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AAE 320 - Introduction to PATRAN and ABAQUS

Lab. 1 : Analysis of truss structures with ABAQUS

1. Introduction

ABAQUS is a general purpose finite element code which can solve a large variety of problems, ranging from very
simple (as we will se in this lab) to very complex. The code is developed and commercialized by Hibbit, Karlsson
and Sorenson, Inc., located in Pawtucket, RI. ABAQUS has its own mesh generation and visualization capabilities,
but in this series of labs, we will use another (more powerful and widely used) commercial code for pre- and post-
processing operations, PATRAN (version 3.0), owned by the MacNeal-Schwendler Corporation. PATRAN is
compatible with a series of commercial codes, such as NASTRAN, ABAQUS, ... through a series of interfaces.
Unlike the previous versions of PATRAN, these interfaces are run directly from PATRAN itself, so that one does not
have to leave the software to run the analysis program. The objective of these few labs is to illustrate, through
examples of increasing complexity, the capabilities of PATRAN and ABAQUS.

In this first lab we will focus on ABAQUS by creating an ABAQUS input file for a simple truss problem. During this
lab we will learn how to:
-define nodes
-generate an element connectivity table
-prescribe a material description
-impose displacements
-apply nodal loads
-generate various output files
-perform a simple post-processing analysis using ABAQUS/Post

Unlike most commercial finite element codes, ABAQUS runs all problems only in batch mode. It reads the input file
called ‘jobname.inp’ (where ‘jobname’ is an arbitrary name specified by the user) containing a full description of the
problem, then runs the problem min the background. A message is displayed on the screen when the process is
completed.

The input file ‘jobname.inp’ contains a series of input commands (or cards) describing the mesh geometry, the applied
loads, the requested output files, ... Among the various output files created by ABAQUS, the following are the most
important.
1) ‘jobname.dat’ This text file contains all of the details of the execution, and gives a summary of the
results. It also lists error messages if there was an error in running ABAQUS.
2) ‘jobname.res’ This binary result file is used in post-processing by ABAQUS/Post
3) ‘jobname.fil’ This binary file will be used when transferring data from ABAQUS to PATRAN in
future labs.

The following handout will only provide the most basic information regarding ABAQUS. For further details about
the commands encountered in the various lab sessions, refer to the ABAQUS manuals, and especially to

• ABAQUS/Standard User’s Manual : contains most of the useful information regarding the ABAQUS
commands, the library of elements supported by ABAQUS, etc.
• ABAQUS/Post Manual : describes the post-processor
• ABAQUS/Standard Example Manual
• ABAQUS/Standard Verification Manual

2. Two-dimensional truss problem

2.1 Problem description

We will solve the simple 2D truss problem illustrated in Figure 1. This elementary truss is used to simulate the rear
section of a typical truss fuselage structure. This type of structure was widely used in the early days of aviation, and it
is still in wide use for light aircrafts (especially homebuilt aircrafts).
The element cross section area is 0.1 in 2 and the elements are made of steel (E=30*10 6 psi). The structure is
discretized by 11 nodes and 19 elements. Two point loads are applied at nodes 10 and 11 to simulate the down-load

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produced by the horizontal tail. In addition, imposed (zero) displacements are specified at nodes 1 and 2, as indicated
in Figure 1.

2.2 Input file ‘truss.inp’

Using your favorite editor, create a file called ‘truss.inp’, containing the following series of instructions. While you
are entering the data cards, follow the comments listed in Section 2.3. Note that it is essential that you enter the data
AS SHOWN, since ABAQUS is often case-sensitive. Note also that you do not really need to introduce the cards
starting with a double asterisk ** since these are comment lines which are ignored by ABAQUS.

**List of input data cards for a simple 2D truss problem
*HEADING
TRUSS PROBLEM 1
**First introduce the nodal positions.
*NODE, NSET=NODES1
1,0.0,0.0
2,25.0,0.0
3,50.0,2.5
4,75.0,5.0
5,100.0,7.5
6,125.0,10.0
7,25.0,20.0
8,50.0,20.0
9,75.0,20.0
10,100.0,20.0
11,125.0,20.0
**Then the connectivity table (i.e., the list of elements) is introduced.
*ELEMENT, TYPE=T2D2, ELSET=TRUSS
1,1,2
2,2,3
3,3,4
4,4,5
5,5,6
6,1,7
7,2,7
8,2,8
9,3,8
10,3,9
11,4,9
12,4,10
13,5,10
14,5,11
15,6,11
16,7,8
17,8,9
18,9,10
19,10,11
**Next we enter the material description.
*SOLID SECTION, ELSET=TRUSS, MATERIAL=STEEL
0.1
*MATERIAL, NAME=STEEL
*ELASTIC
30.0E6
**Next we impose the boundary conditions
*BOUNDARY
1,1,2
2,2
**Type of analysis and load description
*STEP, PERTURBATION
*STATIC

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*CLOAD
10,2,-200
11,2,-220
**Finally, specify the content of the output files
*EL PRINT,SUMMARY=YES
S11,E11
*EL FILE,ELSET=TRUSS
S,E
*NODE FILE,NSET=NODES1
U,CF,RF
*RESTART, WRITE
*END STEP

2.3 Description of the input file

This section describes the instructions contained in the input file listed in the previous section. The numbers in
parentheses indicate section numbers in the ABAQUS/Standard User’s Manual where additional information about the
commands can be found.

Lines starting with a single asterisk * are command lines. They MUST BE in all CAPS.
Lines starting with a double asterisk ** are comment lines. They are not executed.

*HEADING (8.1.1)
Tells ABAQUS that the next line contains the title of the analysis.

TRUSS PROBLEM 1
This is the title of the analysis.

*NODE, NSET=NODES1 (8.2.7)
The *NODE command tells ABAQUS that nodal coordinates will follow. The NSET=NODES1 tells
ABAQUS that all of the following nodes will be grouped together in a ‘node set’ called NODES1. The name is
arbitrary (it could have been called ‘DOG’). It is not necessary to use node sets, but it can be helpful for referring to
nodes in later ABAQUS commands. For example, we could have grouped the top nodes (in NSET=TOPNODES)
and the bottom nodes (in NSET=BOTNODES).

To enter node data, either all of the nodes information must be explicitly entered, or a command must be
used to invoke the automatic node generation routine within ABAQUS. In this lab, all of the nodes will be entered
explicitly. The first number is the node number followed by its x,y,z coordinates. If no value is given, it is assumed
to be zero. For example to enter the point (2,0,4) at node 17, the following lines are equivalent:

17,2.,0.,4.
17,2.,,4.

*ELEMENT, TYPE=T2D2, ELSET=TRUSS (8.3.2)
The *ELEMENT command tells ABAQUS that element data is to be listed next.
The TYPE command is needed to tell ABAQUS what type of element is used. The list of available element
types can be found in Chapter 3 of the User’s Manual. T2D2 indicates a 2D truss element with 2 degrees of freedom
per node (U and V displacements). This particular element is described in detail is Section 3.5.2.
The ELSET command is the same as the NSET command. All of the elements listed below will be
members of element set ‘TRUSS’. Again, the name is arbitrary and the use of ELSETs is optional.
To enter the element data, either all of the nodes must be explicitly entered, or a command must be used to
invoke the automatic element generation routine within ABAQUS. Again, we will enter the element data explicitly
for this lab. The first number is the element number followed by the list of nodes that make up that particular
element. In the case of the 2 node truss elements, the node numbering is not important. For example 1,1,2 and 1,2,1
would represent the same element, with the angle of reference 180 degrees off of each other. In quadrilateral elements
and other 2D and 3D elements, the node numbering is important.

*SOLID SECTION, ELSET=TRUSS, MATERIAL=STEEL(8.4.19)

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The third chapter of the ABAQUS User’s Manual lists the property data needed to describe each element. As
described in (3.5.2), a truss element such as C1D21 requires only the *SOLID SECTION card, which is followed by
the cross sectional area of the bars.
The command *SOLID SECTION, ELSET=TRUSS, MATERIAL=STEEL means that all the elements
belonging to the set ELSET=TRUSS have MATERIAL=STEEL with an area (the next line is the cross sectional
area) of 0.1 in2. If there had been two different materials, there would be two *SOLID SECTION lines.
The MATERIAL=STEEL command refers the elements to material property information. The name
‘STEEL’ is again arbitrary. ABAQUS does not interpret the names, just the links between them. As you may have
figured out by now, we are building a data tree of information. The elements are linked to element data which is
linked to material information.

*MATERIAL, NAME=STEEL (8.9.2)
For each MATERIAL, various properties need to be introduced. For example, the *ELASTIC (8.9.18)
means that the MATERIAL with NAME=STEEL is linearly elastic. Following the Elastic card, Young’s modulus
and Poisson’s ratio are needed. (The latter is not actually needed in this truss problem, and if not entered will be
assumed to be zero).

*BOUNDARY (8.11.2)
The *BOUNDARY card tell ABAQUS where the constrained degrees of freedom are located. ABAQUS uses
the standard notation for degrees of freedom:

DOF# Description
1 U (disp. in X-direction)
2 V (disp. in Y-direction)
3 W (disp. in Z-direction)
4 θx (rotation about X-axis)
5 θy (rotation about Y-axis)
6 θz (rotation about Z-axis)

For a general 3D truss problem, only degrees of freedom #1, 2 and 3 are considered. In this 2D example, only DOF
#1 and 2 will be used. The rotation degrees of freedom will show up in beam bending, plate and shell problems.

To constrain a degree of freedom at a node, list the node number followed by the number of the degree of freedom to be
constrained. For example: 3,1,2 means that node 3 is constrained in DOF #1 and 2 (U and V displacements). See
Section 10.4.1 of the User’s Manual if non-zero nodal displacements are to be imposed.

Note: ONLY two degrees of freedom can be constrained per line. To fix U, V, and W displacements in a 3D problem
it is necessary to use two lines, or to invoke the PINNED command as follows:
1,PINNED
This tells ABAQUS that node 1 is constrained in U, V, and W displacements.

*STEP, PERTURBATION (10.1.1)
Various types of loading can be introduced in ABAQUS. The simplest one, the *STEP,PERTURBATION,
means that the loading case will be just a simple step, turned on once. The loading can also be entered as a set of
time coordinates with loading conditions so that gradual loads can be applied instead of a simple step. See chapter 10
on AMPLITUDE discussion for more information. The PERTURBATION command tells ABAQUS that only the
linear step will be considered and no nonlinear analysis will be performed.

*STATIC (10.2.13)
The *STATIC card tells ABAQUS that static loading will be applied (as opposed to dynamic or other types
of loadings.).

*CLOAD (10.3.5)
CLOAD stands for concentrated loads. This is a load applied at a node. DLOAD (distributed load) can also
be used. To use CLOAD, list the node number followed by the degree of freedom and the load value. If the load is
applied at an angle, it must be broken up into components and introduced as two entries (if the load is in a plane) or
three (if the load is applied in a space). For example, 5,2,-7500. means that at node 5 in the Y direction there is a
load of 7500 (in the negative Y-direction).

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The element T2D2 is referred to as C1D2 in the older versions of ABAQUS.

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*EL PRINT,SUMMARY=YES (10.11.3)
*EL PRINT means that element data will be printed in the result file called ‘jobname.dat’ with a summary of
the max and min values. Following the card is a list of the data that is requested. In this particular case, we are only
interested in

the axial stress S11
the axial strain E11

As mentioned earlier, the description of all the elements available in the ABAQUS element library is given in chapter
3 of the ABAQUS/Standard User’s Manual. This chapter also contains the list of element values that are associated
with each element and that can be exported for post-processing. For more information, consult the section “Element
Output” associated with each element described in Chapter 3.

*EL FILE,ELSET=TRUSS (10.12.3)
*EL FILE tells ABAQUS to create an element file for conversion to other post-processing codes. It will
make an element file that can be used with PATRAN. ELSET=TRUSS refers to all of the elements that will be in
the element file. The ELSET command is optional : if absent, the values for all the elements will be written in the
file for further post-processing. In this first lab, we will not use this particular file since we will be using
ABAQUS/Post for the post-processor. Depending on the type of analysis and the elements used, there are a series of
element values available for output. Each quantity is denoted by an identifier. See Section 10.10.2 in the User’s
Manual for the list of available element quantities. For example,
S,E indicates that all stresses and strains will be listed in the output.

*NODE FILE,NSET=NODES1 (10.12.7)
*NODE FILE is the same as EL FILE except:
Depending on the problem, there is a series of nodal values available for output. Each quantity is denoted by an
identifier. See Section 10.10.2 in the User’s Manual for the list of available nodal quantities. For example,
U corresponds to the displacements
CF denotes the applied concentrated forces
RF denotes the applied reaction forces

*RESTART, WRITE (8.14.1)
This command tells ABAQUS to write a ‘jobname.res’ file that will be used in post-processing with
ABAQUS/Post.

*END STEP (10.1.2)
This ends ABAQUS processing.

2.4 Running ABAQUS

To run ABAQUS, simply enter the command:

abaqus job=truss (since we chose ‘truss’ as our ‘jobname’ in this case)

ABAQUS will run in the background and will possibly alert you when finished. To make sure that the process is
finished, enter ‘ps’ to list the active processes : typically, the processes initiated by ABAQUS are ‘jobname.com’ and
‘standard.x’. If none of these processes appear in the list of active processes, the run must be over.
To view the results, look at the ‘truss.dat’ file. If there were run time errors, they will be reported in this file. Take a
few minutes reviewing the content of this file.

3. Post-Processing with ABAQUS/Post

In this section, we describe how to perform a simple post-processing using ABAQUS/Post, which is run interactively
on an X-Window terminal by entering
abaqus post restart=truss (since the results needed for ABAQUS/Post are in the ‘truss.res’ file)

It is not the objective of this session to introduce the extended capabilities of the ABAQUS/Post post-processor. We
will limit ourselves to the basic commands required to visualize the mesh (deformed and undeformed) and the stress
and strain values in the various elements.

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First a list of some basic commands which are useful in ABAQUS/Post (Note: ABAQUS/Post is case-insensitive)

SET, N NUMBERS=ON (OFF) turns on (off) the node numbers
SET, EL NUMBERS=ON (OFF) turns on (off) the element numbers
SET, N SIZE=0.003 Plots dots at the node locations
SET, BC DISPLAY=ON (OFF) turns on (off) the display of applied b.c.
SET, LOAD DISPLAY=ON (OFF) turns on (off) the display of the applied loads

To draw the undeformed mesh, simply type:
DRAW

To draw the deformed mesh, type:
DRAW, DISPLACED
You should get something similar to Figure 2. Note that the displacements are greatly amplified (the magnification
factor is given by the legend at the bottom of the screen).

To draw the stresses (strains) type:
CONTOUR, VARIABLE=S11 (E11)

The three mouse buttons (if properly initialized) can be used to
-rotate the mesh (left button)
-translate the mesh (center button)
-zoom (right button)
You can also zoom in on a chosen are by typing:
ZOOM, CURSOR
Then pick a window with the mouse. Then redraw your previous plot (you can use the arrow keys to move up and
down the stack of previous commands). To restore the full original window type :
ZOOM, RESET

Any of the ABAQUS/Post commands can be abbreviated as long as they are still not ambiguous. Excellent help is
available by typing ‘?’ at any time. You can also obtain the description of a particular command (say CONTOUR)
by entering:
HELP, CONTOUR

To quit ABAQUS/Post enter:
END

How to obtain a hard copy of a plot?

When you want to obtain a hardcopy of a plot that you have on the screen, type:
SET, HARD COPY
to turn on the hard copy output. All output will be stored in a file called ‘jobname.mpl’. Redraw the plot you want
a hard copy of . To turn off the hard copy output, enter once again:
SET, HARD COPY

To create a postscript file from the ‘jobname.mpl’ file type:
abaqus plot job=truss device=cps
This will generate a postscript file called ‘jobname.ps’. A few questions will be asked on the screen. One can change
the default answers or just hit enter until it stops asking questions.

After ABAQUS/Plot is completed, a postscript file will be created and can be printed (using the ‘lpr’ or the ‘lp’
command depending on the machine you are working on).

4. EXCERCISE

Now that you have performed an analysis on a 2D truss, it is time to move on to a 3D truss structure. To save time,
an incomplete input file named ‘truss3d.inp’ is provided. All that is necessary is to insert the appropriate information
and run the analysis. As before, the structure is a simple fuselage structure but now it is expanded to 3D (Figure 3).
Listed below are tables showing the required boundary conditions and loads at the specified nodes. For the material
properties use steel (E=30.0*106).

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Node # Fixed Displacements
1 u,v,w
13 u,v,w
7 u,v,w
18 u,v,w

Node # Direction of Load
Applied load
11 w -100
12 w -200
22 w -100
12 u 75
6 u -75

** List of input data cards for a 3D truss
*HEADING
3D TRUSS PROBLEM
** First introduce the nodal positions
*NODE, NSET=NODES1
1,12.0,0.0,0.0
2,12.0,25.0,0.0
3,9.0,50.0,2.5
4,6.0,75.0,5.0
5,3.0,100.0,7.5
6,0.0,125.0,10.0
7,12.0,0.0,20.0
8,12.0,25.0,20.0
9,9.0,50.0,20.0
10,6.0,75.0,20.0
11,3.0,100.0,20.0
12,0.0,125.0,20.0
13,-12.0,0.0,0.0
14,-12.0,25.0,0.0
15,-9.0,50.0,2.5
16,-6.0,75.0,5.0
17,-3.0,100.0,7.5
18,-12.0,0.0,20.0
19,-12.0,25.0,20.0
20,-9.0,50.0,20.0
21,-6.0,75.0,20.0
22,-3.0,100.0,20.0
** Then introduce the connectivity table
*ELEMENT, TYPE=T3D2, ELSET=TRUSS3D
1,1,2
2,2,3
3,3,4
4,4,5
5,5,6
6,1,7
7,1,8
8,2,8
9,2,9
10,3,9
11,3,10
12,4,10
13,4,11
14,5,11
15,5,12
16,6,12
17,7,8
18,8,9

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19,9,10
20,10,11
21,11,12
22,13,14
23,14,15
24,15,16
25,16,17
26,17,6
27,13,18
28,13,19
29,14,19
30,14,20
31,15,20
32,15,21
33,16,21
34,16,22
35,17,22
36,17,12
37,18,19
38,19,20
39,20,21
40,21,22
41,22,12
42,1,13
43,1,14
44,2,14
45,2,15
46,3,15
47,3,16
48,4,16
49,4,17
50,5,17
51,7,18
52,7,19
53,8,19
54,8,20
55,9,20
56,9,21
57,10,21
58,10,22
59,11,22
60,1,18
61,2,19
62,3,20
63,4,21
64,5,22
** You will be required to complete the following sections of the input file before submitting for analysis.
**
** Next enter the material description
**
** Next, we impose the boundary conditions (ie: fixed displacements)
**
** Type of analysis and load description
**
** Finally specify the content of the output files

The final deformed shape should look like that presented in Figure 4.

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