Research Output
Development of 3d lattice models for predicting nonlinear timber joint behaviour
  This work presents the development of a three-dimensional lattice material model for wood and its application to timber joints including the potential strengthening benefit of second order effects. A lattice of discrete elements was used to capture the heterogeneity and fracture behaviour and the model results compared to tested Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) specimens. Despite the general applicability of lattice models to timber, they are computationally demanding, due to the nonlinear solution and large number of degrees of freedom required. Ways to reduce the computational costs are investigated.

Timber joints fail due to plastic deformation of the steel fastener(s), embedment, or brittle fracture of the timber. Lattice models, contrary to other modelling approaches such as continuum finite elements, have the advantage to take into account brittle fracture, crack development and material heterogeneity by assigning certain strength and stiffness properties to individual elements. Furthermore, plastic hardening is considered to simulate timber embedment.

The lattice is an arrangement of longitudinal, lateral and diagonal link elements with a tri-linear load-displacement relation. The lattice is used in areas with high stress gradients and normal continuum elements are used elsewhere. Heterogeneity was accounted for by creating an artificial growth ring structure and density profile upon which the mean strength and stiffness properties were adjusted.

Solution algorithms, such as Newton-Raphson, encounter problems with discrete elements for which ’snap-back’ in the global load-displacement curves would occur. Thus, a specialised solution algorithm, developed by Jirasek and Bazant, was adopted to create a bespoke FE code in MATLAB that can handle the jagged behaviour of the load displacement response, and extended to account for plastic deformation.

The model’s input parameters were calibrated by determining the elastic stiffness from literature values and adjusting the strength, post-yield and heterogeneity parameters of lattice elements to match the load-displacement from laboratory tests under various loading conditions.

Although problems with the modified solution algorithm were encountered, results of the model show the potential of lattice models to be used as a tool to predict load-displacement curves and fracture patterns of timber specimens.

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  • Date:

    31 August 2009

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Reichert, T. Development of 3d lattice models for predicting nonlinear timber joint behaviour. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Timber engineering; Structural engineering; Computer programming; Sitka Spruce; Joints; Brittle fracture; Plastic deformation; Lattice modelling; 3D modelling;

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