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Easily Made Errors in FEA 1

Easily Made Errors in FEA 1

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Published by: darkwing888 on Oct 11, 2010
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Printed in U.S.A., Copyright © 2000. PentonMedia, Inc. All rights reserved. Machine De-sign (ISSN 0024-9114) is published semi-monthly by Penton Media, Inc., 1100 Supe-rior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44114-2543. Copiesnot qualified for domestic requester circula-tion: one year, $105; two years, $165. Permis-sion to photocopy is granted for users regis-tered with the Copyright Clearance Center(CCC) Inc. to photocopy any article, with theexception of those for which separate owner-ship is indicated on the first page of the arti-cle, provided that the base fee of $1.25 percopy of the article, plus $.60 per page is paidto CCC, 222 Rosewood Dr., Danvers, MA01923 (Code No. 0024-9114/00 $1.25 + .60).Permission to reprint: Barbara LoSchi-avo; Purchased reprints: Judy Dustman(216-696-7000, ext. 9607); Advertising Ma-terials: Advertising Dept., Machine Design,1100 Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44114-2543, 216-696-7000. Inserts should be sentto Machine Design, Penton Press, 680 N.Rocky River Dr., Berea, OH 44017-1691.
 A classic problem involves finding the maximum princi-pal stress in a plate with a center hole. Two-dimensionalplane stress is assumed. Results show the highest stressequal to 377 MPa, quite close to 370 MPa predicted by theanalytical solution. But 377 MPa is
the highest maxi-mum principal stress in this model. The highest one is ac-tually infinite. Why? Because the formula that predicts370 MPa assumes tension is applied to both sides of theplate, while our model shows the left vertical edge rigidlyconstrained. The constrained edge tries to shrink side-ways under the tensile load, the effect of Poisson’s ratio.
The tensile strip with a hole looks innocentenough. It’s 200
100 mm, and 10 mm thick.The hole is 40 mm diameter. Load is 100,000 Nin tension and the material has a modulus of200,000 MPa and Poisson’s ration of 0.27.Results are in following images.
Easily made errorsmar FEAresults
MACHINE DESIGN SEPTEMBER 13, 2001 www.machinedesign.com69
Edited by Paul Dvorak
 Even before you mesh a part, you may have introducedthe potential for erroneousstresses and deflections.
Paul Kurowski
PresidentDesign Generator Inc.London, Ontario, Canada
 very day brings news of powerful analysissoftware for shortening development cycles.Trying to keep pace with such progressmakes it easy to forget that all those greatprograms provide accurate results only whenproperly used.One of the stumbling blocks on the road to quick andcorrect FEA results includes idealization errors, thosethat come from simplifying the real world. They arecommon yet often unrecognized and dangerous. In thisdiscussion of them, lets use the term finite-elementmethod (FEM), the foundation of FEA, because it em-phasizes the underlying numerical method.It’s also useful to briefly review the four steps pres-ent in any FEM project. Step one transforms boundaryconditions, material properties, and geometry intoterms acceptable for analysis. Simplifications are al-most always necessary, but they introduce idealiza-tion errors. Some are benign but others are hazardous. And don’t be too smug if you’re using “advanced” soft-ware because idealization errors have nothing to dowith mesh, elements, or the type of solver used.Mathematical models formed by simplifications andcontaining idealization errors then take the form of differential equations. These are usually too difficultto solve analytically, so solvers use an approximate nu-merical method. Most often we choose the FEM, whichhas dominated engineering analysis because of itsadaptability and numerical efficiency. FEM requiressplitting the continuous model into discrete regions orelements. Call this step two, another operation withopportunity for errors.Step three, the solution, leaves little opportunity foruser intervention. The software can introduce numeri-cal round-off errors, but recent programming mini-mizes their impact. And in step four, after solving a model, you apply re-sults to the design. At that time, it’s important to recallthe assumptions made during the simplifications andmeshing because they have influenced the results.The boxes that follow show several particular ideal-ization errors that are introduced in step one. And thearticle avoids referencing FEM-specific issues, such aselements and meshing, as much as possible. Howeverwe must touch on the convergence process and theidea of degrees-of-freedom in FEM models becausewe’ll use those as tools to expose the problems of ideal-izations. To illustrate the convergence process, the ex-amples that follow are meshed and solved with a pro-gram that uses p-elements, but the problems they il-lustrate apply to all FEM-based analysis or any otherkind of numerical analysis for that matter.
Aplate in tension 
Sometimes it’s easier to think of safety in terms of stress levels whileforgetting other issues. For example, while analyzing
 A curved I-beam
it is easy, yet deadly, to forget that buckling, not the stress, will definethe structure’s safety.With a little work, we could fillthis entire issue with examples of modeling errors introduced duringthe idealization process. Indeed,reducing 3D models to 2Drepresentations, beam and shellmodeling, defeaturing andgeometry clean up, all that is doneto simplify models and allowmeshing. Each process abounds intraps awaiting an unsuspectinguser.Modeling errors originate fromincorrect mathematical models.Some modeling errors, such assingularities, can be revealed (butnot cured) using the FEM-basedconvergence process. Most remainhidden. The only defense is fullunderstanding of the analyzedproblem.But built-in supports prevent theedge from “shrinking.” There-fore, the mathematical model, asshown in
 A closer look at the cor-ners
predicts infinite stresses inboth corners. (Infinite stress mayalso be called singular stress.)Large elements, such as thosein
 Results for the test plate
, letthe FEM model overlook highstresses altogether. Even thougheach iteration adds degrees of freedom (dof) to the model, thereare still not enough dof to detectthose very localized stresses inthe two corners. A convergence of the highest principal stress inthe chart
Convergence for the plate model refers
to stress at thehole, not to cornerstresses, and pro- vides another ex-ample of how cor-ner singularities goundetected.
 A closer look atthe corners
moreclearly shows thatplacing small ele-ments in cornersand using nonadap-tive convergence,reveals high cornerstresses. And thegraph
Convergencein the corner
showshow stresses theregrow with each iteration. It startshigh from the beginning. This isbecause small elements can de-tect stress concentrations even atlow p (polynomial) levels. Perhapsmost interesting is that stressshows no signs of convergence.Each consecutive iteration simplyproduces higher stress.
70MACHINE DESIGN SEPTEMBER 13, 2001 www.machinedesign.com
Results for the test plate 
Results for the plate show a high stress at thehole boundary and in the corners. The146MPa is high enough to warrant furtherinvestigation. A closer examination will revealthat the 146 MPa found there is meaningless.
Convergence for the plate model 
A plot of the highest maximum principle stresses forthe plate show stresses around the hole.Buckling is not obvious, butit’s the dominating mode offailure for the curved beam.
Acurved I-beam 

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