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Engineering Advantage

Why Use MPC Based Contact for "Bonded"


Connections?
February 24, 2014 By: Patrick Cunningham
Have you ever noticed that there is an option to change your Bonded contact formulation
from Pure Penalty to MPC Bonded?
Have you ever wondered what this means?
Have you ever wondered when you should use it?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions you are not alone. The option to use
kinematic Multi Point Constraints (or MPCs) for linear contact formulations has been available
in ANSYS MAPDL and ANSYS Mechanical (Workbench) for several releases. The setting is
relatively hidden under KEYOPT(2) in MAPDL but is easily found in the Formulation pull
down in the Details menu in Mechanical.
Before we delve into the advantages of using Multipoint Constraint contact, lets first review
what standard (Pure Penalty) Bonded means. Bonded contact is a linear form of a contact
based connection. A linear penalty-based contact connection between two bodies must have
contact elements on one body and target elements on the other. The contact and target
elements lay on the outer faces of each body's solid elements like a skin.
The contact and target elements have no actual degrees of freedom, they piggy-back on the
solid elements that they are attached to. At the beginning of each load increment the contact
elements search for any target elements that are within their range of interest, the range
being defined by the pinball radius setting of the contact pair. The contact elements have a
stiffness in the normal direction that defines the connection between the two bodies. You can
think of the contact element acting like a glue that holds the bodies together. The stiffness of
this glue is the normal contact stiffness. So, despite the "bonded" definition, there is still
some flexibility in the connection between the two bodies as illustrated below by a graph of
the contact stiffness versus the resulting gap for a simple test model:

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By contrast the MPC formulation for Bonded contact does not have a stiffness calculated for
the connection. The MPC connection uses rigid constraint equations between the solid
elements on the contact and target faces for a truly bonded connection. The connection
locations are still determined using the contact element pinball radius but after that the
contact elements are replaced with internal constraint equations. The MPC method has the
following advantages:
Degrees of freedom at the nodes on the contact and target faces are eliminated by the
constraint equations. This reduces the problem size although you may want to pay close
attention to the solver method used. Some solvers perform better than others when
constraint equations are used.
A contact stiffness calculation is not required because a rigid connection is defined by the
constraint equations.
Both translational and rotational degrees of freedom are accounted for.
Since the constraint equations are MPC-based they will be updated in large deformation
analyses.
The MPC option also works for No Separation linear contact. So if you need a truly Bonded
or No Separation connection that reduces the DOF count and updates with large
deformation, give the MPC Bonded and MPC No Separation formulation a try.

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