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Purpose of the Course 1

ƒ Lars Andersen, MSc, PhD, Associate Professor
ƒ Department of Civil Engineering, Division of Structural Mechanics
A lb
Aalborg U
i it S Sohngaardsholmsvej
h d h l j 57
57, DK
9000 A Aalborg
ƒ Phone: 9940 8455 | E-mail:

Homepage of the course:

ƒ → Teaching Activities → Finite Element Design

After the course, the student must be able to:

ƒ Understand the basic concepts in Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
ƒ Use a FEA program (STAAD.Pro 2007)
ƒ Know
K the
th basic
b i tterms and
d algorithms
l ith b
hi d th
the analysis
l i
ƒ Be able to analyse large complex structures
ƒ Come up with realistic dimensions of structural elements.
Contents of the lecture 2

Introduction to the Finite-Element Method (FEM)

‫ ﻩ‬What is Finite-Element Analysis (FEA)?
‫ ﻩ‬Historic overview
‫ ﻩ‬Why use FEA?
p and output
‫ ﻩ‬Input p from an FEA
‫ ﻩ‬How does FEM work?
‫ ﻩ‬Example in STAAD.Pro
‫ ﻩ‬Exercise: Learn to use STAAD.Pro (plane-frame problem)
Short Historic Overview of FEM 3

FEM is tied with the development of computer technology

Approximately 40 years old
NASA developed NASTRAN in the 1960s
First College Course in FEM was offered in 1970
In the 1970s, FEM was limited to large corporations with
expensive mainframe computers
In the 1980s, “powerful” desktop computers made FEM an
indispensable engineering tool
In the 1990s, more complex elements are introduced,
optimization capabilities are integrated
integrated, and CAD programs are
used for modelling complex structures
g y the method was developed
Originally, p for the analysis
y of
stresses in structures – but today FEM is used to analyse heat
transfer, fluid flow, electric and magnetic fields etc.
Why use FEA? Simple Statically Determinate System 4

Freeway-crossing north of Aalborg ...

... approximated
i t db by statically
t ti ll d determinate
t i t system

5 reaction forces determined by 5 equilibrium equations

Why use FEA? Simple Statically Indeterminate System 5

Freeway-crossing north of Aalborg ...

... approximated
i t db by statically
t ti ll iindeterminate
d t i t system

6 reaction forces but only 3 equilibrium equations

Why use FEA? Complex Structure 6

David Fay Custom Chair

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Antwerp Railway Station, Belgium Kandahar Airport, Afghanistan

Why use FEA? Load combinations 7
Discrete Versus Continuous System 8

Prototype = reality

Continuous system Discrete system = FE model

Input and Output from an FEA 9

‫ ﻩ‬Dimensions
Di i off the
h structure
‫ ﻩ‬Cross-section types (circular, rectangular, I-profile, ...)
‫ ﻩ‬Material properties (wood, steel, concrete, glass, ...)
‫ ﻩ‬Supports (fixed, free, moving, ...)
‫ ﻩ‬Loads (concentrated, line, surface, combinations)

‫ ﻩ‬Deformation components (translation, rotation)
‫ ﻩ‬Section force curves, reactions (shear, normal, moment)
‫ ﻩ‬Strains and stresses (shear, normal)
‫ ﻩ‬Fulfilment of design criteria (Eurocode, ...)
‫ ﻩ‬Eigenmodes (dynamic resonance risk, ...)
Eigenmodes/Eigenfrequencies 10

Tacoma Narrows Bridge, 1940

Eigenmodes/Eigenfrequencies 11

Millenium Bridge London,

Eigenmodes/Eigenfrequencies 12
FEA Programs 13

Commercial Finite-Element Programs:

‫ ﻩ‬ABAQUS (
‫ ﻩ‬COSMOSWorks (SolidWorks) (
‫ ﻩ‬FEMLAB (
‫ ﻩ‬STAAD.Pro (
‫ ﻩ‬ANSYS Structural (
‫ ﻩ‬etc.
How Does FEA work? Dividing the structure into elements 14

‫ ﻩ‬From the user input, a given structure is divided into small elements (finite elements)
(done partly by user and partly by program)
‫ ﻩ‬Each element is assigned material properties (done by user)
‫ ﻩ‬Each element’s
element s mechanical behaviour is defined by a set of differential equations
from the choice of element type and material properties (done by program)
How Does FEA work? Matrix Equations for the Elements are Found 15

‫ ﻩ‬The differential equations for each element are solved and

arrangedd iinto
t a matrix
t i fformulation
l ti suitable
it bl ffor computer-
aided solutions (done by program)
How Does FEA work? Matrix Equation for the Global System is Assembled 16

‫ ﻩ‬The element matrices are combined into a global system of

ti d
fi d ffrom th
the placement
l t off th
the respective
elements (done by program)
‫ ﻩ‬From this the global structural equation is obtained
(done by program)
How Does FEA work? Load and Boundary Conditions are Applied 17

‫ ﻩ‬The boundary conditions (loads and supports) are specified

(done by user))
‫ ﻩ‬The boundary conditions are incorporated into the system of
differential equations (done by program)
How Does FEA work? The Structural Matrix Equation is Solved 18

‫ ﻩ‬The displacement (and rotations) of all nodes are found from solving
th system
the t off equations
ti (done
(d by program))
‫ ﻩ‬Displacements at intermediate points are found from interpolation of
nodal values (done by program)
How Does FEA work? Stresses and Strains are found 19

‫ ﻩ‬The strains are found from the displacements (done by program)

‫ ﻩ‬Stresses are found from a constitutive relation (done by program)
How Does FEA work? The design criteria are checked 20

‫ ﻩ‬The design criteria are checked (done by user/program)

‫ ﻩ‬The structure is modified to fulfil criteria and a new analysis
is made (done by user)
Example – Analytical Solution 21

Structural system:

Analytical solution:
STAAD.Pro – Overview 22

Add beam
Mark beam

Hold down ctrl to move the

starting point of a beam

Menu S
Snap node
STAAD.Pro – Overview 23

General D t b
l d
STAAD.Pro – Overview 24

STAAD.Pro – Script file 25

Node coordinates
Member definition

M t i ld
Material definition
fi iti

Section assignment

Material assignment

Support assignment

Load assignment

Analysis definition
STAAD.Pro – Analysis Analyze Mode 26
STAAD.Pro – Results 27

Double click gives


Node displacement
Section forces
Example – Numerical Result from STAAD.Pro 28

Analytical solution:
Today's Problem 29

Plane bridge

ete e tthe
o e types from
o tthe
e de
o at o ccriteria
te a ((1/200
/ 00 o
of spa
Change the supports and determine the profile types in the same manner.
Get familiar with the p
g ((Use the menu Geometry/Split
y p Beam to
divide the vertical beam into 3 for easy applying the load)
Today's Problem 30

Support types Profile types Maximum deformation

(F)ixed, (P)ined, (F)ixed (B)ut (direction) (Global deformation), local (x,y)-coordinates
(x,y) coordinates

FB P F IPE160 HE200B y-dir
di y-dir
di x-dir
(Fx,Mz) 139.2 mm 165.6 mm 33.8 mm
x=4.167 x=5.833 y=2.85+1.45




50 mm 50 mm

50 mm
Maximum allowed deformation 1/200 of span = 50 mm