On the in-plane mechanical properties of birch plywood
Abstract: Birch plywood has favorable mechanical properties that could be used in new types of connections for timber structures, and thus enable a substitution of the current system with steel plates. Such new connections could result in significant advantages in terms of environmental impact and economy as well as ease of prefabrication and mountability. However, there is a lack of data concerning some of the mechanical properties of birch plywood that would be necessary in order to perform a safe design. In particular, there is a lack of reliable data and understanding of the mechanical properties of birch plywood in directions other than along and perpendicular to the face grain. The aim of this thesis is to gain new knowledge about this anisotropy and to study the variation of the in-plane mechanical properties of birch plywood at different loading angles to the face grain, including effects of size and moisture changes. The goal is that this knowledge will serve as input for the design of birch plywood connections under various loading conditions in timber structures. Specifically, birch plywood specimens were laboratory tested in in-plane tension, compression, shear and bending. The results show that birch plywood possesses the highest tensile, compressive and bending strength and elastic modulus parallel to the face grain and the lowest ones at 45° to the face grain. The opposite findings were noticed for the shear strength and the shear modulus. Moreover, a size effect on the in-plane bending strength property was observed at 0° (parallel) and 90° (perpendicular) to the face grain but not at other angles, which is attributed to the different failure mechanisms. In addition, the increase of moisture leads to the decreased bending strength and elastic modulus in the hygroscopic range. Validated by the experimental work, both analytical and numerical models to predict the mechanical performance of birch plywood under different load conditions and various moisture contents are proposed.
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