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IMPROVED TRANSVERSE SHEAR STRESSES IN
COMPOSITE FINITE ELEMENTS BASED ON
FIRST ORDER SHEAR DEFORMATION THEORY

IMPROVED TRANSVERSE SHEAR STRESSES IN
COMPOSITE FINITE ELEMENTS BASED ON
FIRST ORDER SHEAR DEFORMATION THEORY

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IMPROVED TRANSVERSE SHEAR STRESSES IN

COMPOSITE FINITE ELEMENTS BASED ON

FIRST ORDER SHEAR DEFORMATION THEORY

R. ROLFES AND K. ROHWER

German Aerospace Research Establishment (DR), Institute of Structural Mechanics, P.O. Box 32 67,

D-38022 Braunschweig, Germany

SUMMARY

A method for calculating improved transverse shear stresses in laminated composite plates, which bases on

the rst-order shear deformation theory is developed. In contrast to many recently established methods,

either higher-order lamination theories or layerwise theories, it is easily applicable to nite elements, since

only C"-continuity is necessary and the numerical eort is low. The basic idea is to calculate the transverse

shear stresses directly from the transverse shear forces by neglecting the inuence of the membrane forces

and assuming two cylindrical bending modes. Shear correction factors are no longer required, since the

transverse shear stinesses are also provided. Numerical examples for symmetric cross-ply and antisymmet-

ric angle-ply laminates show the superiority of the method against using shear correction factors. Further-

more, results obtained with MSC/NASTRAN, which uses a similar but simplied approach, are surpassed.

KEY WORDS: ber composite; laminate; shear deformation theory; transverse shear stiness; interlaminar shear;

nite shell elements

1. INTRODUCTION

The failure of composites, especially under impact loading, has been subject to intensive research

since many years. It turned out, that important failure modes like delamination are driven by

transverse shear as well as normal stresses. Hence, modern failure criteria for composite materials

account for the full stress tensor. However, determining the full state of stress in composite

structures is much more involved than in homogeneous isotropic materials.

The workhorses for the stress analysis of composite plates have been the Classical Lamination

Theory (CLT) and the WhitneyPagano Theory,` the latter also known as the First-Order Shear

Deformation Theory (FSDT). In the framework of nite element analysis the FSDT is much more

popular, since only C"- instead of C- continuity is necessary. Transverse shear stresses can be

calculated from the FSDT using the material law. However, the assumption of a constant shear

angle in thickness direction results in layerwise constant stresses. This is quite unsatisfactory,

since the condition of vanishing transverse shear stresses at the boundaries is not fullled and the

interlaminar shear stresses at the interfaces cannot be assigned a distinct value. Both deciencies

can be avoided by applying the equilibrium conditions according to Pryor and Barker.` This

procedure utilizes the rst derivatives of the membrane stresses w.r.t the membrane co-ordinates.

Pryor and Barker choose shape functions for the displacements (u, v, w) and the transverse shear

strains. Thus, they need cubic shape functions for w in order to calculate the required stress

CCC 00295981/97/01005110 Received 16 January 1995

1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Revised 23 January 1996

derivatives (element with 28 degrees of freedom). The order can be reduced by one if the rotations

instead of the transverse shear strains are selected as variables. However, still quadratic shape

functions must be employed. Furthermore, comparisons with exact analytical solutions revealed,

that the resulting transverse shear stresses from the FSDT are not always satisfactory (e.g.

Reference 17). Byun and Kapania" suggested a postprocessing using global interpolating func-

tions for smoothing the membrane displacements. By that means they achieved good transverse

shear and even transverse normal stresses. However, the global functions make the method

geometry dependent and therefore impractical for general nite element codes.

A variety of higher order lamination theories has been proposed during the last decade in order

to improve the transverse shear stress calculation (e.g. References 59). Based on some of those,

Manjunatha and Kant" and Kant and Menon` calculated transverse stresses by use of the

equilibrium conditions. They achieved good nite element results, however, due to the higher

order displacement derivatives involved, they needed biquadratic and bicubic shape functions for

evaluating the transverse shear and normal stresses, respectively. Engblom and Ochoa` "

modied the displacement eld and received satisfactory results for transverse shear and normal

stresses in elements with only 32 (FSDT) and 40 (theory with quadratic in-plane and constant

out-of-plane displacements) degrees of freedom. However, the equilibrium equations lead to an

initial value problem for the transverse stresses, which does not allow the simultaneous fulllment

of the boundary conditions at the top and bottom surface. An analytical trade-o of higher order

theories carried out by Rohwer` showed, that for nite element analyses the FSDT is the best

compromise between accuracy and eort. This holds for plate slendernesses down to ve. Most of

the theories presume C-continuity,`` which practically excludes nite element application.

Others need twice as much functional degrees of freedom compared to the FSDT" or provide no

better results than the FSDT.`

More recently developed are the so-called layerwise theories (e.g. References 1618), which use

piecewise polynomial distributions (zig-zag function) of the membrane displacements in thickness

direction and provide a very good approximation of the transverse shear stresses. If no con-

straints for the zig-zag functions are introduced, the number of functional degrees of freedom

depends on the number of layers. This theory can be easily translated into nite elements,

however, leads to a computational eort in the range of a full 3D-analysis.`" Thus, the

practical application is limited to detail investigations. The number of functional degrees of

freedom can be drastically reduced by a priori ensuring continuity of the transverse shear

stresses.`` Corresponding nite elements need C-continuity or base on mixed formulations.``

However, the problem of stability and convergence of mixed nite elements is not completely

solved up to now.

Still relying on the FSDT, there is a potential for improving the transverse shear stress

approximation by enhancing the transverse shear stinesses. Usually some kind of shear correc-

tion factor is used, but Wittrick`` proved that for orthotropic material it is impossible to choose

eective shear moduli independent of the displacement mode. Assuming two cylindrical bending

modes Rohwer`" calculated improved transverse shear stinesses and showed in an analytical

study` that they provide reasonable transverse shear stresses.

The present paper investigates the accuracy of the method within the framework of nite

elements. Furthermore, the transverse shear stresses are calculated from the transverse shear

forces. In contrast to directly applying the equilibrium of forces, this procedure allows for

simultaneous fulllment of both boundary conditions and saves one order of derivation of the

shape functions. The latter is especially important for nite element analyses, since it allows the

calculation of transverse shear stresses already in elements with not more than 20 degrees of

freedom. The numerical results are compared with MSC/NASTRAN calculations.

52 R. ROLFES AND K. ROHWER

2. THEORY

The WhitneyPagano lamination theory is based on the kinematical assumption of Mindlin and

Reissner

u"

u

v

w

"

u

"

v

"

w

"

#z

W

0

(1)

where u

"

, v

"

, w

"

are the displacements of the reference surface in x,y and z direction, respectively,

and

V

and

W

are the rotations of the cross-section. Employing nite elements shape functions

are chosen for the displacements (u

"

, v

"

, w

"

) and the rotations. The transverse shear strains (or

shear angles) are obtained by the straindisplacement relations

"

VX

WX

"

w

V

#

V

w

W

#

W

(2)

The straightforward way of calculating the transverse shear stresses uses the material law, which

provides

'I'

X

"G'I' (3)

G'I' contains the shear moduli of the kth lamina. Integration over the laminates thickness gives

the transverse shear forces

R"H (4)

with shear stinesses

H"

L

I

G'I' a'I' (5)

The values provided by (5) are too large, since they are based on the assumption of a constant

shear angle in thickness direction and also do not satisfy the transverse shear stresses vanishing at

the boundaries. Usually, they are reduced by a shear correction factor of e.g. 2/3 or 5/6. However,

none of these factors is generally applicable.``

A better physical foundation has the equilibrium approach by Rohwer,`" who calculates

transverse shear stinesses according to a distinct displacement mode (e.g. cylindrical bending).

Moreover the method also provides the transverse shear stresses. The equilibrium of forces in

x- and y-direction solved with respect to the transverse shear stresses reads

X

"

'I'

VX

'I'

WX

"!

DX

D"

'I'

V V

#'I'

VW W

'I'

W W

#'I'

VW V

d#

(x, y)

g

`

(x, y)

(6)

where the co-ordinate starts at one of the laminate surfaces. g

and g

`

are determined from the

boundary condition at "0, usually they vanish. Using the material law for the kth lamina,

K

"

VW

"Q 'I' ("#z) (7)

where Q 'I' are the reduced stinesses of the kth lamina and " and denote the laminate strains

and curvatures, respectively, yields

X

"!

DX

D"

(B

Q 'I' ("

V

#z

V

)#B

`

Q 'I' ("

W

#z

W

) ) d (8)

COMPOSITE FINITE ELEMENTS BASED ON FIRST ORDER SHEAR DEFORMATION THEORY 53

B

and B

`

are Boolean matrices of the form

B

"

1 0 0

0 0 1

(9)

and

B

`

"

0 0 1

0 1 0

(10)

and shoud not be mixed up with the coupling matrix B of the laminate.

The relation (8) could directly be used for determining the transverse shear stresses. However,

due to the appearance of strain derivatives, second derivatives of the shape functions (for u

"

, v

"

,

V

,

W

) would have to be evaluated. Thus at least quadratic shape functions would have to be

chosen or a smoothing procedure according to Byun and Kapania" would become necessary. To

circumvent this, the derivatives of the laminates strains are replacedunder certain conditions

by the transverse shear forces.

Using the elasticity law of the laminate

N

M

"

A

B'

B

D

"

(11)

where A, D and B are the membrane, bending and coupling stinesses, respectively, and

M"

M

V

M

W

M

VW

(12)

and

N"

N

V

N

W

N

VW

(13)

the laminate strains can be expressed by the moments if the membrane forces N are neglected.

This assumption is reasonable, since the inuence of the membrane forces on the transverse shear

stresses is very small. It follows that

""!AB (14)

and

"D*M (15)

where

D*"(D!B'AB) (16)

Inserting equations (14)(16) into the equilibrium condition as formulated in (8), provides

transverse shear stresses only depending on the moment derivatives w.r.t. x and y,

X

"!B

F(z)M

V

!B

`

F(z)M

W

(17)

The matrix F(z) reads

F(z)"(a(z)AB!b(z))D* (18)

where a(z) and b(z) are partial membrane and coupling stinesses of the laminate, respectively,

a(z)"

DX

D"

Q d (19)

54 R. ROLFES AND K. ROHWER

and

b(z)"

DX

D"

Q d (20)

Further reduction of equation (17) is only possible when making additional signicant assump-

tions. These are the displacement modes mentioned above. Assuming cylindrical bending around

the x-axis yields

M

V

"

M

V V

0

0

(21)

around the y-axis provides

M

W

"

0

M

W W

0

(22)

Then, the derivatives of the moments can be related to the shear forces via

R

VX

"!M

V V

(23)

and

R

WX

"!M

W W

(24)

which nally results in

X

"

F

`

F

``

F

``

R

VX

R

WX

(25)

or

X

"f(z) R (26)

This relation automatically fullls the second boundary condition. Inserting z"h (h denotes the

thickness of the laminate) into equations (19) and (20) yields

a(h)"A (27)

and

b(h)"B (28)

This in turn introduced into equation (18) provides

F(h)"0 (29)

and with equation (26)

X

(h)"0 (30)

From relation (26) it is only a simple step to an equation for improved shear stinesses when

regarding the complementary transverse shear energy. Formulated in shear stresses it is

I

"

1

2

'G dz (31)

COMPOSITE FINITE ELEMENTS BASED ON FIRST ORDER SHEAR DEFORMATION THEORY 55

expressed in shear forces it reads

I

"

`

R' H R (32)

Introducing equation (26) into equation (31) and comparing with equation (32) provides the

expression for the improved transverse shear stinesses based on the equilibrium approach,

H "

f'G f dz

(33)

The sequence of calculation steps is as follows. First, the shear stinesses are calculated from

equation (33), then equation (4) is used to determine the transverse shear forces, and equation (26)

nally provides the transverse shear stresses.

Of course, this is not a pure application of the equilibrium conditions (6), since the material law

is involved via relation (4). However, using the improved shear stinesses, equation (4) provides

good transverse shear forces and, what is the big advantage of the method, only rst derivatives of

the shape functions are needed (conf. equation (2)).

The MSC/NASTRAN approach is principally very similar. However, much more rigorous

simplifying assumptions are made. The membrane shear stresses in equation (6) are neglected and

the material law (7) is greatly simplied by assuming that the global co-ordinate system is the

principal system for each lamina (only correct for cross-ply laminates) and the Poisson ratio is

zero. The subsequent numerical examples show that these very rigorous assumptions nevertheless

provide reasonable results for cross-ply laminates, but can hardly model angle-ply laminates.

3. NUMERICAL EXAMPLES

The calculations were carried out using QUAD8 elements of MSC/NASTRAN version 675. The

improved transverse shear stinesses (conf. equation (33)) were determined using the preprocessor

PRIMEL.`` The values were introduced into MSC/NASTRAN, which carried out the nite

element analysis and provided the transverse shear forces. These were processed by a self-written

postprocessor in order to evaluate the transverse shear stresses according to equation (26).

The values, which are subsequently denoted as MSC/NASTRAN results are calculated using

the simplied MSC/NASTRAN equilibrium approach for both, the transverse shear stinesses

(equation (33)) and the transverse shear stresses (equation (26)).

The origin of the x-, y-co-ordinate system is in the center of the plate throughout all examples.

3.1. hree-layered cross-ply laminate

The rst example to be regarded is a simply supported quadratic three-layered (0/90/0) plate

with slenderness a/h"4 under sinusoidal transverse load. The material properties were chosen as

E

'

"138 GPa

E

'

"552 GPa

''

"025 (34)

G

''

"276 GPa

G

''

"1104 GPa

56 R. ROLFES AND K. ROHWER

Figure 1. Transverse shear stress

VX

in a (0/90/0)laminate at x"a/2, y"0; plate slenderness a/h"4; WP n: numerical

solution with FSDT (WhitneyPagano) and shear correction factor n; 3D: elasticity solution; MSC: MSC/NASTRAN;

RR: present solution

Figure 1 depicts the transverse shear stress (

VX

) distribution over the plate thickness at the center

point of one edge (x"a/2, y"0). None of the approximations can reect, that the maximum

stress occurs in the facing layers and not in the core layer. However, the authors result is closest

to the exact solution. Especially, there is a signicant improvement compared to the FSDT-

calculations with dierent shear correction factors.

MSC/NASTRAN only provides values at the layer interfaces. They are better than the

FSDT-results with shear correction factors, since MSC/NASTRAN uses an equilibrium ap-

proach for the transverse shear stinesses and stresses, but somewhat inferior to the authors

results. This is most probably due to the simplications introduced by MSC/NASTRAN (see

above).

The comparative solutions (elasticity, CLT, FSDT with shear correction factors) are taken

from di Sciuva.` He also provides a very good solution based on a layerwise theory, which is not

reected here.

3.2. Four-layered cross-ply laminate

As the second example serves the four-layered plate (0/90/90/0) which has been analytically

investigated by Rohwer.`" The material properties are

E

'

"138 GPa

E

'

"93 GPa

''

"030 (35)

''

"050

G

''

"46 GPa

COMPOSITE FINITE ELEMENTS BASED ON FIRST ORDER SHEAR DEFORMATION THEORY 57

Figure 3. Transverse shear stress

WX

in a (0/90/90/0)laminate at x"0, y"b/2; plate slenderness a/h"5; WP:

analytical solution with FSDT (WhitneyPagano); 3D: elasticity solution; MSC: MSC/NASTRAN; RR: present solution

Figure 2. Transverse shear stress

VX

in a (0/90/90/0)laminate at x"a/2, y"0; plate slenderness a/h"5; WP:

analytical solution with FSDT (WhitneyPagano); 3D: elasticity solution; MSC: MSC/NASTRAN; RR: present solution

Again the load is of sinusoidal shape. The plate thickness is kept to unity while the edge lengths

are varying with a xed ratio of

a

b

"

"

D

VV

D

WW

(36)

where D

VV

and D

WW

are the bending stinesses in x- and y-direction, respectively. In Figures 2

and 3 the present method is compared to the elasticity solution and the analytical FSDT-solution

with improved transverse shear stinesses (conf. equation (33)). Again the center points of the

edges are regarded. The authors numerical solution is comparable to the analytical FSDT-

solution. While the results for

VX

are somewhat better,

WX

is a little inferior. This holds especially

for the value at the interface between the 90-layers. Rohwer`" has stated that the FSDT with

improved shear stinesses is the best compromise between accuracy and eort from the analytical

58 R. ROLFES AND K. ROHWER

Figure 4. Transverse shear stress

VX

in a (#45/!45)laminate at x"17a/36, y"a/36; plate slenderness a/h"6; CLT:

numerical solution with CLT; CS: semi-analytical solution of Chaudhuri/Seide; MSC: MSC/NASTRAN; RR: present solution

point of view. It can now be concluded, that the numerical solution with nite elements provides

results of the same quality as the analytical solution.

For this example the MSC/NASTRAN values are very close to the present method.

3.3. Antisymmetric angle-ply laminate

An antisymmetric (#45/!45) laminate with engineering constants of

E

'

"276 GPa

E

'

"69 GPa

''

"025 (37)

G

''

"34 GPa

G

''

"14 GPa

is the last example. The semi-analytical approach of Chaudhuri/Seide`' is taken as the yard stick.

Figure 4 shows

VX

for the quadratic plate under uniform load at x"17a/36, y"a/36. The

present method very well approximates the exact solution. Both, the maximum and the value at

the layer interface show an error of less than 8 per cent.

It is not surprising, that the CLT is far inferior. But also MSC/NASTRANshows a signicantly

larger deviation from the exact solution at the interface (28 per cent). This can be traced back to the

underlying assumption of a cross-ply laminate, which certainly cannot model the stated problem.

4. CONCLUSIONS

Asimple method of improving the transverse shear stress results within nite element calculations

based on the FSDT has been demonstrated. The basic idea consists in directly calculating the

transverse shear stresses from the transverse shear forces. For that purpose, the inuence of the

membrane forces on the transverse shear stresses was neglected and cylindrical bending displace-

ment modes were assumed. The method also provides improved transverse shear stinesses.

COMPOSITE FINITE ELEMENTS BASED ON FIRST ORDER SHEAR DEFORMATION THEORY 59

Thus, the selection of an appropriate shear correction factor is no longer necessary. In contrast to

the usual method, not only equilibrium conditions, but also the material law for the transverse

shear forces were used.

The numerical results surpass the usual FSDT stress results based on shear correction factors

and equilibrium conditions. The general purpose code MSC/NASTRAN uses a similar but

simplied method. Comparisons revealed that the proposed method is more accurate especially

for angle-ply laminates.

REFERENCES

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2. N. J. Pagano, Exact solutions for rectangular bidirectional composites and sandwich plates, J. Compos. Mater., 4,

2034 (1970).

3. C. W. Pryor and R. M. Barker, A nite element analysis including transverse shear eects for application to laminated

plates, AIAA J., 9, 912917 (1971).

4. C. Byun and R. K. Kapania, Prediction of interlaminar stresses in laminated plates using global orthogonal

interpolation polynomials, AIAA J., 30, 27402749 (1992).

5. N. R. Senthilnathan, S. P. Lim, K. H. Lee and S. T. Chow, Buckling of shear-deformable plates, AIAA J., 25,

12681271 (1987).

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elements, Comp. Methods Appl. Mech. Eng., 66, 173198 (1988).

10. B. S. Manjunatha and T. Kant, On evaluation of transverse stresses in layered symmetric composite and sandwich

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22. Y. K. Cheung and Shenglin Di, Analysis of laminated composite plates by hybrid stress isoparametric element, Int. J.

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(1988).

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DFR-Mitteilung 88-14.

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60 R. ROLFES AND K. ROHWER

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