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ABAQUS / Answers

Answers to Common ABAQUS QuestionsSummer 1994

Beam Elements: Bending and Shear

This is the first of two articles on beam elements. Here we
discuss bending and shear. The follow-up article will deal Beam Elements: Bending and Shear 1
with torsion.
Linear Perturbations with Thermal Loads 2
ABAQUS has a variety of beam elements available for
stress analysis. The table below provides a summary of Adding Unstressed Elements 3
the basic formulations available. Tension Stiffening in Concrete 3

2-node linear
• The distance between supports.
These are shear-deformable • The distance between gross changes in cross-section.
B21 2 (Timoshenko) beams and are • The wavelength of the highest vibration mode of
useful for modelling thin or interest.
thick members. As the beam Section dimensions should not be compared with
3-node parabolic becomes slender, Euler- element length to judge the applicability of beam theory.
interpolation: Bernoulli theory is In ABAQUS/Standard it is perfectly valid to have beam
B22 approximated. elements which are deeper than they are long, provided
B32 2 the structure being discretized satisfies the beam theory
1 assumptions. Time step stability considerations require
beam elements to be longer than their cross-sectional
These elements do not account dimensions in ABAQUS/Explicit.
for shear flexibility (they use
2-node cubic All beam elements come in normal or hybrid form. The
Euler-Bernoulli beam theory).
interpolation (in hybrid elements have extra, internal variables related to
They are most effective for
ABAQUS/Standard the axial force in the beam and should be used for two
modeling frame structures classes of structures:
only): with relatively slender
B23 members, since each member • Mechanisms with stiff members and soft joints, such
B33 can usually be modeled with as suspension systems or robots.
B34 1 only one element for static • Extremely flexible beams, such as offshore risers,
analysis, or a small number of where the ratio of length to cross-sectional dimension
elements for dynamic analysis. is large (greater than 1000).
Both of these cases involve a large difference between the
Beam theory is a one-dimensional approximation of a rotational and axial stiffness. The standard elements have
three-dimensional continuum. The reduction in ill-conditioned stiffness matrices for such problems and
dimensionality is based on the “slenderness assumption:” do not perform as well as the hybrid elements. Consider,
for example, ABAQUS/Standard Example Problem
• Dimensions in the cross section of the beam are very 8.1.1:
small compared to the typical dimensions along the
length of the beam. length/thickness = 2000
For typical engineering accuracy, the cross-sectional
dimensions should be less than 1/20 of the axial
dimension. The axial dimension must be interpreted in
terms of global structural dimensions, such as: Slender beam subjected to drag loading
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Deformed α ( θ ) is the coefficient of thermal expansion, which may be

configuration I
a function of the current temperature, θ , θ is the initial
temperature, and θ is the reference temperature for the
thermal expansion coefficient.
During a perturbation step we expand the above in a
Taylor series about the base temperature, θ :
+ ∂---------
Undeformed th th
configuration ε = ε ∆θ + … .
∂θ θ B
3 1
θ + ∆θ θ

We therefore define the linearized perturbation of thermal

strain in the perturbation step from the original, general
definition of thermal strain as

th  
This problem was run with ABAQUS Version 5.3-1 ∆ε ( lin ) =  α B + dα
------- ( θ B – θ 0 )  ∆θ .
using B21H elements and B21 elements.The analysis using  θ dθ B 
B21 elements completed in 26 increments, using a total of
140 iterations. The analysis using B21H elements required This is the thermal strain due to the perturbation
only 12 increments and a total of 50 iterations, and took temperature ∆θ (again identified with the variable.THE).
about half the cpu time of the B21 analysis. With a larger In contrast, we can write the increment of total thermal
slenderness ratio (say 10000) it is unlikely that the B21 strain in a general, nonlinear analysis step in which the
model would converge at all. B
temperature goes from θ to θ as
∆ε = (α B
+ ∆α ) ∆θ + ∆α ( θ B – θ 0 ) ,
Linear Perturbations With Thermal where ∆α is the total change in the thermal expansion
Loads coefficient over the increment.
If the thermal expansion coefficient is not temperature
Linear perturbation steps provide the linearized behavior of dependent, so that
the system subject to small perturbations about a base state.
The base state is defined by subjecting the system to a ∆α = dα ⁄ dθ = 0 ,
sequence of general, nonlinear analysis steps. This both expressions provide the same thermal strain in the
ABAQUS/Standard capability provides a powerful increment:
generalization of the traditional concept of linear analysis.
th th
To understand how ABAQUS handles thermal loading in ∆ε
= ∆ε ( lin ) = α∆θ .
linear perturbation steps, recall the fundamental difference
Suppose the thermal expansion coefficient varies linearly
in the way ABAQUS handles loads in general analysis steps
with temperature:
and perturbation steps:
• During general analysis steps ABAQUS treats the α = a0 + a1 ( θ – θ0) ,
loading as the total load, measured from the beginning
of the analysis. where a 0 and a 1 are constants. Then
∆ε th  0 
( lin ) =  α θ B + a 1 ( θ – θ )  ∆θ ,
• During perturbation steps ABAQUS assumes that the
loading is the change in load from the base state.
In a general step the total thermal strain (from the
=  α B + a ( θ B – θ 0 )  ∆θ + a 1 ∆θ .
th 2
beginning of the analysis) is defined as ∆ε
 θ 1 
th  0  I 0 That is, in the general step the thermal strain includes a
ε = α θ θ – θ  – α I θ –θ 
θ term which depends on the square of the temperature
increment, while this quadratic term is not considered in a
where ε is the thermal strain (output variable THE), linear perturbation step.
ABAQUS/Answers Page 3

Adding Unstressed Elements In the first analysis step, use ∗BOUNDARY to fix the
nodes on the elements being included (B), and use
A frequent requirement in complex ABAQUS analyses is to ∗MODEL CHANGE,REMOVE to remove all these new
add elements to a model partway through a simulation. elements from the model.
These may represent strengthening material added to an In the next series of analysis steps apply loads and
offshore platform, lining in an underground tunnel, the constraints to the main model as required. The
layers of a gravity dam, or additional bolts in a small
∗EQUATIONs, and the ∗BOUNDARY on the included
mechanical assembly. In all of these cases the newly
nodes, (B), mean that the dummy nodes, (C), will be tied to
included elements must be stress and strain free when they
the nodes on the existing model, (A).
are first introduced into the model.
This is achieved by the use of ∗MODEL CHANGE with When the new elements are to be included, create a step
the parameters REMOVE and INCLUDE and involves the using ∗MODEL CHANGE,INCLUDE to bring the new
following stages. elements into the model. Use ∗BOUNDARY,OP=NEW to
release the constraint on the new nodes, (B), and use
Create a mesh which consists of the initial part of the ∗BOUNDARY,FIXED,OP=NEW, to fix the dummy nodes,
model and all elements to be included. At each nodal point (C), in their current positions. This means that, from now
on the interface between any two parts of the model (the on, the nodes on the existing model, (A), and the new nodes,
existing mesh and the new elements) there should be three (B), will be constrained to move together as if the two parts
nodes—one on the existing mesh, (A), one on the elements have been joined. However, all the deformation on the
to be included, (B), and a dummy node, (C). interface has been taken up by the dummy nodes, (C), so the
new elements are added in an undeformed, unstressed
existing mesh condition.
Any subsequent steps can be used to deform the
complete structure, or to add other new elements using the
same technique.
The important points of this approach are that all
elements that might be included during the analysis must be
defined at the beginning and removed in the first step, and
that three-way ∗EQUATIONs must be used to allow new
elements to be added in an unstressed state. Since the new
elements are added to the model in their initial position, the
approach assumes that the deformation of the interface is
relatively small (unless the user knows what coordinates to
C give to nodes (B) to make them coincide with the positions
of nodes (A) when the new material is added to the model).
elements to be Components shown
included separated for clarity For more details of adding unstressed elements see
ABAQUS/Standard Example Problem 3.2.15.

Create a set of ∗EQUATIONs for all active degrees of

freedom such that, for each point, these three nodes are
constrained together. For example: Tension Stiffening in Concrete
*EQUATION Concrete is a brittle material, and cracks under tension. This
3 weakness in tension means that concrete is usually used
A,1,1.0, B,1,-1.0, C,1,-1.0 with steel reinforcement, giving a highly anisotropic
3 response. Brittle failure is a highly discontinuous,
A,2,1.0, B,2,-1.0, C,2,-1.0
sometimes unstable, phenomenon and is not well suited to
A,3,1.0, B,3,-1.0, C,3,-1.0 the incremental Newton-Raphson solution method used in
ABAQUS/Standard. The concrete model in ABAQUS
It is this constraint equation that enables the two parts of therefore sacrifices some modeling details for numerical
the mesh to be “joined” when the new elements are tractability. Even so, analyses involving the nonlinear
included. response of concrete are challenging and should not be
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undertaken lightly. The choice of tension stiffening is often critical for a
The ∗CONCRETE model is intended for modeling successful analysis. The amount of tension stiffening
plain and reinforced concrete subjected to essentially depends on factors such as the density of reinforcement,
monotonic straining at low confining pressures. Cracking the quality of the bond, the relative size of the aggregate
is assumed to be the most important aspect of the material compared to the rebar diameter, and the mesh. Choosing
behavior. This model should not be used if the confining appropriate values is not easy. As a starting point we
pressure is more than 3–4 times the maximum suggest, for heavily reinforced sections, reducing the
compressive stress of the material. Nor should it be used stress across the crack to zero at a total strain about ten
for problems involving significant cyclic inelastic times the strain at failure.
response, like severe seismic loading.
Tension stiffening can be defined in two ways: as
The ∗CAP PLASTICITY model may sometimes be stress-strain data or as stress-displacement data. The
suitable for modelling concrete under high containing former is appropriate for heavily reinforced structures
pressures, particularly when crushing dominants the where there is significant reinforcement in most elements.
behavior. This model is applicable to both monotonic and However, with lightly reinforced structures or plain
cyclic loading, but concrete cracking is not included. concrete models, this approach can lead to the results
The ∗CONCRETE material model can be used with being mesh sensitive. In such cases a stress-displacement
most of the structural elements in ABAQUS, including tension stiffening characteristic is usually more
beams, shells and two- and three-dimensional solid appropriate. Even so, care should be taken with the mesh
elements. Reinforcement is introduced using the design to ensure that elements are all close to rectangular
∗REBAR option. Single rebars as well as layers of and aspect ratios are low. Triangles, wedges and
reinforcement with arbitrary spacing and orientation can tetrahedra should not be used.
be specified.
The larger the value of tension stiffening, the easier it is
The behavior of the concrete and reinforcement are for ABAQUS to find a converged solution. In some cases
considered independently. The interaction between the the choice of tension stiffening is governed by such
reinforcement and the concrete, such as bond slip and convergence requirements. If the value is significantly
dowel action, are modeled approximately by introducing greater than that suggested by the actual interaction of the
some “tension stiffening” into the concrete model.
concrete and reinforcement, the results should be
Tension stiffening means that the direct stress across a
interpreted carefully.
crack does not immediately fall to zero as soon as the
crack occurs. Instead, it gradually reduces to zero as the When the concrete cracks it is no longer capable of
crack opens. The ∗TENSION STIFFENING option is carrying tensile loading normal to the crack direction.
used to specify this gradual reduction in the direct stress. There must be another way of carrying the load if the
Stres Failure point structure is to remain stable. Normally the load is
(concrete transferred to the reinforcement. The analysis of the
cracking of unreinforced, or lightly reinforced, concrete is
“tension normally more difficult than the analysis of heavily
stiffening” curve reinforced sections.
should normally be specified for analyses including
concrete, since the response of the concrete is highly
discontinuous. Large amounts of cracking can also lead to
Strain local instabilities. The RIKS algorithm should be used for
Concrete in tension such cases.


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