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Extracting Moments - a Comparison

Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this lesson you will be able to:

Build 4 different models and extract moment results using various techniques.

Assess what effect the mesh density has on the numerical accuracy of the results.

Use the Graph (including integrals), Peek and Result Settings tools for extracting results.

Introduction
This example is designed to illustrate the ways of extracting moment results for various element
types. Typically the type of element used will be assessed depending on its ability to capture the
behaviour of the structure. It may be possible to use more than one element type. The decision to
use one over another, can be based on not only its ability to capture the structures behaviour, but
also the results calculated by the element.
Consider the following application. Stiffened plates are common in all types of engineering design
and examples include concrete slabs with beam stiffeners and aluminium aircraft structures that
comprise a thin skin stiffened by stringers. Consider modelling the aluminium structure as shown
in the figure:
Modelling using only brick elements: This will give a good
representation of the structure and good results for the deflections
and stresses. However, in the case of modelling a large structure,
the model size will become prohibitively large for a fast solution
time. A coarse mesh density requires at least 2 brick elements
through the depth in order to capture the bending behaviour.
Stress results will require further refinement and a stress
convergence check should be performed.
Modelling using only plate elements: This can give good results for the stresses and
deflections similar to the brick only approach with a quicker solver time. The advantage over a
plate/beam model is that local buckling can be investigated in both the plate and stiffeners. Again
a stress/moment convergence check should be performed to ensure that the results are
satisfactory.
Modelling using plate/beam elements: This approach will solve quicker in that beam elements
are used for the stiffeners with plate elements used for the panels. The beam must be offset from
the panel either by using the offset attribute sharing a common node line or having a separate
beam node line connected via a rigid link to the midplane node of the plate.

Problem Description
This example demonstrates the three different ways of modelling a T section, using beams-only, a
combination of beams and plates and bricks-only. Probably the most practical way to model
stiffened plates in the majority of situations is to use a combination of beam and plate elements,
either offsetting the beam or the plates from a common node line.

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Consider the centrally loaded, simply supported beam


shown in the figure:

Section AA is a T section with the dimensions as


shown.

The support condition is applied at the midplane of


the hat section, hence the beam and plate models
will require an appropriate offset.

Properties:

E = 10 MPa

=0

A beam model will be used as our reference solution.

Modelling Procedure 1 - Beam-only Model


Construct the model using a single beam element with a T section. This can be done by:

Extruding a node 10 m to create a single beam element. Hint: for consistency work in the
global XY Plane.

Select Attributes/Beam Point Force/Global. Apply the force at the


appropriate beam interval.

Enter properties for modulus and section details.

Assign restraints at both ends to simulate a pinned only connection and a


slider in DX at one end.

Run the Linear Static solver. Calculate both Node Reactions and Beam
Force/Stress.

Results for Beam-only Model


The beam model is used as our reference model to compare the other modelling approaches.
The deflection at the centre of the beam is:
y = (PL3 / 48EI)
= (1000 * 103) / (48 * 1.0e7 * 6.60017e-3)
= 0.3156 m.

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Compare the Straus7 beam model


to the theoretical beam result:

Straus7 deflection = 0.3156 m.

For the beam model we get the


maximum results by using Results/Peek:

The maximum moment is 2500 Nm.

Modelling Procedure 2 - Beam/Plate Model


In this situation, the T section is broken into two separate but connected element types. The top
hat or web is modelled using plate elements. The flange or stiffener is modelled using beam
elements. This approach is most commonly used when modelling stiffened plates in general. To
compare with beam theory Poissons ratio should be set to zero. Unlike the beam-only approach
the plate is allowed to deflect independently from the beam at the flange. This could be prevented
by connecting rigid links in parallel across the top of the plate.

The model can be constructed as follows:

Extrude a node into a beam which is then extruded into plates to make the top web section.

Subdivide the plate in 2 across the width to create a centre node line.

Extrude a node along the centre node line to create the beam stiffener section.

Subdivide to an appropriate mesh density. Remember to subdivide both plates and beams
together to maintain mesh compatibility. The mesh density should be chosen such that plate
elements maintain an aspect ratio of near 1.

Assign appropriate plate and beam properties.

Select Entity Display


and choose to draw
both plates and
beams as Solid such
that a 3 dimensional
view of the model is
given. The model
should look similar to
the figure.

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Notice that the beam lies in the plane of the plate (that is the beams have no offset). Using this
configuration the deflection of the T-section is incorrect and needs to be offset.

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Offset the beam to get the correct geometry of


the section as shown:

A node force of 1000 N at the centre line node can be used as the load condition. Alternatively
an edge shear stress (P = F / A) could also be used.

Apply restraints along the node line of the plate. Ideally,


to simulate beam theory the restraints should be applied
along the neutral axis of the combined section.

Run the Linear Static solver. Calculate Node Reactions, Beam Force/Stress and Plate
Stress.

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Results for Beam/Plate Model


Before looking at the moment results, a check is made of the centre deflection:

Select Results/Settings and choose to


contour the vertical deflection for both
beams and plates. Because it is a
common contour set the option Merge
legends. This results in only one contour
limit, scaling the contour commonly across
both beams and plates. Make sure that
Draw As.. in Entity Display is set to Solid
for both beams and plates

Note: the total deflection is slightly different to the beam result. What do you think is the
explanation?

Unlike the beam-only approach, the moment extraction is not available as one simple report. The
moment result is not simply just extracted from the beam element. In this composite model, both
the beam and the plate elements carry the moment since the finite element model must be in
equilibrium with the applied loads. Put simply the sum of the forces and moments at any position
along the structure must equal the forces and moments due to the externally applied loads.
Consider the forces acting on the elements at any section through
the beam:
The sum of the moments is taken about the midplane of the plate
(through AA). This removes the plate axial force from the
calculation.

MAA = 0 = (Fb * Offset) + Mb + Mp = Msection

Inspecting the Straus7 model:

(Fb * Offset) = 6705.918 * 0.25 = 1676.4795 Nm (Hint: use Results/Peek to find the axial force
at the beam element).

Mb = 306.582 Nm (Remember in the previous model the total moment from the beam was
2500 Nm).

The plate moment Mp can be recovered using the Graph function. Remember moment results are
per unit width for plate elements. Recover the moment by:

Select Results/Results Settings and contour Plate moment in the axial direction of the T
section (Global XX in the sample model).

Set the Displacement Scale to 0. Select Entity Display and for Draw as.. select Surface

Select Results/Graphs. Create a new graph Vs. Position, title the graph Plate Moment at
Centre.

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Choose to contour the Moment in the


global direction that the T section is
aligned with. For Position, pick the nodes
to draw a line across the 2 m width of the
plate at the centre.

In this case, the moment in the Global XX direction is graphed across the width of the plate.
Notice the effect of the plate (or top part of the web) deforming affects the moment distribution. To
get the total moment now:

In the graph panel click Show Integrals


. The number at
Area is the calculation of the area under the curve. In this
application it represents the total bending moment in the plate
part of the T section.

Hence Mb = 516.939 for the example model.

Hence, Msection = 1676.4795 + 306.582 + 516.939 = 2500.000 Nm

Modelling Procedure 3 - Plate-Only Model


Another option for modelling the T-section is to use plate elements for both the web and the flange.
The moment result can be extracted from the plate-only model and compared. The model can be
constructed as follows:

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Extrude a node by increments 0.25m in the X-direction, with Repeat set to 8 and Target set to
Beam Property Type1.

Extrude the centre node (created from previous extrusion) 0.075m in the negative Y-direction,
with Repeat set to 4 and Target set to Beam Property Type2.

Extrude all beams 0.25m in the Z-direction, with Repeat set to 40, into Quad4 plate elements

For plates (Property Type 1) defining the


web, apply an offset of 0.1m to obtain the
model as shown:

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For the plates (Property Type 1) defining


the web, set a thickness of 0.2m. For the
plates (Property Type 2) defining the
flange, set the thickness to be 0.3m. The
following solid view of the model should be
obtained:

Apply end restraints and a point load of 1000N at the centre node.

Run the Linear Static solver. Calculate Plate Stress.

Results for Plate Model


The deflections should be checked to verify that the model is behaving as expected:

Use a contour plot of the


vertical deflection. Note
that the deflection is very
close to the beam/plate
model.

Similar to the Beam/Plate model, the extraction of the moment at any position along the section
involves a number of steps. The sum of the moments is taken about the midplane of the plates
defining the web, thus removing the webs axial force from the calculation:

 M sec tion

= M web + F flange d

where d is the vertical distance from the centroid of the force distribution through the flange to the
midplane of the web.

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Similar to the plate moment extraction carried out in the previous beam/plate example, the
moment in the web Mweb can be recovered using the Graph function:

Set the Displacement Scale to 0. Select Entity Display and for Draw as.. select Surface.

Hide the plates defining the flange (plate property 2) and half of the plate elements defining the
web as shown below.

Select Results/Graphs. Create a new


graph Vs. Position, the title the graph
Top Moment..

For Quantity choose Plate/Moment/


Global XX (which in this case is the
axial direction of the T-section. For
Position, pick the nodes to draw a line
across the 2m width of the plate at the
centre.

To obtain the moment in the web, use Show


Integals
in the graph panel. For this
example model, the moment in the web is
Mweb = 555.682 Nm.

The next step involves the determination of the moment at the web due to the load carried by the
flange.

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Hide the plates defining the web (plate


property 1) and half of the plate elements
defining the flange to obtain the view shown

Select Results/Graphs. Create a new graph


Vs. Position. For Quantity choose Plate/
Force/Global XX (which in this case is the
axial direction of the T-section). For Position,
pick the nodes to draw a line down the depth
of the flange.

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The graph obtained is shown below. Integrating under the curve will provide an estimate of the
axial force in the flange.

The total moment at the web midplane can then be calculated as follows:

Msection = Mweb + Area of force distribution * Dist. to centroid of force distribution = 2488.92 Nm
This value will become closer to the target value with mesh refinement. Converting the Quad4
elements to Quad8 elements and carrying out this procedure again gives Msection = 2500.402 Nm.

Modelling Procedure 4 - Brick-Only Model


To complete the comparison the T-section is now constructed using only brick elements. The
moment result can be extracted from a brick section and compared. To construct the model:

Create a plate mesh to be used as


the extrude template. Make only
half the T, using the least number of
plate elements possible to get close
to an aspect ratio of 1, but ensuring
that the geometry is adequately
constructed.

Mirror the plate mesh to get the full


T-section.

Extrude the base mesh to half the distance of the section (5 m). Then either copy or extrude
again to get the full 10 m length. By extruding to half of the section length, you are ensuring
that there is a nodeline at 5 m where the load will be applied and the moment will be
recovered.

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Subdivide the model to get brick elements


with an aspect ratio approaching 1. To
facilitate the application of the load, group
the model into two halves such that brick
faces and nodes at the centre can be
easily accessed by turning off one group
branch. A suggested mesh density is
displayed in Group Colour in the figure.

Apply restraints similar to the plate/beam model where the nodeline along the midplane at
each end is restrained. Apply the load as either point forces distributed at the midplane of the
top part of the T section or use Attributes/Brick Face Shear. By applying the load as a face
shear, if the model is subdivided, the load will still be correct.

Run the Linear Static solver. Calculate Node Reactions and Brick Stress.

Results for Brick Model


Again the deflections should be checked to verify that the model is behaving as expected:

Use a contour plot of the vertical


deflection. Note that the deflection is
very close to the beam/plate model.

Moment results can be extracted at the centre (or any position along the section) by:

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Set the Displacement Scale to 0.

Select Global/Coordinate Systems


and create a cartesian UCS. Use the
UCS option to manually pick nodes to
define the orientation of the
coordinate system with respect to the
X and Y direction as shown. This
will facilitate the moment extraction.
Locate the system at the centre (5m).
To help in this turn off one of the
group branches to display half the
section exposing the internal nodes.

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Turn all groups on. Select Entity Display and choose to


draw bricks as Outline Wireframe. Set Outlines to Facet
Edge.

Choose the UCS defined in the Model


Window drop down list. The display
should look as shown.

Select Results/Results Settings. Choose to contour for


Bricks Stress in the section axial direction (Global XX in
the example model) and for On Cutting Plane, select
Plane 1.

The model is now contoured only for


the cutting plane which is defined by
the current UCS, in this case the
Cartesian UCS that has the 1 or the
X direction aligned across the
section. The contour reports the
integral of the stress (Direct Sum)
and the moment integral acting in
both X and Y of the UCS.
As expected, the direct sum is zero
because there is no net axial force
transmitted along the beam.
The Moment X is the total bending moment (Global MZ) of the T section at that particular section
or interval. By defining another UCS and locating it elsewhere along the T section, the moment
can be recovered at any point. Msection = 2458.329 for the brick model. This value will become
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even closer to the target value with mesh refinement. Converting the brick elements to Hex20 and
resolving this model, then gives Msection = 2499.584 Nm

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