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Compulem B Simcms,

Vol. 8. pp. 175-183. Pcrgmnon Pn:s

1978. Printed in Great Btitain



RICHARDH. MACNEAL The MacNeal-Schwendler Corporation, Los Angeles, CA 90041,U.S.A. (Received 23 September 1976) Abstract--The paper describes a new four-noded quadrilateral shell element, called QUAJI4, which is based on isoparametric principles with modifications which relax excessive constraints. The modifications include reduced order integration for shear terms, enforcement of curvature compatibility, and the augmentation of transverse shear flexibilityto accountfor a deficiency in the bending strain energy. Practical features are discussed, including conversion to a nonplanar shape, coupling between bending and stretching, mass properties, and geometric stilfness. Experimental results are described which illustrate the accuracy and economy claimed for the element.


The subject of this paper is a simple quadrilateral shell

element called QUAD4 which has recently been released for public use in a proprietary version of NASTRAN.t It has been designed to combine the properties of several older NASTRAN elements[l] into a single element, to augment their capabilities, and at the same time to reduce the cost of analysis. The objective was to produce an element which, while simple in formulation, would be reasonably accurate and would support a wide variety of applications. Although a discussion of the approach used in the formulation is undoubtedly of greater general interest, the following list of the major features in the released version of the QUAD4 element is mentioned for completeness and relevance to certain aspects of the formulation. * General warped quadrilateral shape. - Elastic coupling between bending and stretching. - Transverse shear flexibility. - Anisotropic material properties. - Variable thickness. * Geometric stiffness (e.g. for elastic stability analysis). - Non-uniform temperature distribution (for thermal stress analysis). - Both consistent and lumped mass properties. An important future development is the introduction of nonlinear material properties (plasticity). This feature, and also the elastic coupling between bending and stretching, both require that membrane strains and bending strains be formulated in a compatible manner. This is not the case with the older NASTRAN elements whose membrane and bending properties were developed independently using unrelated approaches. An important general feature of NASTRAN which limits the choice of element formulation is that, with rare exceptions, the degrees of freedom consist of the three components of translation and the three components of rotation at discrete points. This feature excludes, for all practical purposes, elements which employ strains,
tMSC/NASTRAN, developed by The MacNeal-Schwendler corporation. tSee Ref. [4] for an account of the early development of shape functions. &ntdard means, in the present context, conforming displacement elements without reduced order integration or other devices to improve accuracy.

stresses, curvatures and higher order derivatives as degrees of freedom, but it enhances the attractiveness of isoparametric displacement elements [2] which do not, in general, use such quantities as degrees of freedom. Other features of isoparametric elements which are attractive for the achievement of the objectives set for the new QUAD4 element are a consistent formulation of membrane and bending strains, particularly for thick shell elements[3], and low cost, both in development and in application, achieved by the use of shape functi0ns.t Unfortunately, standard) isoparametric thick shell elements are not noted for high accuracy, except when the number of edge nodal points is increased to a large value. The simplest member of the quadrilateral family, namely an element with four nodes, which would otherwise be most suitable for our purposes, does not even appear in the literature on isoparametric elements. The reason for the omission is that the accuracy of the element is extremely poor; it is, in fact, nonconvergent unless the thickness is allowed to exceed the other dimensions of the element. The attractions of the four-noded thick-shell isoparametric element were sufficient, however, to spur an investigation of means to improve its accuracy. It was known, from recent related work on simple membrane and solid elements[5], that reduced order integration of transverse shear strain, which had heretofore been applied only to higher order elements [6], could alleviate the worst features of the element and raise its competence to the constant strain level. Some very early work on beam elements [7] provided clues for raising the competence to the linear strain level. Further discoveries were soon made, as will be described, leading to a four-noded element with nearly complete linear strain competence.

The application of isoparametric principles to the derivation of a beam element is instructive because it exposes the deficiencies of the standard approach and reveals the necessary corrections. It suggests, furthermore, a method for improving the more important twodimensional case. Consider the prismatic beam segment shown in Fig. 1 together with an assumed cubic displacement function w=w,tw,~tw,~2tw3.$3tyJ (1)

where -yr is a constant transverse shear strain. The




The second term is negligible only if the length of the segment is small compared to its depth, which is an intolerable requirement for practical analysis. The term x. 0, woe & can, however, be removed by the simple expedient of tlk ignoring the term w& in the equation for y,. This is equivalent, in the jargon of finite element analysis, to Fig. 1. Beam element. employing reduced order integration (in this case a single Gauss point located at .$= 0) in the computation of curvature x, the transverse shear strain y and the strain energy E,as computed by exact analysis, will be com- the strain energy due to transverse shear. When applied pared with the same quantities computed for a beam to the derivation of a quadrilateral membrane element, element constructed by a standard isoparametric for- this expedient produces a good non-conforming element [5] which is similar to one derived independently mulation. by Turner ef af.[8], Pian[9] and Wilson et al. [lo] at The results from exact analysis are earlier dates. Turning next to the cubic term (w,), it is seen that the x. =$w2+3nC) isoparametric formulation contains a wj term in yi, whereas the exact result contains a wj term in xe. Thus, Ye y* = it is possible that the deficiency in bending energy (the (2) xL2 term) can be compensated by an increase in the transverse shear energy. For the special case when yI = Ee=;l (EIx:tGAy,z) df 1 0, the energies due to w3 are i (a) -_C
(b) 4

In the isoparametric formulation, the distributions of both the lateral displacement, w, and the rotation of the normal, 0 = awlax - 7 are defined by the shape functions N,=(l-g)/2; which have derivatives N: = aN,Jag = -l/2; N;, = aNJag = l/2. (4) Nb=(1tg)/2 (3)

E,(w) = I


w3* 1


E,(w,)= y

which will be the same if GA is selected equal to 12E1/12. For the case when /r# 0, static equilibrium can be used to produce the following exact relationship

The values of the displacements and rotations provided by eqn (1) at the two ends of the beam segment are: w.=w,-w,tw*-wg; e, =;(w,-2w,t3w3: w~=w~tw,tw~tw~tyJ e, +w,+2w,t3w3


43E1 wgt (higher order terms). (10) GAi%=s

Ignoring the higher order terms and replacing GA by

GA* ineqn (7), the energies due to Weare Ee(ws) =

(11) Ei(w3 = which will be the same if

1 (5) The resulting expressions for curvature and transverse shear strain are X~=~=~(B.N:+B~N;)=~WJ~Z

n=~-e=f(~~N:+wdlT;)-B,N,-BbNb = t -$w,t w*T) - (6)


Numerical integration using two Gauss points produces exact results, so that the strain energy of the isoparametric beam element may be expressed as Ei=;r_

(EIx,ztGAy:) d.$


Considering only the quadratic term (wz) the ratio of the strain energy for the isoparametric element to the exact strain energy is (8)

The term 1*/12EI will be called the residual bending flexibility. The result expressed by eqn (12) was used in the early 1950s in connection with the development of an electrical analogy for beams[7]. Internal forces are easily evaluated because the product GA*yiis equal to the correct transverse shear force for the beam segment and the product EIx, equal to the correct bending moment is at the center of the beam segment. To summarize, a two-node beam element which is accurate to third order in lateral displacement can be obtained from the isoparametric formulation by computing the transverse shear strain at the center of the element and by altering the elastic coefficient for transverse shear to include a term called the residual bending flexibility. Neither of these modifications affects the rigid body properties of the element, since they only modify the elastic coefficients and the locations where strains

A simple quadrilateralshell element are computed, but not the manner in which strains are computed. The extension to a two-dimensional rectangular element is self-evident for the case of bending in a direction parallel to a side of the element.


The terms in the first two rows represent rigid body motions and constant transverse shear strains, the terms in the third row represent constant curvatures and the terms in the fourth row represent curvatures that vary linearly with 6 and n. The only curvature term that is ELASlWfJTWNEBOFAPLANEQUADRIL.ATF.RAL&LEMENT correctly treated by standard isoparametric theory is w, 1. The properties of a plane quadrilateral element seIt follows directly from the discussion of the beam parate into membrane properties associated with inplane element that the terms We and woZ require reduced order integration of the energy due to transverse shear and that displacements (u, u), and bending properties associated with out-of-plane displacements and rotations (w, a, /?). the terms wW and wo3 can be corrected by the introduction of residual bending flexibility. It might be The element that will be described has twenty independent external degrees of freedom consisting of (u, u, w, a, B) at imagined, by analogy with the membrane case, that the each of its four corners. The internal degrees of freedom treatment of terms w21 and wi2 can be improved by at are the strains in the middle surface {em}= la, e,., 7JT, the evaluating the twist, xXY, the center of the element. curvatures k} = lxx,xr, xX,lT, and the transverse shear This surmise is incorrect, as will now be shown. strains (7) = [rX, yYIT. Since it is proposed to treat yXY According to isoparametric theory, as applied to a differently than G and eY, to treat xXY and differently than xX four-noded quadrilateral element, the rotations of the normals, a = aw/%x- yX and /3 = aw/ay - 7Y are bilinear and x,., it is necessary to define an element coordinate system with axes approximately parallel to the edges of the functions of 5 and 9, i.e. element. For the non-rectangular case, the method of selecting axes shown in Fig. 2 is recommended. The only modification to standard isoparametric theory (13) for membrane action is that the shear strain, 7._, is computed at the center of the element (5 = n = 0). This value is used to evaluate stresses and strain energy at a For the special case of a rectangular element with side 2 x 2 array of Gauss points, together with strains, E, and lengths Ax and Ay, the corresponding curvatures are eY, computed directly at these points. The justification for the modification follows directly from the example of the beam element. Whereas the standard isoparametric formulation requires the edges to remain straight when the corners are displaced, the modified formulation permits them to be curved; for example, a pure inplane bending couple produces quadratic curvature of two opposing sides and no shear strain. The selection of one formulation or the other is a matter of practical application since special circumstances can be described where one or the other is correct. It turns out that the It will be noted that the linear terms are not independent modified formulation is better in most practical exam- and that the conditions for dependence can be stated in the form ples. For bending action, a number of modifications are ax ry=x ax required to overcome the deficiencies of standard isoax ay parametric theory. Let the lateral displacement be ex(19 pressed as a double power series in the parameters 5, n: w = w&l w*o[ t wrJ,qt w2& t w&q t * * * (12) t and arrange the coefficients in a pyramid, as shown below :
WOO WlO W20 w30 W21 WI1 WI2 WOl WOZ WI3

ax ax x)r=Y ay axI*

These conditions are similar to the curvature compatibility conditions for a plate with zero transverse shear strains !?52!$ (16)

!$rZ2?$ 1. Although we do not assume the transverse shear strains to be zero in the final form of the element, it is nevertheless true that the conditions of eqn (16) are, in most cases, a much better approximation to the true state of strain than the conditions of eqn (15). The conditions of eqn (16) are satisfied if the twist used to compute strain energy is taken to be j:, = 2,& - XDXY (17)

Fig. 2. Method for selecting axes of the element coordinate system.

where ,& is the value of twist computed by eqn (14) at



integration point (g), and ,& is the value of twist computed by eqn (14) at ,$= n = 0. With the modification indicated by eqn (17), the energy due to bending is computed by numerical integration at a 2 x 2 array of Gauss points. This results in an energy deficiency (difference between E, and $) whose leadii terms are, for the special case of a rectangular element with homogeneous material properties,

+ wo3wzJ . 1


The w&, and w& terms are correctable by the introduction of residual bending flexibility. The term proportional to Poissons ratio is not correctable. The integration points for transverse shear must be selected carefully. It is clear, from the case of the beam element, that the points where yX is evaluated must lie along the line f = 0. Two points are selected at T.J 2 l/d/3 = as shown in Fig. 3, in order to obtain the correct strain energy for a linear variation of yXin the q direction. The transverse shear strains at the integration points are related to the components of motion at the corner points (j) by the equation

[K;] = [DilTIZ" t Zblel[Dj]


Fig. 3. Placement of points to evaluate transverse shear strains.

connecting corner points (i) and (j) is written in the form


where [Zs] is a matrix of real transverse shear flexibilities and [Zb] is a matrix of residual bending flexibilities. The dimension of each is [(volume) x(modulus)]-. In the case of [Z] the volume effect is treated by pre- and post-diagonal multipliers, thus: [Z] = [V]-[G]-[V]where (23)


[Di] is evaluated from the shape function, Ni, and its derivatives, NXj and NY,,by the equation rNfi -w 0 1


0 0


d/(ubtb) 0 0



1 .

where superscripts identify the points in Fig. 3 where the terms are evaluated. For the special case of a rectangular element, the substitution of eqn (12) into eqn (19) gives the general result yX= - $ (w& t w& + wSO) (higher order terms) t

J. is the two-dimensional Jacobian at point (a), t@is the thickness for transverse shear at point (a), etc. For a rectangular element, J, = Jb = J, = Jd = AxAy/4. The extra factor of two under the radical occurs because there are only two integration points for each strain component rather than four. For isotropic materials [G] = G[Z], where [I] is a (4x 4) identity matrix. For the general case of anisotropic transverse shear material, let

yr = - & (wo2qt w&q t was) (higher order terms) t 1. (21) The terms proportional to 5, n and 517 vanish at the integration points. The terms proportibnal to We and was are used to correct the wf and w& terms in the bending energy deficiency (eqn 18). Proceeding by analogy with the case of the beam element, the stiffness matrix due to transverse shear

where G;,, G;, and G& are the elements of the 2 x2 matrix of transverse shear moduli. Thetreatment of x-y coupling in eqn (25) is consistent with the symmetrical arrangement of the integration points shown in Fig. 3. The residual bending flexibility matrix is 0

(l-a)A.?/E,, lZl= &


0 Cl- b)Ay*/Ezz (l+ bVy2/& (26)

(1 t a)Ax*/&, 0


U- b)Ay%

simple q~ate~



where A is the surface area of the element; I0 is the bending moment of inertia per unit width; Ax = ~xxz~x~-x~-x.& AY =$Y~+Y~-Y~--Y~ and &,& are the diagonalterms in the elasticmodulusmatrixused to evalute bending sti&ess, For isotropic materials E ,, = Ezz= E&l - Y*). The coefficients(a) and (b) in eqn (26)were evaluated by numericalexperimentation.It will be noted that their effect is nil for uniform transverse shear stress. For 7X proportional to 7, on the other hand, the resulting increments in -yX proportional to (a). If one considers are the case of a long row of elements subjected to a torsional couple at one end, it is clear that (a) should be set equal to zero because the load is carried by twisting moment rather than by bending. If, on the other hand, the same load is applied to a very short cantilevered element, such that all of the load is carried by differential bending,(a) should be set equal to 1.0.The former case was judged to be more importantthan the latter, and the parameters (a) and (b) were initially set to very small numbers (0.01). Numerical experimentation, to be discussed later, showed that a somewhatlarger value (0.04) gave better results in general, and that an aspect ratio correction, as expressed by the formulas
E Cl=

The membrane stress components are evaluated from a previous iteration and are considered constant in eqn (28).The calculationvia an isoparametricformulationis straigh~o~ard since



The accuracy can, however, be improvedby using the followingexpression for the {b} vector. (321 where cy and p are evaluated directly at Gauss points, while yXis evaluated at points (a, b) and yb is evaluated at points (c, d) in Fig. 3. The improvementin accuracy occurs because the derivatives awlax and awlay are bilinearfunctions of ,$and 9 if they are evaluatedby eqn (32), whereas they are merely constants if they are evaluated by eqn (31).


necessary to avoid excessive torsional displacements for elements with large aspect ratios. Note, incidentally, that a = 1.0 in the limit, AxlAy= 0, in agreement with previous discussion.The presence of E as a free parameter underscores the general point that the design of a finite element necessarily involves a consideration of the relative importance of different states of strain, even though said considerationis often merely impliedby a truncated polynomialexpansion, or imbedded in a general principle such as element conformability. was

As stated in the introduction,the new QUAD4element has been designed to accommodate a wide variety of practical applications, consistent with reasonable cost and user convenience. The isoparametric approach provides a very easy implementation for most of the features listed in the Introduction including: elastic coupling between bending and s~etch~g; transverse shear flexibility; anisotropic material properties; variable thickness; non-uniform temperature distribution and mass properties. Only the first and last of these particular features require additional explanation. It is assumed that inplane components of strain vary linearly in the normal direction so that the stress-strain relationships take the form

Geometric stifEness[ll,121 is a first order approximation to geometricallynonlinear behaviour which is particularlyuseful for the linearized solution of buckling problems. The terms in the geometric stiffness matrix for an element are linear functions of the components of stress in the element. For plate and shell elements it is usual to consider only the membrane stresses, in which case the elements of the geometric stiffness matrix, [Kg, can be derived from a potential function, Eg, by the general expression

where EB =;Ij ({a}TIZl(a)+{b}T~:bl{b})TdS

where {em} is a vector of strains in the middle surface; j$, vector of curvatures; {y), vector of transverse shear strains; (fj, vector of inplane forces per unit width; {m}, vector of moments per unit width; (q), vector of transverse shear forces per unit width, and [G,], [G,] and [G.,] are 3 x 3 symmetric matrices and [G3] is a 2~ 2 symmetric matrix. The thicknessesfor membraneforces and transverse shear forces, T and T,, and the moment of (28) inertia per unit width, I, are introduced as normalizing factors to give the [G] matrices the same dimensions~ For isotropic materials, [G,] = [Gs] and fG4] = 0. Practical applications of the [G,] matrix are shells with offset nodal points, integrally stiffened shells and layered shells. Elements of the consistent mass matrix coupling the (29) same component of translation at two nodal points are



obtained from

where the subscript (g) on the Iacobian and on the thickness references an inte~ation point, and the shape function NE= (1 f =&) (i + ~~~)~4.Note that there is no mass coupling to rotational degrees of freedom. A reason for not including such coupling is that the user has the option to set [G2] = 0, i.e. to convert QUAD4 into a membrane element. Other reasons are that eqn (34) is easy to implement and inexpensive to use. The lumped mass option, which is even easier and less expensive, is obtained by summing the terms in each row of eqn (34), a procedure which clearly gives the correct forces for uniform acceleration of the element. Since Z iV, = 1, it follows that the lumped mass at nodal point {i) is

The only feature which has not yet been discussed is the extension from a plane quadrilateral to a warped quadrilateral. The approach taken was to modify the matrices of the plane q~~~a~r~ by pre- and postmuItipliers so as to satisfy rigid body properties. Although this procedure is satisfactory only if the deviation from flatness is moderatly small, it has the virtue of simplicity and, furthermore, it accommodates the concept of a warped membrane shell in which forces but not moments act at nodal points. Given four non-planar nodal points, a mean plane is defined that is equi~s~t from the four points, and a flat finite element is defined that produces forces and moments at the projections of the four points onto the mean plane. The normal force, jz, and the moments, m, and my, can be transferred directly to the nodal points without disturbing equilibrium, but the transfer of the inplane forces, fX and f,, creates moment equal to the forces multiplied by the distance from the mean plane to the nodal point. These moments are balanced by additional normal forces, rather than by additional moments, in order to accommodate the case of a membrane shell, which the user can select by setting [GJ = 0. Although, as mentioned, the moments, m, and m,, can be transfe~ed from the mean plane to the nodal points without disturbing equilibrium, the onIy component of moment that can be transferred from one element to another is one which is parallel to the intersection of the mean planes of the two elements. The reason is that any other component wiIl have a projection along the normal to one of the two mean planes, which direction has no sti#ness. It was discovered, during testing, that this feature results in an extremely weak structural model for a twisted surface. The remedy was to tilt the elements moment vector at a nodal point (m,, m,) into the plane detkted by the two edges which meet at the nodal point, and to equilibrate the added moment about the normal, m,, by inplane forces, fX and f,.. With this modifkation, moments about the common edge of two adjacent elements will always be transferred. tAfter the paper was submitted for publication, it was discovered that large errors occur when the skew angle of the element exceeds twenty degrees. This error was traced to coupling between transverse shear strains, and has subsequenuy been corrected.

Since the QUAD4 element is used in a publicly available program, it was important that ah of the capabilities described in the previous section be thoroughly tested before release. Many of the tests that were performed were designed to uncover errors in the code, particularly in relation to material properties and irregular geometry. Tests with a few elements were largely sufficient for this purpose. Two of the experiences in this category may be of interest. The first was a single element torsion test, in which self-equilibrating lateral forces were applied to the corners of a recunbar element for a series of cases in which the aspect ratio of the plate was increased from one to twenty. It was discovered that the deflections become excessively large for the larger aspect ratios. This defect was corrected by modifying the form of the a and b parameters to that shown in eqn (27). With this change, the single element torsional deflections are correct to within 1.5% for all aspect ratios, as are the results for transverse shear loads. The second experience was the analysis of a long cantilever plate with aspect ratio equal to eleven and a built-in twist from root to tip of 90. We were dismayed to find that the displacements due to lateral end loading were more than 100 times too large. The reason for this discrepancy and its correction have been discussed in connection with the modifications for warped elements. After modification, results obtained with a 14x 2 mesh of elements were accurate to about 1%. The same discrepancy exists in the older NASTRAN plate elements, but it has never been reported by users. A number of experiments were conducted in order to test the accuracy and convergence of the element and to establish a value for the P parameter. The first such example was the analysis of a laterally loaded thin rectangular plate with either clamped or simple supports, and either a uniform load or a concentrated load at the center. Many eiements have been tested with this example and reported in the literature, so that the interested reader can compare QUAD4 with other elements. It is a good example because, even though the geometry is simple, the state of stress is not. Figure 4 shows a rather complete set of results for E = 0.04 and Fig. 5 shows a less complete set of results for E = 0.01,0.04 and 0.10. It will be noted from Fig. 5 that the effect of l decreases as the number of elements increases and that 0.04 appears to be a good choice for e. This is the value used in the released version, and in ah of the other tests to be reported. It will be noted from Fig. 4 that the accuracy is not particularly sensitive to aspect ratio, type of load or type of support, that it is quite good for a small number of elements and that it converges fairly sbwly. The effect of no~~~~1~ mesh spacing on accuracy is illustrated in Fig. 6. There appears to be some degradation of accuracy, but perhaps Iess than might be expected in view of the nonuniform treatment accorded to different components of straint Perhaps the most interesting structure that was analyzed is the cylindrical shell roof shown in Fig. 7, which has been used to test many elements. Reference [14] compares the results for nine elements by seven authors. The results in Fig. 7 compare the new QUAD4 against two older NASTRAN elements. The improvement of QUAD4 over QUAD2 is primarily due to the better treatment of membrane shear strain, since QUAD2 and QUAD4 have similar accuracies for the

A simple query

shell element






Percent Regular Uniform load Center load

error mesh Irregular mesh

+ 0.69% + 2.35%

- 5.94% - 2.37%

Fig. 6. Effect of nonrectangular mesh on error in central deflection. 4 x 4 Mesh in quadrant of a square plate. Simple supports. e = 0.04.



iMesh size far quadmnt)

2 Fii. 4.


Error in central deflection of a rectangular plate, E = 0.04.



00 ml 300 4m 500 600



Numbrraf degrees af frsedom

7. Midside deflectionof a shell roof under gravityload.

lateral deflection of plates. In order to shed light on why

Pi. 5. Effect of c on error in central deflection of a square plate: (a) Uniform load, simple supports, (e/b)= 1, (b) center load, clamped supports, ($b) = 1.

the QUAD4 element converges from above, the 2X2 case was rerun with each element in the mesh replaced by jet facets containing 4 elements. The results were virtually identical, indicating that the excess flexibility of the structural model is primarily due to the use of the flat elements on a curved surface. A tentative rule of thumb based on this single example is that en~ee~ng accuracy (4%) is achieved if the included angle per element is ten degrees or less. The cylindrical compressor blade described in Fig. 8 was analyzed in order to test the dynamic capability of QUAD4. The best available data for this problem are laboratory test results[l6,l;rl and the numerical calculations of Olson and ~~~rg[l7] using a 4 x 4 mesh of triangular shell elements with 36 degrees of freedom per element. It is notable that, for the second mode, the most refined QUAD4 model agrees well with Olsons calculations but not with the test results. The most probable reason is that the test frequency is reduced by ancient flexibility to a larger degree for the second



86.6 139.2 251.3 348.b 393 4 533.4

i 740 4

Fig. 8. Vibration mode frequencies of a cylindrical compressor blade.



1 Coarse

Fine .\

Physical Length Height

Properties = 10.0 1.0 = Ratio = l/3 . 05

Thickness Po~ssons

Fig. 9. Torsion-ben~mg buckling of an end-loaded cantilever.

mode (which has no node line on the surface) than for any other mode. Geometric stiffness was tested by means of the buckling problem illustrated in Fig. 9, which is a fairly severe test because the stresses due to the apphed foad are non-u~orm within each element, and because the buckliig modes involve both latera bending and twist. It will be noted that the results for the fine mesh exceed the theoretical results. A possible explanation is that the theoretical results do not account for restraint of warping (differential bending). The accuracy of the QUAD4 element appears to be

satisfactory and to compare favorably with the older NASTRAN elements, but an even more gratifying result is that computer time for stiffness matrix assembly and stress recovery are greatly reduced. In a recent benchmark comparison of QUAD2 and QUAD4 invofviug 420 elements, the cost of each of these operations was reduced by approximately a factor of 5. The importance of matrix assembly and stress recovery for problems of this size is illustrated by the fact that the total cost for the analysis was reduced by forty percent. Although recent improvements in the general procedures for matrix assembly within NASTRAN[fbf account for part of the

A simple quadrilate shell element ral


cost reduction, much of the credit is due to the inherent simplicity of the isoparametric formulation on which QUAD4 is based.
CONCLUDING REMARKS The QUAD4 fills a conspicuous void at the lowest rank

in the hierarchy of isoparametric thick-shell elements and it appears to meet the tests of accuracy, versatility and cost. The new features which were necessary to convert an outcast into a respectable element are: special attention given to each component of strain and curvature with regard to the selection of points where it is evaluated, and the addition of residual bending flexibility in the transverse shear terms. These ideas can also be applied to higher order members in the family of isoparametric thick-shell elements. Each of the specific modifications in the QUAD4 (reduced order integration of shear terms, satisfaction of curvature compatibility, and residual bending flexibility) has its analog for higher order elements. An eight-noded curved shell element which is currently being developed by the author will be reported when test results are available.

1. R. H. MacNeal, (ed.), The NASTRAN Theoretical Manual, 2. 0. C. Zienkiewiczy The Finite tilekent Mhthodin Engineering Science. McGraw-Hill,London (1971). 3. Ibid. Chap. 14. 4. B. M. Irons and A. Razzaque, The evolution of the isoparametric element. Proceedings of the World Congress on Finite Element Methods in Structural Mechanics Bournemouth, Dorset, England, Vol. 1, pp. D.l-D.27 (12-17 Oct. 1975). 5. MSClNASTRAN Application Manual, Sections 2.8 and 2.17. The MacNeal-Schwendler Corp., Los Angeles, Calii. (Jan. 1975). 6. 0. C. Zienkiewicz, J. Too and R. L. Taylor, Reduced in-

NASA SP-221(011. Section 5.8(Aur.1972).

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