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Steel Structure Joint Connection Types and its Uses

Steel connections are mainly used for connecting structural members made up of steel. The connection allows force and moment to be transferred from steel structure to column and finally to the ground supports. The members are connected to each other by different fittings and elements like plates, nut-bolts, rivets, welding for the ease of assembly and disassembly during the construction process.


The connection can be classified based on different configurations. They are divided into following types.

1.      Based on method used for connecting two members :

a.      Riveted connection

The riveted connection is achieved by riveting plate or angle like component to both connecting members. A rivet is made up of a round ductile steel bar which is called a ‘shank’ and with a head at one end. It is made up of mild steel or high tensile steel. They are punched against plates to make the end round after inserting in desired holes.

Image Source: Steel rivets 1080P, 2K, 4K, 5K HD wallpapers free download


      Advantages of riveted connection:

       More reliable

       Easily used for non-steel members

       The members joined by rivets do not have any thermal after effect

       Inspection and error finding in connection are easy and cheap

       After dismantling, riveted members has less damage than welded members


      Disadvantages of riveted connection

       Due to holes in connecting members they become weak

       Cost for riveted joints are generally more

       Labor cost is high

       Riveted joints have more weights then their welded counterparts

       Stress concentration is more near holes


b.      Bolted connection

The bolted connections are achieved by bolting structural members with each other with the help of nut-bolts and supporting plates. Nut bolts are available in standard size and holes are made in each member accordingly. Then supporting plates and bolts are inserted into the hole and tightened by nuts with the help of wrenches.

Image Source: How To Design A Bolted Steel Connection Between A Tee And Beam Flange Subjected To Prying Force


      Advantages of bolted connection:

       The process of erection of structure can be made much faster.

       Connections do not involve any noise.

       Skilled labors are not required and less manpower required

       Immediate reuse of structural members are possible

       Less working area is required

       Re-arrangement of structural members are very easy


      Disadvantages of bolted connection:

       Material Cost is very high.

       Nut and bolts get loose if structure is subjected to vibration and shock.

       Strength of structural members and connecting plates are reduced due to holes.

       High stress concentration occurs near to holes.


c.       Welded connection

The welded connection is achieved by welding structural members with or without the help of secondary plates or angles. Process of welding connection is mainly done on  site for large structural construction.

Image Source: Bolts vs Welds vs Rivets for Steel Connections


      Advantages of welded connection:

       Force transfer is more direct

       Connecting members are easy to make

       On site work is possible

       Connection are more rigid

       Member strength is not reduced due to the holes

       No noise is produced during the welding process.


      Disadvantages of welded connection

       Skilled manpower is required for welding

       Welding equipment and filler materials are required

       Large working space is required

       Damage of members during disassembling

       After welding, members have thermal after effect and are subjected to different stress.

       Welded joints are more brittle and they also have other defects like air packets, slag inclusions and incomplete penetration.


d.      Combination Connection

The combination connection is achieved by combining any of the above mentioned connection methods. This type of connection is used nowadays in the construction process.

Image Source: Steel Connection Designer - Gusset


e.       Pinned connection

Pinned connections are used for transmission of only axial forces not bending moment in between two members. They are used for truss building and other mechanisms where pinned connection is required for movement.

Image Source: How are fixed/rigid, pinned, or roller supports achieved practically in structures (steel and RC)? Can you attach site photos if possible?


2.      Based on capacity for transmitting different forces

a.      Shear Connection

When connection between two members can transfer shear or axial force effectively but not moment then this type of connection is called shear connection. It is widely used for beams which are supported at both ends. The shear connection is achieved by using different connecting methods like riveting, bolting welding etc. as stated above.

Image Source: What is difference between moment connection and shear connection in steel structures?

b.      Moment Connection

When connection between two members can transfer both moment and shear force effectively then that type of connection is called moment connection. Moment connection are more rigid compared to shear connection. It is widely used for cantilever beam column condition. The moment connection is also achieved by using different connecting methods like riveting, bolting welding etc. as stated above.

3.      Based on type of member associated during connection

a.      Column to Column Connection

b.      Column to Beam Connection

c.       Beam to Beam or Girder Connection


We can use different methods stated above for connecting two or more members at desired joints.