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The Program and its

Applications

by Ari Cohen

Background
Developed at the
Technical University of
Delft for Dutch DPWWM
Initially was intended to
analyze the soft soil river
embankments of the
lowlands of Holland
Soon after, the company
Plaxis BV was formed, and
the program was
expanded to cover a
broader range of
geotechnical issues

The Netherlands

Getting Started
PLAXIS is comprised of four interconnected
but separate interfaces
Input
Calculations
Output
Curves

Tutorial 1: The Modeling the Settlement


of a Circular Footing on Sand

1. Choose new or
existing project

2. General Settings

3. Plane Strain or Axisymmetry /


15-Node or 6-Node

4. Plane Strain or Axisymmetry

4. Plane Strain or Axisymmetry Cont.


y

5. 15-Node or 6-Node

5. 15-Node or 6-Node Cont.

6. Dimensions

7. Geometry Contour

8. Loads & Boundary Conditions


Prescribed Displacements
1.

Special Conditions placed on geometry lines that control the displacement


of the lines

2.

Drawn over geometry lines

3.

Can be altered by double clicking on the geometry line associated with it

Fixities
1.

Prescribed displacements equal to zero

2.

Can be of horizontal, vertical, or total (horizontal & vertical)

3.

Fixities take priority over displacements and other loads

Standard Fixities
1.

Convenient and fast input option for many applications

Tractions
1.

Distributed loads applied to geometry lines

2.

Input values given in the dimensions force per unit area

3.

Can be altered by double clicking on the geometry line associated with it

Point Forces
1.

Are actually line loads in the out-of-plane direction

2.

Can have vertical and horizontal components

Fixed Rotations
1.

Fixes the rotational degree of freedom of a beam

Select
Standard
fixities
button

8. Loads & Boundary Conditions cont.

Select
Prescribed
displacement
button

8. Loads & Boundary Conditions cont.

9. Material Properties
Database with material data sets
1.

Soil properties and material properties of structures are stored within the
database as four types of material sets
1.

Soils & Interfaces

2.

Beams

3.

Geotextiles &

4.

Anchors

Modeling of Soil Behavior


1.

There exist three types of soil models that PLAXIS supports:


1.

Mohr-Coulomb model

2.

Hardening-Soil model &

3.

Soft-Soil-Creep model

2.

Mohr-Coulomb is most often used as good soil data is not always


available to the engineer or scientist

3.

Modeling with the Mohr-Coulomb default requires the following five


variables to be input:
1.

Youngs modulus, (E)

2.

Poissons ratio, (n)

3.

cohesion, (c)

4.

friction angle, (f) and

5.

dilatancy angle, (y)

9. Material Properties cont.


All clusters and structural elements in a given model
must be assigned a material before a mesh can be
generated
The following soil parameters will be used for the
footing settlement example:

Click
Materials
button

9. Material Properties cont.

Select
New
material

9. Material Properties cont.

Type sand
and leave
the other
default
inputs

9. Material Properties cont.

Select
Enter
given
New
data
material

Enter
Select
given
data
New
and
material
click Ok

9. Material Properties cont.

Drag & Drop


the Sand
material
into the
cluster

9. Material Properties cont.

10. Mesh Generation


Global Coarseness

Distinction is made between five levels of global coarseness: Very coarse,


Coarse, Medium, Fine, and Very fine. Number of mesh elements
generated ranges from about 50 elements for the coarse setting to about
1000 elements for the very fine setting

Global Refinement

Automatically generates a refined mesh; one step per selection

Local Coarseness

In areas where it may not be necessary to have a very refined mesh, the
mesh may be made more coarse by adjusting the Local element size
factor for a particular geometry point. This can be accessed by double
clicking on any geometry point

Local Refinement

Instead of adjusting the Local element size factor, clusters, lines, or


points can be selected and the local refinement option can be used

Select
Generate
mesh

Once the mesh


window
appears select
Update

10. Mesh Generation cont.

11. Initial Conditions


Once the geometry model has been created and the mesh has
been generated, the Initial conditions must be inputted. There
are two different modes within the initial conditions tab: Water
conditions mode and the Geometry configuration mode

Water Conditions mode


1. Water Weight:

In projects that involve pore pressures, the input of water weight in necessary to distinguish
between effective stresses and pore pressures. PLAXIS default water weight is set to 10kN/m3

2. Phreatic Lines:

Pore pressures and external water pressures can be generated on the basis of phreatic lines.
With a phreatic line it is understood that water pressures above the line are zero and increase linearly with depth
below the line. The phreatic line can be a general or user defined type

3. Groundwater Flow: In addition to generating water pressures using a phreatic line, water pressures can
also be generated using groundwater flow calculations. This requires the input of groundwater head boundary
conditions

4. Water Pressure Generation: After a phreatic line or groundwater boundary conditions are specified, the
generate water pressures button is selected to complete the water conditions process

Geometry Configuration mode


1. Deactivating Geometry Components:

In projects where embankments and structures are to be


constructed the geometry model will have some elements that are initially not active. These elements must be
deactivated in this mode. By default PLAXIS activates all elements of the model outlined in the previous geometry
setup stage. Clicking on a particular element in this mode determines if it will be on or not

2. Initial Stress Generation (K0-Procedure):

Initial stresses in a body are influenced by the weight of

the material and the history of its formation. The stress state is generally characterized by an initial vertical
stress, sn,0 which is related by the coefficient of lateral earth pressure K0. A default value is given based on Jakys
formula (1-sinf).

1.Select Initial
conditions
button and
accept default
water weight

2. Water levels
will not be
generated in this
example so
proceed to
generate initial
stresses

11. Initial Conditions cont.

Accept default
K0 parameters

11. Initial Conditions cont.

Length of lines
note relative
magnitude of
principal
stresses
Orientation of
lines note
principal
direction

11. Initial Conditions cont.

Finally it is time
to proceed to
the Calculation
phase of the
program

11. Initial Conditions cont.

Questions?