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1Ht. d. Mech. Sci. Pergamon Press Ltd. 1960. Vol. 1, 1717. 356 365.

Printed in Great Britab)



J. F. ELY a n d O. C. ZIENKIEWICZ Northwestern University, Illinois

{Received 30 June 1959)

Summary--This paper deals with a finite-difference solution of the torsion problem of nonhomogeneous and compound prismatic bars. General, governing equations for both problems are developed and the boundary conditions for an interface between parts composed of homogeneous but different materials are stated. The case of multiply connected regions is discussed and integral conditions, analogous to the conditions in multiply connected homogeneous bars, are developed. Examples illustrating various types of problems are worked out and the accuracy of the method demonstrated by comparison with some known solutions. NOTATION

0 G

T s, n

co-ordinates d i s p l a c e m e n t c o m p o n e n t s in x y z direction shear stresses t w i s t per unit length m o d u l u s of rigidity P r a n d t l ' s stress function torque t a n g e n t a n d n o r m a l directions to curve ratio of G 2 to G~ 1. I N T R O D U C T I O N

THE increasing use of geometrically c o m p l i c a t e d composite sections in practice has p r o m p t e d this investigation of the torsion of composite bars. Composite sections are used in reinforced concrete a n d aircraft, as well as o t h e r m o r e specialized applications, a n d the m e t h o d s p r e s e n t e d here should p r o v e useful in solving the torsion p r o b l e m in these fields. Several p r o b l e m s on t h e torsion of c o m p o u n d p r i s m a t i c bars h a v e been solved a n a l y t i c a l l y b y Muskhelishvilli, 1 Gorgidze, 2 Mitra, 3 T a k e y a m a , 4 Suhareviki, 5 S h e r m a n , 6 Cowan, 7 Craven s a n d others. T h e p r o b l e m s solved generally dealt with cross-sectional shapes t h a t could be m a p p e d conformally, w i t h relat i v e ease. While these a n a l y t i c a l solutions of the torsion p r o b l e m for b o t h h o m o geneous as well as composite bars are exceedingly i m p o r t a n t , it is necessary to use r e l a x a t i o n m e t h o d s to solve the p r o b l e m of e v e n a h o m o g e n e o u s b a r w h e n t h e g e o m e t r y of the cross-section becomes c o m p l i c a t e d as i n s t a n c e d b y n u m e r o u s p u b l i c a t i o n s b y Southwell, 9 Shaw, 1 Allen, 11 Dobie 12 a n d others 13-16. Since the h o m o g e n e o u s b a r can be easily t r e a t e d b y r e l a x a t i o n m e t h o d s , it 356

Torsion of compound bars--a relaxation solution


seemed logical to a t t e m p t to extend these methods to cover the case of simply and multiply connected composite bars when the geometry of the crosssection is complicated. Indeed, the treatment of this more general case also turns out to be simple. It should be pointed out that the purpose of the examples which were chosen for this paper is to illustrate how the method can be applied to the various general classes of problems, and not to illustrate the handling of especially complicated boundaries. More complex boundary shapes can be dealt with as usual by using a finer mesh size which will require more time to obtain the required solutions. It is anticipated t h a t any digital computer programmes available for solution of the Poisson equation could be easily adapted to the type of problems discussed. Equations will be developed for simply connected cross-sections, where the material has a continuously varying G, and then for those that are composed of two distinct materials joined together, without slipping, at an interface. The additional conditions required in the case of a multiply connected cross-section will also be derived, and examples will be shown for each class of problem. Finally, the membrane analogy will be discussed in detail and other analogies pointed out. 2. GOVERNING EQUATIONS FOR CONTINUOUSLY VARYING G Consider Fig. 1 and a material which has a continuously varying G in cross-section, but whose G is independent of z, i.e.
G = G(x, y).



1. Torsion of a bar. Co-ordinates used.

Following the notation used by Timoshenko and Goodier, 17 and using Prandtl's stress function , which defines the two stress components by 8 8 (2)



and, with the other stresses equal to zero, we find that the equilibrium equations are automatically satisfied. If, in addition, we take the displacement components given by u=-Oyz, v=Oxz, aw l 84 8x - G Sy + Oy' aw _ ~Y 1 84 G Sx Ox' (3)

all the relations between stresses and strains are determined correctly. To ensure continuity of the axial displacement w, we have, b y differentiating the final two expressions of (3), that

O axYd+
or ~ - - ~ xy +8y3(G (G ) )~ x



In the case of constant G this reduces to the familiar Poisson equation V 2=~~y~-

a~5 824



As the shear stress normal to the external boundary must be zero, it follows from the definition (2) that the stress function on this boundary must have a constant value. This constant can be arbitrarily fixed as zero. The sufficient and necessary boundary condition on the external boundary C becomes = 0. (5) To determine the torque T acting on the section, we integrate T = ffa(X-%z - Y~'xz} dx dy, which, by substitution of (2) and (5), yields T = 2 f f R dx dy.


For purposes of computation it is convenient to rewrite the above relationships in a non-dimensional form. Substituting x = x'L, y = y'L, G = G'G o, = 4 ' ( G 00L2), in which L represents some typical dimension of the section, and Go some typical value of G, we have, in place of (4) and (5),





The stresses and the torque are given b y % . z = - ( G o O L ) 88n',, T = 2G00L4ffdp ' dx' dy'. .)dR (9) (10)

Torsion of compound bars--a relaxation solution 3. G O V E R N I N G EQUATIONS FOR A DISCONTINUOUS G


W e shall now consider the section shown in Fig. 2, where a d i s c o n t i n u i t y occurs in the v a r i a t i o n of G at the interface Ca, which separates regions R 1 a n d R a. Clearly, if G 1 and G a refer to the values of G in the respective regions, two functions, 1 and Ca, satisfying equation (4) in their domains, are required.


FIc. 2. Torsion of a composite bar. On the e x t e r n a l b o u n d a r y , w h e t h e r C2 cuts it or not, the b o u n d a r y condition (5) still has to be imposed. H o w e v e r , to specify the problem completely, additional r e q u i r e m e n t s h a v e to be imposed on the interface. These conditions m u s t ensure t h a t : (a) the shear stresses n o r m a l to the interface are the same in each region; a n d (b) the axial displacements are compatible on the interface. The first of these can be expressed as







which can be satisfied b y m a k i n g





as t h e addition of a r b i t r a r y constants does n o t affect the results. T h e second condition is satisfied if 8w1= 8wa 8s ~s on Ca, (12)

which b y the use of (3) can be shown to be equivalent to

1 81 = 1 88

G 1 8n

G~ 8n




n being the direction of the n o r m a l to Ca. I t can be seen t h a t t h e stress function will be continuous across the interface, b u t its derivatives will in general be discontinuous there. The p r o b l e m t h u s becomes v e r y similar to those e n c o u n t e r e d in porous media flow, or in




the determination of magnetic fields, when the permeabilities differ abruptly. It is well known that phenomena of refraction of the flow lines occur in such instances. Considering the case of a bar made of two materials, each having constant elastic properties, and using the non-dimensional notation of the previous section, we have V2~=-2 in R1, (13) V2~=-2a with ' = 0 on external boundary and ; = ~, (15) in R2, (14)

on interface, in which arbitrarily

e 1 ~ e 0


G2 ~ = G~"

These relations will be used in the illustrative examples shown later. It should be noted t h a t the methods of the previous section, using a continuously varying G, could be used to solve this problem of a discontinuous G a t an interface, by approximating to the discontinuity in G by a continuous but steep, variation. This is particularly easy to do in finite-difference treatment, and will be illustrated later. The results obtained by using this procedure, however, are not as accurate (for a given mesh size) as those obtained by assuming the G discontinuous, as does the method of this section.

In the problems examined so far the condition of single-valued displacements is automatically satisfied, as could be shown by integration of the expressions (3). If, however, referring to Fig. 2, the region enclosed by C~ were empty, an additional condition would be required. Such a condition, usually expressed in a form of a line integral, is well known for the problem of torsion of multiply connected, homogeneous sections (see Timoshenko and Goodier17). For the problem on hand, where G1 may be variable, an equivalent condition has to be established. We shall derive this by taking the case of a hole as a limiting case of the problem discussed in the previous section. Now we shall take G2 as being equal to a constant k in R2, and let this constant tend to zero. Clearly, one of the conditions on the "interface" now is that 1 is equal to a constant. Condition (12a) becomes insufficient in the limit, merely giving ~2/~n = O, which is already implicit, no condition being imposed on ~1/~n. However, integrating (12a) around the interface C2, we have

Torsion of compound bars--a relaxation solution


where G2 is a constant, while G1 is a function of x and y. Applying Green's Theorem in two dimensions to the right-hand side, we obtain

1 01 1 f ( I022+a2,tdxdy, c, G1 an - G2 JJAo, [~x~x2 aY~

where Ac, is the area inside the curve C9.. Since G2 is constant, equation (4a) applies inside and on C2. Therefore we obtain after substitution - 1- - = - 01 c, G1 ~n 1 (~" (

j j ~v, -- 2G~.O)dx dy

1 a1 - _ 20At,. c, Gx an

I t can be seen t h a t this equation reduces to the familiar form when G1 is a constant; namely,

01 = -- 2GOAv.
C, ~n

A sufficient number of boundar y conditions is now available for a unique solution of multiply connected sections. I t can be observed t h a t as G2 tends to zero, 2 must become constant in region R~ to satisfy the governing equation (4), and the analogy of the "floating disc" is again applicable, as it is in the case of homogeneous sections. 5. MEMBRANE AND O T H E R ANALOGIES I t has been pointed out t h a t the torsion problem of a homogeneous bar is analogous, mathematically, with several other physical problems. These include the membrane under constant pressure, the problem of viscous flow of fluid in a tube, flow of a current in a conductor of variable thickness, and in general an y of the physical problems which satisfy Poisson's or Laplace's equation. These analogies can be extended to the case of a composite bar in torsion with rewarding results. We shall discuss only one of these, namely, the membrane analogy. I t is well known t h a t the deflections of a membrane subjected to a constant pressure and tension satisfy the equation V2z = q T

(in which q is a pressure, T the membrane tension and Z the deflection). I t can easily be shown t h a t in the case of a membrane with variable tension the equivalent expression is

( bz\



The analogy with equation (4) is now obvious if

1 T=~,





Discontinuous variation of G can be i n t e r p r e t e d as a discontinuous variation of the m e m b r a n e tension and because




b y statics, all the other relationships for interface conditions, as well as for m u l t i p l y connected regions, can be deduced. I t should be observed t h a t the variation of T implies existence of distributed forces parallel to the x y p l a n e s - which in the case of an interface becomes a line force. As a possible experim e n t a l solution the m e m b r a n e analogy does not a p p e a r practicable. 6. E X A M P L E S The governing equations and their respective easily t r a n s f o r m e d into suitable finite-difference can t h e n be obtained b y application of relaxation of b o t h are well k n o w n and described in m a n y
Y L 2

b o u n d a r y conditions can be relationships and a solution methods. As t h e techniques t e x t s (e.g. Allen n) it is not

'--400~ ~

1134'--lOGO 1~76

1462 i 13

/ I

T- 0.1388

(G~L 4)

Fro. 3(a). Example A. Torsion of a square composite bar; a = l; values of ' 104. proposed to elaborate on these m a t t e r s here. The general t r e a t m e n t of Poisson's equation is now virtually s t a n d a r d for the usual N e u m a n n and Dirichlet b o u n d a r y conditions and the main problems e n c o u n t e r e d here are those pertaining to the interface between the two materials. Again, as the conditions at the interface are essentially similar to those e n c o u n t e r e d in the t r e a t m e n t of seepage or magnetic field problems in media of different permeabihties, techniques or relaxation t r e a t m e n t are well known. These, used for the first time b y Christopherson, TM are excellently described in Allen's text, and no special difficulty was e n c o u n t e r e d in their application in the examples solved. E x a m p l e s A and B (Figs. 3(a-c) and 4) show problems in which straight a n d c u r v e d interfaces between two materials occur respectively. The a c c u r a c y

Torsion of compound baxs--a relaxation solution


of the r e l a x a t i o n solution can be seen f r o m t h e t a b l e below, in which the

stiffness of the bars of example A obtained from a relatively coarse mesh solution are compared with values computed by a series solution developed by MuskhelishvilliL

200~.4~0""-"-" S /600~
640 95"~ ~. ~ 1 0 4 4 ~12 0 0 " ' - ~ 921

~1400~ ~180''~


2 i


Illl/ / /
FIG. 3(b).

.~L~ x

E x a m p l e A. T o r s i o n o f a s q u a r e c o m p o s i t e b a r ; a = T = 0.1941 (GOL4); v a l u e s o f ' x 104 .


Values of a = 1 = 2 a = 3









FIG. 3(c).

E x a m p l e A. T o r s i o n o f a s q u a r e c o m p o s i t e b a r ; a = 3; T = 0"2358 (G o OL4); v a h m s o f ~ ' x 104.

T = D(Go 8L 4)
Torsional rigidity, D By relaxation 0-1388 0.1941 0.2358 Timoshenko 0-1406 Muskhelishvilli* 0-1407 0-1972 0.2399 (% discrepancy ) 1.28 1.57 1.71

* Only t w o t e r m s of the series solution were used, and these values are always greater t h a n the t r u e value. The error increases w i t h increasing a.


J . :F. ELY a n d O. C. ZIENKIEViICZ

To t e s t the a l t e r n a t i v e m e t h o d of satisfying the interface conditions, in one of t h e e x a m p l e s [see Fig. 3(c)], G was a s s u m e d to v a r y in a continuous w a y f r o m G 1 to G 2 within a distance of one m e s h length. The finite difference expression of e q u a t i o n (4) can now be used directly at all m e s h points. Values in parentheses, [Fig. 3(c) ], refer to an a s s u m e d continuous v a r i a t i o n of G, while the others are for a discontinuous v a r i a t i o n of G.

FIG. 4. Example B. Torsion of a square bar with a circular insert; = 10; values o f ~ ' 104. T h e coarseness of the m e s h resulted in a n error of a b o u t 6 per cent in the final stiffness as c o m p a r e d w i t h the e x a c t solution, i.e. it p r o v e d to be less a c c u r a t e t h a n the m e t h o d e m p l o y i n g the correct interface conditions. T h e p r o c e d u r e m a y , however, be a d v a n t a g e o u s w h e n n u m e r o u s c u r v e d interfaces occur. I n e x a m p l e C (Fig. 5) t h e case of a m u l t i p l y connected region is considered in which t h e interface b e t w e e n two m a t e r i a l s cuts t h e hole b o u n d a r y . T h e p r o c e d u r e followed here was essentially the s a m e as described b y Shaw 1 for the t r e a t m e n t of m u l t i p l y connected, h o m o g e n e o u s shafts. Solutions w i t h a c o n s t a n t a n d a r b i t r a r y value of the stress function on t h e hole b o u n d a r y are first o b t a i n e d using the governing equation (4) a n d excluding the nonh o m o g e n e o u s t e r m . T h e n a solution of the full e q u a t i o n with a zero value of

Torsion of compound b a r s - - a relaxation solution


t h e s t r e s s f u n c t i o n o f t h e b o l e b o u n d a r y is c o m p u t e d , a n d t h e final s o l u t i o n o b t a i n e d b y a l i n e a r c o m b i n a t i o n of these. T h i s c o m b i n e d s o l u t i o n satisfies t h e i n t e g r a l c o n d i t i o n (16). A g a i n n o s p e c i a l difficulties were e n c o u n t e r e d .

FIG. 5. Example C. Torsion of a composite bar with a circular hole. REFERENCES I. N. I. MUSKHELISHVILLI, Some Basic Problems of the Mathematical Theory of Elasticity p. 561. Noordhoff, Groningen (1953). 2. A. YA. GORGIDZE, Trudy Tbiliss Math. Inst. Razmadze 17, 95 (1949). 3. D. . MITRA, Bull. Calcutta Math. Soc. 47, 191 (1955). 4. HISAO TAKEYAMA,J. Soc. Appl. Mech., Japan 2, 88 (1949). 5. I. V. SUHAREVIKI, Inzh. 8born. Akad. Naulc S S S R 19, 107 (1954). 6. D. I. SHERMAN and M. Z. NARODETSKII,lnzh. sborn. Akad. Nauk S S S R 6, 17 (1950). 7. H. J. COWAN, Appl. Sci. Res., Hague (A) 3, 344 (1952). 8. A. H. CRAVEN, Mathematika 1, 96 (1954). 9. R. V. SOUTHWELL,Relaxation Methods in Theoretical Physics p. 85. Clarendon Press, Oxford (1946). 10. F. S. SHAW, The Torsion of Solid and Hollow Prisms in the Elastic and Plastic Range by Relaxation Methods. Austral. Counc. Aeronaut. Rep. ACA-11,38 (1944). 11. D. N. DE G. ALLEN, Relaxation Methods p. 198. McGraw-Hill, London (1955). 12. W. B. DOBIE and A. R. GENT, Struct. Engr. 39, 203 (1952). 13. H. J. COWAN, Civ. Engng. Lond. 48, 567, 827, 950 (I953). 14. W. B. DOBYE, Struct. Engr. 30, 34 (1942). 15. T. J. HIGGINS, J. Appl. Phys. 14, 469 (1943). 16. L. E. PAYNE, Iowa St. Coll. J. Sci. 23, 381 (1949). 17. S. TIMOSUENI~O and J. N. GOODIER, Theory of Elasticity. McGraw-Hill, New York (1951). 18. D. G. CHRISTOPHERSONand R. V. SOUTHWELL, Proc. Roy. Soc. A 168, 317 (1936).