Nonstructural Components Simulator (NCS)

The University at Buffalo's NEES (UB-NEES) facility is commissioning a dedicated Nonstructural Component Simulator (NCS). The NCS is a modular and versatile two-level platform for experimental performance evaluation of nonstructural components and equipment under realistic full scale floor motions (Fig. 1). NCS can provide the dynamic stroke necessary to replicate full-scale displacements, velocities and accelerations at the upper levels of multi-story buildings during earthquake shaking. Both displacement sensitive and acceleration sensitive nonstructural components and equipment can be experimentally evaluated under full-scale floor motions to understand, quantify and control their seismic response.

The NCS testing frame is activated by four identical high performance dynamic actuators supplied by MTS Corporation (Table 1). The NCS is capable of subjecting nonstructural components and equipment up to 3g horizontal accelerations, 100 in/s (2.5 m/s) velocities and 40 inches ( 1m) displacements for specimens up to 6.9 kips (3.1 mtons) per level. Each actuator has a load capacity of 22 kips (10 mton), a displacement stroke of 80 inches (2 m) and a mid-stroke length of approximately 15 feet (4.6 m). Uni-axial and bi-axial testing configurations are possible (Fig. 2 and Fig. 3). Vertical accelerations can also be included in an experiment by mounting the testing frame on one of the existing earthquake simulators (shake tables) at the SEESL UB-NEES facility.

The testing frame is composed of two square 12.5 ft (3.8 m) platforms with an inter-story height of 14 ft (4.27 m). Beams are typically constructed from HSS8x6x1/2" hollow tube sections and the columns are made of HSS8x8x1/2" (Fig. 4 and Fig. 5). The platform is a 2x2 ft (0.6x0.6 m) grid with tie-down holes spaced at 1 ft (0.3 m) throughout the platform. Additionally 4 centrally located cruciform shapes which are part of the grid are removable allowing for four 3.5x3.5 ft (1.06x1.06 m) square openings which can accommodate tall equipment that may span more than one level. Universal joints are used at the column-platform connections which allow for the unrestricted bi-directional motion of the frame. The frame can be braced in one direction for unidirectional testing. Table 2 summarizes the main characteristics of the NCS:

Table 1. Performance Data of Actuators
ASSY 247.22S
80 in (2.0 m)
Minimum static
140.3 in (3.56 m)
Minimum dynamic
141.6 in (3.60 m)
180.9 in (4.59 m)
Maximum dynamic
220.3 in (5.60 m)
Maximum static
223.6 in (5.68 m)
Servovalve type
256.25 (250 GPM)
Servo controller
Peak velocity
100 in/s (2.5 m/s)

Table 2. Characteristics of NCS
Platform size
12.5x12.5 ft (3.8x3.8 m)
Opening size
3.5x3.5 ft (each) (1.07x1.07 m)
Number of stories
Story height
14 ft (4.25 m)
Maximum specimen weight
6.9 kips (3.1 mtons)
Degrees of freedom
2 horiz. (per floor) + vert.
Frequency of operation
0.2-10 Hz
40 in ( 1.0 m)
100 in/s (2.5 m/s)
Up to 3g

Videos of NCS

Nonstructural Components Simulator Drawings

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Fig. 2. Bi-axial testing configuration
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Fig. 3. Uni-axial testing configuration.
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Fig. 4. Plan View Platform NCS
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SEESL - Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation Laboratory
212 Ketter Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA
phone. +1(716)645-3019       fax. +1(716)645-3733