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**Introduction to Finite Element Method
**

Dr.S. Nagan, M.E.,Ph.D.

M.I.S.T.E.,F.I.S.E.P.,

Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering,

Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai.15

.

Basic concept:

A geometrically complex domain of the problem is represented as a collection of geometrically

simple sub domains called finite elements.

Over each finite element, the approximation functions are derived using the basic ideas that any

continuous function can be represented by a linear combination of algebraic polynomials.

Example:

Approximation of circumference of a circle:

Consider the problem of determining the perimeter of a circle of radius ‘r’.

Step 1: Finite element discretisation:

Let the domain be represented as a collection of finite no of sub-domains say ‘n’. Let the sub-domains be line

segments as shown in figure.

This process is called discretisation.

Example:

Step 2: Derivation of element equation

Consider a typical line element

Let he= length of the element

e

θ

= angle subtended by the element at centre

From geometry,

he = 2r sin

2

e

θ

This equation is called finite element equation.

Step 3:

Assembly of element equation:

The approximation value of the circumference shall be obtained by adding the length of the finite

elements as such

Pn = ∑

·

n

e

e

h

1

If he is the same for each of the elements, then

θ

e =

n

Π 2

Therefore Pn= nhe

Where Pn= perimeter

= n 2r sin

2

e

θ

= n 2r sin

2

/ 2 n Π

Therefore Pn = n 2r sin 1

]

1

¸

Π

n

Step 4:

Convergence

As n

∞ →

, Pn should be equal to

r Π 2

Let x=

n

1

Therefore, Pn= lim 1

]

1

¸

Π

x

x r sin 2

x

0 →

Applying L’ Hospital rule (i.e differentiating numerator and denominator before applying limit), we get

= lim 1

]

1

¸

Π × Π

1

cos 2 x r

x

0 →

Therefore Pn =

r Π 2

Terms involved:

One dimensional problem:

If a node is permitted to have one DOF, it is called 1D problem.

Where DOF=1

Two dimensional problem:

Where DOF=2. The elements may be triangle, rectangle and quadrilateral.

Three dimensional problem:

Where DOF=3.

One dimensional problem:

When dependent variables are functions of one dependent variable say x, the domain is a line

segment (i.e) one dimensional and enclosed points of domain are called boundary points.

In case of 1D problems, each node will be permitted to have one DOF.

Two dimensional problems:

When the dependent variables are functions of two independent variables, say x and y, the domain

is a surface (two dimensional) and boundary is a closed curve.

In other words, each node will have two DOF in case of 2D problems.

Boundary value problem:

A differential equation is said to describe a boundary value problem, if the dependent variable and

possible its derivatives are required to take specified values on the boundary.

Example:

U=0 at x=0.

Deflection=0 at x=0.

dx

du

=0 at x=0.

slope = 0 at x = 0

Initial value problem:

An initial value problem is one in which the dependent variable and possible its derivatives are

specified initially. (i.e) at time t=0.

Initial value problems are generally time dependent problems.

Example:

i) ρ 2

2

dt

u d

+ a u = f for 0<t t0

Here u(0)= u0. U takes the value of u0 at time t=0.

ii)

,

_

¸

¸

dt

du

t=0= V0

Boundary value & initial value problem:

,

_

¸

¸

∂

∂

x

u

a

+ ρ

t

u

∂

∂

= f (x, t) for

u(0,t )= u

0

(t)

u(x,0)=u

0

(x)

Example Problem :

It is required to find stresses in the bar shown in Fig.

2 5

10 2 mm N E Χ ·

Step 1:

Discretisation and FE model:

Let the given bar be discretised into two finite elements. The resulting

two element three noded FE model will be as shown in Fig.

Step 2:

Element stiffness matrices and element force matrices:

a)

Element stiffness matrices:

1

1

]

1

¸

−

Χ Χ

·

−

1 1

100

10 2 20

1 1

2 1

5

1

k

1

]

1

¸

−

−

Χ ·

1 1

1 1

10 40

3

1

]

1

¸

−

−

·

4 4

4 4

10

4

1

1

]

1

¸

−

Χ Χ

·

−

1 1

100

10 2 10

1 1

3 2

5

2

k

1

]

1

¸

−

−

·

2 2

2 2

10

4

b) Element force matrices:

Body force matrix:

1

]

1

¸

·

1

1

2

. .

e

e

l

A f f

1

]

1

¸

·

1

1

2

. .

1

1

1

l

A f f

1

]

1

¸

·

1

1

2

. .

2

2

2

l

A f f

Traction force matrix:

1

]

1

¸

·

1

1

.

2

.

e

e

l

T T

1

]

1

¸

·

1

1

.

2

.

1

1

l

T T

1

]

1

¸

·

1

1

.

2

.

2

2

l

T T

Step 3:

Global stiffness matrix and Global load matrix:

Global stiffness matrix: (K)

The properties of K are

i) K is symmetric.

ii) Size of K is N X N where N is total degrees of freedom.

iii) K is a banded matrix.

Here in this problem, there are three nodes and hence total degrees of freedom is 3. As

such K will be of size 3 x 3

1

1

1

]

1

¸

−

− + −

−

·

2 2 0

2 2 4 4

0 4 4

10

4

k

1

1

1

]

1

¸

−

− −

−

·

2 2 0

2 6 4

0 4 4

10

4

k

Elements outside the band=0.

Global load matrix: (F)

The size of F is N X 1.

p T b

F F F F + + ·

1

1

1

]

1

¸

+ + ·

10

0 0 0

o

Therefore

1

1

1

]

1

¸

·

10

0

o

F

Step 4:

Finite element equation:

] [ ] ][ [ F Q K ·

1

1

1

]

1

¸

·

1

1

1

]

1

¸

1

1

1

]

1

¸

−

− −

−

10

0

0

2 2 0

2 6 4

0 4 4

10

3

2

1

4

Q

Q

Q

Employing boundary conditions and solving the finite element equation,

In this problem, DOF 1 is fixed.

1

1

1

]

1

¸

−

− −

−

2 2 0

2 6 4

0 4 4

10

4

1

1

1

]

1

¸

·

1

1

1

]

1

¸

10

0

0

3

2

1

Q

Q

Q

Elimination approach:

In elimination approach, the rows and columns corresponding to fixed DOF of K

matrix and the row corresponding to fixed DOF of Q and F matrices have to be

eliminated.

1

]

1

¸

−

−

2 2

2 6

1 0

4

1

]

1

¸

·

1

]

1

¸

10

0

3

2

Q

Q

[ ] 0 2 6 10

3 2

4

· − Q Q

[ ] 10 2 2 10

3 2

4

· + − Q Q

Solving,

mm Q

mm Q

3

3

3

2

10 75 . 0

10 25 . 0

−

−

Χ ·

Χ ·

Post processing:

i) To find stresses in elements:

EBq

E

·

∈ ·

σ

σ

1 1

1

Q EB · σ

[ ]

1

]

1

¸

− ·

2

1

1

5

1 1

1

10 2

Q

Q

l

X X

[ ]

2 1

1

5

10 2

Q Q

l

X

+ − ·

=0.5 N/mm

2

[ ]

1

]

1

¸

− ·

3

2

2

5

2

1 1

1

10 2

Q

Q

l

X X σ

= 1N/mm

2

Check:

For element 1, stress =

20

10

= 0.5 N/mm

2

For element 2, stress =

10

10

=1 N/mm

2

ii)To find support reactions:

We have,

] [ ] [ ] ][ [ R F Q K + ·

1

1

1

]

1

¸

33 32 31

23 22 21

13 12 11

k k k

k k k

k k k

1

1

1

]

1

¸

3

2

1

Q

Q

Q

=

1

1

1

]

1

¸

3

2

1

F

F

F

+

1

1

1

]

1

¸

3

2

1

R

R

R

1 3 13 2 12 1 11 1

F Q k Q k Q k R − + + ·

[ ]

N R 10

10 25 . 0 4 10

1

3 4

− ·

Χ Χ − ·

−

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