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HyperWorks Tip/Trick 652


Application version:
OptiStruct 7.0 or higher

Computer hardware:
All supported

Computer operating systems:

All supported

Categories: Subcategories
Analysis: Setup and Theory

Nonlinear (iterative) solutions using gap elements

Topic details:
Beginning with OptiStruct 7.0, a non-linear solution sequence is available for modeling contact problems.
Any model with non-linear CGAP (gap) elements uses the non-linear solution sequence. The element can
be used for both static analysis and optimization; however, the assumptions of small displacement and
small strain still apply.

Figure 1: Model with gap elements

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Gap elements (CGAP) are defined node-to-node and require a property card and an orientation vector to
be assigned to them. Gap element behavior is defined through the PGAP property card. Before creating a
gap element, it is recommended that you create the PGAP property card. You can assign the property to
the gap elements when you create them through the gaps panel (or other panels) in HyperMesh. Most of
the panels that create 1-D elements (for example linear 1-D) can also be used to create gap elements by
changing element configurations.
On the PGAP card, the initial gap opening is defined by U0. The gap element offers very low stiffness
until the gap is closed. Friction can also be specified, and gets activated once the gap is closed. For more
details on U0 and PGAP, please see the OptiStruct online help for PGAP. (You can go to the Index tab
of the online help and type in PGAP).

Orientation vector for the gap element

Similar to BAR, BEAM, and other 1-D elements, an element coordinate system has to be defined for
CGAP elements. Gap element coordinate systems can be established by defining either a coordinate
system or an orientation vector. For more details, please consult the online help for CGAP.

Note: Gap elements can also be created with the no vector option (in HyperMesh) in which no
orientation is specified for the gap element. In such a case, the line joining the first node and the
second node will be taken as the element X-axis. Again, consult the online help for details.

Activating nonlinear solution (NLPARM)

OptiStruct uses its linear solution sequence by default even if gap elements are present. A non-linear
solution is activated for a subcase by including the NLPARM parameter. If NLPARM is not present in the
subcase definition, the gap element has linear behavior. In this situation, the gap status is determined
once at the beginning of the solution, and does not change as the solution progresses.
In HyperMesh, the NLPARM parameter can be defined by creating a load collector with card image
“NLPARM.” The NINC parameter on this card represents the number of equal subdivisions that the total
load in a given subcase will be divided into. If NINC is blank, the entire load for a given subcase is applied
at once. In most cases, this is the only parameter that needs to be defined. This NLPARM load collector
needs to be included for the subcase along with static loads and SPCs. Please refer to the Nonlinear
Gap Analysis section of the online help for details (go to the Index tab of the online help and type in

Altair HyperWorks Technical Support Group (MHS)

Date this entry was last reviewed:

April 2005

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