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# MEC3455

Solid Mechanics
Topic 2 Airy Stress Functions
Dr Bernard Chen
Clayton Campus
Building 31/121

Prof. Soh Ai Kah
Monash University Sunway
Campus

Objectives
Derivation of the biharmonic P.D.E
and the Airy stress function as a
solution (biharmonic function)
Equations of equilibrium
Compatibility equations
Boundary conditions
Example questions
Introduction
Analogy: In fluid dynamics,
the Navier-Stokes equations
describe the motion of fluid at
a point in space in time.
The Airy stress function,
(, ) describes the state of
stress (normal and shear) at
any point in a structure under
Therefore, the Airy stress
function is dependent on
boundary conditions
Mapping of this topic
Equations of
equilibrium,
i.e. = 0
Compatibility equations
i.e. strain-displacement
relationships
Biharmonic partial differential equation (P.D.E)

4
= 0
where

4
=

4

4
+2

4

2
+

4

4

The Airy stress function, (, ), is the solution
where

=

2

=

2

=

2

2

Mapping of this topic
Biharmonic P.D.E.

4
= 0
where

4
=

4

4
+2

4

2
+

4

4

The Airy stress function, (, ), is the solution
where

=

2

=

2

=

2

2

This is the equation
that we need to satisfy,
for an Airy stress
function to exist!
The unique Airy stress function (solution) depends
on boundary conditions (loadings on the structure)
Consider a small element of dimensions dx, dy and with
unity thickness (thickness of 1)

x
o
y
dy
x
dx
dx
x
x
x
c
c
+
o
o
y
o xy
t
dy
y
y
y
c
c
+
o
o
dy
y
xy
xy
c
c
+
t
t
dx
x
xy
xy
c
c
+
t
t
Equations of equilibrium
Force balance equations for the element, with body
force included.
0 1 . . 1 . . 1 . . 1 . . 1 .
0
= +
|
|
.
|

\
|
c
c
+ +
|
.
|

\
|
c
c
+
=

dy Xdx dx dx dy
y
dy dy dx
x
F
xy
xy
xy x
x
x
x
t
t
t o
o
o
0 1 . . 1 . . 1 . . 1 . . 1 .
0
= +
|
|
.
|

\
|
c
c
+ +
|
|
.
|

\
|
c
c
+
=

dy Ydx dy dy dx
x
dx dx dy
y
F
xy
xy
xy y
y
y
y
t
t
t o
o
o
Equations of equilibrium
Eqn (1)
where and are components of the body
force,
=
2
+
2

Eqn (1) reduces to;
0 = +
c
c
+
c
c
X
y x
xy
x
t
o
0 = +
c
c
+
c
c
Y
x y
xy y
t o
Eqn (2)
In most engineering problems, the body forces and
are either zero or obvious i.e. gravity

Eqn (2) are the
Equations of
Equilibrium for a 2-
dimensional problem
(plane stress)
Equations of equilibrium
Assume that the previous element is deformed by
displacement , and in the , and directions
respectively.
For 2-D case, we shall ignore .

u
v
dy
y
u
u
c
c
+
dx
x
v
v
c
c
+
Note:
normal movements (normal
strain) are represented by and
rotational movements (shearing
strains) are represented by

and

Normal movement due
to normal stress
Rotational movement
due to shear stress
distortion
Compatibility equations
Using the engineering definitions of strain;
x
u
x
c
c
= c
x
v
y
u
xy
c
c
+
c
c
=
y
v
y
c
c
= c
Normal
strains
Shear strain
Note that the three strain components,

and

are now defined by two deformations and .

Eqn
(3a)
Eqn
(3b)
Eqn
(3c)
Compatibility equations
Differentiate the Eqn (3a) and Eqn 3(b) twice wrt to
and respectively, and Eqn 3(c) once wrt to
and , we obtain
y x x y
xy y
x
c c
c
=
c
c
+
c
c
c
c
2
2
2
2
2
This is the differential Equation of Compatibility
which must be satisfied to ensure that the
displacements and are related to the strains in
eqn (3a 3c)
Eqn (4)
Compatibility equations
How do we relate the Equation of
Equilibrium to the Equation of
Compatibility?
i.e. stress to strain?
Hookes
Law!
Since this is a 2D problem (plane), we will use the
2D Hookes Law.
Also, with Hookes Law, we are assuming that the
material is in its elastic region (no plastic
deformation).
( )
y x x
E
uo o c =
1
( )
x y y
E
uo o c =
1
( )
xy
xy
xy
E G
t
u
t

+
= =
1 2
Eqn
(5)
Substituting Hookes law (Eqn (5)) into the Equation of
Compatibility, Eqn (4) gives

( ) ( ) ( )
y x x y
xy
x y y x
c c
c
+ =
c
c
+
c
c
t
u uo o uo o
2
2
2
2
2
1 2 Eqn
(6)
How do we relate the Equation of
Equilibrium to the Equation of
Compatibility?
i.e. stress to strain?
While differentiate the Equations of Equilibrium (Eqn (2a))
wrt to and (Eqn (2b)) wrt and then adding the two
results gives

2
2
2
2
2
2
y x y x
y
x
xy
c
c

c
c
=
c c
c o
o
t
Eqn
(7)
Notice that by doing this, we have eliminated the three
strain components,

and

.

By substituting Eqn (7) into Eqn (6) (both equations
with stress terms only), this gives us
( ) 0
2
2
2
2
= +
|
|
.
|

\
|
c
c
+
c
c
y x
y x
o o
Eqn
(8)
Eqn (8) is a combination of equilibrium and
compatibility
1 equation, 2 unknowns
Therefore, to solve this, the Airy stress
function, (named after G.B. Airy, 1862) is
introduced
How do we relate the Equation of
Equilibrium to the Equation of
Compatibility?
i.e. stress to strain?
The stresses can be written in terms of the Airy stress
function as:
2
2
y
x
c
c
=
|
o
y x
xy
c c
c
=
|
t
2
2
2
x
y
c
c
=
|
o
Thus, substituting Eqn (9) back into Eqn (8) results in
Eqn (10), (with one parameter, - the Airy stress
function).
How do we relate the Equation of
Equilibrium to the Equation of
Compatibility?
Eqn (9)
0 2
4
4
2 2
4
4
4
=
c
c
+
c c
c
+
c
c
y y x x
| | |
0
4
= V |
Eqn (10)
How do we relate the Equation of
Equilibrium to the Equation of
Compatibility?
0 2
4
4
2 2
4
4
4
=
c
c
+
c c
c
+
c
c
y y x x
| | |
This is the Biharmonic Partial Differential Equation.
Only stress functions, (, ) which satisfy this equation
(Eqn (10)) meet both equilibrium and compatibility
requirements.
0
4
= V |
You will see that any in terms of polynomial function in
(, ) less than power of 4 will satisfy Eqn (10)
BUT is it the appropriate solution?
Solution must satisfy boundary conditions
Eqn (10)
How do we relate the Equation of
Equilibrium to the Equation of Compatibility?
The Airy stress function, (, ) determines the stress
state.
Often we also want to determine how the structure
deforms with the applied load.
Therefore, we can use Hookes law to determine the
deformation of the structure from the stress.
= displacement in ; = displacement in ;
( )
( )

=
c
c
+
c
c
=
=
c
c
=
=
c
c
=
G x
v
y
u
E y
v
E x
u
xy
xy
x y y
y x x
t

uo o c
uo o c
1
1
Example 1
MEC3455-Airy Stress Function 19
Example 2
For the uniformly loaded cantilever beam shown below, the compatible
stress field was found to be

) y y 3c (2c
6I
w

) y x(c
2I
w

y
3I
w
)y 2c (5x
10I
w

3 2 3
z
y
2 2
z
xy
3
z
2 2
z
x
+ =
=
+ =
Verify that this stress field satisfies equilibrium.
MEC3455-Airy Stress Function 20
EXAMPLE 3
Consider a thin cantilever loaded as shown in the below figure. Assume
that the bending stress is expressed by

y x
2I
P
I
y M
2 z
x
= = o
and o
z
= t
xz
= t
yz
= 0. Determine the stress components o
y
and t
xy
as
functions of x and y.