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CHAPTER 2

Finite Element Overview


Basic Concept of the Displacement
Method
Most finite element codes are based on the displacement
method
Each structural member can be represented by a stiffness
matrix--more commonly referred to as the element
stiffness matrix
The element stiffness matrix depends on the element type
and the behavior that you want to simulate
For a single element, you can represent the relationship
by the following equation:

 { P } = [ k ]e { u } 2-1
 Where { P } = known forces applied to the structure
 [ k ]e = the element matrix [ kij ] where each [ kij ] term is
the force of a constraint at coordinate i due to a
unit displacement at j with all other displacements
held to zero
 { u } = the displacements obtained by solving equation
2-1
Proper boundary conditions must be applied to the the
single element model prior to solving equation 2-1 for {u}
Physically, the structure will take off when a load is
applied if the structure is not properly constrained
Interpretation of Element Stiffness
Matrix [ke]
[k]e describes how force is transmitted through the
element
For elastic problems, Maxwell’s Law requires that the
stiffness matrix be symmetric
Mathematically, this means that the matrix [k]e must be
square and it must satisfy the following relationship

 kij = kji
This is reasonable since pulling end 1 of a spring a given
distance while holding end 2 fixed requires the same force
as pulling end 2 the same distance while holding end 1
fixed
A single term of the stiffness matrix kij is called a stiffness
coefficient. The units of kij are load/displacement. The
units of kij for a spring are force/length (e.g., lb/in, N/m)
Finite Element Simulation of a
Continuous Structure
Analyzing a complex engineering problem may be difficult
(if not impossible) without some simplifying assumptions
For finite element analysis, the complex structure is
divided into a series of separate (finite) elements which,
when combined into an assembly, approximate the
behavior of the complex structure
The complex structure is divided into discrete grid points
connected by elements
The motion of each grid point may be described by using
six independent degrees of freedom (DOFs.) A degree of
freedom is defined as an independent component of
translation or rotation at a grid point
A continuous structure has theoretically infinite number of
degrees of freedom
The concept of finite element is to approximate this
behavior by discretizing the structure to finite number of
degrees of freedom
Figure 2-1 illustrates the 6 dof used to determine the
motion of a grid point
Discretization of Continuous
Structure
“Displacement” is a general term describing a component
of translation or rotation

Figure 2-1
Single Element: With Axial load
carrying capability
Let’s look at a single ROD element that carries axial load
only
An example of this is a truss member of a bridge
connected by pin joints

• Figure 2-2
Note that MSC.Nastran ROD element can optionally carry
torsional load (not included in this example)
For this ROD element, equation 2-1 can be represented as

 { P } = [ k ]e { u } 2-2
 or

 P1 AE 1 -1 U1 2-3
 P2 L -1 1 U2

 where [k]e = [kij] , the known 2x2 ROD stiffness matrix


 {P} = vector of known applied forces
 {u} = vector of unknown displacements by solving
equation 2-2
 A = cross-sectional area of ROD element
 E = Young’s modulus
 L = length of ROD element

The unknown displacements, {u}, in equation 2-2 (or 2-3)


can be solved as follows:

 { u } = [ k ]e-1 { P } 2-4

For efficiency, MSC.Nastran uses DCMP/FBS to solve


equation 2-2 (2-3) instead of the inverse method as shown
in equation 2-4. The concept is the same.
For simplicity of explanation in this seminar, we’ll
reference equation 2-4.
We cannot solve the ROD problem in Figure 2-2 as is,
since [k]e-1 is singular, it will appear a FATAL MESSAGE
named 9050.
The physical interpretation of this singular matrix is if you
pull at grid point 2, the ROD will take off since there is
nothing to hold it back.
Mathematically, the two equations are linearly dependent
on each other.
To illustrate this, let’s expand equation 2-3 as follows:

 P1 = (AE/L)*u1 - (AE/L)*u2 2-5a


 P2 = -(AE/L)*u1 + (AE/L)*u2 2-5b

Note that equation 2-5b is a linear combination of equation


2-5b. Therefore, the two equations are not independent of
each other.
To stabilize the structure (so it won’t take off when a load
is applied), the proper boundary condition must be applied
to remove the rigid body motion.
Let’s revisit the same ROD problem and fix it at the left
end as follows:

This is equivalent to removing row 1 and column 1 from


equation 2-3 before performing the inverse operation.
 P1 AE 1 -1 U1
 P2 L -1 1 U2 2-6
After removing the rigid body motion, equation 2-6 can
now be solved
 { u } = [ k ]e-1 { P }

 or u2 = {L/(AE)} * P2

 for A = 5.0, L = 100., E = 29. E6, P = 2.E5



 u2 = {(100)/(5 * 29E6)} * 2E5 = 0.13791 (displacement)
 Fe2 = {(A*E)/L} * u2 = 2.E5 (element force)
 s = Fe2/A = 2.E5/5. = 4.E4 (element stress)
Note that Fe2 = P2 in this case since there is only 1 element
General Analysis Input
Requirement
What are the general requirements for a typical analysis?
 Geometry
• Location of the models (end points 1 and 2 in the ROD example)
• Coordinate system (default implied coordinate system)
 Element Connectivities
• Element type to be used (axial load-only element in this case)
• Where is this element? (connected to end points 1 and 2 in this case)
 Element Properties
• Each element type has a specific list of properties.
• For this simple ROD example, only the cross sectional area is needed
 Material Properties
• What type of material am I using? Is it aluminum, steel, graphite
epoxy, etc.
• Physical properties such as Young’s modulus, Poisson’s ratio,
thermal coefficients of expansion, material density, etc. need to be
provided for the material of interest.
• For this example, only the Young’s modulus is needed, because we
are using 1D element and there is not poisson effect.
 Boundary Conditions
• Proper boundary conditions must be supplied to remove all rigid body
motion.
• The left-end is constrained for this ROD example problem.
 Loadings
• Applied loads
• Enforced Displacements
• Thermal loads
• For this example, we applied a load at the right hand side (P2)
 What do I want to get out of the analysis?
• Deflections, element forces, element stresses, reaction forces, etc.
MSC.Nastran Input Requirement
for the ROD Example
What are the general requirements for a typical
MSC.Nastran analysis? (Same as general analysis)
 Geometry (GRID entry)
 Element Connectivities
 Element Properties
 Material Properties
 Boundary Conditions
 Loadings
 What do I want to get out of the analysis?
GRID CARD
Geometry
 This is defined by the GRID entry.
ELEMENT USED (CROD CARD)
What are the general requirements for a typical
MSC.Nastran analysis?
 Geometry (GRID entry)
 Element Connectivities
 Element Properties
 Material Properties
 Boundary Conditions
 Loadings
 What do I want to get out of the analysis?
Element Connectivities
 For this example, the element connectivity is described by the
CROD entry.
ELEMENT PROPERTY USED
What are the general requirements for a typical
MSC.Nastran analysis?
 Geometry (GRID entry)
 Element Connectivities
 Element Properties
 Material Properties
 Boundary Conditions
 Loadings
 What do I want to get out of the analysis?
Element Properties
 The element property for this example is described by the PROD
entry.
MATERIAL CARD (ISOTROPIC)
What are the general requirements for a typical
MSC.Nastran analysis?
 Geometry (GRID entry)
 Element Connectivities
 Element Properties
 Material Properties
 Boundary Conditions
 Loadings
 What do I want to get out of the analysis?
Material Properties
 For this problem, the material property is described by the MAT1
entry in MSC.Nastran.
 You can define E, G, and n.
 You need to supply only two out of the three constants. The third
constant is calculated automatically by the following relationship:

 E - Young’s Modulus (for extension and bending)


 G - Shear Modulus (for torsion and shear)
 r - Mass density
Material Properties (cont.)
 a - thermal coefficient of expansion
 Tref - Reference temperature for thermal coefficient of expansion
 ST,SC,SS - stress limits for tension, compression, and shear,
respectively.
Material Properties (cont.)
BOUNDARY CONDITIONS
What are the general requirements for a typical
MSC.Nastran analysis?
 Geometry (GRID entry)
 Element Connectivities
 Element Properties
 Material Properties
 Boundary Conditions
 Loadings
 What do I want to get out of the analysis?
In MSC.Nastran, boundary conditions can be specified
with SPC, SPC1, and/or field 8 of the GRID entry.
For this example, we specify the boundary condition on
the GRID entry (see page 2-20.)
LOAD
What are the general requirements for a typical
MSC.Nastran analysis?
 Geometry (GRID entry)
 Element Connectivities
 Element Properties
 Material Properties
 Boundary Conditions
 Loadings
 What do I want to get out of the analysis?
For this example, we will use the FORCE entry.
where
For this problem,
 Element property ( A = 5.0)
 Material property (E = 29E+6 psi, G = 11. E+6 psi, sy = 36000 psi)
 Applied loads ( P = 2.E+5 lbs)
The required input file is summarized as follows:
What are the general requirements for a typical
MSC.Nastran analysis?
 Geometry (GRID entry)
 Element Connectivities
 Element Properties
 Material Properties
 Boundary Conditions
 Loadings
 What do I want to get out of the analysis?
For this example, we want the displacements, element
forces, and element stress output.
This can be accomplished by the following request in the
case control section which will be covered in detail later
on.

 DISP = ALL
 FORCE = ALL
 STRESS = ALL
Partial output from MSC.Nastran

Hand Calculation
Hand Calculation
Partial output from MSC.Nastran (cont.)

Hand Calculation
HAND CALCULATION
We have looked at the stiffness matrix of an individual
element. Now let’s look at the global stiffness of a real
structure.
A real structure can be modeled as a collection of
individual elements.
An assembly of elemental stiffness matrices representing
a structure is called the global stiffness matrix.
For the following two axial load carrying ROD elements:
ka 2 kb
1 3
100 200
U1 , P1 U2 , P2 U3 , P3
Global Stiffness Matrix
The individual element stiffness matrices for elements 100
and 200 can be represented as:

 P1 ka -ka u1 P2 kb -kb u2
 P2 -ka ka u2 and P3 -kb kb u3

The assembly global stiffness matrix can be represented


as:
 1 2 3
 P1 ka -ka 0 u1
 P2 -ka (ka+ kb) -kb u2 ( 2-7)
 P3 0 -kb kb u3

The global stiffness matrix is obtained by superposing the
elemental stiffness matrices.
Direct determination of the element stiffness matrix is
limited to simple elements with limited degrees of
freedom.
For higher-order elements (general beams, plates, solids),
energy principles and assumed element shape functions
are used to determine the element stiffness matrices.
Once the global stiffness matrix is assembled as shown in
equation 2-7, the equation can then be solved using the
same procedure as with the single element.
The procedure is as follows:
 Apply the proper boundary condition by removing the appropriate
rows and columns of equation 2-7.
 When removing rigid body motion, you must remember that the
finite element code is working in 3-dimensional space. That is, the
set of constraints you apply must be able to prevent any possible
rigid-body motion in 3-dimensions.
 Solve { u } = [ K ]-1 { P }
 Note that MSC.Nastran uses a DCMP/FBS procedure rather than
the actual matrix inversion method.
Procedure for General Structure
The same procedure used for the one element and two
elements axial models can be expanded to a general
structure. For example, the aircraft structure shown below.

Element 100

Element 200

For example, the two highlighted stringers can be


represented by the two element stiffness matrices shown
previously.
The NxN global stiffness matrix is shown below.

Stiffness contributions from the rest of the aircraft

 ka -ka 0
 -ka (ka+ kb) -kb
 0 -kb kb

NxN
The stiffness characteristics of the rest of the aircraft are
obtained by assembling the individual stiffness to the
global stiffness matrix using the exact same procedure as
used by the two-element model.
The behavior of the structure is obtained by considering
the collective behavior of the discrete elements.
The user is responsible for the subdivision or
discretization of real-world structures.
A graphic preprocessor such as MSC.Patran or N4W
(FEMAP) is invaluable for generating real world structures.
In general, the finer the mesh, the more accurate the
model is at the expense of computational cost.
Computer resources (cpu time) used by MSC.Nastran (for
a problem with “N” dof)
 Overhead (~ constant)
 Stiffness matrix assembly (~ N)
 Solution cost ( ~ N2, decreasing constantly with faster and faster
numerical methods and hardware)
 Data recovery ( ~ N)
Note that the mesh density for the aircraft model is
probably too coarse. The coarse mesh makes it clearer
for the purpose of this presentation.
Output from MSC.Nastran
You can request all kinds of outputs when running
MSC.Nastran. Some of them are:
 Components of displacements at grid points
 Element data recovery
• stresses
• strains
• strain energy
• internal forces and moments
 Grid point data recovery
• applied loads
• force of constraints
• grid point forces
Model Verification
It is the user’s responsibility to verify the accuracy of the
results generated from the analysis.
Some minimum suggested checks to perform include
 Generate plots to visually verify the geometry and connectivity
 Verify overall response for the loadings applied
 Verify that reaction loads balance applied loads
 Perform hand checks and “bracket” results whenever possible
 See the Proceedings of the 1986 MSC World Users’ Conference,
“MSC/NASTRAN Model Checkout” by the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory.
Modeling Guidelines
Engineering judgment about the behavior of the structure
is required before modeling process begins.
Recognize all load applications and reaction points.
Establish the primary load paths for bending, torsion,
shear, and axial loads.
Refine the mesh in regions where high stress gradients
are expected (or observed in a previous run). Increasing
the number of elements generally increases the accuracy.
Try to exploit symmetry in the structure.
Consider project budget and computer resources--
increasing the DOFs increases the computer resources,
modeling time, and output interpretation time.
Sensitivity studies should be performed with small models
to determine the relationships between number of
elements, solution accuracy, and modeling cost.
Always create a small, simple test model to check out
unfamiliar modeling techniques and procedures before
running expensive, real models.
 You cannot afford not to spend the time with a small model.
 In the long run, you will end up saving debugging time and have a
more accurate model.
MSC.Nastran knows nothing about units.
 It is the user’s responsibility to maintain a consistent set of units.
 The input units must be consistent in order to expect consistent
set of output units.
UNITS
An example using consistent sets of units

Overview of Finite Element
Solution Procedure

Matrix Structural Analysis
References

Finite Element Method References
Workshop 1

Pin-joint Truss Subjected to Point Loads


Pin Joint Truss Subjected to Point
Loads

Figure 1-1
Model description
 Connected by pin joints
 Simply supported at left end, roller at right end
 Treat it as two dimensional structure
 Wood material
• A = 5.25 in2
• E = 1.76E6 psi
 n = .3
• tension allowable =1900 psi
• compression allowable = 1900 psi
 Apply point loads at grid points 2,4, and 6 as shown in Figure 1-1
Partial Input File for Workshop 1

F06 Output for Workshop # 1

Deformed Plot for Workshop 1

Deformed Shape Undeformed Shape
Workshop # 1 Solution File


Element Stiffness Matrix of BAR
Element
Now let’s look at the elemental stiffness matrix of a BAR
element.
For illustration purposes, just consider the shear and
moment in one plane (x-y plane, 2-D)
The element stiffness matrix for the BAR element for a 2-D
model including only the shear and moment in the x-y
plane is as follows:

Similar approach can be used to develop the 3-D BAR


element, which is 12x12 matrix.
CBAR Element
Connected to two grid points.
Formulation derived from classical beam theory (plane
sections remain plane under deformations).
Default is the Bernoulli Euler formulation. Optionally can
include effect of transverse shear deformation.
Force components
 Axial force, P
 Torque, T
 Bending moments about perpendicular directions, Mi
 Shears in two perpendicular directions, Vi
Displacement components
 ui
 qi
Neutral axis may be offset from the grid points (internally
a rigid link is created.)
Pin flag capability can be used to represent linkages, etc.
Can optionally leave out any one of the properties (A, I1,
I2, J)
Principal limitations
 Straight, prismatic member (i.e., properties do not vary along the
length)
Principal limitations (cont.)
 Shear center and neutral axis must coincide (therefore, not
recommended for modeling channel sections.)
 Torsional stiffening effect of out-of-plane cross-sectional warping
is neglected.
 No torsional mass moment of inertia
If the above limitations are crucial, use the BEAM element.
The BEAM element does not have the above limitations.
See the MSC.Nastran Linear Static Analysis User’s Guide
or MSC.Nastran Reference Manual for further details
regarding the BAR element.
CBAR Element Definition
Element Connectivity for the CBAR element
CBAR element coordinate system and orientation vector.
Whether to use the GO or (X1, X2, X3) option depends on
the situation. For example,if you are representing
stringers on a fuselage with CBAR elements, the GO
option will minimize the amount of work.

If GO is defined solely for the purpose of orientation


vector, then the degrees of freedom not connected to the
structure must be constrained. Otherwise, a singular
matrix will be encountered.
For the following example of a tripod modeled with CBAR
elements, it would be more efficient to use the (X1, X2, X3)
method. The orientation of each of the legs is unique.
Offsets:
 The ends of the CBAR element can be offset from the grid points
(GA, GB) by specifying the components of offset vectors WA and
WB on the CBAR entry.
 The offset vector is treated as a rigid link between the grid point
and the end of the element.
 The element coordinate system is defined with respect to the offset
ends of the CBAR element.
Pin Flags:
 The user specifies DOFs at either end of the CBAR element that are
to transmit zero force or moment.
 The pin flags PA and PB are specified in the element coordinate
system.
 PA and PB are defined in fields 2 and 3 of the optional CBAR
continuation entry.
 Pin flags are force constraints. SPCs (discussed later) and
constraints specified on field 8 of the GRID entries are
displacement constraints.
PBAR Definition
The CBAR element property may be defined by either the
PBAR or PBARL entry.

$

Field Contents
Torsional Constants for Some
Typical Cross Sections
Calculation of the torsional constants of some typical
cross sections
Calculation of the torsional constants of some typical
cross sections (cont.)
Deformation Due to Transverse
Shear
The shear displacement V of the CBAR element is defined
as
 V = ( Fz * L ) / ( K * A * G)

 where Fz = transverse shear force in the element z-direction


 L = length of element
 K = shear factor
 A = cross-sectional area
 G = shear modulus
 and the term 1/(K*A*G) is called the shear flexibility of the CBAR
element.
K accounts for the shear distribution over the element
cross section, and its value depends on the geometry of
the cross section.
K1 contributes to the shear resisting the transverse force
in the element y-axis direction.
K2 contributes to the shear resisting the transverse force
in the element z-axis direction.
K values for some typical cross sections.

See Roark and Young, Formulas for Stress and Strain, 5th
ed., p. 185 for further details.
The orientation of the element coordinate system
determines:
 The element reference planes (plane 1 and plane 2).
 The orientation of the moment of inertia.
 The stress data recovery coordinates.
 For the following element coordinate system:
 For this element coordinate system:
PBARL Definition
The format for the PBARL is as follows:
where




BAR Element Force Definition

The following figure illustrates the interpretation of the


CBAR element internal forces and moments.
For plane 1 and plane 2
CBAR Element Example


MSC.Nastran Input File for CBAR
Example

CBAR Example - Displacement
Output

CBAR Example - Element Force
Output

CBAR Example - Element Stress
Output

Workshop 2

Roof Truss Subjected to Point Loads


(Top and bottom members welded, cross
braces are connected by pin joints)

Figure 2-1
Model description
 Simply supported at left end, roller at right end.
 Treat it as two dimensional structure.
 Apply point loads at grid points 2,4, and 6 as shown in Figure 2-1.
 Top (1,2,3,4) and bottom (9,10,11) are steel members and are welded
together.
 Cross braces are made of wood and are connected with pin joints.
 See Table 2-1 for element properties.
 See Table 2-2 for material properties.
 See Table 2-3 for cross-sectional properties.


Partial Input File for Workshop # 2

Incomplete Input File for
Workshop # 2 (cont.)

F06 Output for Workshop # 2

Deformed Plot for Workshop # 2

Deformed Plot Undeformed Plot
Solution File for Workshop # 2


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