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ISSN 2320 6020


Analysis of Finite Element Mesh Spacing Influence on Modeling Results

Rohit Rai
ABSTRACT- In the present work the modeling of curved deck slab was done with computer program which was done with the help
of finite element method . In model the mesh spacing was varied and its influenced on various properties i.e. deflection, bending
moments, and torsional moments are discussed. In this only quadrilateral meshing is taken. And it was found that the mesh spacing
changes the results of FE Analysis. However, italso was found out that after certain value of mesh divisions the results start to
KEY WORDS: Deflection, Bending Moment, Transverse Moment and Torsional Moment.


The finite element is a technique for analyzing complicated
structures by notionally cutting up the continuum of the
prototype into a number of small elements which are
connected at discrete joints called nodes. For each element,
approximate stiffness equations are derived relating
displacements of the nodes to node forces between elements
and in the same way the slope deflection equation can be
solved for joints in a continuous beam, an electronic computer
is used to solve the very large number of simultaneous
equations that relate node force and displacements. Since the
basic principle of subdivision of structure into simple elements
can be applied to structures of all forms and complexity, there
is no logical limit to the type of structure that can be analyzed
if the computer program is written in the appropriate form.
Consequently finite elements provide the more versatile
method of analysis at present, and for some structures only
practical method .However the quantity of computation can be
enormous and expensive so that the cost cannot be justified for
run of mill structures. Furthermore, the numerous different
theoretical formulations of element stiffness characteristics all
require approximations in different ways affect the accuracy
and applicability of the method .Further research and
development is required before the method will have the ease
of use and reliability of the simple methods of bridge deck
Author: Rohit Rai is currently pursuing master
of technology program in Department of civil
Engineering College Gorakhpur Uttar Pradesh 273010, E-mail:

The technique was pioneered for two dimensional elastic

structures by Turner et al and Clough during the1950s.The
whole structure is divided into component elements, such as
straight beams, curved beams, triangular or rectangular plate
elements, which are joined at the nodes.
When this method is applied to a slab, the slab is divided into
triangular, rectangular or quadrilateral elements. Thus, the
corners of the elements become nodes usually; the vertical
deflections of the plate element are expressed in a polynomial
of the coordinates of the vertices of the element. This
polynomial satisfies the conditions at the corners but may
violate the continuity condition along the sides of the element.
During recent years, several research workers have attempted
to analyze curved bridge decks by the finite element method.
Jenkins and Siddall used a stiffness matrix approach and
represented the deck slab with finite elements in the form of
annular segments, while Cheung adopted the triangular
elements. In addition, a horizontal curved box-beam highway
bridge was investigated in a three dimensional sense by Aneja
and Roll.
If the finite element method is to be a useful tool in the design
of reinforced concrete flat plate structures, accurate modeling
is a prerequisite. Accurate modeling involves understanding
the important relationships between the physical world and the
analytical simulation. As Clough states, Depending on the
validity of the assumptions made in reducing the physical
problem to a numerical algorithm, the computer output may
provide a detailed picture of the true physical behavior or it
may not even remotely resemble it. The following sections
attempt to expose the gap between physical and analytical


ISSN 2320 6020



Table 2: Result obtained for mesh division 05

For the mesh analysis we selected a model of curved deck slab

which has a radius of 1.27m ,outer arc length 2m and width if
.90m . For the analysis we have taken a UDL loading which is
kept constant for all the cases and there results are discussed
and the results of longitudinal moments and torsional
moments are compared with the moment obtained by
analytical method. And the finite element program we selected
STAAD Pro. In STAAD Pro we have two type of meshing
polygonal and quadrilateral meshing .For our present study we
had taken only the quadrilateral meshing in this the mesh is
created by selecting the node and after selection we need to
give the number of small divisions which we want to give that
also would be in quadrilateral shape.

Case 3:Mesh Division=10

Case 1: Mesh Division = 01

Fig. 1: Mesh Diagram with Division 01

Fig 3: Mesh Diagram with division 10
Table 3: Result obtained for mesh division 10

Table 1: Result obtained for mesh division 01

Case 4: Mesh Division = 15

Case 2: Mesh Division = 05

Fig 4: Mesh Diagram with division 15

Fig 2: Mesh Diagram with division 05


ISSN 2320 6020


converge to the correct numerical solution such that a

significant increase in the number of elements produces an
insignificant change in a particular response quantity.
Not all response quantities will converge at the same rate,
however. Displacements will generally be the most accurate
response quantity computed and will converge faster than
stresses, with the exception of some elements derived with
hybrid stress formulations, in which case the stresses can
converge at the same rate or higher than the displacements.

Table 4: Result obtained for mesh division 15

Case 5: Mesh Division = 20

Fig 6: Displacement Vs. Divisions

Fig 5: Mesh Diagram with division 20

Table 5: Result obtained for mesh division 20

The finite element method is an approximate technique, and as
such, results computed using the finite element method must
be critically evaluated before relied upon in a design
application. This process of critical evaluation involves
several steps for any structure being analyzed.
The number of elements used in a model can greatly affect the
accuracy of the solution. In general, as the number of
elements, or the fineness of the mesh, is increased, the
accuracy of the model increases as well. As multiple models
are created with an increasingly finer mesh, the results should

Fig 7: Absolute stress Vs. Divisions

Above fig shows that the variation of absolute stress with
respect to division shows that the results to converge at about
divisions is about 10.


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Fig 8: Longitudinal Moment Vs. Divisions

Fig 10: Torsional Moment vs. Divisions

From above fig (8) the longitudinal moment with respect to

divisions it starts to converge at division about 20.The result
of longitudinal was to much agreement when the number of
divisions were 20.

For torsional moment the convergence is achieved only at

about 10 division and further increase in division only refines
the value .The comparisons with the Results obtained by FE
Analysis at about 20 divisions is much close to that obtained
by analytical methods.
1. The modeling should be done in a very proper way.
2. More the fineness of the meshing more are the chances of
getting accurate results.
3. But if we continue to increase the fineness of mesh that will
make our program more bulky and which will slow the
processing speed.
4. The storage requirement also increases with meshing.


Fig 9: Transverse moment Vs. Division
As far the case of transverse moment goes the value of
moment starts to converge at about 10 divisions.


.Turner,M.J.,Clough,R.W.,Martin,H.C.and Topp, L.
J (1956) Stiffness and deflection analysis of complex
structures, J. Aero. Sci.23, 805-23.
Clough,R.W.(1960) The finite element in plane
stress analysis,Proc.2nd A.S.C.E conf. on Electronic
Computation, Pittsburg, Pa., Sept.
Burnett, D. S. (1987) Finite Element Analysis,
Addison-wesley, Reading, Mass.
Bentley Systems (2010), STAAD Pro. Lab manual:
Getting Started and Tutorials.