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CRITERIA FOR SELECTION OF FEM MODELS.

Prof. P. C.Vasani ,Applied Mechanics Department, L. D. College of Engineering ,Ahmedabad- 380015
Ph.(079) 7486320 [R]
E-mail:pcv-im@eth.net

1. Criteria for Convergence.

The finite element method provides a numerical solution to a
complex problem. It may, therefore, be expected that the solution must
converge to the exact solution under certain circumstances. It can be shown
that the displacement formulation of the method leads to an upper bound to
the actual stiffness of the structure. Hence the sequence of successively finer
meshes is expected to converge to the exact solution if assumed element
displacement fields satisfy certain criteria. These are,
1. The displacement field within an element must be continuous. In
other words, it does not yield a discontinuous value of function
but rather a smooth variation of function, and the variation do not
involve openings, overlap, or jumps, which are inherently
continuous. This condition can easily be satisfied by choosing
polynomials for the displacement model. The function w is
indeed continuous if for example it is expressed as,

W = C1 + C2 x + C3 x
2
+C4 x
3
+.

2. The approximate function should provide inter-element
compatibility up to a degree required by the problem.

For instance, for the column problem involving axial
deformations, it is necessary to ensure inter-element compatibility
at least for displacements of adjacent nodes. That is the
approximate function should be such that the nodal displacements
between adjacent nodes are the same.

Inter-element compatibility must be enforced for displacements
and their derivatives up to the order n-1, where n is the highest
order derivative in the energy function.

The highest order of derivative for a column element, for
example, is 1. Hence the inter-element compatibility should
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include order of v at least upto 0 (zero), that is, displacement v, In
general, the formulation should provide inter-element
compatibility upto order n-1, where n is the highest order
derivative in the energy function. Approximate functions that
satisfy the conditions of compatibility can be called conformable
(compatible or conforming elements).

In contrast to the plane deformations, for realistic approximation
of the physical conditions in the case of bending, it is necessary to
satisfy inter-element compatibility with respect to both the
displacements and slopes, i.e. first derivative (gradient) of
displacement.

As a consequence, it becomes necessary to use higher order
approximation for the displacement in the case of bending, since it
is necessary to provide for inter-element compatibility for slopes
also, we can add slope at the node as an additional unknown. This
leads to two primary unknowns, displacement w and slope
θ = dw/dx, at each node, hence, for an element there are a total of
four degrees of freedom: w1, θ1 at node 1 and w2 , θ2 at node 2.
The approximate function is conformable since it provides for
inter-element compatibility upto n-1 = 2-1 = 1 derivative of w,
that is, for both w and its first derivative, where n=2 is the highest
order of derivative in the potential energy function.

The displacement function for a beam element thus can be written
as,

W = C1 + C2 x +C3 x
2
+C4 x
3

3. The displacement model must include the rigid body
displacements of the element.

A rigid body displacement is the most elementary deformation
an element may undergo. Hence when the nodes are given such
displacement corresponding to a rigid motion, the element
should not experience any strain and hence leads to zero nodal
forces. The constant terms in the polynomials used for the
displacement models would usually ensure this condition. For
instance the constant term C1 provides for a rigid body
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displacement. One such combination should occur for each of
the possible rigid body translations and rotations.

4. The displacement models must include the constant strain states
within the element.

The reason for this requirement can be understood if we imagine
the condition when the body or structure is divided into smaller
and smaller elements. As these elements approach infinitesimal
size, the strains in each element also approach constant values.
Hence the assumed displacement function should include terms
for representing constant strain states. For one, two and three
dimensional elasticity problems, the linear terms present in the
polynomial satisfy the requirement. However, in the case of
beam, plate and shell elements, this condition will be referred to
as !constant curvature" instead of !constant strains". There
should exist combinations of values of the generalized co-
ordinates that cause all points on the element to experience the
same strain. One such combination should occur for each
possible strain.

5. Besides the convergence and compatibility requirements, one of
the important considerations in choosing proper terms in the
polynomial expansion is that the element should have no
preferred direction. That is the displacement shapes will not
change with a change in local coordinate system. This property is
known as geometric isotropy, or geometric invariance.

Geometric invariance is achieved if the polynomial includes all
the terms, i.e. the polynomial is a complete one. However,
invariance may be achieved if the polynomial is !balance" in case
all the terms cannot be included. This !balanced" representation
can be illustrated with respect to Pascal triangle for two-
dimensional polynomials:

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1

X | Y

X
2
XY Y
2

X
3
X
2
Y | XY
2
Y
3

X
4
X
3
Y X
2
Y
2
XY
3
Y
4

X
5
X
4
Y X
3
Y | X
2
Y
3
XY
4
Y
5

Symmetry
Axis

For example, if we would like to construct a polynomial with four terms,
invariance is achieved by selecting

U = C1 + C2 X + C3 Y + C4 XY

Thus, geometric invariance can be achieved by selecting the corresponding
order of terms on either side of the axis of symmetry.

2. FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS OF A CONTINUUM.

Conventional engineering structures can be visualized as an
assemblage of structural elements interconnected at a discrete number of
nodal points. If the force-displacement relationships for the individual
elements are known it is possible, by using various well-known techniques
of structural analysis, to derive the properties and study the behavior of the
assembled structure.

In elastic continuum the true number of interconnection points is
infinite, and here lies the biggest difficulty of its numerical solution. In many
phases of engineering the solution of stress and strain distributions in elastic
continua is required. Special cases of such problems may range from two-
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dimensional plane stress or strain distributions, axisymmetrical solids, plates
bending, and shell, to fully three-dimensional solids. In all cases the number
of interconnections between any !finite element" isolated by some imaginary
boundaries and the neighboring elements is infinite. It is therefore difficult
to see at first glance how such problems may be discretized in the same
manner as is done for simpler structures.
The difficulty can be overcome (and approximation made) in the
following manner.

(a) The continuum is separated by imaginary lines or surfaces into a number
of !finite elements".
(b) The elements are assumed to be interconnected at a discrete number of
nodal points situated on their boundaries. The displacements of these
nodal points will be the basic unknown parameters of the problem, just as
in the simple structural analysis.
(c) A function (or functions) is chosen to define uniquely the state of
displacement within each !finite element" in terms of its nodal
displacements.
(d) The displacement functions now define uniquely the state strain within
an element in terms of the nodal displacements. These strains, together
with any initial strains and the elastic properties of the material will
define the state of stress throughout the element and, hence, also on its
boundaries.
(e) A system of forces concentrated at the nodes and equilibrating the
boundary stresses and any distributed loads is determined, resulting in
stiffness relationship same as for simpler structure
Once this stage has been reached the solution procedure can follow
the standard structural routine.
So far, the process described is justified only intuitively, but what in
fact has been suggested is equivalent to the minimization of the total
potential energy of the system in terms of a prescribed displacement field. If
this displacement field is defined in a suitable way, then convergence to the
correct result must occur. The process is then equivalent to the well-known
Ritz procedure. The derivation of characteristics of !finite element" of a

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3. FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS OF AXISYMMETRIC SOLIDS.

The problem stress distribution in bodies of revolution (axi-
interest. The mathematical problems presented are very similar to those of
plane stress and plane strain as, once again, the situation is two-dimensional.
By symmetry, the two components of displacements in any plane
sectioning the body along its axis of symmetry define completely the state of
strain and, therefore, the state of stress. Such a cross-section is shown in
Figure above. The volume of material associated with an !element" is equal
to of a body of revolution indicated on fig, and all integration have to be
referred to this.
In plane stress or strain problems it is being shown that internal
work is associated with three strain components in the co-ordinate plane, the
stress component normal to this plane not being involved due to zero values
of either the stress or the strain.
In the axisymmetrical situation any radial displacement
automatically induces a strain in the circumferential direction, and as the
stresses in this direction are certainly non-zero, this fourth component of
strain and of the associated stress has to be considered. Here lies the
essential difference in the treatment of the axisymmetric situation.
The simplest examples are a circular cylinder loaded by a uniform
internal or external pressure, a circular footing resting on a soil mass,
pressure vessels, rotating wheels, flywheels etc. (See Fig. below).The
deformation being symmetrical with respect to the y-axis, the stress
components are independent of the angle θ and all derivatives with respect
Axisymmetric element
r
1
2
3
z
θ
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AXISYMMETRIC PROBLEMS.

To θ vanish. The components w, γ

, γ
θy
, τ

and τ
θy
are zero. The strain-
displacement relations are given by

x
= ∂u ; ∈
θ
= u ; ∈
y
= ∂v ; γ
xy
= ∂u + ∂v
∂x x ∂y ∂y ∂x

Thus, the constitutive relation is,

y,v
x,u
θ
θ
X
Y
σ
x
σ
y
σ
θ
τ
x
y

= E_____
(1+ ν)(1-2ν)

(1-ν) ν ν 0 ∈
x
(1-ν) ν 0 ∈
y
Symmetric (1-ν) 0 ∈
θ

(1-2ν)/2 γ
xy

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The stiffness matrix :

The stiffness matrix of the any axisymmetric element can now be computed
according to the general relationship. Remembering that the volume integral
has to be taken over the whole ring of material we have,

[K
e
] = 2π ∫ [B]
T
[D] [B] r drdz

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