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Section 24. Bond Properties of Plain Bars


in Concrete

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Bond refers to the interaction between concrete and reinforcement that is essential for the functioning
of reinforced concrete as a composite. The physics of bond is not simple. It is quite similar to that of
friction. It is convenient to explain friction as the product of a normal force and a coefficient. But it is not
as simple, for example, to explain why the friction force is independent of the contact area. Bond has
characteristics similar to those of friction. In this section, we shall discuss some of the factors that affect
bond.

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Currently, all but the smallest reinforcing bars have deformed surfaces to improve bond, the transfer of
force between concrete and reinforcement. We shall, nevertheless, start by discussing the nature of
bond in plain bars (in bars without intentional surface deformations) to find that the phenomena
affecting bond strength in plain and deformed bars have many similarities. The differences are mainly in
magnitude of unit bond strength, distribution of bond stresses along a bar, and in the state of the
surrounding concrete after a bar is pulled out of the concrete.

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Let us first examine the surface of a plain bar microscopically. Figure 24-1 describes the surface of a
plain bar (measurements made by G. Rehm1). In microscopic scale, the surface of a plain bar making
contact with concrete is not smooth. Cement paste is likely to penetrate into the microscopic crevices so
that, initially, the force that resists movement between the bar and the surrounding concrete (slip) may
be ascribed to two types of resistance: adhesion and shearing resistance of minute penetrations of
concrete. Both types are related to tensile strength of concrete and to the force normal to the bar
surface. The normal force is related to shrinkage and/or confinement.

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In 1913, Abrams published his monumental study of bond in reinforced concrete2 in which he studied
the effects of (1) surface deformations of reinforcing bars, (2) embedment length, (3) size of specimen,
(4) rust, (5) cross-sectional shape of reinforcement, (6) variation (taper) of bar along its length, (7)
concrete age, (8) concrete mix proportions, (9) compressive strength of concrete, (10) curing of
concrete, (11) end anchorage, (12) bar position (depth of concrete cast in one lift below bar) (13)
autogeneous (self) healing of concrete, (14) repeated loading, (15) confinement by transverse
reinforcement, (16) direction of casting of concrete, (17) shear-span to depth ratio, (18) sustained load,
and (19) lateral pressure during setting. He left very little to be discovered by investigators who would
follow him. Frustrated at not being able to distill a general principle (a feat which he was able to
accomplish when he discovered the relationship of water-cement ratio to compressive strength of

G. Rehm, ber die Grundlagen des Verbundes zwischen Stahl und Beton, Deutscher Auschuss fr Stahlbeton,
Heft 138, Berlin, 1961.
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Duff A. Abrams, Tests of Bond between Concrete and Steel, University of Illinois Engineering Experiment Station
Bullletin No. 71, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, 1913, 238 p.
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concrete) from his 1610 bond tests, he ended his study with 59 finely crafted conclusions. Any engineer
interested in bond should read Abramss Bulletin #71 or, at least, his conclusions.

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Figure 24-1

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Bond stress is often considered in terms of the bond-slip relationship which appears to be akin to the
stress-strain relationship for a material. But slip, reported in units of length, is not as convenient to
generalize as unit strain which has no units. Figure 24-2 shows a section of one of the standard test
specimens that Abrams used. Bond stress is defined as the pull force divided by the surface of the bar.

T
db Ld

Reinforced Concrete in Thirty Lectures

24-2

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Figure 24-2 Vertical Section of Pull-Out Specimens Tested by Abrams

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Slip could be measured at both the loaded and free ends (Fig. 24-2). Abrams chose the slip at the free
end as the defining measurement. Slip history at the free end would depend on the embedment length,
the distance between the loaded and free ends. In order to make the definition of measured slip
independent of embedment length, Abrams plotted the data from a series of pull-out tests as shown in
Fig. 24-3 and as summarized below.

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Take a bar with a diameter of, say, 1.25 in. and embed it in a 1500-psi concrete cylinder with a diameter
of 8 in. Test it with an embedment length of six in. ?Plot the bond stresses measured at free-end slips of
0.0005, 0.001, 0.002, 0.005, 0.01, 0.02, 0.05, and 0.1 in. Repeat this procedure for bars having the same
diameter and embedment lengths of 8, 12, 16 and 24 in. Project the plotted data back to the vertical
axis to obtain a bond stress at an embedment length of zero (Fig. 24-3). Plot the bond stress values so
obtained against corresponding slip values as shown in Fig. 24-4.

Reinforced Concrete in Thirty Lectures

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Before Peak Load


500
Slip = 0.01 in.

400

Bond Stress [psi]

Slip = 0.005 in.


Slip = 0.002 in.

300

Slip = 0.001 in.


Slip = 0.0005 in.

200

100

0
0

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Embedment Length [in.]

After Peak Load


500
Slip = 0.01 in.

Bond Stress [psi]

400
Slip = 0.02 in.
Slip = 0.05 in.

300

Slip = 0.1 in.

200

100

0
0

10

12

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Embedment Length [in.]

Figure 24-3 Bond Stresses in Plain #10 Bars with Variable Embedment Length

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Abrams confirmed the plot in Fig. 24-4 for bars of different diameters and considered it to represent a
general bond-slip curve for a plain bar. What is most important for the reader to note in his reasoning is
that, over and above recognizing Abramss creativity in overcoming the limits of his instruments, it is at
best questionable to use bond-slip curves without knowing the details of how they were obtained.
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500

Bond Stress [psi]

400

300

200

100

0
0

0.005

0.01

0.015

0.02

0.025

0.03

0.035

0.04

0.045

0.05

Slip [in.]

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?
Figure 24-4 Bond-Slip Relationship Proposed by Abrams for Plain Round Bars

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Abrams concluded that at zero slip a bond stress of approximately 250 psi could be attributed to
adhesion and static friction. In reference to Fig. 24-1, we may consider the bond sources to be slightly
different (the plain bar does have minute deformations and changes in diameter that make confinement
important) but the approximate value that Abrams arrived at is still valid. Abrams also noted that the
bond stress increased as slip increased to approximately 0.01 in. He ascribed the increase to increasing
normal force caused by unevenness in bar diameter along its length. Beyond a slip of approximately 0.01
in., bond resistance decreased and could be explained in terms of friction.

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Example:

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What is the required embedment length if a plain bar with a diameter of 1 in. is to develop a unit stress
in tension of 40 ksi?

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Answer: The stress of fs induces the tensile force of

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T=

db 2
4

fs
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From Eq. 24-1 based on the simplifying assumption that bond stress is uniform along the length of
embedment,, we get

Ld =

d
T
= b fs
db 4

(24-1)

The actual bond stress can be larger than 250 psi. Therefore, fs can be larger than 40 ksi if

Ld

db
1 in.
fs =
40 ksi = 40 in.
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4 250 psi

Note from Eq. 24-1 that the required embedment length is proportional to the diameter of the bar and
the unit stress in the reinforcement, and inversely proportional to bond strength.

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Exercises

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1. Repeat the example for a #4 bar.

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2. What embedment lengths are required for #4 and #8 plain bars if they are to develop a tensile stress
of 60 ksi?
?

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Essential Information

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Bond stresses transfer forces from reinforcing bars to concrete and vice versa. In plain bars (bars
without deformations) they are related to adhesion, shearing of penetrations of concrete into minute
crevices present on the surface of the bar, and friction.

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Bond stress is a function of slip, which is associated with the difference between the strains in the
concrete and the reinforcing bar.

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Plain reinforcing bars embedded in normalweight-aggregate concrete can develop a bond strength of
approximately 250 psi at negligible slip. With slip, bond stress increases by 50% to return to 250 psi at
slips on the order of 0.05 in.

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