Convergence Studies

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Convergence Studies

© All Rights Reserved

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Nivrutti Garud,

Engineer,

Satyam Engineering Services Ltd.

Secunderabad.

E-mail: nivrutti_garud@satyam.com

commonly used in the mechanical industry. The accuracy of the analysis results

depends on the number of elements used for the FE analysis. The FE solution

approaches to analytical (Exact) solution when number of element (Nodes)

increases in the model. The accuracy of the finite element analysis solution for a

given problem and mesh density can be measured in terms of descretization

error. In this paper different methods to find out the mesh descretization error are

discussed. The mesh convergence is studied for different element types and by

varying the mesh density. ANSYS commercially available analysis package was

used for the analysis.

analysis and other results are derived from the displacements. Displacement

results are less sensitive to the number of elements or nodes in the model, but

stress results vary much with increasing mesh density till the convergence is

achieved. So it is very important to validate the stress results before concluding

the analysis.

A finite element analysis requires the idealization of an actual physical problem in

to a mathematical model and then the finite element solution of that model. The

solution should converge (when the number of elements increased in the model)

to the analytical (Exact) solution of the differential equations that govern the

response of the mathematical model [1]. Finite element solution approaches to

analytical (Exact) solution when number of elements (Nodes) increases in the

model.

In linear elastic analysis there is a unique exact solution to the mathematical

model (i.e. for given stress analysis problem). It is also important to note that

convergence is directly related to the load and constraints applied to specific run.

Hence the mesh which is converged for particular loading and constraints may

not converge to different loads and constraints.

Elements must be complete and the element and mesh must be compatible to

insure the convergence for a given finite element mesh. The requirement of

completeness of an element means that the displacement functions of the

element must be able to represent the rigid body displacements and the constant

strain rates [1].

The requirement of compatibility means that the displacements within the

element and across the element boundaries must be continuous. Physically

comparability insures that no gaps occur between elements when the

assemblage is loaded [1].

Error Estimation:

For mesh convergence to the exact results the elements must be complete and

compatible. Using compatible elements mean that in the finite element problems

the displacements and their derivatives are continuous across element

boundaries. And the elemental stresses are calculated using derivatives of the

displacements and must be continuous across the element boundaries. But the

stresses obtained at an element edge (or face), when calculated in adjacent

elements may differ substantially if a course finite element mesh is used [1]. This

stress difference across element boundary decrease as the finite element mesh

is refined.

The stress jumps or stress difference across the element boundaries of the body

are of course a consequence of the fact that stress equilibrium is not accurately

satisfied unless a very fine mesh is used. Thus this stress jumps or stress

gradient across element boundaries can be used as the measure of

descretization error for a given mesh [1,2,3].

Methods of Error estimation:

1) Using Elemental Stresses:

The discontinuity of stress across the element boundaries can be used for the

error estimation. In order to establish a measure of stress difference across the

elements it can be compared with the absolute maximum stress value that

occurs anywhere in the model [3].

The error can be estimated using following formula [2].

Error = ((Si(max)-SJ(min))/Smodelmax)*100

Where

Si(max) -is maximum elemental stress at element I

S(min) -is minimum elemental stress at element j (Adjacent element to element i)

Smodelmax -is maximum elemental stress in the model.

Following example gives the error estimation for given four elements. Element i is

the element for which the stress is maximum and element j is element for which

stress is minimum.

Error = ((Si-Sj)/Si)*100

Element i

Element j

Figure 1: Element stress plot.

Similarly nodal stress can be used to find out the error in mesh convergence.

Error = ((Siu-Sia)/Smodelmax)*100

Siu -is maximum unaveraged stress (Elemental stress) at node i.

Sia -is average nodal stress at node i.

Smodelmax -is maximum averaged stress in the model.

Analysis and results:

General plane stress problem (Plate with hole) was considered for this study.

The finite element model was modeled using quarter symmetry. Plane stress four

noded element (Plane 42), ten noded tetrahedron element (Solid 92) and eight

noded hexahedral element (Solid 45) were used to mesh the model and separate

error estimation study was carried out. The element density was increased

uniformly throughout the volume to study the effect of descretization. ANSYS

V5.6.2 is used as pre and post processor. Steel material properties, Youngs

Modulus 2.1e5 MPa and Poisons ratio 0.3 was used in the analysis.

plate dimensions (in mm) are shown in Figure 2 below. Thickness of plate is

taken as 10mm. Symmetric boundary conditions were applied at cut boundaries

and force of 10000N was applied over the end as shown in the Figure 2.

80

40

20

10000N on

this face.

Observation 1:

The averaged nodal stress (using PLNSOL command in ANSYS) and

unaveraged nodal stress (using PLESOL command in ANSYS) contours are

given in Figure 3 and Figure 4 respectively. It can be seen that the maximum

averaged nodal stress (using PLNSOL command) and maximum unaveraged

stress (using PLESOL command) are not at the same node location. These

stress values are at different node locations and hence can not be used directly

for error estimation. In the present work the averaged and unaveraged stress at

the same node location was considered for the error estimation.

Observation 2:

If the maximum stress occurs at a corner node, and this node belongs to only

one element, then the averaged and unaveraged stress at that node will remain

same. In this case the error will be zero percent even if the mesh is course mesh.

Following Figure 5 and Figure 6 gives the stress plots for problem where

maximum stress occurs at the corner node belonging to one element.

Also the averaging is generally done considering only the selected elements

while plotting the stress contour. In this case actual averaged stress considering

all the elements attached to that node may vary with the averaged stress when

only few elements attached to that node are selected.

Following tables gives the error in the region of maximum stress (at the element

or node where the stress is maximum in the model). The error calculated using

the two methods is compared with the strain energy error in the model,

calculated using ANSYS.

Result Table 1. Element type: PLANE 42

strain

Error

No.

of Nodal

Error

nodes

solution: (Elemental (Nodal

energy

stress

Stress stress

error

method)

(MPa) method)

49

93.65

49.78

1.09 14.476

83

101.29

41.93

1.19 13.358

101

104.89

32.78

0.01 11.691

146

106.95

27.51

0.09

8.88

251

108.65

20.80

0.02

8.94

491

109.21

15.37

0.00

6.03

1172

109.53

10.08

0.00

3.96

1342

108.92

7.65

0.00

3.51

Result Table 2. Element type: SOLID 45

Strain

Error

No.

of Nodal

Error

energy

nodes solution: (Elemental (Nodal

error

stress

Stress stress

method)

method)

(MPa)

196

107.16

40.48

0.00

10.43

210

104.44

38.50

2.33

10.43

456

111.28

31.19

1.33

11.58

950

112.24

29.05

0.04

7.49

3234

112.88

17.32

0.00

5.16

4799

113.18

17.25

0.00

4.86

Result Table 3. Element type: SOLID 92

Error

No.

of Nodal

Error

nodes solution: (Elemental (Nodal

stress

Stress stress

method)

method)

(MPa)

3198

111.28

42.09

6.48

3689

110.84

31.68

4.13

4074

111.74

28.82

2.24

4151

112.04

18.65

0.97

9521

112.34

17.76

0.73

10527 112.24

17.76

0.43

Strain

energy

error

6.09

5.09

2.00

1.46

0.77

0.56

From Result table 2, it can be seen that the error is zero calculated by nodal

stress method for 196 nodes in the model (column 1). It is because of the stress

is maximum at the node belonging one element (not shared by two or more

elements; see observation 2).

Conclusions:

1. Error using elemental stress gradient is more accurate method as the element

results are absolute results (No averaging is done). Also comparing this method

with nodal stress method this method is error free method and gives fairly good

error estimation. This method is also suggested in literature (Books) very

commonly.

2. Error using nodal stress has some disadvantages and gives zero error when

the node is not shared by two or more elements, hence care must be taken

before concluding the error.

3. This study does not throw any focus on accepted range of error, but gives fair

idea about error estimation. Study can be further extended to get the range of

accepted error values.

4. The methods discussed in the paper gives fair idea about importance of mesh

convergence and methods of error estimation. This will help analyst to

understand and analyze the results of his solution.

REFRENCES:

1. Finite element procedures

Klaus-jurgen Bathe

Prentice-Hall of India printed limited,

New Delhi-110001

1997

2. Building better products with finite element analysis

Vince Adams

3. NAFEMS

A finite Element Primer

4. ANSYS 6 Documentation, (Online help).

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