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Finite element methods of structural analysis
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With the development of finite element methods and availability
of fast and cheap computers the cycle time and cost of development
of a product has comedown substantially.
The following figures illustrates the traditional and current process
that are being followed for the design and development of a product
The concept of concurrent and collaborative engineering is widely
used now to cut the cycle time for realizing the product from
configuration finalization to proto development.
1.0 Introduction
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Concept
Detailed design
Prototype
Verification
Production
Optimum/near optimum
design within time
and resources
Traditional development process
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Concept
Detailed design
Prototype
Verification
Production
Analysis
‘Software
prototyping’
Optimal
design
Product development using predictive engineering
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1.1 Finite Element Method Defined
• Many problems in engineering and applied science are governed
by differential or integral equations.
• The solutions to these equations would provide an exact, closed-
form solution to the particular problem being studied.
• However, complexities in the geometry, properties and in the
boundary conditions that are seen in most real-world problems
usually means that an exact solution cannot be obtained or
obtained in a reasonable amount of time.
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Finite Element Method Defined (cont.)
• Current product design cycle times imply that engineers must
obtain design solutions in a ‘short’ amount of time.
• They are content to obtain approximate solutions that can be
readily obtained in a reasonable time frame, and with reasonable
effort. The FEM is one such approximate solution technique.
• The FEM is a numerical procedure for obtaining approximate
solutions to many of the problems encountered in engineering
analysis with reasonable accuracy.
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• In the FEM, a complex region defining a continuum is 
discretized into simple geometric shapes called elements. 
• The properties and the governing relationships are assumed 
over these elements and expressed mathematically in terms of 
unknown values at specific points in the elements called nodes.
• An assembly process is used to link the individual elements to 
the given system. When the effects of loads and boundary 
conditions are considered, a set of linear or nonlinear algebraic 
equations is usually obtained.
• Solution of these equations gives the approximate behavior of 
the continuum or system.
Finite Element Method Defined (cont.)
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Finite Element Method Defined (cont.)
• The continuum has an infinite number of degrees­of­freedom 
(DOF), while the discretized model has a finite number of 
DOF. This is the origin of the name, finite element method.
• The number of equations is usually rather large for most real­
world applications of the FEM, and requires the computational 
power of the digital computer. The FEM has little practical 
value if the digital computer were not available.
• Advances in and ready availability of computers and software 
has brought the FEM within reach of engineers working in 
small industries, and even students.
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Finite Element Method Defined (cont.)
 Two features of the finite element method are worth noting.

The piecewise approximation of the physical field
(continuum) on finite elements provides good precision even
with simple approximating functions. Simply increasing the
number of elements can achieve increasing precision.

The locality of the approximation leads to sparse equation
systems for a discretized problem. This helps to ease the
solution of problems having very large numbers of nodal
unknowns. It is not uncommon today to solve systems
containing a million primary unknowns.
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1.2 How can the FEM Help the Design Engineer?
•   The FEM offers many important advantages to the design engineer:
• Easily applied to complex, irregular­shaped objects composed of 
several different materials and having complex boundary 
conditions.
• Applicable to steady­state, time dependent and eigenvalue 
problems.
• Applicable to linear and nonlinear problems.
• One method can solve a wide variety of problems, including 
problems in solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, chemical reactions, 
electromagnetics, biomechanics, heat transfer and acoustics, to 
name a few.
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How can the FEM Help the Design Engineer? (cont.)
• General­purpose FEM software packages are available at 
reasonable cost, and can be readily executed on 
microcomputers, including workstations and PCs.
• The FEM can be coupled to CAD programs to facilitate 
solid modeling and mesh generation.
• Many FEM software packages feature GUI interfaces, 
auto­meshers, and sophisticated postprocessors and 
graphics to speed the analysis and make pre and post­
processing more user­friendly.
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How can the FEM Help the Design Organization?

 Simulation using the FEM also offers important business 
advantages to the design organization:
• Reduced testing and redesign costs thereby shortening the
   product development time.
• Identify issues in designs before tooling is committed.
• Refine components before dependencies to other   
  components prohibit changes.
• Optimize performance before prototyping.
• Discover design problems before litigation.
• Allow more time for designers to use engineering  judgment, 
   and less time “turning the crank.”
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1.3 Theoretical Basis: Formulating Element
Equations

Several approaches can be used to transform the physical
formulation of a problem to its finite element discrete analogue.

If the physical formulation of the problem is described as a
differential equation, then the most popular solution method is
the Method of Weighted Residuals.

If the physical problem can be formulated as the minimization
of a functional, then the Variational Formulation is usually
used.
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Theoretical Basis: Variational
Method

 The variational method involves the integral of a function that 
produces a number.  Each new function produces a new 
number.

 The function that produces the lowest number has the 
additional property of satisfying a specific differential equation.

 Consider the integral
 π · ∫ [D/2 (y’(x))
2
 ­ Qy]dx = 0. (1)
The numerical value of π can be calculated given a specific 
equation y = f(x).  Variational calculus shows that the 
particular equation y = g(x) which yields the lowest numerical 
value for π is the solution to the differential equation
Dy’’(x) + Q =  0. (2)
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Theoretical Basis: Variational Method
(cont.)

 In solid mechanics, the so-called Rayeigh-Ritz technique uses the
theorem of Minimum Potential Energy (with the potential energy being
the functional, π) to develop the element equations.
• The trial solution that gives the minimum value of π is the approximate
solution.
• In other specialty areas, a variational principle can usually be found.
•Principle of minimum potential energy:
For conservative systems, of all the kinematically admissible displacement
fields, those corresponding to equilibrium extremize the total potential
energy. If the extremum condition is a minimum, the equilibrium state is
stable.
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1.4 Advantages of the Finite Element Method

Can readily handle complex geometry:

The heart and power of the FEM.

Can handle complex analysis types:

Vibration

Transients

Nonlinear

Heat transfer

Fluids

Can handle complex loading:

Node-based loading (point loads).

Element-based loading (pressure, thermal,
inertial forces).

Time or frequency dependent loading.

Can handle complex restraints:

Indeterminate structures can be analyzed.
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Advantages of the Finite Element Method (cont.)

Can handle bodies comprised of nonhomogeneous materials:

Every element in the model could be assigned a different set
of material properties.

Can handle bodies comprised of nonisotropic materials:

Orthotropic

Anisotropic

Special material effects are handled:

Temperature dependent properties.

Plasticity

Creep

Swelling

Special geometric effects can be modeled:

Large displacements.

Large rotations.

Contact (gap) condition.
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1.5 Limitations of the Finite Element Method

A specific numerical result is obtained for a specific
problem. A general closed-form solution, which would
permit one to examine system response to changes in
various parameters, is not produced.

The FEM is applied to an approximation of the
mathematical model of a system (the source of so-called
inherited errors.)

Experience, judgment and knowledge of structural
theory are needed in order to construct a good finite
element model.

A powerful computer and reliable FEM software are
essential.

Input and output data may be large and tedious to
prepare and interpret.
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Limitations of the Finite Element Method (cont.)

Numerical problems:

Computers only carry a finite number of significant
digits.

Can help the situation by not attaching stiff (small)
elements to flexible (large) elements.

Susceptible to user-introduced modeling errors:

Poor choice of element types.

Distorted elements.

Geometry not adequately modeled.

Certain effects not automatically included:

Buckling

Large deflections and rotations.

Material nonlinearities .

Other nonlinearities.
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2.1 BASIC STRUCTURAL PRINCIPLES

Statically determinate structural problems can be solved by
equilibrium equations

For redundant structures the equilibrium equations are
insufficient

Additional equations are needed from consideration of the
geometry of structural deformation

Continuity/ Compatibility of deformation leads to the
additional required equations

Further more introducing the compatibility in terms of
consistent deformation of the structure requires that a force
displacement law is specified(stress strain relationships)
2. FEM Applied to Solid Mechanics Problems
(Displacement Method)
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Thus the three important conditions needed are

Equilibrium of forces

Compatibility of deformation

Stress-strain relations(relating forces and deformations)
These three principles are applied in developing the both
the force method and the displacement methods of finite element
methods of structural analysis
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• If we do not understand the various assumptions properly, we would be
wasting our time and resources.
• Qualification of assumptions is a key to successful use of FEA in product
design.
To be capable of qualifying assumptions, we need to understand
• Mechanics of materials being modeled.
• Failure modes the product can encounter.
• Manufacturing and operating environments the product might encounter,
• Capabilities and limitations of element types and solution methods.
• You need to understand that there is an assumption behind every
decision you make in FEA.
2.2 Assumptions
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Mesh
• Quality of mesh characterizes the convergence of the problem
• Global displacements should converge to a stable value, Other results
should converge locally.
• A bad looking mesh always indicate a problem. A good looking mesh
need not be a best mesh.
• Equilateral Triangles and squares shaped elements are ideal.
• Transition between densities should be smooth and gradual with out
skinny distorted elements.
• When we use beams and shells, we are making assumptions that
these can adequately represent the geometry and that they can
capture the structural response of the system.
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Static Analysis Assumptions
•Loads are gradually applied to their full magnitude.
•Vibratory or sinusoidal loads are not static.
•Loads generated by Impact or collisions with another body is not
static
•Generally it takes some time for the load to get applied and reach
final steady state value. Steady state implies loads of constant
magnitude.
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•Supplied CAD geometry adequately represent the physical part.
•Only internal fillets in the area of interest will be included in the solution.
•Thickness of the part is small enough relative to its width and length, such
that shell idealization is valid.
•If the dimensions of a particular part are not critical and will not affect the
analysis results, some approximations can be made in modeling the
particular part
Geometry
•Thickness of the walls are sufficiently constant to justify constant thickness
shell elements
•Primary members of structure are long and thin such that a beam
idealization is required.
•Local behavior at the joints of beams or other discontinuities are not of
primary interest such that no special modeling of these area is required.
•Decorative or external features will be assumed insignificant to the
stiffness and the performance of the part and will be omitted from the
model
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Material Property.
•Material remain in the linear regime. It is understood that either stress
levels exceeding yield or excessive displacements will constitute a
component failure. That is non linear behavior cannot be accepted.
•Nominal material properties adequately represent the physical system.
•Material properties are not affected by load rate.
•Material properties can be assumed isotropic (Orthotropic) and
homogeneous.
•Part is free of voids or surface imperfections that can produce stress
risers and skew local results.
•Actual non linear behavior of the system can be extrapolated from the
linear material results.
•Weld material and the heat affected zone will be assumed to have
same material properties as the base material.
•Temperature variations may have a significant impact on the properties
of the materials used. Change in material properties is neglected.
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•Choosing proper BC’s require experience.
•Using BC’s to represent parts and effects that are not or cannot be
modeled leads to the assumption that the effects of these un-modeled
entities can truly be simulated or has no effect on the model being
analyzed.
•For a given situation there would be many ways of applying boundary
conditions. But these various alternatives can be wrong if the user does
not understand the assumptions they represent.
•Symmetry/ anti-symmetry/ reflective symmetry/ cyclic symmetry
conditions if exists can be used to minimize the model size and
complexity..
Boundary conditions
•Displacements may be lower than they would have been had the
boundary conditions been more appropriate. Stress magnitudes may
be higher or lower depending on the constraint used
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•Residual stress due to fabrication , preloading of bolts, welding and/or
other manufacturing or assembly processes are neglected.
•Bolt loading is primarily axial in nature.
•Bolt head or washer surface torque loading is primarily axial in nature.
Surface torque loading due to friction will produce only local effects.
•Bolts, spot welds, welds, rivets, and/or fasteners which connect two
components are considered perfect and acts as rigid joint
•Stress relaxation of fasteners or other assembly components will not
be considered. Load on threaded portion of the part is evenly distributed
on engaged threads
•Failure of fasteners will not be reflected in the analysis
Fasteners
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Assumptions. General.
•If the results in the particular area are of interest, then mesh convergence
will be limited to this area
•No slippage between interfacing components will be assumed.
•Any sliding contact interfaces will be assumed frictionless.
•System damping will be normally small and assumed constant across all
frequencies of interest unless otherwise available from published literature
or actual tests.
•Stiffness of bearings in radial or axial directions will be considered infinite
•Elements with poor or less than optimal geometry are only allowed in areas
that are not of concern and do not affect the overall performance of the
model
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2.3 Linear/Nonlinear Analysis
•A linear approximation is a fast and efficient solution for many
engineering problems. For design engineer it is a first step. The
variance between a nonlinear solution and a linear approximation
will determine how valid the linear results are.
•Understanding the effects of the nonlinearity can enable a design
engineer to make sound decisions on linear results. Working
knowledge of nonlinear concepts and terminology will help in
understanding the effects of nonlinearity.
•It is important to understand the underlying assumptions of
linear
analysis. Once they are understood, it is possible to examine the
real world problem and decide on the mode of analysis- nonlinear
or linear analysis .
•Nonlinear material behavior, plasticity, large displacements, or
nonlinear buckling are some of the causes to go for nonlinear
analysis
•Nonlinear analysis is an iterative method requiring large amount of
time and effort and should be carried out only if absolutely
necessary
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2.3.1 Why Nonlinear Analysis
Some common reasons to use nonlinear analysis are

Exact performance required
- In the last stage of design process before proto type realization,
it may be desirable to know the exact behavior of the product ,
which may necessitate a nonlinear analysis.
- Another reason for obtaining exact performance data is a
postmortem study. In case a system or a part of a system fails
during operation, the need to know the exact cause of failure may
necessitate a nonlinear analysis

Contact analysis
While part-to-part interfaces can be modeled with linear conditions
and tricks to approximate contact, there are many instances that
simply require the ability for the parts contacting surfaces to
impact, slide, and/or lift off one another. This is most common
when the loading on the system causes a portion of the contact
interface to be in a compressive stage while the rest wants to
disengage.
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Large displacements
In many thin-walled plastic parts, geometric or stress stiffening
Plays a critical roll in the final response. The linear analysis may
give displacements much more than the actual values. Nonlinear
analysis can only give correct displacements.

Fatigue analysis
Fatigue analysis requires a sequence of maximum principal stresses
structured by the loading history of the system, and calculate
damage or life estimates. Precise stress estimates are required.

Manufacturing and forming simulation
Finite element analysis is being used to simulate the manufacturing
process. The most common are metal forming or forging and
plastic or casting filling simulations. In these tools the event of
interest is nonlinear by definition.
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2.3.2 Linearity Analysis Conditions
Stress-strain
Strain displacement
•The displacements should be small, such that the relationship of
strain to displacement are linear
Load continuity
•The magnitude, orientation, and distribution of loads must not
change between the unloaded and deformed conditions
•The relationship of stress to strain over the strains being studied
must be linear and elastic. The part or system must return to its
initial state elastically when all the external loads are removed.
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2.3.4 Common Symptoms of Nonlinear Behavior
Stress levels approach the yield point
•Do not simply look at the reported maximum stress in the linear
analysis results and assume that a nonlinear analysis is required.
•If the high stress region is highly localized, there is a possibility of
redistribution
•Look at the area of high stress, the distribution of the stress
approaching and exceeding yield, and determine the cause of these
stresses. If the cause is a point load/constraint or a Poisson effect,
a nonlinear run is probably not warranted, although remodeling
may be.
•Most materials will exhibit a significant range of nonlinear elastic
behavior long before the yield stress is reached.
•Another point to remember is reported yield stress is typically an
estimated quantity (obtained by 0.2% offset method). The actual
point where permanent set occurs may be appreciably lower than
the reported yield stress. Take yield stress as a guide
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Coupled displacements are restrained
•End constraints may generate in-plane tensile stresses and stiffen
the structure. Ex.: A long plate is supported at its ends and
subjected to a pressure load.
•While large displacements should prompt you to examine the
system more closely, the degree of nonlinearity due to these
displacements will be small in a lightly constrained case and larger
as the constraints restrict the natural flow of the material
•Consider the entire system before opting for a nonlinear solution
Larger displacements are expected
In many cases, the system may undergo large displacements when
in service as a part of desired performance. It is best to assume
That a nonlinear solution is desired
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Unreasonably high deflections are observed
•A part is designed using sound engineering judgment and based on
some historical experience of similar parts. In spite of this, large
displacements are observed in the linear analysis- a nonlinear analysis
will be required to confirm whether such displacements are real.
Two surfaces or curves penetrate
•Contact is a nonlinear problem and its solution is time consuming. It
is common practice to model the system with potential contact as a
non-contact linear approximation and study these results before going
for a nonlinear solution. If penetration occurs in one or more of the
suspect regions, a contact condition should be modeled and a nonlinear
solution employed
•Linear analysis also helps in estimating the reaction forces at the
contact surfaces, which could be applied as loads for the purpose of
debugging and converging the mesh in case of large models..
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2.4 Common Types of Nonlinear behavior
•Most nonlinear behavior in product design can be categorized into
one of three common types: Material, geometric, and boundary
nonlinearity.
•Material nonlinearity is the type most commonly thought of when
the topic of nonlinear is suggested. A stress strain curve is typically
known to be nonlinear; therefore it requires a nonlinear analysis.
The other two types are more common in design analysis
•In many cases , if material nonlinearity is present, one or both of the
other two types will be required as well
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2.4.1 Material Nonlinearity
•If a nonlinear material model is required to provide the data
necessary to verify or improve the design, test data or the generic
data found in data sheets or a vendor’s reference data base after
careful examination should be used.
•A key feature of a nonlinear solution is the need to continually re-
evaluate the strain state to determine which modulus , or stiffness,
should be applied to an element at any given load step.
•In the nonlinear world there are many types of modulii you should be
familiar. Some of these names are tangent modulus, secant modulus,
elastic modulus, plastic modulus, hardening modulus
•The name of the modulus used is dependent upon the material model
chosen. The success and efficiency of a nonlinear material solution
are dependent on the choice of the material model
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Yield Criteria
When plastic behavior is desired or expected, you will need to tell
the server which criteria to seek to initiate yielding. Some of the
more common yield criteria are
•Tresca, which looks at the maximum shear stress in the model and
provides a reasonable calculation of the brief plasticity in more
brittle materials.
•Von Mises looks to the von Mises stress to determine yielding and
is the best criterion for crystalline plastics and ductile materials
•Mohr-Coulomb, which evaluates a combination of maximum and
minimum principal stresses to determine yielding , is some what
more accurate for plasticity in moderately brittle materials
Drucker-prager combines data from the first and second stress
invariants and is better for problems involving materials such as
soil and concrete. It provides the best model for yielding i.e. , first
invariant dependent such as at crack tips and in amorphous plastics.
The above criteria are primarily the same as the failure criteria
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Hardening Rules
•A hardening rule determines how the material model responds to
repeated stress reversals, or switching between tension and
compression.
•In ductile material that has never experienced plasticity, the yield
point in tension can be expected to equal the opposite of the yield
stress in compression.
•However once tensile yielding has occurred, some materials
experience a phenomenon known as the Bauschinger Effect, which
causes the yield point in compression to be somewhat less than the
compressive equivalent of the initial yield stress. Consequently non-
linear solutions have implemented hardening rules to allow for
adjustment of the yield point in stress reversals
•An isotropic hardening model does not take the Bauschinger
Effect, into account.
•A kinematic hardening model will take into account the reduction in
the compressive yield point after a stress reversal
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Commonly Used Material Models
•An important decision to be made when considering a nonlinear
analysis is the material model selection. Various material
approximations are available. The common material models are
- Bilinear Material Model
- Tri-linear Material Model
- Multi-linear stress-strain curve
- Stress-strain curves- offset by temperature and strain rate
•Regardless of your choice of models, three pieces of data must
be specified: yield stress, yield criteria, and hardening rule
•In a bilinear material model, there are two required modulii: the
elastic modulus and the plastic modulus. The plastic modulus is
activated when a stress in an element exceeds the specified yield
criterion. As in a linear analysis, the plastic modulus is
interpolated for all strains in excess of yield.
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•Many materials experience noticeable hardening after the onset of
plasticity. In these materials, the response of the system to large
strains will diverge in a bilinear model. Therefore, a tri-linear model
contains a third, hardening modulus to account for this.
•For tri-linear material models, you need to specify three modulii
(E1, E2 and E3 ) and two transition stresses (yield and a hardening
transition strain).
•All material models with more than two modulus transitions are
lumped into multi-linear classification. A multi-linear model is input
using pairs of stress-strain (S-S) values. The data should be
extracted from a standard tensile test.
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0
4
0 6
S l o p e  = E
2
,   P l a s t i c  m o d u l u s
S l o p e = E
1
,   Y o u n g s   m o d u l u s ,   E l a s t i c   m o d u l u s
S t r a i n
S
t
r
e
s
s
B i l i n e a r   M a t e r i a l   M o d e l
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0
4
0 1 1
S l o p e ,   E
3
=
H a r d e n i n g   M o d u l u s  
 
S l o p e   = E
2
,   P l a s t i c   m o d u l u s
S l o p e = E
1
,   Y o u n g s   m o d u l u s ,   E l a s t i c   m o d u l u s
S t r a i n
S
t
r
e
s
s
T r i l i n e a r   M a t e r i a l   M o d e l
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0
5
0 2 5
S t r a i n
S
t
r
e
s
s
M u l t i l i n e a r   S t r e s s   S t r a i n   C u r v e
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•For ferrous materials, the stress-strain (S-S) curve is relatively
independent of temperature and strain rate.
•However, most other materials, especially plastics, will show a
shift resulting from strain rate and temperature.
•As a general rule, stiffness increases as strain rate increases. This
will result in an upward shift of the curve. Similarly, as the testing
temperature increases, the material tends to soften and this is
illustrated by downward shift in the S-S curve. This is illustrated in
the following figure
•To obtain the above data, material testing under conditions similar
to actual problem is ideal. If this is not possible the data base
supplied by material supplier should be used.
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0
2 0
4 0
6 0
8 0
0 1 2 3 4
S t r a i n
S
t
r
e
s
s
S t r e s s   s t r a i n   c u r v e s   o f f s e t   b y
t e m p e r a t u r e   a n d   s t r a i n   r a t e
Increased strain rate
Increased temperature
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2.4.2 Geometric Nonlinearity
•Geometric nonlinearity primarily refers to stiffness changes that are
independent of material properties. The stiffness change can be related
to geometry constraints and/or the magnitude of strain.
•The large in-plane stress induced by the deformation is the one common
characteristic of geometric nonlinearity. This may happen due to
boundary constraints.
•Strain- displacement relations used for linear analysis assumes small
displacements and higher order terms are neglected . If the structural
deformations are large linear analysis will not give correct results.
nonlinear analysis has to carried out.
•It is difficult to decide on the need for nonlinear analysis. The general
guide line is that if the observed displacement through linear analysis
is about one third to one times the wall thickness, then you may have
to go for nonlinear analysis.
•Geometric nonlinearity is ease to handle. Need to give the option with
few defined load steps
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2.4.3 Boundary Nonlinearity
•Boundary nonlinearity is the change in boundary conditions due to
resultant deformation. There are two common occurrences of boundary
nonlinearity : Contact and follower forces
Contact
•Contact conditions allow parts or portions of the same part to touch or
lift of each other. This capability may be necessary to model the
interaction of certain systems
Follower forces
•Follower forces represent loads that are dependent on the orientation
of the features to which they are applied. If a feature deflects so much
that the orientation of the load becomes of interest , geometric
nonlinearity should probably be considered.
•Nonlinear forces can be defined as displacement or velocity based;
they can be defined to follow the orientation of a feature or scale with
displacement or velocity magnitudes in a particular degree of freedom.
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2.4.4 Other types of Nonlinearities
Hyperelastic
Hyperelastic materials, such as rubber, silicone, and other
elastomers, behave differently than standard engineering materials.
Their strain displacement relationship is nonlinear even at small
strains, and they are nearly incompressible. The Poisson’s ratio
of hyperelastic materials may be near to 0.5.
Nonlinear Transients
A nonlinear transient analysis is used to calculate the response
of a part or a system in which properties or boundary conditions
vary withtime. A good example is crash or impact analysis.
Creep
Creep is the term used to define time varying permanent strain due
To long-term application of a constant or near-constant stress
level. When the material creeps, it effectively relaxes and the stress
levels in the part reduce.
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Nonlinear Buckling Analysis
Bulk Metal Forming
Bulk metal forming analysis, such as sheet metal folding, forging,
And cold heading usually require a special software configuration
that will automatically cleanup elements that become overly
distorted by the excessive deformations of the mesh.
A linear buckling analysis gives the critical buckling load and the
Initial buckled shape based on the orientation of an existing load
set. The linear analysis will not give the post-buckling behavior of
the structure. To determine the post collapse response of a structure,
a nonlinear buckling analysis is required
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2.5 FEM Applied to Solid Mechanics Problems
Create elements
of the beam
d
xi 1
d
xi 2
d
yi 1
d
yi 2
1
2
4 3
Nodal displacement and forces
• A FEM model in solid mechanics
can be thought of as a system of
assembled springs. When a load
is applied, all elements deform
until all forces balance.
• F = Kd
• K is dependant upon
Young’s modulus and
Poisson’s ratio, as well as the
geometry.
• Equations from discrete elements
are assembled together to form
the global stiffness matrix.
• Deflections are obtained by
solving the assembled set of
linear equations.
• Stresses and strains are
calculated from the deflections.
53
Classification of Solid-Mechanics
Problems Analysis of solids
Static Dynamics
Behavior of Solids
Linear Nonlinear
Material
Fracture
Geometric
 Large Displacement
 Instability
Plasticity
Viscoplasticity
Geometric
Classification of solids
Skeletal Systems
1D Elements
Plates and Shells
2D Elements
Solid Blocks
3D Elements
Trusses
Cables
Pipes
Plane Stress/Plane Strain
Axisymmetric
Plate Bending
Shells with flat elements
Shells with curved elements
Brick Elements (Hexahedral))
Tetrahedral Elements
General Elements
Elementary
Advanced
 Stress Stiffening
 Modal analysis
Response transient/  
harmonic/random
54
Governing Equation for Solid Mechanics
Problems
[K] {u} = {F
app
} + {F
th
} + {F
pr
} + {F
ma
} + {F
pl
} +
{F
cr
} + {F
sw
} + {F
ld
} (1)
[K] = total stiffness matrix
{u} = nodal displacement
{F
app
} = applied nodal force load vector
{F
th
} =applied element thermal load vector
{F
pr
} =applied element pressure load vector
{F
ma
} =applied element body force vector
Loads related to Nonlinear analysis
{F
pl
} =element plastic strain load vector
{F
cr
} =element creep strain load vector
{F
sw
} =element swelling strain load vector
{F
ld
} = element large deflection load vector

Basic equation for a static analysis is as follows:
55
2.5.1 Six Steps in the Finite Element Method

Step 1 - Discretization: The problem domain is discretized into a
collection of simple shapes, or elements.

Step 2 – Selection of elements- depends on the type of structure

Step 3 - Assembly: The element equations for each element in the
FEM mesh are assembled into a set of global equations that model
the properties of the entire system.

Step 4 - Application of Boundary Conditions: Solution cannot be
obtained unless boundary conditions are applied. They reflect the
known values for certain primary unknowns. Imposing the
boundary conditions modifies the global equations.

Step 5 - Solve for Primary Unknowns: The modified global
equations are solved for the primary unknowns at the nodes.

Step 6 - Calculate Derived Variables: Calculated using the nodal
values of the primary variables.
56
Process Flow in a Typical FEM Analysis
Start
Problem
Definition
Pre­processor
• Reads or generates 
nodes and elements 
(ex: ANSYS)
• Reads or generates 
material property 
data.
• Reads or generates 
boundary 
conditions (loads 
and constraints.)
Processor
• Generates element 
shape functions
• Calculates master 
element equations 
• Calculates 
transformation 
matrices
• Maps element 
equations into 
global system
• Assembles element 
equations
• Introduces 
boundary 
conditions
• Performs solution 
procedures
Post­processor
• Prints or plots contours 
of stress components.
• Prints or plots contours 
of displacements.
• Evaluates and prints 
error bounds.
Analysis and
design decisions
Stop
Step 1, Step 4
Step 6
Steps 2, 3, 5
57
Discretization - Mesh Generation
airfoil geometry
(from CAD program)
mesh
generator
surface model
ET,1,SOLID45
N, 1, 183.894081 , -.770218637 , 5.30522740
N, 2, 183.893935 , -.838009645 , 5.29452965
.
.
TYPE, 1
E, 1, 2, 80, 79, 4, 5, 83, 82
E, 2, 3, 81, 80, 5, 6, 84, 83
.
.
.
1
2
3
4 5 11
12 13 14
meshed model
58
Boundary Conditions and Loads

Displacements ⇒ DOF constraints usually specified
at model boundaries to define rigid supports.

Forces and Moments ⇒ Concentrated loads on
nodes usually specified on the model exterior.

Pressures ⇒ Surface loads usually specified on the
model exterior.

Temperatures ⇒ Input at nodes to study the effect of
thermal expansion or contraction.

Inertia Loads ⇒ Loads that affect the entire
structure (ex: acceleration, rotation).
59
Variation principle spring-mass example
A spring of stiffness k subjected to load P has deflected to a
displacement of u
The internal strain energy U = ½ (Force in the spring X Displacement
= ½ (k u) (u)= ½ k u
2

Potential energy of the external load P is
W
p
= (Load) X Displacement from zero potential state = -P u
Total potential π =U + W
p
= ½ k u
2
– P u
The minimum of π can be obtained by differentiating with respect to u
and equating it to zero
P ku
P ku
u
·
· − ·


0
π
is the equilibrium equation for the spring mass system
2.5.2 Development of element stiffness matrix
60
[k] {q} =Q [k] {q} =Q 5. Equilibrium equation
k
α
= ∫∫∫B
T
C

B

dv
Q = ∫∫∫N
T
X dv +
∫∫N
T
T ds
k
α
= ∫∫∫B
α
T
C

B
α
dv
Q
α
= ∫∫∫φ
T
X dv +∫∫φ
T
T ds
k= A
-

T
k
α
A
Q= A
-

T
Q
α
4.Element stiffness and
loads
ε = B q
σ = C B q
ε = B
α
α
σ = CB
α
α
3.element strains and
stresses
-
u = N q
-
u =φ α
q = A α
α = A
-
q
1.Element configuration
2.Displacement model
Interpolation model
method
Generalized coordinate
method
Analysis steps
Overview of stiffness and loads evaluation
61
Stiffness matrix of a 2 node axial element
Consider an element of length L and cross sectional area, A
A load P is applied at node 1 and node 2 is constrained.
A
P
· σ
EA
P
dx
du
· · ε
Strain-displacement relationship
E
σ
ε ·
The displacement u at node 1 =
EA
PL
dx
EA
P
L
· · ∫
0
ε
The stiffness is defined as force for unit displacement =
L
EA
u
P
·
Stress strain relationship
1 2
Stress
u
1
u
2
62
{ ¦ P
u
u
k k
k k
·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]

2
1
22 21
12 11
Stiffness Matrix
P ku ·
[ ]
]
]
]



·
1 1
1 1
L
EA
k
K
11
is the force required at node 1 to cause unit displacement at node 1
with displacement at node 2 zero.
K
21
is the force at node 2 due to unit displacement at node 1 with
displacement at node 2 zero
Similarly K
22
is the force required at node 2 to cause unit displacement
at node 2 with displacement at node 1 zero. K
21
is the force at node 1
due to unit displacement at node 2 with displacement at node 1 zero
Thus
K
11
, k
12
, k
22
, k
21
are called stiffness influence coefficients
(3)
(4)
63
Stiffness matrix of a bar element
Method 1: Generalized coordinate method
Number of Nodes 2
DOF per node: 1 , Displacement
Element displacements: u
1
u
2
u
1
u
2
Length l
C/S area A
Y’ Modulus E
Displacement function( polynomial)
u = a
0
+a
1
x
Where a
0
and a
1
are generalized coordinates

u= {φ}
T
{α}= [1 x]{ }
a
0
a
1
x
u
1
= a
0
u
2
= a
0
+a
1
l
u
1
1 0 a
0

{q}= = [A] {α} = a
1
(2)
u
2
1 l
(1)
64
1 0 u
1
{α}= [A]
-1
{q}= u
2
-1/l 1/l
a
o
ε =∂u/ ∂x =B
α
α=0 1 ] a
1
σ=[c] ε=[E] ε
[k
α
]= A ∫ [B
α
]
T
[E] [B
α
]

dx
Though the above integral is volume integral the strain is
constant across width and depth so dv=A dx
(3)
(4)
65
[ ] dx
l E l E
l E l E
A k
l

]
]
]



·
0
2 2
2 2
/ /
/ /
[ ]
]
]
]



·
1 1
1 1
l
EA
k
The element stiffness matrix is
[k]= A ∫ [A
-1
]
T
[B
α
]
T
[E] [B
α
]

[A
-1
] dx
Substituting for [A]
-1
and [B
α
] from equations 3 and 4 gives
66
1
k
2
k
3
k
1 1
x k ) (
1 2 2
x x k −
) (
1 2 2
x x k −
2 3
x k
1
x
2
x
( ) 0
1 2 1 2 1 1
· − − + F x x k x k
( ) 0
2 2 3 1 2 2
· − + − F x k x x k
Example 1:Two Degrees of Freedom System – Static analysis
Equations of motion
1
F
2
F
(a)
F
1
F
2
67
Rearranging the equations in matrix form
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]

+ −
− +
2
1
2
1
3 2 2
2 2 1
) (
) (
F
F
x
x
k k k
k k k
Where x
1
and x
2
are the displacements at nodes 1 and 2 respectively. K
is the stiffness matrix, x is the displacement matrix and F is the force
matrix
(b)
Spring stiffness and applied forces are known. The displacements
have to be found. The solution is
or
} { } ]{ [ F x K ·
} { ] [ } {
1
F K x

·
Example: assume
k k k k · · ·
3 2 1
©
(d)
68
]
]
]



·
k k
k k
K
2
2
] [
]
]
]

·

2 1
1 2
3
1
] [
1
k
K
Or
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]

·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
2
1
2
1
2 1
1 2
3
1
F
F
k x
x
The solution (Eq. (d) is
N F F . 10000
2 1
· · Let and k = 200000 N/M
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]

·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
005 . 0
005 . 0
1000
1000
2 1
1 2
200000 3
1
2
1
X x
x
69
1 2 3
1 2 3
4
[ ]
]
]
]



·
1 1
1 1
L
EA
k
Example 2:A uniform rod of length 3L is fixed at both ends and
axial load applied at location L and 2L as shown.
F
1
F
2
Idealized as 3 elements of equal length. The element stiffness is
The stiffness matrix, displacement vector and force vector for
complete structure is
[ ]
]
]
]
]
]
]


− −
− −

·
1 1 0 0
1 2 1 0
0 1 2 1
0 0 1 1
L
EA
K { ¦
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
·
4
3
2
1
x
x
x
x
X
{ ¦
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
·
0
0
2
1
F
F
F
70
The equilibrium equation is
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
·
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]
]
]
]


− −
− −

0
0
1 1 0 0
1 2 1 0
0 1 2 1
0 0 1 1
2
1
4
3
2
1
F
F
x
x
x
x
L
EA
Applying boundary conditions ( fixed at both ends)
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
·
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]
]
]
]


− −
− −

0
0
1 1 0 0
1 2 1 0
0 1 2 1
0 0 1 1
2
1
4
3
2
1
F
F
x
x
x
x
L
EA
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]



2
1
3
2
2 1
1 2
F
F
x
x
k Where k=EA/L
(a)
(b)
©
71
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]

·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
2
1
3
2
2 1
1 2
3
1
F
F
k x
x
Let and k = 200000 N/M N F F . 10000
2 1
· ·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]

·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
005 . 0
005 . 0
1000
1000
2 1
1 2
200000 3
1
3
2
X x
x
The result is same as the previous example
The solution of equation © is
(d)
(e)
Substituting for the displacements from Eq. (e) in (a)
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹


·
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]
]
]
]


− −
− −

1000
1000
1000
1000
0
005 .
005 .
0
1 1 0 0
1 2 1 0
0 1 2 1
0 0 1 1
200000
The reactions at the fixed end (nodes 1 & 4) = -1000N
72
Free vibration (Modal analysis):

Natural frequencies and mode shapes

The natural frequencies and mode shapes are important
parameters in the design of a structure for dynamic loading
conditions. They are also required to do a spectrum analysis
or a mode superposition harmonic or transient analysis.
Response:

Steady state response

Transient response- Example: crash/impact

Response to random excitation
2.6 Dynamic analysis
73
[ ]{ ¦ [ ]{ ¦ [ ]{ ¦ { ¦ Q x K x C x M · + +   
Is the equation of motion for a structure undergoing vibration
under external load.
Equation of motion
Where [M], [C], [K], and {Q} are the mass, damping, stiffness
and load matrices respectively.

The load matrix {Q} is function of time and can be steady
state, transient, or random
x x x    , , •
are the displacement, velocity, and acceleration
vectors respectively
74
3.1 Selection of element
The selection of element depends on type of structure

Type of structure: simple column,beam,plate,shell or stiffened
structure. Stiffened structure could be plane or curved

The structure could be a truss with hinged or welded joints

Plate or shell type of structures could be thin or thick

The structure could be pressure vessel of complex shape,
non-uniform thickness and made of orthotropic material. It
could be axisymmetric

The structure could be solid body of irregular shape and of
orthotropic material
3.0 Element selection & application
75
Modeling types
The most common modeling types are

Planar simulations

Plane stress

Plane strain

Axisymmetric

3D simulation and modeling

Beam simulation

Symmetry or anti-symmetry

Plate or shell models

Solid models
76

Subdivision process is essentially an exercise of engineering
judgments

The number, the shape,size and configuration of the elements
has to be decided in such a way that the original body is
simulated as closely as possible

The general objective of a such discretization is to divide the
body in to elements sufficiently small so that the simple
element can approximate the true solution as close as possible

Nodes to be located at places where abrupt changes in geometry,
loading and material properties

Refined mesh for steep gradients. One example where steep
gradients of the variable occurs are at which stress concentration
exists
3.2 Discretization
3.3 Subdivision at discontinuities:
77
Aspect ratio : For two dimensional elements aspect ratio is
defined as ratio of the largest dimension to the smallest dimension.
Aspect ratio of 1 is ideal. However in unavoidable circumstances
aspect ratio of about 3 is acceptable.
Jacobian and warping are other quality parameters
3.4 Geometric approximation:
If straight sided elements are employed, curved boundaries are
approximated by piecewise linear. To idealize as closely as
possible to the curved boundary refined mesh may be
necessary.
3.5 Element quality parameters
78
3.6 Analysis of large structures

To circumvent large computer facility and time two approaches
are followed. One is course to fine sub division method and the
other is substructure method
The large structure is subdivided in to course mesh and finite
element analysis is carried out to obtain displacements and stresses.
Zone of specific interest is selected and subdivided in to finer
meshes. The stresses and displacements obtained from course
analysis are applied along the boundary of the specific zone and
analysis is carried out to obtain better results.
Course- to- fine subdivision method
79
The large structure is subdivided in to convenient small
components/substructures

The stiffness matrix for each substructure is determined by
subdividing the structure into a number of smaller, simple
finite elements

Obtain the overall stiffness of the substructure

Condense the substructure stiffness to eliminate the internal
degrees of freedom which do not participate in the inter
connections of the different structures

Assemble/add the stiffness of individual substructure and
obtain the overall equilibrium equation. Carryout the analysis
for the given loads on the overall structure
Substructure method
80

The detailed solution for the individual substructure are
then obtained by performing finite element analysis for each
one of them with input loads and/or displacements derived
from the analysis of parent structure
Finite representation of infinite bodies

It is not possible to model an infinite body.we must limit it
or make it finite.

One case is where loading is on part of the body. The effect
of loading decreases with increasing distance from the point
of application. By trail and error the significant extent of
the structure to be modeled can be found out.

Some infinite bodies can be analyzed by plain strain
idealization. One such example is gravity dam.
81
H-element Vs. P-element (higher order element )

Two choices are, use of simple lower order element (H-element)
with finer mesh or use of higher order element which may need
less number of elements to get same result

If the discretization is such that the final number of algebraic
equations to be solved are same in both cases,then the higher
order model gives more accurate solution. Due to higher
band width the computation effort is higher in second case.
It also to be noted that the trade off between mesh refinement
and higher order model also depends on the type of problem

The basic philosophy of the FEM is that simple but relatively
complete models are used to get approximate solution to
complicated problem
82
3.7 Sources of Error in the FEM

The three main sources of error in a typical FEM solution
are discretization errors, formulation errors and numerical
errors.

Discretization error results from transforming the physical
system (continuum) into a finite element model, and can be
related to modeling the boundary shape, the boundary
conditions, etc.
Discretization error due to poor geometry
                         representation.
Discretization error effectively eliminated.
83
Sources of Error in the FEM
(cont.)
• Formulation error results from the use of elements that don't precisely describe
the behavior of the physical problem.

Elements which are used to model physical problems for which they are not
suited are sometimes referred to as ill-conditioned or mathematically unsuitable
elements.

For example a particular finite element might be formulated on the assumption
that displacements vary in a linear manner over the domain. Such an element
will produce no formulation error when it is used to model a linearly varying
physical problem (linear varying displacement field in this example), but would
create a significant formulation error if it used to represent a quadratic or cubic
varying displacement field.
84
Sources of Error in the FEM
(cont.)

Numerical error occurs as a result of numerical calculation
procedures, and includes truncation errors and round off errors.

Numerical error is therefore a problem mainly concerning the
FEM vendors and developers.

The user can also contribute to the numerical accuracy, for
example, by specifying a physical quantity, say Young’s
modulus, E, to an inadequate number of decimal places.
85
-Gravity dam, Buried pipes
-Stretching of plates with holes, notches etc.
bending of deep beams
-Axisymmetric thin/ thick shells; Nuclear
containment vessels, rocket motors etc.
-Machine parts, Thick shells, Nuclear
containment vessels, arch dams
-Automotive floor slabs, ship decks, hulls,
aircraft panels,
I. 2-D stress analysis
b. Plane strain
c. Plane stress
e. Axisymmetric
II 3-D stress analysis
III Bending of plates
Typical application Topic
3.8 Problems in structural mechanics
86
-Roof domes, pressure vessels
-Thin arch dams, Shell roofs, ship hulls,
curved panels
-Beams, columns, frames, plates,
shells, stiffened panels
-Commercial vehicles body,
stiffened panels, Bridge decks,
aircraft wing and fuselage
IV Bending/ stretching
of shells
b. Axisymmetric
d. General
V Stability (Buckling)
VI Stiffened structures
Typical application Topic
Problems in structural mechanics
87
4.0 Boundary Conditions
Simply supported/ Hinged: Displacement is zero and
rotations allowed
Clamped : Both displacements and rotations
suppressed
Free- Free : Structure is free from any restrained
Partially restrained :Displacement or rotations or both
of them constrained by spring supports
88
Boundary conditions - Beams
ooo
u
w
` θ
Movable hinge
w=0
///////////
Immovable hinge
Simply supported u=0 ,
w = 0
o
Only lateral movement
Allowed. u= 0, θ
y
=0
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
/
Clamped
u= w = θ
y
= 0
Supported on lateral spring
u= 0
o
o
o
u = w = 0 Rotation
constrained by torsional spring

Boundary conditions could be specified displacements
89

A symmetrical system of loads is a system of forces and/or
moments in which there exists, for each load, another load, equal
in magnitude and symmetrical in sense placed symmetrically
to the first load with respect to the axis of symmetry of the system

An antisymmetrical system of loads is a system of forces and/or
moments in which there exists, for each load, another load, equal
in magnitude and antisymmetrical in sense placed symmetrically
to the first load with respect to the axis of symmetry of the system
Symmetry/ Antisymmetry

By the use of symmetry and antisymmetry boundary conditions
computation effort can be reduced substantially.
90
Symmetry/ Antisymmetry

If a structure and applied load is symmetric about an axis,
analysis of half of the structure is sufficient with appropriate
symmetric boundary conditions along the axis of symmetry

If a structure is symmetric and applied load is antisymmetric
about an axis, analysis of half of the structure is sufficient with
appropriate antisymmetric boundary conditions along the axis
of symmetry.

If a two dimensional structure and applied load is symmetric
about two axes, analysis of quarter of the structure is sufficient
with appropriate symmetric boundary conditions along the two
axes of symmetry.Similarly a three dimensional structure is
symmetric about 3 axes, one eighth of structure can be analyzed
91
Boundary conditions - Beams
Plane of symmetry
u= 0, θ
y
= 0
x(u)
z(w)
y(v)
Plane of anti-symmetry
w = 0
D O F : u w θ
y
92
Boundary conditions - Beams
Plane of symmetry
u= 0, θ
y
= 0
x(u)
z(w)
y(v)
Plane of anti-symmetry
w = 0 P/2
D O F : u w θ
y
P
P/2
P/2
P/2
Case A
Case B
Case C
Case A= Case B+Case C
93

x (u, θ
x
)
y (v, θ
y
)
z (w, θ
z
)
Boundary conditions- Plates
Nodal DOF:
u v w θ
x
θ
y
θ
z
o
Edge boundary conditions:
Clamped: u v w θ
x
θ
y
θ
z
are zero
Simply supported:u v w are zero along all edges
θ
x
θ
z
are zero along edges AD & BC
θ
y
θ
z
are zero along edges AB & DC
A
B
D
C
94

x (u, θ
x
)
y (v, θ
y
)
z (w, θ
z
)
Boundary conditions- Plates
Along Symmetrical axis
Nodal DOF:
u v w θ
x
θ
y
θ
z
o
Symmetric : Along ox v, θ
x
,

θ
z
are zero
Along oy u, θ
y
,

θ
z
are zero
Anti-symmetric: Along ox u, w

,

θ
y
are zero
Along oy v, w

,

θ
x
are zero
95
Boundary conditions Axi-symmetric shell
x (u, θ
x
)
z (w,θ
z
)
y (v, θ
y
)
y (v, θ
y
)
Sym. BC:
Anti-sym. BC:
Along xz plane v = θ
x
= θ
z
= 0
Along yz plane u = θ
y
= θ
z
= 0
Along xy plane w = θ
x
= θ
y
= 0
Along xz plane u = w= θ
y
= 0
Along yz plane v = w= θ
x
= 0
Along xy plane u = v= θ
z
= 0
DOF: u v w θ
x
θ
y
θ
z
96

If an axisymmetric structure is subjected to a concentrated
antisymmetric load it is still possible to do an axisymmetric
analysis by expressing the load as a function of fourier series.
The radial and the tangential displacements also expressed in
terms of fourier series.

If the concentrated or line load is acting on the line of symmetry
and the analysis is carried out for half structure due to symmetry
the load also is to be taken half only for analysis

If the plate type of structures is having two plane symmetry
the free vibration analysis can be carried out for one fourth
of the Structure four times with sym-sym, sym-antisym,
antisym-sym, and antisym.-antisym boundary conditions and
obtain all frequencies and mode shapes.
97
Near-symmetry

In many cases, slightly asymmetric geometry can be initially
modeled as symmetric by analyzing the less rigid half under the
assumption that if the weaker half is acceptable, the stronger
half will be also acceptable.

Analyst engineering judgment is critical, because the assumption
of near-symmetry may not be valid in all cases
98
Cyclic symmetry

Cyclic symmetry is a more specialized condition where features
that are repeated about an axis can be modeled by a single
instance of that feature. Common applications of cyclic symmetry
are fan blades, turbine blades, flywheels, and motor rotors.

In addition to the geometric definition, which is subjected to the
near-symmetric assumptions made earlier, constraints and loading
must fit the cyclic symmetry requirements.

Acceptable loading might be centrifugal forces, radial
displacements due to a press-fit, or uniform wind or fluid
resistance due to spinning

In Cyclic symmetry, each instance of the feature must see the same
boundary conditions in its respective frame of reference