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# Chapter 23: Bolted Plates

23 Bolted Plates

Summary 426

Introduction 427

Solution Requirements 427

FEM Solutions 429

Modeling Tips 436

Input File(s) 436

Video 437
426 MD Demonstration Problems
CHAPTER 23

Summary
Title Chapter 23: Bolted Plates
Contact features • Deformable-deformable contact
• No friction
Geometry Units: mm
Large plate 60x20x6
Small plate 20x20x2
Z

## Bolt head thickness = 2 Z X

X Y

Nut thickness = 2 1 4

## Material properties E plates = 210kN  mm 2 , E bolt = 21kN  mm 2 ,  plates =  bo lt = 0.3 ,  plates = 10 C

–5 –1
, Linear
elastic material
Analysis type Quasi-static analysis
Boundary conditions Small plate is supported at one side. Normal contact conditions applied between the two
plates and between the large plate and the bolt, glued contact between the small plate and
the nut. Rigid rotation and translation of the plates is suppressed
Applied loads Load step 1: Bolt is fastened by pre-tension force F = 200N .
• uniform pressure P = 0.125MPa
• thermal load, temperature increase T = 50C
Element type 3-D solid 8-node linear elements
FE results 1. Deformed shape and von Mises stress distribution
2. Plot of bolt forces
CHAPTER 23 427
Bolted Plates

Introduction
A small and a large steel plate are bolted together. Initially, the smaller plate is in full contact on one side with the
larger plate. The opposite side of the smaller plate is supported. Furthermore, the bolt head is touching the larger plate
and the nut is glued to the smaller plate. It is assumed that the material behavior for both the plates and the bolt is linear
elastic.

In the first load step, the bolt is fastened by applying a pre-tension force ( F = 200N ) to the bolt in the basic Z-direction.
In three subsequent load steps, the bolt is locked (that is, further shortening of the bolt is suppressed) and the plates
are subjected to cyclic loads. Two types of loads will be presented: a mechanical load that consists of a uniform
pressure equal to P = 0.125MPa applied to the larger plate and a thermal load in which temperature of the plates is
increased by T = 50C .

Solution Requirements
Two solutions, one involving a uniform pressure equal to P = 0.125MPa applied to the larger plate and one involving
a temperature increase by T = 50C of the two plates, are:
• Bolt shortening during fastening in the first load step
• Bolt stresses
These solutions demonstrate:
• Bolt modelling
• That the bolt force is largely unaffected by the applied pressure to the larger plate
• That the bolt force increases with increasing temperature of the plates, due to thermal expansion
The analysis results are presented with linear elements.

Bolt Modeling
In various engineering applications, it is necessary to define a pre-stress in, for example, bolts or rivets before applying
any other structural loading. A convenient way do this is via multi-point constraints. The idea is to split the element
mesh of the bolt across the shaft in two disjoint parts, such that duplicate grid points appear at the cut, and to connect
the duplicate nodes again by multi-point constraints (see Figure 23-1). The constraints are chosen such that an overlap
or a gap can be created between the two parts in a controllable way. If the motion of the parts is somehow constrained
in the direction in which the gap or overlap is created, then an overlap (a “shortening” of the bolt) will introduce a
tensile (pre-)stress in each of the parts and a gap (an “enlongation” of the bolt) will result in a compressive stress.
The multi-point constraints have one slave and two master grid points. The slaves are the grid points at the cut from
the bottom part of the bolt (see Figure 23-1). The first master grids are the corresponding grid points from the top part
of the bolt on the other side of the cut. The second master in the constraints is a unique third grid point, called the
control grid point of the bolt. This is often a free grid point (that is, not part of the element mesh) and is shared by all
multi-point constraints on the cut.
428 MD Demonstration Problems
CHAPTER 23

## top grids mesh split F1,bot F2,bot

(first master) MPCs ucontrol
u1,bot u2,bot
(overlap) ucontrol
control grid
(second master) u1,top u2,top
bottom grids
(slave) F1,top F2,top

## bottom part bottom part

undeformed deformed

Figure 23-1 Pre-stressing a Structure by Creating an Overlap Between the Top and the Bottom Part
Using Multi-Point Constraints.

The multi-point constraints impose the following constraint equations on the model:
u bo t – u t op – u control = 0 .

in which u bo t , u top and u control are the displacement degrees of freedom of a grid point from the bottom part, its
corresponding grid from the top part and the control grid point, respectively. It immediately follows from this equation
that u control is the displacement difference of the bottom and top grids and is equal to the size of the overlap or gap
between the parts. Hence, by enforcing the displacements of the control grid point, an overlap or gap of a particular
size can be created between the two parts.
It can be shown (see, for instance, MSC.Marc 2010 Volume A: Theory and User Information, Chapter 9, Section
“Overclosure Tying”), that if the multi-point constraints are set up as outlined above, the force on the control grid
point equals the sum of the forces on the grid points from the bottom part as well as minus the sum of the forces on
the grid points from the top part:

## F control =  F bot = –  F top .

Hence, the force on the control grid point is the total force on the cross-section of the bolt. By applying a (pre-tension)
force to that grid point, the total force on the cross-section can be prescribed. Moreover, if the shortening of the bolt
is prescribed via an enforced displacement on the control grid point, then the reaction force on that grid point is equal
to the total force on the cross-section of the bolt.
Note that both types of boundary conditions on the control grid point can be combined in a single analysis as
demonstrated in this example. In the first load step, the pre-tension force will be applied to the control grid point of
the bolt. This results in a certain amount of shortening of the bolt. At the end of the first load step, the amount of
shortening is recorded and is kept constant in subsequent load steps, via a single point constraint on the control grid
point.
CHAPTER 23 429
Bolted Plates

Grid 1903

Bolt
Large Plate

Small plate
Nut

Figure 23-2 Element Mesh and Multi-Point Constraints applied in Target Solution with MD Nastran

Note: The gap between the top and bottom parts of the bolt in the picture on the right is purely for visualization
purposes. In reality, the gap is closed although the duplicate grids remain.

There are two ways to define the multi-point constraints for bolt modeling in the bulk data: each constraint can be
defined explicitly via the MPC option or the entire set of constraints can be defined via the BOLT option. The latter has
been designed specially for bolt modeling and has several advantages over explicit MPCs:
• Provides a much more concise input than explicit MPCs;
• Generates all the required multi-point constraints on all displacement and rotational degrees of freedom
automatically;
• Ensures continuity of the temperature field across the cut in the thermal passes of coupled analyses;
• Requires no special provisions in a contact analysis (see below).

FEM Solutions
A numerical solution has been obtained with MD Nastran’s SOL 400 for the element mesh shown in Figure 23-2 using
3-D solid linear elements. The bolt and the nut are assumed to be rigidly connected and are modeled as a single
physical body. To fasten the bolt, the element mesh of the bolt is split into two parts across the shaft and the 41 grid
point pairs on both sides of the cut are connected by multi-point constraints of the form discussed in the preceding
section. Grid ID 1903 acts as the control grid of the bolt.
Two versions of the input are considered. In the first version, the BOLT option is used to generate the multi-point
constraints on the cut. In the second version, the constraints are defined explicitly via the MPC option.
The BOLT option requires a bolt ID (5000), the ID of the control grid of the bolt (1903) and the grids at the cut from
the top and bottom parts of the bolt. The latter must be entered pair-wise in the TOP and BOTTOM section of the option:
the i-th TOP grid should correspond to the i-th BOTTOM grid.
BOLT 5000 1903
430 MD Demonstration Problems
CHAPTER 23

## TOP 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868

1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875
1876 1877 1878 1879 1880 1881 1882
1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889
1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896
1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902
BOTTOM 341 353 365 377 389 401 413
425 437 449 461 473 485 497
1394 1406 1418 1430 1442 1454 1466
1478 1490 1502 1572 1584 1596 1608
1620 1632 1644 1656 1668 1680 1747
1759 1771 1783 1795 1807 1819

## The equivalent input using explicit MPCs reads:

MPC 1 341 1 1.0 1862 1 -1.0
1903 1 -1.0
MPC 1 341 2 1.0 1862 2 -1.0
1903 2 -1.0
MPC 1 341 3 1.0 1862 3 -1.0
1903 3 -1.0
MPC 2 353 1 1.0 1863 1 -1.0
1903 1 -1.0
MPC 2 353 2 1.0 1863 2 -1.0
1903 2 -1.0
MPC 2 353 3 1.0 1863 3 -1.0
1903 3 -1.0
...
\$
MPCADD 100 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
40 41

Contact
The main problem with the use of explicit MPCs is that in a contact analysis, the constraints may conflict with the
multi-point constraints due to contact. Special provisions have to be made in the contact setup to avoid that the slave
grids of the MPCs can come in contact with other contact bodies. Furthermore, due to the cut in the mesh, it is difficult
for grid points of other contact bodies that touch the bolt surface, to slide across the cut from the bottom part of the
bolt to the top part or vice versa. The BOLT option addresses both issues, provided that the two parts of the bolt are in
the same contact body. Conflicts with contact constraints are avoided and grid points that touch the surface of the bolt
can slide without difficulties across the cut.
For the present model, the two methods are compared. To avoid problems in the MPC version between the explicit
MPCs and the contact constraints, the radius of the bolt shaft is slightly smaller than the radius of the holes in the plates,
such that contact between the shaft and plates will not occur.
The three physical components of the model (the two plates and the bolt with the nut) have been selected as contact
bodies. The contact bodies are identified as the set of elements in the respective components:
\$ contact body: bolt and nut
BCBODY 1 3D DEFORM 1
BSURF 1 167 168 169 170 171 172 173
...
\$ contact body: small plate
BCBODY 2 3D DEFORM 2
CHAPTER 23 431
Bolted Plates

## BSURF 2 139 140 141 142 143 144 145

...
\$ contact body: large plate
BCBODY 3 3D DEFORM 3
BSURF 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
...

The two parts of the bolt are in same contact body (ID=1).
The BCTABLE entries shown below identify the admissible contact combinations, select the slave and master body for
each combination, and set associated parameters. It is important to note that:
• The first contact body (bolt and nut) must be selected as the slave (or contacting) body. Since the contact
algorithm detects contact between the grid points at the surface of the slave (or contacting) body and the faces
of the elements at the surface of the master (or contacted) body, the body with the finer element mesh in the
contact region generally should be selected as the slave body and the body with the coarser mesh as the
master, as this results in “more points in contact” and thus a better description of the contact conditions than
with the opposite definition. The ISEARCH entry is set to 1 to force search order from the slave body to the
master.
• The bolt can touch the plates and the plates can touch each other.
• The IGLUE entry is set to 1 for contact between the nut and the smaller plate to activate glued contact
conditions (that is, no sliding and no separation) between these two contact bodies.
BCTABLE 0 3
SLAVE 1 0. 0. 0. 1
1 0 0
MASTERS 2
SLAVE 1 0. 0. 0. 0
1 0 0
MASTERS 3
SLAVE 2 0. 0. 0. 0
1 0 0
MASTERS 3
BCTABLE 1 3
SLAVE 1 0. 0. 0. 1
1 0 0
MASTERS 2
SLAVE 1 0. 0. 0. 0
1 0 0
MASTERS 3
SLAVE 2 0. 0. 0. 0
1 0 0
MASTERS 3

## Materials and Properties

The 3-D solid elements with large strain capability available on MD Nastran SOL 400 are chosen by the PSOLID and
PSLDN1 entries on the CHEXA option as shown below.
\$ plates
PSOLID* 1 1
PSLDN1* 1 1
\$
\$ bolt and nut
PSOLID* 2 2
PSLDN1* 2 2
432 MD Demonstration Problems
CHAPTER 23

The large strain capability and assumed strain formulation (for improved bending behavior) for these elements are
activated via the NLMOPTS option.
NLMOPTS ASSM ASSUMED
LRGSTRN 1

The two materials are isotropic and elastic with Young’s modulus, Poisson’s ratio and thermal expansion defined as:
\$ plates
MAT1* 1 2.100000E+05 3.000000E-01
* 1.000000E+00 1.000000E-05
\$ bolt and nut
MAT1* 2 2.100000E+04 3.000000E-01

is applied to the control grid point of the bolt via a FORCE option, as follows:
\$ bolt-force
FORCE 1 1903 0 200. 0. 0. 1.

At the end of the load step, the shortening of the bolt due to the applied pre-tension force is recorded and kept constant
in subsequent load steps by a single-point constraint on the displacement of the control grid in the basic Z direction:
\$ bolt-lock
SPC1 5 3 1903

Throughout the analysis, the displacements of the control grid in the basic X and Y directions are suppressed by a
single-point constraint:
\$ bolt-xy
SPC1 4 12 1903

In all four load steps, the full load is applied in a single increment. The nonlinear procedure used in the load steps is:
NLPARM 1 1 PFNT 1 50 UP NO
+ .01 .01
+ 0

Here, the PFNT option is selected to activate the pure Newton-Raphson iteration strategy. Convergence of the non-
linear iteration process is checked on both displacements and forces, using tolerances equal to 0.01.

Results
The shortening of the bolt due to the pre-tension force applied in the first load step is listed in Table 23-1. The solution
obtained with an equivalent MSC.Marc 2005r3 model is included for reference. This shortening is recorded at the end
of the first load step and kept fixed in the subsequent load steps. It is apparent from this table that the MPC version
and the BOLT version produce identical results.
CHAPTER 23 433
Bolted Plates

Table 23-1 Bolt Shortening During Fastening in the First Load Step
MD Nastran
MD Nastran (MPC) (BOLT) MSC.Marc 2005r3
bolt shortening 0.0054 0.0054 0.0054

The pressure load is applied in a cyclic fashion to the large plate in the final three load steps. The plate is loaded in
load steps 2 and 4 and unloaded in load step 3. The deformed structure plot (magnification factor 500) as well as the
equivalent von Mises stress distribution at the end of the final load step are shown in Figure 23-3. A plot of the bolt
force in the basic Z direction is depicted in Figure 23-4. Note that in the first load step, the bolt load is the externally
applied pre-tension force; whereas in subsequent load steps, the bolt load is the reaction force on the control grid point.

Figure 23-3 Deformed Structure Plot and von Mises Stress Distribution at Maximum Load Level Due to
the Pressure Load (magnification factor = 500)
434 MD Demonstration Problems
CHAPTER 23

200 n n n
n

150
Bolt Force [N]

100

50

MSC.Marc 2005 r3
MD Nastran n
0
1 2 3 4

In Figure 23-4, the MD Nastran solution (blue dots) is compared with the solution obtained by MSC.Marc 2005 r3
(the solid line). The good agreement between the two solutions is apparent.
This plot demonstrates the well-known fact that the bolt force is unaffected by the pressure applied to the plate. Due
to a slight bending of the larger plate under the pressure load, however, the bolt force is not exactly constant.
CHAPTER 23 435
Bolted Plates

The thermal load is applied in a cyclic fashion to both plates. The plates are heated in load steps 2 and 4 and cooled
down in load step 3. The deformed structure plot (magnification factor 100) as well as the equivalent von Mises stress
distribution at the end of the final load step are shown in Figure 23-5. A plot of the bolt force in the basic Z direction
is shown in Figure 23-6. Again, the MD Nastran solution (blue dots) is compared with the solution obtained by
MSC.Marc 2005 r3 (the solid line) and the agreement of the two solutions is apparent.

Figure 23-5 Deformed Structure Plot and von Mises Stress Distribution at Maximum Load Level Due to
the Thermal Load (magnification factor = 100)

n n
300

250

200 n n
Bolt Force [N]

150

100

50

MSC.Marc 2005 r3
MD R2 Nastran n
0
1 2 3 4

436 MD Demonstration Problems
CHAPTER 23

In this load case, the bolt force increases with increasing temperature due to thermal expansion of the plates. It
decreases again to the pre-stress force after cooling down.

Modeling Tips
Multi-point constraints provide a convenient way to fasten bolts. Either the shortening of the bolt or the total force in
the cross-section of the bolt can be controlled via enforced displacements or forces on the control grid point of the bolt.
These two types of boundary conditions can be combined in one simulation in which the bolt is first pre-stressed and
The BOLT option provides a convenient way to generate the required multi-point constraints. It can be used
conveniently in a contact analysis, provided that the two parts of the bolt are in the same contact body.

Input File(s)

File Description
nug_23p_bolt.dat Bolt pre-tension followed by cyclic pressure load (BOLT version)
nug_23p.dat Bolt pre-tension followed by cyclic pressure load (MPC version)
nug_23t_bolt.dat Bolt pre-tension followed by cyclic thermal load (BOLT version)
nug_23t.dat Bolt pre-tension followed by cyclic thermal load (MPC version)
CHAPTER 23 437
Bolted Plates

Video
Click on the image or caption below to view a streaming video of this problem; it lasts approximately 58 minutes and
explains how the steps are performed.

Units: mm
Large plate 60x20x6
Small plate 20x20x2