach permitted to define respectively the experimental and the analytical capacity domains. Finally a method to verify X-RAD loaded by a generic external load is proposed.
The technique proposed herein, aims to solve the construction site issues related to both the handling and the assembly of cross laminated timber walls (CLT), through an innovative preassembled connection system. This system, which thanks to its being prefabricated permits to save time during the installation process, provides also a high strength and a high stiffness to the panel joints. As a result, an improvement of the building safety is attained for both static and seismic conditions. The main purpose of the original solution is the enhancement of the production, the handling and the onsite assembly processes of CLT panels, by means of an higher degree of prefabrication which implies higher safety, precision and speed of assembly as well as an advantage in terms of costs and time schedule planning.