Quasi-brittle fracture and size effect of glued laminated timber beams

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Research units

  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich


The load bearing capacity of glued laminated timber beams is size dependent. A material based size effect occurs due to the natural variability of the timber properties and can be explained with the Weibull weakest link theory. The Weibull type size effect has received much attention in the timber research community in the past as it is the dominating size effect regarding the load bearing capacity of timber beams. In this paper, it is shown that a further deterministic size effect, which originates from the timber fracture behavior, influences the load bearing capacity of glued laminated timber beams. It is the size effect associated with quasi-brittle behavior. The paper covers a short theoretical review on fracture related size effects and a study comparing experimentally tested beams of several sizes with detailed numerical simulations considering the natural growth characteristics of timber. Further, an analytical model illustrating the features of the fracture related size effect on the load bearing capacity of glued laminated timber beams is presented. It is demonstrated that the simulated load bearing capacity of the tested glued laminated timber beams distinctively improves if the quasi-brittleness is taken into account by using a softening constitutive law.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-681
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Wood and Wood Products
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ID: 11139104