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members via semi-analytical finite strip

transfer matrix method

2016, Vol. 8(5) 111

The Author(s) 2016

DOI: 10.1177/1687814016650341

aime.sagepub.com

Abstract

Slender thin-walled members are main components of modern engineering structures, whose buckling behavior has

been studied widely. In this article, thin-walled members with simply supported loaded edges can be discretized in the

cross-section by semi-analytical finite strip technology. Then, the control equations of the strip elements will be rewritten as the transfer equations by transfer matrix method. This new method, named as semi-analytical finite strip transfer

matrix method, expands the advantages of semi-analytical finite strip method and transfer matrix method. This method

requires no global stiffness matrix, reduces the size of matrix, and improves the computational efficiency. Compared with

finite element methods results of three different cross-sections under axial force, the method is proved to be reliable

and effective.

Keywords

Buckling, thin-walled members, finite strip method, transfer matrix method, finite element method

Academic Editor: Chuanzeng Zhang

Introduction

Buckling analysis is the most important step during the

design of slender elements which can be applied in different branches of engineering, including mechanical

construction, marine applications, and civil architecture.1 Thin-walled structure, a main kind of slender

structure, is widely utilized to lighten engineering structures as well as save materials.2

The buckling phenomenon is one of the chief failure

models of thin-walled structure, which has been studied

by experimental or mathematical means.3 In the early

works, the stability and vibration of thin flat-walled

structure, acted by compression forces, have been analyzed by a matrix method.4 It is based on energy rule

that the elastic buckling modes of I-section beams has

been studied.5 Up to now, many methods have been

used to analyze the buckling problems of thin-walled

structure, such as finite difference and finite element

theory,8,9 direct strength method,10 semi-analytical

finite strip and spline finite strip methods,11 and constrained finite strip method (cFSM).12 In addition, by

introducing a computer procedure, the calculation of

the stresses and failure models in thin-walled structural

members has been presented.13 And an experimental

program investigating the column behavior of four

sizes of square hollow sections has been introduced.14

Although the FEM has been widely applied in the

analysis of buckling behavior of thin-walled structures,

the choices of the elements and the mesh sizes have

Department of Mechanics, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing, China

Corresponding author:

Bin He, Department of Mechanics, Nanjing Tech University, No. 30,

Puzhu Road(S), Nanjing 211816, China.

Email: hebin123@njtech.edu.cn

Creative Commons CC-BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

(http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without

further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/

open-access-at-sage).

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the buckling problems of structures which only have

complex geometry shape in their cross-section, finite

strip method (FSM) can be regarded as an efficient and

powerful technology. And using the sub-parametric

mapping concept, the arbitrary-shaped member can be

discretized as many strip elements.16 By introducing the

spline finite strip method, the buckling stresses and natural frequencies of prismatic plate and shell structures

have been predicted.17 If a fictitious shear strain is

adopted, a drilling rotation is introduced in the standard MindlinReissner finite strip for the analysis of

thin-walled sections.18 Based on the concept of the

semi-energy approach, the FSM can be proposed to

analyze the buckling,19 shear buckling,20 and stability

analysis of composite laminated plate and cylindrical

shell structures.21 The longitudinal harmonic series

satisfying the boundary conditions at the longitudinal

ends are generally employed in semi-analytical finite

strip method (SAFSM).22 The SAFSM based on the

shallow shell theory is developed to the buckling analysis of prismatic structures which have curved corners.23

And the SAFSM has been used in computer software

(such as THIN-WALL24 and CUFSM25) to develop

the signature curves26 of the buckling stress versus

buckling half-wavelength for thin-walled members.

Furthermore, the cFSM innovated from SAFSM is

developed and applied in the determination and classification of buckling modes.27 By extending the applicability of the cFSM to the domain of general finite

element analysis, the buckling modal identification of

the thin-walled member has been demonstrated.28

The classical transfer matrix method (TMM) has

been developed as an effective tool for structural analysis, especially for chain connected system from topological perspective.29 By combining the TMM and FEM,

the finite element-transfer matrix method (FE-TMM)

is developed to analyze the static and dynamic of structural problems.30 And then a structural analysis

method, named as boundary element-transfer matrix

method (BE-TMM), is proposed for the vibration analysis of two-dimensional plate acted by uniform31 and

concentrated32 loads. If the numerical integration is

used, the nonlinear dynamics of structures,33 the

dynamics of multi-rigid-body system,34 and multi-rigidflexible-body system35 can be simulated by TMM. And

a new method, named as transfer matrix method of linear multibody system (MSTMM), is developed to study

the hybrid multibody systems dynamics.36 By combining FEM and discrete time transfer matrix method of

multibody system (MS-DT-TMM), the dynamics of

general planar flexible multibody systems including

flexible bodies with irregular shape is studied.37

Nowadays, the buckling analysis of the plate with

built-in rectangular delamination has been implemented

by strip distributed transfer function method.38 And the

TMM can be used to analyze the instability in unsymmetrical rotor-bearing systems39 and tall unbraced

frames.40 The buckling analysis of rectangular thin

plates via semi-analytical finite strip transfer matrix

method (FSTMM), which is enlightened by above three

references, has been developed.41 In this article,

FSTMM can be extended to analyze the buckling problems of thin-walled member with simply supported

loaded edges. This article is organized as follows: in section The Semi-analytical finite strip analysis, the general theorem of the semi-analytical finite strip for

buckling analysis of thin-walled member is shown. In

section Semi-analytical FSTMM for buckling analysis, the FSTMM for buckling analysis is studied. In

section Examples and analysis, some results calculated

by FSTMM and FEM are given to validate the method.

The conclusions are presented in section Conclusion.

Degree of freedom and shape function

In the FSM, a thin-walled member as shown in

Figure 1(a) can be discretized into many strips in longitudinal direction. Two left-handed coordinate systems

are used: global and local. The global coordinate system is denoted as X-Y-Z, with the Y axis parallel to the

longitudinal axis of the member. The local system is

denoted as x-y-z, which is always associated with a

strip and z axis is perpendicular to the strip as shown

in Figure 1(b). We introduce a numbering system of

finite strip model as shown in Figure 1(a). The total

number of strips is s; therefore, the total number of

nodal lines is s + 1 for open cross-section. Each nodal

line i has two membrane degrees of freedom (DOFs) ui

and vi and two bending DOFs wi and ui . This numbering system will be used to depict the state vector of the

nodal line and the transfer matrix of the strip in section

Semi-analytical FSTMM for buckling analysis.

The analytical trigonometric functions of the longitudinal coordinate that satisfy the simply supported

boundary condition of the loaded edges can be used to

represent the strips deformed configuration25,27

Yp (y) = sin

ppy

,

a

p = 1, 2, 3, . . . , n

certain half-wavelength along the longitudinal direction; y is the longitudinal coordinate in local coordinate

system; and a is the length of the member.

The shape function for the membrane DOFs uses a

linear function along transverse direction. And four

cubic polynomials can be selected as the shape functions to depict the bending displacement of the strip

along transverse direction. Then, the explicit expressions of u, v, and w can be given as follows

Zhang et al.

Figure 1. Coordinate systems and displacements: (a) discretization and numbering of a member and (b) Degree of Freedom and

loads of a strip.

u=

m h

X

p=1

v=

m h

X

p=1

w=

m

X

p= 1

1

x xi uip

Yp

b b ujp

x xi vip

a

Yp9

1

b b vjp

pp

3x2 2x2

2x2 x3 3x2 2x3 x3 x2

+ 2 2 3 2

1 2 + 3 x

b

b

b

b b

b b

b

8 9

wip >

>

>

>

>

=

<u >

ip

Yp

>

wjp >

>

>

>

>

: ;

ujp

where u, v, and w are given in section Degree of freedom and shape function.

As to general linear elastic material, the elastic deformation energy can be expressed as

U=

1 T

1 T

1

e sdV =

e DedV = dT @ BT DBdV Ad

2

2

2

V

m X

m

1X

q

dpT kpq

=

e d

2 p=1 q=1

strip, and m is the maximum half-wave number

employed in the analysis, which is a finite positive

integer.

The elastic stiffness matrix of FSM can be established

similar to the deduction of FEM. If the plane stress

assumptions and Kirchhoff plate theory may be

employed, respectively, the total strain e of a strip,

including both the membrane strains eM and the bending strains eB , is expressed as27

9

9

8

8

>

>

=

=

< ex >

< ex >

e = eM + eB = ey

+ ey

>

>

;

;

:g >

:g >

xy

xy

M

B

9

8

9

8

2

w

u

>

>

>

>

>

z 2 >

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

5

>

>

>

>

x >

x

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

=

=

< 2 w >

< v

=

+ z 2

y

>

>

>

y >

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

2 >

>

>

>

>

u

v

>

>

>

>

w

>

>

: + ;

;

: 2z

y

x M

xy B

where e and s denote strain and stress vectors, respectively; V is the volume of the material; D is the elastic

constant matrix of the material; B defines the relationship between the strain vector and the displacement vector; d = d1T d2T dmT T is the displacement vector;

and d p = uip vip ujp vjp wip uip wjp ujp T . The elastic stiffness matrix of the strip can be concisely expressed as

7

ke = BT DBdV

v

e of the elastic stiffness

matrix ke given in above equation can be expressed as

the combination of membrane and bending terms,

namely

kpq

e

kpq

= eM

0

0

kpq

eB

8

pq

where kpq

eM and keB are the (4 3 4) membrane and bending elastic stiffness matrices, respectively.

As shown in Figure 1(b), the strip is loaded with linearly varying edge tractions. The membrane compressive

loads can be expressed as

x

tx = ti ti tj

b

the width of the strip as shown in Figure 1(b), and x is

the transverse coordinate in local coordinate system.

Similar to the deduction of the elastic stiffness matrix,

the potential energy induced by the membrane compressive loads can be expressed as

"

2

2 #

1

u 2

v

w

tx

dV

+

+

W=

2

y

y

y

V

0

1

10

m X

m

X

1 T@

1

T

pT

pq

q

tx G GdV Ad =

d kg d

= d

2

2 p=1 q=1

associated with the membrane deflection u and v, F p is

the generalized internal force associated with the transverse deflection w, M p is the generalized internal force

associated with the y-axiss rotation u, and the subscripts i and j denote two nodal lines of one strip.

Assuming t0 (x) as the initial axial force, the real

axial force in the geometric stiffness matrix can be

expressed as

kpq

g

ness matrix kg given in above equation can be expressed

as the combination of membrane and bending terms,

namely

kpq

g =

kpq

gM

0

0

kpq

gB

15

where G defines the relationship between the secondorder strain components and the displacement vector.

The geometric stiffness matrix of the strip element can

be expressed as

11

kg = tx GT GdV

where l is the buckling coefficient. Therefore, the geometric stiffness matrix kpp

g can be rewritten as the func

tion of the initial geometric stiffness matrix kpp

g

t0

caused by initial axial force t0 (x), namely

pp

kpp

=

lk

g

g

16

t0

control equations of the buckling strip can be rewritten

as follows

pp

pp

ke lkg dp = Rp

t0

12

pq

where kpq

gM and kgB are the (4 3 4) membrane and bending geometric stiffness matrices, respectively.

14

17

the nodal line displacement vector dp in above equation

can be expressed as

pp

lk

K = kpp

e

g

t0

18

pp

where both coefficient matrices kpp

e and kg are cont0

stant when the loads determined by equation (15)

vary.

analysis

Control equations of strip element

In both FE-TMM and BE-TMM, the transfer equations of the given sub-structure can be deduced by the

control equations of this sub-structure which consider

the interaction forces between this sub-structure and

other structures. As to the proposed FSTMM, the strip

element can be regarded as the sub-structure.

pq

If the orthogonal conditions about kpq

e and kg given

41

by Yao et al. can be used, the control equations of the

buckling strip can be obtained by virtual work principle, which are

pp

p

p

k

kpp

e

g d =R

13

where kpp

e is the elastic stiffness matrix of equation (8),

is

the

geometric stiffness matrix as shown in equakpp

g

tion (11), dp is the nodal line displacement vector, and

Rp is the generalized internal forces acting on the strip,

which can be expressed as

During the deduction of transfer matrix of the system,

the state vector of the nodal line is an important concept that includes two parts: one part describes the generalized displacement of the nodal line, and the other

part gives the generalized internal forces acting on the

nodal line by other members in the system. For example, the state vector of the nodal line l can be defined as

2

3

dB, l

6 RB, l 7

p p p

p p p p

p T

7

Zl, n = 6

4 dM, l 5 = ul vl Pl Ql wl ul Fl Ml n (l = i, j)

RM, l n

19

where the first subscript l denotes the number of the

nodal line, the second subscript n denotes the number

of the strip, dB, l = upl vpl T and dM, l = wpl upl T can be

Zhang et al.

nodal line l, and RB, l = Ppl Qpl T and RM, l = Flp Mlp T

are the generalized internal force vectors acting on the

nodal line l correspondingly.

Using the block forms of equation (19), the control

equations (17) can be rewritten as the form of the transfer equations of this strip, namely

20

Zj, n = Un Zi, n

2

K1

12 K11

6 K21 K22 K1 K11

12

Un = 6

4

0

K1

12

K22 K1

12

0

K1

34 K33

K43 K44 K1

34 K33

K1

34

K44 K1

34

7

7

5

n

21

where the subscript n denotes the number of the strip,

Kij (i, j = 1, 2, 3, 4) are the (2 3 2) block sub-matrices

that can be determined by equation (18). Actually, coefficient matrix of equation (18) can be denoted as

2

K11 K12

6 232 232

6 K21 K22

6

K = 6 232 232

6

4

0

2

3

ui

cos a

6 vi 7

6 0

6 7

6

6 Pi 7

6 0

6 7

6

6 Qi 7

6 0

6 7

6

=

6 wi 7

6 sina

6 7

6

6 ui 7

6 0

6 7

6

4 Fi 5

4 0

Mi n + 1

0

26

27

3

0

K34

232

K44

232

K33

232

K43

232

7

7

7

7

7

5

22

n

According to the condition of displacement continuum and the law of action and reaction, the transformation of the state vector from strip n to strip n + 1 at

nodal line jn (in + 1 ) which is shown in Figure 2 at an

angle a is governed by the following transformation

2

the overall system transfer equation and the overall

transfer matrix Uall , which relates the state vectors at

two edges of the member, can be assembled and calculated. That is

0

0

1

0

0 cosa

0

0

0

0

0

0

0 sina

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

sina

0

0

0

cosa

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

For the buckling analysis of open cross-section members with simply-simply (SS) supported boundary condition of loaded edges in this dissertation, the two

unloaded edges are free, which can be expressed by

SSff. Here, the capital letters and lowercase letters

denote the loaded edges and unloaded edges

correspondingly.

0

0

sina

0

0

0

cosa

0

3 2 3

uj

0

6 vj 7

0 7

7 6 7

6 7

0 7

7 6 Pj 7

7

7

0 7 6

6 Qj 7

6

7

0 7 6 wj 7

7

6 7

0 7

7 6 uj 7

0 5 4 Fj 5

1 n Mj n

24

u

strip n + 1 at nodal line jn (in + 1 ). Therefore, the transfer equations between particular nodal lines of conjunctional strips can be obtained by multiplying equations

(20) and (24), namely

Zi, n + 1 = Tn Un Zi, n

23

total transfer equations can be deduced as follows

Zi, n + 1 = Tn Zj, n

25

u 0

v 0

= Uall u

0 0

0 TL

u

0 0 TF

28

lines of the member and Uall is the overall transfer

matrix of the member. The non-zero variables in the

state vector of the first nodal line of the member have

the relationship that can be deduced by equation (28)

mesh.

2

3

U31

0

6 U41

607

4 0 5 =6

4 U71

0 L

U81

2

U32

U42

U72

U82

U35

U45

U75

U85

3

U36 2

U46 7

76

4

U76 5

U86

3

u

v 7

w5

u F

29

To make the non-zero solutions of equation (29) possible, the following condition must be satisfied

02

U31

B6 U41

6

detB

@4 U71

U81

U32

U42

U72

U82

U35

U45

U75

U85

31

U36

C

U46 7

7C = 0

U76 5A

U86

30

buckling of open cross-section member by the

FSTMM, which can be used to calculate the buckling

coefficients. If we combine equation (29) with equation

(25), the buckling mode can be obtained. In order to

demonstrate the method, two typical examples are considered: a C-section member and a Z-section member.

Illustrations of C cross-section member. The dimensions of

the C-section member are presented in Figure 3(a). The

section height is 200 mm, the flange width is 80 mm, the

flange lip length is 20 mm, the plate thickness is 2 mm,

and the initial axial force t0 (x) = 50 N=mm2 . The material properties through this article are as follows:

Youngs modulus E = 2 3 105 N=mm2 , Poissons ratio

n = 0:3, and shear modulus G = E=2(1 + n).

Along the loaded edge, the member is divided into

11 strips, as shown in Figure 3(b). Figure 4 shows the

classic signature curve, which can be used to determine

and classify the buckling modes, by both FSTMM and

conventional FSM for the section in axial compression.14 We notice that two curves have good agreements. The relationship schema between buckling

coefficient l and length a of the member is obtained by

the proposed FSTMM and FEM. FSTMMs results

are compared with FEMs results under the boundary

noticed that the buckling shape transfers from local to

global modes at a = 3750 mm. And since the length of

the thin-walled member increase, two kinds of global

buckling modes, torsion and bending, can be found.

When the member length is relatively small, a little difference between the two curves of both FSTMM and

FEM can be observed as shown in Figure 5. That is

because the shear strain is included in the finite element

analysis but neglected in the finite strip transfer matrix

analysis. Figure 6 gives the local, global torsion and

global bending buckling shape of C-section member

when the length is 1000, 3750, and 8000 mm,

respectively.

Illustrations of Z cross-section member. Another example to

validate the theory is a Z-section member. The

Zhang et al.

Figure 6. Buckling shapes of C-section member: (a) a = 1000 mm, local buckling; (b) a = 3750 mm, global torsion and

(c) a = 8000 mm, global bending.

FSM mesh.

height is 180 mm, the flange width is 60 mm, the flange

lip length is 20 mm, and the plate thickness is 2 mm.

The member is divided into 10 strips along the loaded

edge, as shown in Figure 7(b). In this section, the

numerical results concerning the buckling behavior of

the Z-section member subjected to axial compression

and axial bending are presented.

Figure 8 shows the relation between the buckling

coefficient l and the length a by FSTMM and FEM of

the Z-section member under the initial axial force

t0 (x) = 50 N=mm2 . The buckling shape transfer from

local to global buckling modes at the length

a = 2500 mm. Only one kind of global buckling mode,

bending, occurs in the analysis. Figure 9 shows the

local and global buckling shapes for Z-section member

at a = 500 mm and a = 2500 mm.

For the member under Z-Z axial bending moment

MZZ = 106 N mm shown in Figure 10(a), the stress distributions in the cross-section can be calculated by

thin-walled structure mechanics, which can be found in

Figure 10(b). It should be attended that the positive

(negative) number denotes the compressional (tensional) stress here. The buckling coefficient l versus

length a by both FSTMM and FEM are plotted in

Figure 11. Note that the distortional region exists in

compression.

compression: (a) a = 500 mm, local buckling; (b) a = 2500 mm,

global buckling.

this loading condition. The buckling shapes corresponding to local, distortional, and global modes with

lengths 250, 2000, and 10,000 mm, respectively, are

shown in Figure 12.

Figure 10. Z-section member in Z-Z axial bending: (a) direction of bending moment and (b) stress distributions.

from open cross-section members illustrated in section

Illustrations of open cross-section members, there is

no unloaded edge in a closed cross-section member. In

other words, the first and last nodal lines are the same

nodal line in the analysis. To satisfy the closed forms,

equation (28) can be modified as follows

u v

P Q w

= Ts Uall u

M TF

F

Q

u F

M TF

31

member, Uall is the transfer matrix of the member, and

Ts is the transformation matrix of strip s and strip 1 at

nodal line js (i1 ). Equation (31) can be rewritten as

follows

Figure 11. Buckling curves of Z-section member in Z-Z axial

bending.

In order to demonstrate the efficiency of FSTMM to

analyze closed cross-section, a rectangular hollow

Ts Uall E u v

P Q w

M TF = 0 32

solutions of equation (32) possible, it must satisfy the

following condition

Figure 12. Buckling shapes of Z-section member in Z-Z axial bending: (a) a = 250 mm, local buckling; (b) a = 2000 mm, distortional

buckling; and (c) a = 10,000 mm, global buckling.

Zhang et al.

9

detTs Uall E = 0

member and (b) its FSM mesh.

33

13(a)) are as follows: the height is 100 mm, the width is

60 mm, the plate thickness is 1.5 mm, and the initial

axial force t0 (x) = 50 N=mm2 . The member is divided

into 10 strips along the loaded edge, as shown in

Figure 13(b). Figure 14 gives the buckling coefficient l

versus length a of FSTMM and FEM. The buckling

shape transfer from local to global buckling modes at

a = 2550 mm. Figure 15 shows the local and global

buckling shapes for rectangular hollow section member

at a = 800 mm and a = 2550 mm, respectively.

Precision analysis

member.

improved by increasing the number of elements. By

comparing the results calculated from FEMs shell

model and FSTMM of buckling problems of C-section

member, the influence of the strip number to the computational precision can be analyzed. The buckling

behaviors can be obtained by the FSTMM with the

strip numbers 5, 8, and 11, respectively, shown in

Figure 16(a)(c). Figure 16(d) shows the FEMs shell

model which is used for comparative analysis.

Figure 17 compares the influence of the strip number to the computational precision in FSTMM. When

the number of strips n = 8 in FSTMM is selected, the

computational results have good agreement with the

FEMs results. It can be confirmed that the proposed

FSTMM has good efficiency for the buckling analysis

of thin-walled members under the boundary condition

of simply supported loaded edges.

Conclusion

member: (a) a = 800 mm, local buckling; (b) a = 2550 mm, global

buckling.

to analyze the buckling problems of open and closed

cross-section members under the boundary condition

of simply supported loaded edges. In order to validate

the method, the examples of the open and closed crosssection members can be designed and analyzed by the

different methods in section Examples and analysis.

It may be found that the method holds several highlights: (1) demands no global stiffness matrix and

Figure 16. FSTMM and FEM meshes: (a) five strips; (b) eight strips; (c) eleven strips and (d) FEM mesh.

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10

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

combining the semi-analytical finite strip and the transfer matrix technologies, (2) both open and closed crosssections can be calculated by the method in the same

way, and (3) the method has the advantages of determination and classification of buckling modes same

as FSM.

14.

17.

15.

16.

respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this

article.

18.

Funding

The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this

article: The research is financed by National Key Science

Foundation Program (51624001) and Natural Science

Foundation of Jiangsu Province, China (BK20130911).

19.

20.

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3. Czapski P and Kubiak T. Numerical and experimental

investigations of the post-buckling behaviour of square

cross-section composite tubes. Compos Struct 2015; 132:

11601167.

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