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Method for the generation of the boundary condition

for a balanced Finite Element Model

Dr.-Ing. Marius Popa

Hull Drawings Approval Engineer - Germanischer Lloyd Romania

The scope of this paperwork is to propose a method for the achieving of the static
equilibrium of the forces loading a Finite Element Model.
Due to the specificity of the authors’ interest the work is focused mainly on FE Models
used for ship’s structure analyze.
The basic assumption is that a tool for the generation of the unitary sectional forces on
the nodes of the model end sections is available.
The method provides a practical way to compute the “loads factor” for a.m. unitary
sectional forces in order to balance the forces on the model.

Hull Structures S.8.8 “Direct calculation of bottom

1. Introduction structure”).
This model is not proper for analyzing the cargo areas
Boundary conditions are necessary to be used in order that couldn’t be considered as homogenous divided or
to solve a Finite Element Model. in the case when the model is considered to carry also
Up to now the common boundary conditions were the the global longitudinal strength.
suppressing or the prescribing of the rotations or the Other possibility to have more realistic boundary
displacements of the nodes. conditions is to use a balanced model. In this case the
In general - in case of prescribing of the boundary condition consist of forces loading the
displacements of the nodes - specially on boundary boundary nodes. Only in few nodes – not necessary
sections nodes – the values prescribed are first on boundary sections have to be suppressed in order
computed as results of other large but rough models. to have a consistent model equations system. These
Unfortunately this means a double effort: once for the nodes are usually located in the neutral areas and
analyze / generation / computation / results spring elements element are used in order to
interpretation of the large – rough model and twice suppressed the displacements. In a proper balanced
for the analyze / generation / computation / results model the forces resulted in spring elements have to
interpretation of the “in detail model”. be close to zero in the range of numeric rounding
In case of suppressing the nodes displacements were error of the loads.
supported or constrained based on the model As it is known the difficulty in this third possibility is
peculiarities as geometry / structure / loads. As an to obtain the proper and as far is possible realistic
example a seldom case of FEM structure / loads loading situation for the boundary nodes.
peculiarity is the symmetry. However the boundary As is already stated the scope of this work is to
conditions resulted from this type of assumption are propose a method able to solve this aspect.
not all the time realistic. In general the symmetry
assumption is made for models that could be 2. Mathematical model
considered as regular parts of regular structures (as in
case of bulk carriers cargo area). Other assumption The object of the examination is a part of ship’s hull
made in this situation is that this model could be which will be nominated further as model.
analyzed distinct to general longitudinal bending of It is assumed that the ship’s hull is in static
the hull. The results of these computations are so equilibrium. The scope of this study is to find a
called “local stresses” or “second order stresses”. In method to achieve the static equilibrium for the model
order to have a complete analyze of the structure too.
these stresses are to be superpose with the It is assumed that the stresses resulted from the action
longitudinal strength stresses as “first order stresses” of a force loading the model are in linear relation to
(see Germanischer Lloyd Rules for Seagoing Ships – the corresponding force so the model is assumed


It is assumed that the model is a coarse Finite Each force Fij j= 1…3 could be reduced to vector
Element Model. It is assumed too that the in case of a Fijk where Fijj=Fij; Fijk=0 j= 1…3 k= 1...3 and k≠j
coarse model our interest is for the average values of and Fijk k = 4..6 is the moment of Fij in relation to
the stresses so the effect of the stress distribution the origin point and the direction k.
along the supporting width could be ignored. For the moments Fij j= 4…6 the 6 elements vector is
The model is load by an external force noted E. This Fijj=Fij; Fijk=0 j= 4…6 k= 1...6 and k≠j.
force is generated by own weight, cargo or ballast Using the 6 elements vectors reductions to origin
loads or external water pressure (static pressures or point the equilibrium equations became:
dynamic pressures). The general force E has 6
components Ek with k= 1…6. [1] Fijk = E k with k= 1…6
The model is separated from the ship’s hull which is
i =1..2 j =1..6
in static equilibrium. Stress will occur on model’s
transversal ends in order to achieve equilibrium.
Theoretical this system is a diagonal system.
It is assumed that the stress distribution are linear
superposition of classical beam theory stress However from authors practical experience resulted
distributions as uniform distribution for axial forces, that as a result of the accumulation of possible
linear distribution for bending moments or Saint- numerical errors the exact diagonal form is not
achieved in all cases. The explanations for the
Venant theory stress distribution for torsion. The
stress distributions are noted Sij with i= 1…2 (aft / occurrence of these residual values will be provided
fore end) and j= 1..6 (spatial directions). further – see comment for below point 4.
However the residual values are in general few
According to the beam theories each classic stress
distribution could be computed taking into account a dimensional order less than the main values (basically
general force and end section geometric the diagonal line values) so these terms became
characteristics. The generalized forces are noted Fij extremely small during pivoting step.
For solving this system the author propose following
(i= 1…2, j= 1…6) and could be observed further as
unknown values to be computed instead of the stress
distributions Sij. 1) The end forces Fij could be normalized using
In order to achieve static equilibrium the resultant standard values (or unit values) noted Fij0 so
sum of all generalized forces loading the model has to Fij= lij*Fij0. The unknown values are now lij
which are known as load factors. Fij0 represent
be null irrespective of the reference point.
an arbitrary values for the generalized end force
The choosing of reference point is arbitrary but has
to take into account the numerical aspects in order to Fij. These values have to be choose in such a way
decrease the dimension of the values computed to minimize the numerical errors occurring
during the mathematical operations. In this way also solving a.m. system in which the unknown values
are defined above as load factors lij.
the accumulation of the numerical errors could be
reduced. 2) The standard end forces F0ij are transformed in
However the final sum results of the equilibrium classic stress distributions on end section i. The
relation between F0ij and the stress distribution is
equation could not be mathematical null. According
to author experience - in general is a very small linear.
values - at least 6 numerical orders less than the other 3) The standard stress distribution is reduced as
variable involved. Few displacements restrictions are forces in end section nodes. Taking into account
the assumptions for coarse model The stress
necessary still necessary in order to solve the FEM
reduction is based on the stress in node observed
numerical system.
In general these restrictions are imposed as spring as average stress and the area of the elements
elements in a limited number of nodes. For a usual which are in incidence to the node. The relation
vertical bending – local loads superposition problem between F0ij and each force in nodes is linear
the author choose 4 nodes as far as possible close to
4) The nodal force distribution due generalized
the neutral axis of expected main stress distributions
(see example). force F0ij could now be reduced in relation to
The spring elements will carry the residual origin point to a 6 elements vector F0ijk k= 1…6.
equilibrium forces. Practically these forces are cvasi- Please observe the comments on F0ijk on the
end of the paragraph.
null and represent possible numeric errors
5) The equilibrium equation [1] became now:
accumulated during approximations and mathematic
computations. [2] F 0ijk * l ij = E k where k= 1…6
Due to this fact the values of the forces in these i =1..2 j =1..6
spring elements are a good indicator of the
equilibrium method efficiency. The system [2] has to be solve taking into account the
In order to build the equilibrium equations related to unknown values the load factors lij i= 1...2 / j= 1…6.
the origin point each generalized force could be
reduced to a 6 elements vector.


Comments on point 4 spring elements requested by the solving of FEM

Theoretically the 6 elements vector F0ijk has to have system.
following form: The residual forces in spring elements could
- for j= 1…3 (stress distribution due to the unit end compromise the stress distribution in areas nearby
forces) spring elements - situation which is not
F0ijk = 0 for k≠j, k= 1…3; F0ijj= F0ij recommended.
F0ijk = the moment of F0ij related to origin
point and direction k 3. Solving the equilibrium system
- for j= 4…6 (stress distribution due to the unit end
moments) The equilibrium system [2] could be transformed in:
F0ijk = 0 for k= 1…3
F0ijk = 0 for k≠j, k= 4…6; F0ijj= F0ij [5] ( l 1 j * F01 jk + l 2 j * F02 jk ) = E k , k= 1…6
However according to the authors practical j =1...6
experience some terms which theoretical have to be
null are not. This situation is a result of the hypothesis
The system has 6 equations and 12 unknown values –
regarding the stress distribution reduction to the
load factors - l1j, l2j j= 1…6 and couldn’t be solve
forces on nodes (closely related to the coarse model
without the reduction of the unknown values to 6
(initial conditions).
According to the classic theories the sum of the stress
distributions are null on the directions other than the
The easiest possibility to solve the system is to
direction of the generalized forces which generate
assume that the end load factors corresponding to the
same direction j are equal – l1j= l2j.
[3] σdA = 0 where This assumption could be accepted for the direction
C which are “a priory” assumed as without significant
C is the section, σ is the stress, dA is the elementary influence on the study. For example in case of a
area from section C where is located the stress σ. model which is in study for vertical general bending
For the purpose of the computation of formula [3] are this hypothesis could be made for the directions 1
used numerical approximations as: (axial force - thrust), 4 (torsion) and 6 (bending
around vertical axis – horizontal bending). Basically
[4] σ mi *∆A i = 0 where
this assumption could be made in all cases for
direction 1 – axial forces. However for the study of a
i is the node from the section C, σmi is the stress in heeled model or for the study of a model in
node i assumed as average stress, ∆Ai is haft of the transverse wave this assumption for directions 4 and 6
element areas which are incident in the a.m. node. could not be made anymore.
The non null values are errors which occur from the
numerical computation of formula [3] using Other possibility is use for one end and for a direction
numerical formula similar to [4]. an already known values for the end force. In this
situation the best example for this possibility is the
The steps proposed above are a possibility. As an study of the vessel in still water condition. The still
alternative the steps could be as follows: water vertical bending moment (BM) and the still
1. Forces normalization by standard – unit ends water sheare force could be achieved from the
forces: Fij= lij*F0ij. computation of the loading case.
2. The standard unit end forces are reduced to the
origin point: F0ij= (F0ijk) k= 1…6. In general the initial conditions which are used for a
3. The equilibrium system [2] is solve taking into study could be a combination of the hypothesis
account the loads factors lij as unknown values. above. The problem of the system equation solving is
4. The end forces Fij are computed as lij*F0ij open for further comments. The author is open to
5. The end forces Fij are transformed in standard receive such comments or suggestions.
stress distributions.
6. The standard stress distributions are transformed
4. Example - Description
in nodal loads in order to be included in the
Finite Element Model.
As example is presented a computation for a long mid
As could be observed the numerical errors are
ship area in still water condition. In this situation the
transferred into the step 5 and are introduced in
main aspects are related to the general strength –
equilibrium equations on the end of the balancing
vertical longitudinal bending.
The Finite Element Model was generated and solved
In this way all the numerical errors are residual values
using Germanischer Lloyd Computer Aid Design
in equilibrium equations. These residual values – as
software Poseidon - official version 4.0.
residual generalized forces – are transferred in the


In order to make easiest any further checks a very The box has transversal rings (web frames) at each 2a
simple box structure was considered. spacing and transversal watertight bulkheads at each
The dimensions of the box are: L= 100.0 m / B= 10.0 10th frame (Frames 0, 10, 20, … 90, 100).
m / H= 10.0 m / CB= 1.0 The transversal section topology consist of followings
This box has the normal frame spacing of a= 1.0 m. elements: shell / main deck / a central line
In this assumptions a frame numbering could be longitudinal bulkhead and a double side longitudinal
assigned assuming Frame 0 at longitudinal ordinate bulkhead.
x= 0.0 m. The most forward frame is Frame 100 at x= From the same reason as above a very simple
100.0 m. structure was modeled. Following two pictures are

Fig. 1 – Box structure – simple frame / web frame and transversal bulkhead

Fig. 2 – Loading scheme

S h e a r F o rc e [k N ]

-2 0 0 0 1 5 9 13 17 21 25 29 33 37 41 45 49 53 57 61 65 69 73 77 81 85 89 93 97 101
-4 0 0 0
-6 0 0 0
-8 0 0 0
-1 0 0 0 0

B e n d i n g M o m e n t [k N m ]

1 5 9 13 17 21 25 29 33 37 41 45 49 53 57 61 65 69 73 77 81 85 89 93 97 101
-2 0 0 0 0
-4 0 0 0 0

-6 0 0 0 0
-8 0 0 0 0

-1 0 0 0 0 0
-1 2 0 0 0 0

-1 4 0 0 0 0
-1 6 0 0 0 0

-1 8 0 0 0 0
-2 0 0 0 0 0

Fig. 3 – Still water Shear Force (SF - kN) and Bending moment (BM- kNm)


The actual sectional characteristics are: Wbottom = forces according to St.Vernant torsional stress
2.299 m3 and Wdeck = 2.340 m3. distribution are calculated.
The box is loaded according to the loading scheme in Unquote.
Fig. 2. The fluid is assumed to have a density of 1.019 According to the mathematic model below the
t/m2 and the draught achieved in still water is 4.05 m. boundary conditions generated on ends by Poseidon
The still water bending moment and shear force are equivalent to the standard unit forces noted F0ij, i=
distribution are in accordance to Fig. 3. For the 1...2, j= 1…6.
middle area the extreme BM value is –198751 kNm. For a better understanding the Figures 4 shows the
For this value the expected longitudinal bending nodal loads of the unit forces on global directions 3, 4
stresses for bottom and deck are 86.5 N/mm2 and 5 for aft end (vertical forces – shear / torsion and
respectively -84.9 N/mm2. general longitudinal bending).
A Finite Element Model was generated by Poseidon Thirteen global load cases (GLC) were generated.
between Fr. 14 and 86. For aft and fore end First twelve load cases are the standard unit forces
transversal sections (Fr. 14 and Fr. 86) the boundary assumed with load factor 1.
condition “2 – unit force / St. Venant unit force / unit Last load case are the external loads - in this case the
moment ” was used. According to Poseidon user’s still water pressure and the “cargo” load – the static
manual the “2” boundary condition means: pressure of the fluid in tanks.
Quote The Poseidon FEM solver provide the sum of the
Nodal forces in separate load groups acting on the forces on the spatial direction for all load cases. This
hull cross-section according to the stress distribution sums are show in table 1:
for the relevant direction. For the XX-direction nodal

Fig. 4 – Nodal loads generated by the standard units loads on the directions 3, 4 and 5

GLC Foce [kN] Moment [kNm]

No. x y z xx yy zz
1 10003.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 50505.7 0.0
2 0.0 -10196.4 0.0 50170.8 -0.6 -142749.8
3 0.0 0.0 -10064.7 2.6 140906.0 0.3
4 0.0 0.4 1.0 -6498.7 -13.6 5.1
5 28.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 101282.4 0.0
6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 -100867.6
7 10003.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 50505.7 0.0
8 0.0 -10196.4 0.0 50171.0 -3.9 -876891.5
9 0.0 0.0 -10064.7 2.6 865564.0 1.8
10 0.0 0.4 1.0 -6498.7 -83.4 31.6
11 28.4 0.0 0.0 0.0 101282.4 0.0
12 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 -100867.6
13 0.0 0.0 -10985.7 0.0 549282.5 0.0

Table 1 – Sum of the forces for the Standard End Unit Forces and External Forces

The values in table 1 are the terms of the system [2]. equation for each of the 6 directions. For the row k,
The rows in table are the terms of the equilibrium k= 1..6 the first 6 values are the terms F01jk. The

next 6 values are F02jk and the last value is the assumption has no influence on the model
component of the external force on direction k – Ek. behavior.
As could be observed the system matrix is not exactly Solving the equilibrium equation system the load
diagonal. In this example for direction 4 and 5 factors are achieved.
(torsion and vertical moment) some residual forces The final Global Load Case is the combination of the
are achieved. In case of direction 4 (torsion) the Standard End Units Forces multiplied with the load
residual forces are generating also residual moment factors computed above and the external loads (load
on directions 5 and 6. factor 1.0).
However dimension of the residual is at least 3rd order For this case the equilibrium equations are cvasi-null.
less that the dimension of the main term of the Only residual values of 0.4 and 0.9 kNm are
equilibrium equation. achieved for the directions 5 and 6 but these residual
For solving the equilibrium system followings initial values are considered extremely small in relation to
condition are used: the forces involved.
- Direction 1 – axial force - trust: equal load In order to solve the FEM system spring elements are
factors l11=l21. The still water condition introduced in 4 nodes.
assume that the influence of the trust force is
not significant so the possible axial forces
are extremely small.
- Direction 2 – lateral force: equal load factors
l12=l22. The still water condition assume
that the model has transversal symmetry as
geometry and load so the lateral force is null.
In this situation the equal load factors
assumption has no influence on the model
- Direction 3 – vertical forces – shear force:
the value on the aft end is assumed known
from the analyze of the still water load case.
F13= -5572 kN according to SF distribution. Fig. 5 – Spring elements
- Direction 4 – torsion: equal load factors
l13=l23. The still water condition assume The nodes are located in the mid area of the model –
that the model has transversal symmetry as Fr. 49 and Fr. 51 - as far is possible in the neutral axis
geometry and load so the torsion moment is of the main loads. In the example model two nodes
null. In this situation the equal load factors are on side close to the vertical bending neutral axis -
assumption has no influence on the model loaded with springs on vertical displacement. Other
behavior. two nodes are on bottom and main deck close to the
- Direction 5 – vertical bending moment: the center line - loaded with springs on axial and lateral
value on the aft end is assumed known from displacements.
the analyze of the still water load case. F15= Running the FEM the forces in spring elements are
-39004 kN according to BM distribution. maximum 0.1 kN for x direction and 1.1 kN for y and
- Direction 6 – horizontal bending moment: z direction. These forces are the result of the residual
equal load factors l16=l26. The still water moments indicated above.
condition assume that the model has
transversal symmetry as geometry and load 5. Example - results
so the horizontal bending moment is null. In
this situation the equal load factors As results the deformed view and the general stress
map will be presented.

Fig. 6-1 – Deformation – View on top


Fig. 6-2 – Deformations – Lateral view

Fig. 6-3 – Deformation – General view

Fig. 6-4 – Deformation – General view / the model is not hide


Fig. 7-1 – Stress – Equivalent Von Misses Stresses – Deck and Longitudinal bulkhead in CL

Fig. 7-2 – Stress – Equivalent Von Misses Stresses – Bottom and Shell

Ordinary elements – as far as possible not affected by The differences between theoretical longitudinal
the local stresses were selected for the comparison to bending stresses and computed longitudinal stresses
general longitudinal bending stress as where are due to the increased participation of the lower
computed previous for the midship area The stresses flange material.
in main deck in a average element area. The Due the water load – assumed as uniformly
longitudinal stresses determined for main deck are distributed load - the effective width of the bottom
about -77 … -82 N/mm2 – estimated -85 N/mm2 For longitudinal is usually assumed greater than the
bottom the stresses are about +89…+93 N/mm2 – effective width of the unloaded main deck
estimated 86.5 N/mm2. longitudinal.
The difference are about 3 … 8 N/mm2 which means In actual case this assumption justify the increased
maximum 10%. participation of the material of the lower flange.


Fig. 8-1 – Stresses parallel to longitudinal direction – View on top - deck

Fig. 9-2 – Stresses – Paralel to longitudinal direction - bottom

6. References 7. Abstract
Scopul lucrarii este de a propune o
Germanischer Lloyd Rules – Chapter 1 - Guidelines for Strength metoda practica de echilibrare statica a
Analyses of Ship Structures with the Finite Element Method, fortelor care actioneaza asupra unui
Volume V. - Analysis Techniques, Part 1 – Strength and Stability –
, Edition 2001 Model de Element Finit
Germanischer Lloyd - Poseidon Help, Poseidon Revision 4.0 – Datorita interesului specific al autorului
august 2004 metodata este prezentata pentru un Model
de Elemente Finite specific analizelor
Paper received at 15.09.2004 structurilor navale.

Se presupune de la inceput ca se dispune Metoda ofera o cale practica pentru calcularea

de o unealta (un algoritm automatizat sau “factorilor de incarcare” pentru fortele unitarea
un software) prin care pot fi calculate / sectionale mai sus numite – astfel incat sa se
generate fortele nodale pe sectiunile de obtina echilibrarea fortelor care actioneaza
capat ale modelului – datorate asupra modelui.
solicitarilor unitare de baza (forta si
moment unitary pentru toate cele sase
directii spatiale).

Fig. 9-1 – Main Stress – View on top - deck

Fig. 9-2 – Main Stress – View on side – shell