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1.

0 INTRODUCTION

The Finite Element Method (FEM) is a numerical technique to find approximate solutions of
partial differential equations. It was originated from the need of solving complex elasticity
and structural analysis problems in Civil, Mechanical and Aerospace engineering. In a
structural simulation, FEM helps in producing stiffness and strength visualizations. It also
helps to minimize material weight and its cost of the structures. FEM allows for detailed
visualization and indicates the distribution of stresses and strains inside the body of a
structure. Many of FE software are powerful yet complex tool meant for professional
engineers with the training and education necessary to properly interpret the results. Several
modern FEM packages include specific components such as fluid, thermal, electromagnetic
and structural working environments. FEM allows entire designs to be constructed, refined
and optimized before the design is manufactured. This powerful design tool has significantly
improved both the standard of engineering designs and the methodology of the design
process in many industrial applications. The use of FEM has significantly decreased the time
to take products from concept to the production line. One must take the advantage of the
advent of faster generation of personal computers for the analysis and design of engineering
product with precision level of accuracy.

1.1 BACKGROUND OF FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS


.
The finite element analysis can be traced back to the work by Alexander Hrennikoff
(1941)and Richard Courant(1942). Hrenikoff introduced the framework method, in which a
plane elastic medium was represented as collections of bars and beams. These pioneers share
one essential characteristic: mesh discretization of a continuous domain into a set of discrete
sub-domains, usually called elements.

• In 1950s, solution of large number of simultaneous equations became possible


because of the digital computer.
• In 1960, Ray W. Clough first published a paper using term “Finite Element Method”.
• In 1965, First conference on “finite elements” was held.
• In 1967, the first book on the “Finite Element Method” was published by Zienkiewicz
and Chung.
• In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the FEM was applied to a wide variety of
engineering problems.
• In the 1970s, most commercial FEM software packages (ABAQUS, NASTRAN,
ANSYS, etc.) originated. Interactive FE programs on supercomputer lead to rapid
growth of CAD systems.
• In the 1980s, algorithm on electromagnetic applications, fluid flow and thermal
analysis were developed with the use of FE program.
• Engineers can evaluate ways to control the vibrations and extend the use of flexible,
deployable structures in space using FE and other methods in the 1990s. Trends to
solve fully coupled solution of fluid flows with structural interactions, bio-mechanics
related problems with a higher level of accuracy were observed in this decade.

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1.2 PURPOSE OF FEA

Analytical Solution
• Stress analysis for trusses, beams, and other simple structures are carried out based on
dramatic simplification and idealization:
– mass concentrated at the center of gravity
– beam simplified as a line segment (same cross-section)

• Design is based on the calculation results of the idealized structure & a large safety factor
(1.5-3) given by experience.

FEA
• Design geometry is a lot more complex; and the accuracy requirement is a lot higher. We
need
– To understand the physical behaviors of a complex object (strength, heat transfer capability,
fluid flow, etc.)
– To predict the performance and behavior of the design; to calculate the safety margin; and
to identify the weakness of the design accurately; and
– To identify the optimal design with confidence

1.3 COMMON FEA APPLICATION

 Mechanical/Aerospace/Civil/Automotive Engineering

 Structural/Stress Analysis
Static/Dynamic
Linear/Nonlinear

 Fluid Flow
 Heat Transfer

 Electromagnetic Fields

 Soil Mechanics

 Acoustics

 Biomechanics

2.0 APPLYING FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS IN STRUCTURAL DESIGN

The use of Finite Element Analysis for the Structural Engineer is an important advantage.
The design of the structures not only benefit, but may require the use of this advanced
analysis approach. The nature of structural components involves several concerns and
requirements. Safety, reliability, strength, stiffness, and low cost all come in to the picture.
Coupled with this, are the additional design requirements of interference, manufacturability,
and overall function. Traditionally, classical calculation methods were used as the primary
tool for checking the strength characteristics of structures. Using the classical calculation
methods many times has limitations as to the fit to the design geometry. By using finite
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element modeling as a primary analysis tool, the constraints of creativity are removed. All the
requirements can now be evaluated and several variations of the design concept can be
considered. The model can be used to quickly assess the strength and stiffness, and also the
material usage of the component.

2.1 THE FEM DEFINED

In finite element method, the structure to beanalyzed is subdivided into a mesh of finitesized
elements of simple shape, and then the whole structure is solved with quite easiness.

2.2 FINITE SIZED ELEMENT

 The rectangular panel in the rectangular body and triangular panel in the circular plate
are referred to an ‘element’.
 There’re one-, two- and three-dimensional elements.
 The accuracy of the solution depends upon the number of the finite elements; the
more there’re, the greater the accuracy.

2.3 FINITE ELEMENT OF A BAR

If a uniaxial bar is part of a structure then it’s usually modeled by a spring element if
and only if the bar is allowed to move freely due to the displacement of the whole
structure. (One dimensional element)

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2.4 TYPES OF ELEMENT

Here goes the examples of two- and three dimensional finite sized elements

2.5 NODE

 The points of attachment of the element to other parts of the structure are called
nodes.
 The displacement at any node due to the deformation of structure is known as the
nodal displacement.

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2.6 DISCRETIZATIONS
Model body by dividing it into an equivalent system of many smaller bodies or units (finite
elements) interconnected at points common to two or more elements (nodes or nodal points)
and/or boundary lines and/or surfaces.

2.7 FEATURE
Obtain a set of algebraic equations to solve for unknown (first) nodal quantity (displacement).

Secondary quantities (stresses and strains) are expressed in terms of nodal values of primary
quantity

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3.0 SIMPLE BAR ANALYSIS (BY THE HELP OF FEM )

 Consider a simple bar made up of uniform material with length L and the
crosssectional area A. The young modulus of the material is E.

 Since any bar is modeled as spring in FEM thus we’ve:

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 Let us suppose that the value of spring constant is k. Now, we’ll evaluate the value of
k in terms of the properties (length, area, etc.) of the bar:
We know that:

 Now substituting the values of x and F is the base equation of k, we’ll have:

 According to the diagram, the force at node x1 can be written in the form:

Where x1 – x2 is actually the nodal displacement between two nodes. Further:

Similarly

Now Further simplification gives

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These two equations for F1 and F2 can also be
written as, in Matrix form:

Or

Here Ke is known as the Stiffness Matrix. So a uniform material framework of bars, the
value of the stiffness matrix would remain the same for all the elements of bars in the FEM
structure.

3.1 FURTHER EXTENSION

Similarly for two different materials bars joined together, we may write:

3.2 COMPLEX STRUCTURES

 Complex structures which contain the material continuum, are subdivided into the
elements and are analyzed on the computers. Software packages are available for the
determination of the Stiffness matrix of those structures.

 Some software packages also allow virtual subdivision on the computer as well i.e.
computer automatically analyzes the shape, and gives the stress-strain values at any
point of the structure.

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4.0 EXAMPLE OF A FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS OF A BEAM

A finite element model was constructed using plane 2-D elements. Over 700 nodes and 800
elements comprise the model of the simply supported beam which is constrained in the x and
y directions at the LHS (key point 1) and in the y direction at the RHS (key point 2). Force of
250 N was applied at key point 6 which was 355 mm from the RHS. The model was
constructed by defining key points (1-7) as shown by the green picture in Figure 1. The shape
of the model was then defined by curves which connected the key points. A region was
defined for the curves. This region was auto-meshed resulting in the node pattern shown by
the green picture and the element pattern (shown deformed) in the black picture of Figure 1.
Note that in this case the beam cross section is 25.4 mm tall but 11.6 mm wide to give a
rectangular cross section with a moment of inertia the same as the C-channel beam used in
the lab. The length of the beam and the relative loading points are the same the beam used in
the lab.

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Figure 1 FEA model of a beam (green picture is the undeformed node pattern with the key
points shown in black) in undeformed and deformed (black picture is the deformed element
pattern) shapes for an applied force of 255 N. Note that the vertical deflection at key point 4
is -1.08 mm.

Figure 2 Normal stresses in the x direction. Note that the legend shows stresses in MPa
The solution for the FEA model is found by solving for the displacements in the equation:
{F} = [k]{x} where F is the applied force vector and x is the resulting
displacement vector. The model stiffness k is comprised of the individual stiffnesses for all
the elements. Once the displacement vector is calculated, the strains can be calculated

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knowing the initial dimensions of the respective element. Using constitutive relations {s} =
[C]{e}, the stresses are calculated from the strains.
Figure 2 shows the normal stress distribution in the x-direction (in this case the bending
stress). Note the stress gradient across the cross section and along the length of the beam.
Also note the change of sign of the stress from the top of the beam to the bottom, with a zero
stress at the neutral axis. We Can Compare these gradients to what you would expect from
the beam bending equation and from the moment diagram.

5.0 ANALYSIS OF CONTINUOUS BEAM

Equivalent Loading on Beam Member

In finite element analysis, the external loads are necessary to be acting at the joints, which
does not happen always; as some forces may act on the member. The forces acting on the
member should be replaced by equivalent forces acting at the joints. These joint forces
obtained from the forces on the members are called equivalent joint loads. These joint loads
are combined with the actual joint loads to provide the combined joint loads, which are then
utilized in the analysis.

Varying Load
Let a beam is loaded with a linearly varying load as shown in the figure below. The
equivalent forces at nodes can be expressed using finite element technique. If w(x) is the
function of load, then the nodal load can be expressed as follows.

……………….1)

The loading function for the present case can be written as:

……………….2)

Fig. Varying load on beam


From eqs. 1 and 2, the equivalent nodal load will become

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………………………….3)

Now, if w1=w2=w, then the equivalent nodal force will be:

……………………….4)

Concentrated Load
Consider a force F is applied at a point is regarded as a limiting case of intense pressure over
infinitesimal length, so that p(x)dx approaches F. Therefore,

……………………….5)

Fig. Concentrated load on beam

Here, [N*] is obtained by evaluating [N] at point where the concentrated load F is applied.
Thus,

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……………………….6)

…………………………7)

Now, if load F is acting at mid-span (i.e., a=L/2), then equivalent nodal load will be

……………………………8)

With the above approach, the equivalent nodal load can be found for various loading function
acting on beam members.

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6.0 ADVANTAGES OF THE FEM

• Can readily handle very complex geometry:


- The heart and power of the FEM

• Can handle a wide variety of engineering problems


- Solid mechanics - Dynamics - Heat problems - Fluids - Electrostatic problems

• Can handle complex restraints


- Indeterminate structures can be solved.

• Can handle complex loading


- Nodal load (point loads)
- Element load (pressure, thermal, inertial forces)
- Time or frequency dependent loading

6.1 DIS-ADVANTAGES OF THE FEM

A general closed-form solution, which would permit one to examine system response to
changes in various parameters, is not produced.

The FEM obtains only "approximate" solutions.

The FEM has "inherent" errors.

Mistakes by users can be fatal.

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7.0 REFERENCES

 K. J. Bathe, ed., Computational Fluid and Solid Mechanics. New York: Elsevier,
2001, 2003, 2005, 2007.

 K. J. Bathe, Finite Element Procedures. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996.

 M. Mahendran and R.B. Tang, Pull-through Strength of High Tensile Steel Cladding
Systems, Australian Journal of Structural Engineering, SE2, (1999), pp.37-49.

 Prof. Dr. B. N. Rao “Finite Element Analysis” Department of Civil Engineering


Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

 Beena Kumari,Naveen Kwatra“Finite Element Modeling of a Multi-Storeyed


Retrofitted Reinforced Concrete Frame” Associate Professor, Department of Civil
Engineering, Thapar University, Patiala, India

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