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# Introduction to the Finite Element Method (3)

Petr Kabele
Czech Technical University in Prague
Faculty of Civil Engineering
Czech Republic

petr.kabele@fsv.cvut.cz ∗ people.fsv.cvut.cz/~pkabele

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Outline

## Types of finite element programs

Practical aspects of finite element analysis
Examples of FE modeling

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Finite element programs – classification and structure
FEM programs
➢general purpose
● simulation of general physical problems (statics, dynamics, heat/mass

## transport, magnetism, ... , coupled problems)

● more complex problem definition/input (choice from many options)

## ● user must perfectly understand the mathematical and physical essence of

analyzed problem

➢specialized, engineering
● simulation of specific engineering problems (e.g. elastic truss structure)

## members, cross-sections etc., close linkage to design codes)

● use in engineering practice (structural design)

● e.g. SAP

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Structure of finite element programs

Computational core
Preprocesor Postprocesor
graphical interface for FE program itself graphical interface
data input for processing and
visualization of results

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Practical aspects of finite element analysis
General consideration:
“Finite element analysis is essentially an approximate method for calculating the
behavior of real structures by performing an algebraic solution of a set of
equations describing idealized structures”

## Physical reality Finite element model

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Selection of analysis type

## Consider what physical phenomena should be analyzed.

stress analysis
linear
stability
static nonlinear
... ...
mechanical dynamic
heat transport ... ... modal analysis
mass transport linear
transient analysis
fluid nonlinear
... ...
magnetism
coupled, interaction
... ...

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Selection of modeling hypotheses

## “The most difficult part”

Geometry and morphology (model scope and detail, structural form, internal
composition, connections between the structural elements,…)

## Existing alterations and damage (cracks, constructional mistakes,

disconnections, crushing, leanings, …)

The interaction of the structure with its surroundings (soil, fluids, other
structural parts,...)

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To this end:

## Clarify what result is anticipated (e.g. overall deformation of a large

structure vs. crack propagation at a detail).

## Think of suitable simplification, reduction of dimension, substructuring,

decomposition, use of symmetry.

## Select suitable kinematic assumptions and dimension (truss, beam, 2-

D solid, plate, shell, 3-D solid). Bear in mind the complexity of model,
solution time, postprocessing time and visualization of results.

## In complex problems, combining various kinematic assumptions may

be efficient (e.g. beam + plate). However, proper linkage of all DOF’s
must be ensured.

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Pre-analysis

hand).

## Estimate locations of strain concentration and locations of uniform strain –

use denser mesh in locations with steeper gradients.

## Refinement and analysis

Refine the hypotheses and FE mesh as necessary based on the previous
step and run the analysis

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Preliminary results check

## Always check after analysis – plot magnified displacement of the model,

display the stresses (generalized stresses), reactions

## Check for possible discontinuities due to improper meshing (overlaps of

mesh, unexpected stress concentrations)

If check fails, find and correct mistakes in input and return to “Refinement
and analysis”.

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Example:

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Rigorous results check

Analysis verification:

## Check mesh quality criteria.

... ...

Analysis validation

reality?”

## Validation of modeling hypotheses ... see SA2 Lecture 1.

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Results processing and presentation

## FE analysis usually produces huge amount of data. These must be sorted

out and presented in an easy-to-understand way.

Some examples:

## contour plots of field variables (displacement, stress, strain,

components or principal values, ...)

## ... ... (see iDiana intro for examples)

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Example 1 Perform analysis of a slab.
8 kN/m2 (incl. self weight)

Thickness: 0.15 m
Plan: 2 x 3 m

Material (R/C):
E = 30 GPa
ν = 0.2

## Supports allow free

sliding and rotation
but no vertical movement
(up or down)

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Model 1 : plate elements

mesh 1

## 3-node plate elements

6 DOF/node (3 translations
+ 3 rotations)

mesh 2

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Model 1 : plate elements

Boundary conditions
ϕx, ϕy, ϕz ... free
u, v, w ... fixed
u, v, ϕx, ϕy, ϕz ... free
w ... fixed u, v, ϕx, ϕy, ϕz ... free
w ... fixed

u, w ... fixed

## u, v, ϕx, ϕy, ϕz ... free

w ... fixed

Note: these point BC are imposed to prevent rigid body movement in slab plane.

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Model 1 : plate elements - results
Deflection

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Model 1 : plate elements - results
Bending moment intensities

Mesh 1: Element 59
mx my
Int point 1 -9.24586E-04 -5.78145E-03
Int point 2 -4.27317E-04 -5.93220E-03
Int point 3 -7.25490E-04 -5.66659E-03
Average: -6.92464E-4 -0.00579341

## Mesh 2: Element 431

mx my
Int point 1 -5.05462E-05 -5.63296E-03
Int point 2 -5.62267E-04 -5.64567E-03
Int point 3 -3.10636E-04 -5.64596E-03
Average -9.23449e-4 -0.00564153

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Model 1 : plate elements - results
Stress
... may be not directly accessible,
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calculated from σ y , ext = ± 2
my
h

## σy,ext = ±1.50441 MPa

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Model 1 : plate elements - results

## Deformed shape and reactions (notice corner forces)

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Model 1 : plate elements - results

## Deformed shape and reactions (notice corner forces)

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Model 2 : solid elements
mesh 1

## 20-node isoparametric solid elements

3 DOF/node (3 translations)

mesh 2

mesh 3

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Model 2 : solid elements

Boundary conditions
u, v, w ... fixed
u, v ... free u, v ... free
w ... fixed w ... fixed

z, w u, w ... fixed

y, v u, v ... free
x, u
w ... fixed

Note: these point BC are imposed to prevent rigid body movement in slab plane.

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Model 2 : solid elements - results
Deflection

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Model 2 : solid elements - results

## Deformed shape and reactions (notice corner forces)

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Model 2 : solid elements - results

Bending stress σy

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Models 1, 2, 3: comparison

Deflection

y-axis

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Models 1, 2, 3: comparison

## Model Extreme stress (MPa)

Plate 1 ±1.54
Plate 2 ±1.50
Solid 1 ±1.64*)
Solid 2 ±1.57*)
Solid 3 ±1.59*)

*) extrapolated values

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Example 2
Perform a stress analysis of a wall exposed to uniform load, self-weight and
foundation settlement. Identify the locations and magnitudes of maximum tension.

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Initial calculation
4-node isoparematric quarilateral plane stress elements (Q4)

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Deformed mesh

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Principal stresses

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Maximum principal stress

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Maximum principal stress – smoothed plot

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Convergence study – meshes

Q4 elements

Q9 elements

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Convergence of extreme displacement Convergence of max. princ. stress

-7.008E-03 3.0
-7.010E-03
2.5
-7.012E-03
Q4
-7.014E-03 Q4 2.0

sig_max
Q9
-7.016E-03 Q9
u_ext

1.5 Q9a
-7.018E-03 Q9a
-7.020E-03 1.0
-7.022E-03
0.5
-7.024E-03
-7.026E-03 0.0
100 1000 10000 100000 100 1000 10000 100000
DOF
DOF

## Mesh El. type # of elem # of DOF u_ext sig_max

1 Q4 106 262 -7.0239E-03 1.671
2 Q4 408 914 -7.0148E-03 2.328
3 Q4 1616 3426 -7.0107E-03 2.631
4 Q9 106 946 -7.0128E-03 2.346
5 Q9 408 3458 -7.0095E-03 2.606
6 Q9 1616 13314 -7.0090E-03 2.760
4r Q9 378 3114 -7.0097E-03 2.782

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Maximum principal stress

Q4 elements

Q9 elements

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Maximum principal stress

Q4 elements

Q9 elements

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Maximum principal stress

Q4 elements

Q9 elements

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Local refinement

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Convergence of extreme displacement Convergence of max. princ. stress
-7.008E-03 3.0
-7.010E-03
2.5
-7.012E-03
Q4
-7.014E-03 Q4 2.0

sig_max
Q9
-7.016E-03 Q9
u_ext

1.5 Q9a
-7.018E-03 Q9a
-7.020E-03 1.0
-7.022E-03
0.5
-7.024E-03
-7.026E-03 0.0
100 1000 10000 100000 100 1000 10000 100000
DOF
DOF

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References
K.J. Bathe: Finite Element Procedures, Prentice Hall, Inc., 1996
2006
TNO DIANA BV.: DIANA User's Manual -- Release 9.3 -- Teacher Edition, 2008,

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Remark
This document is designated solely as a teaching aid for students of CTU in Prague,
Faculty of Civil Engineering, course Numerické metody v inženýrských úlohách.
This document is being continuously updated and corrected by the author. Despite
author’s utmost effort, it may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Limitation on Liability. Except to the extent required by applicable law, in no event
will the author be liable to any user of this document on any legal theory for any special,
incidental, consequential, punitive or exemplary damages arising out of the use of the
work, even if author has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

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