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INTRODUCTION TO FINITE

ELEMENT METHOD

Professor Dr. Mongi Ben Ouezdou

M. Ben Ouezdou, University of Nizwa, 2011 1

Basic Concept

• Building a complicated object with simple


blocks,
or

• dividing a complicated object into small


and manageable pieces.

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Basic Concept

• The structure is considered as an


assemblage of a finite number of individual
structural components called “elements”.

• These elements can be put together in a


number of ways,
represent complex geometry.

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Basic Concept
FEM based on “Principle of discretization”
=
procedure in which a complex problem of
large extent is divided (discretized) into
smaller equivalent units.

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Application
• Application of this idea can be found everywhere in
everyday life and in engineering.
• Examples:

Lego (kid’s play) aircraft


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Examples

beam bridge

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Application to buildings

Steel frames

Concrete building
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Why Finite Element Method?


• Design analysis: hand calculations and
experiments are sometimes difficult to
conduct Computer simulation.
• FEM can model complex geometry,
variable cross sections, various geometries,
different properties, …
• FEM can be closely integrated with CAD
applications.

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Advantages of the FEM

1- Incorporate diff properties of each element.


2- No restriction for the shape of the medium;
hence arbitrary and irregular geometries
cause no difficulty.
3- Accommodation of any type of BC.
4- Handle non-linearities, time-dependant Pb.
5- Valid for any engineering Pb.

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Some History of the FEM


• 1943: Courant (Variational Methods);
• 1956: Turner, Clough, Martin and Trop (Stiffness);
• 1960: Clough (“Finite Element”, plane problems);
• 1970s: Applications on mainframe computers;
• 1980s: Micocomputers, pre- and postprocessors;
• 1990s: Analysis of large structural systems.

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Some Terminology
• FE: “small” elements (1D, 2D, 3D) obtained by
subdividing the given domain to be analyzed.
• Nodes or nodal points: intersections of the sides
of the elements.
• Nodal lines and nodal planes: interfaces
between elements.
• Linear elements: FE with straight sides.
• Higher order elements: FE with curved sides.
• Primary unknowns: nodal displacements
• Secondary unknowns: strains, stresses,
moments, shear forces, etc.

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Basic procedure
• Step 1: Discretise the continuum: subdivide into elements: generate a mesh;
• Step 2: Select element displacement functions;
• Step 3: Calculate element properties: stiffness matrix [k].
• Step 4: obtain element load vector [F];
• Step 5: Assemble element properties (element stiffnesses global stiffness,
load vector).
• Step 6: Incorporate B.C. (set the element to the ground so disp = 0 or finite):
the stiffness matrix developed in step 5 will be modified to realize the
condition that disp of some coordinates = 0 or finite.
[F] = [K] {u} and {u}=[K]-1{F}. [K]: global stiffness matrix, [F]: vector of known forces
and {u}: displacements.
• Step 7: Determine displacements, strains and stresses
• Step 8: Check and iterate to eliminate precision errors if present.

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Discretization
=
Process of separating the length, area or volume
into discrete (separate) parts or elements.
structure

1-D elements 2-D elements 3-D elements Axisymmetric


elements

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1-D elements
• Used for beams or frames

Node 1 Node 2 3
1 2

Basic element H-element


1

Curved element
2

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2-D elements
Used ,for plane-wall, diaphragm, slab, shell, etc.
1- Triangular elements

3 3
3
5
6
6 5

1 2 1 1 2
4 2
4
3 nodes 6 nodes 6- nodes curved triangle

- Triangular elements are the most used ones


- Curved elements for 2-D domain with curved boundaries

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2-D elements
2- Quadrilateral elements

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3-D elements
Used for the analysis of solid bodies (stresses under
foundation, contact stress under point loads, etc).

Tetrahedron Hexahedron Curved 3D element

Problem: Complex visualization and stiffness matrices size can be enormous.

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Axisymmetric elements
Used in problems that are axisymmetric in nature.

Can achieve huge simplification in axisymmetric problems.

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Guidelines for discretization
• Discretization is a major decision making step in FEM.
• Simple structures: no problems.
• Most real structures: difficulties in
– processing of subdividing the structure;
– Numbering the nodes;
– Assigning coordinates to each node;
– Relating the structure coordinate numbers to elements numbers and
their coordinate number.
• In most FEM Software: discretization is handled automatically
by the “preprocessing” module of the software.

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Examples of discretization

5
1 2 3 4 5 3 4
1 2

1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Point loads: Stepped beam:


5 nodes and 4 elements 5 nodes and 4 elements

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Examples of discretization
Material 1

Nodal line

Change in loading

Material 2

Change in material

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Size of elements when discretize

• In recent past, the number of elements was limited due to


capabilities of both hardware and software. But nowadays a
sufficient fine discretization of a whole structure can easily be
produced very Quickly by graphical preprocessors.
• Most new FE softwares provide automatic mesh generation;
• But this tool should not be used in an uncaring manner:
engineering knowledge is still required.
– An inadequate modeling of apparently irrelevant details (e.g. small
cantilever slab or opening in a slab) can lead to faulty result and
unsafe design.
– A sufficiently FE mesh should be used in regions of high deformation
pr stress gradients.

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FE Equation

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Element stiffness matrix of a prismatic bar:


Direct method
ƒ1, u1 A,E ƒ2, u2
x
Node 1 Node 2

[F] = [k] [u]

Load vector stiffness displacement

ƒ1  EA  1  1  u1 
ƒ     1 1  u 
 1    2
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Element stiffness matrix of a prismatic bar:
Formal approach
ƒ1, u1 A,E ƒ2, u2
x
Node 1 Node 2

Use conservation of energy: strain energy = work done by nodal forces

[F] = [k] [u]

 B   1 1 
where

k T
E B dV : element stiffness matrix, with B  
  
1  1
k  EA 
V

  1 1 
Same result !

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Global stiffness matrix for a prismatic bar


E, 2A E, A
Example:
P x
1 2 3
1 2
Find stresses in the 2 bars
ℓ ℓ

Solution: Use two 1-D bar elements


u1 u2 u2 u3
1  1 EA  1  1
 1  2EA  k2 
  1 1    1 1 
Element 1: k Element 2:

u1 u2 u3
 2 2 0 
EA 
Global stiffness matrix K  
  2 3  1

 0  1 1 

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Global FE equation
 F1   2  2 0  u1 
  EA   
F2     2 3  1 u2 
F    0  1 1  u 
 3    3
Use B.C. and Loads condition: u1 = u3 = 0. and F2 = P.

 F1   2 2 0  0 
  EA   
P    2 3  1 u2 
F    0  1 1   0 
 3   
P
P EA
3 u2  u2 
3 EA

u u E  P   P
 1  E 1  E 2 1    0  
   3 EA  3A
u3  u 2 E  P  P
2  E 2  E   0    
   3 EA  3A
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v02
Bar element in 2-D x, u02

in global coordinates E, A
2


y, v01 Y, v
1 α
x, u
Element stiffness matrix in u0 1

global coordinates

u1 v1 u2 v2
c 2
cs  c  cs  u1
2
c = cos α
 
s 2  cs  s 2  v1
k    2
EA  cs
s= sin α
  c  cs c 2 cs  u2
 
  cs  s s 2  v2
2
cs
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Element stiffness matrix of a beam:
Direct method
F1, v1 F2, v2

E, I 2
1
x
M1, θ1 M2, θ2
Element stiffness equation:

v1 1 v2 2
 F1   12 6  12 6   v1 
M   6 4 2  6 2 2   
 1   EI    1
 F2   3  12  6 12  6  v2 
     
M 2   6 2  6 4   2 

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Element stiffness matrix of a beam:


Formal approach
Strain energy stored in, the beam element

Stiffness matrix for the simple beam element: k



k   BT EI B dx
0
with the strain-displacement matrix B:
 6 12 x 4 6 x 6 12 x 2 6x 
B   2  3   2  3   2
    
2
    
 12 6  12 6 
 6 4 2  6 2 2 
EI
obtain the same result k 3  
  12  6 12  6 
 
 6 2  6 4 
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Local Stiffness matrix of a general 2-D beam element:
u1 v1 1 u2 v2 2
 EA EA 
  0 0  0 0 

 12 EI 6 EI 12 EI 6 EI 
 0 0  
 3 2 3 2 
 0 6 EI 4 EI
0
6 EI
 2
2 EI 
 2    
k  
EA EA
 0 0 0 0 
   
 0 
12 EI

6 EI
0
12 EI 6 EI 
 2
 3 2 3  
 6 EI 2 EI 6 EI 4 EI 
 0 0  2 
 2    
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Element Stiffness matrix of a general 2-D beam


element in a global coordinate system:
v02
y, v x0, u02

2
E, A M2, θ2


y0, v01
α
1
u01 M1, θ1

x, u

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u1 v1 1 u2 v2 2
 EA 2 12 EI 2 EA 12 EI 6 EI  EA 2  12 EI 2  EA 12 EI 6 EI 
  c  3 s 
cs  3 cs
 3
s

c 3 s
 
cs  3 cs
 2 
s
 EA 12 EI EA 2 12 EI 2 6 EI  EA 12 EI  EA 2  12 EI 6EI 
 cs  3 cs s  3 c c cs  3 cs s  3 cs c
     2     2 
 6 EI 6 EI 4 EI  6 EI EA 2  6 EI 2 EI 
 s c s c 2 s
k   2
 2
 2    
 EA 2  12 EI 2  EA 12 EI  6 EI EA 2  6 EI 2 EA 12 EI  6 EI 
 c 3 s cs  3 cs s c 2 s cs  3 cs s
     2     2 
  EA cs  12 EI cs  EA s 2   12 EI c 2  6 EI EA  12 EI
c cs  3 cs
EA 2 12 EI 2
s  3 c
 6 EI 
c
  3  3 2     2 
 6 EI 6 EI 2 EI  6 EI  6 EI 4 EI 
 s c s c 
  2
2  2 2  

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Computation of nodal displacements


This step needs the use of the computer (mainly if stiffness matrix exceeds 5 x 5)
because it needs to invert the matrix.

{F} = [k] {u} {u} = [k]-1 {F}

Solution: enforcing 0 displacement BC and solve by:


- Unit diagonal method;
- Large diagonal method;
- Row column delete method.

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Calculation of primary unknowns
Features of the assembled stiffness matrix
1) The stiffness matrix has its non-zeros terms along its
main diagonal (terms distant from the diagonal are 0).
2) Stiffness matrices are symmetric: advantage in storing
the matrices.
Half band width Values to be stored

5 3 4
-Reduction of the 5 0 6 2
3 4 0 0
required storage memory 3 6 7 0
2 0  7
-Reduction of the  4 3 5
solution time 4 7 4 0
3 5 k  
k   9 6 4
0 2 3 9
4 6
7 3 0
0 0 5 6 7 3  
  5 0 0
0 0 0 4 3 5
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Calculation of primary unknowns


Solution of equations {u} = [k]-1 {F}

direct scheme: iterative scheme:


Linear problems Non Linear problems
(Gaussian elimination) (Jacobi, Gauss Seidal)

The most known methods of solutions are:


- Cholesky’s square root methods;
- Halfband Gauss elimination solution technique;
- Skyline technqiue
- Frontal solution technique.

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Calculation of secondary unknowns
nodal displacement {u}

strain {ε}

stresses {σ} : (Hooke’s law)


Standard software give the output in a tabular form and on graphical form.

Results include:
- Refined colored graphics;
- Direct stresses σx, σy;
-Shear stresses xy; maximum shear, etc.

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Summary:

Computer implementations
• Preprocessing (build FE model, loads and
constraints);
• FE Analysis solver (assemble and solve the
system of equations);
• Postprocessing (sort and display the results).

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Conclusions:
Procedures of FEM in Structural Analysis
1) Divide structure into elements with nodes;
2) Describe the behavior of the physical quantities on each
element;
3) Assemble (connect) the elements at the nodes to form an
approximate system of equations for the whole structure;
4) Solve the system of equations involving unknown quantities
at the nodes (e.g., displacements);
5) Calculate desired quantities (e.g., strains and stresses) at
the selected elements.
N.B.: be aware of the limitations of the FEM: such as loads
application is imposed (no moving loads), and do not
misuse the FEM (it is a numerical tool).
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References
1- Yijun Liu, “Introduction to Finite Element Method”,
Lecture notes, University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA,
1998.

2- R. Vaidyanathan, P. Perumal, “Comprehensive


Structural Analysis”, 2nd ed., Laxmi Publication ed.,
New Delhi, 2008.

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