A brief guide to computer aided analysis for civil/structural engineers. Discusses basic concepts, modelling, finite element analysis, shell structures, arches, pre-stressed concrete, 2D/3D frames, bridges etc.

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A brief guide to computer aided analysis for civil/structural engineers. Discusses basic concepts, modelling, finite element analysis, shell structures, arches, pre-stressed concrete, 2D/3D frames, bridges etc.

Attribution Non-Commercial (BY-NC)

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Computer Aided

Structural Analysis

Saikat Basak

M.Eng (Structural), BCE, CIC, AIE (Ind.), A.ASCE

Structural Engineer

© Saikat Basak

The author and publisher of this book have used their best efforts in preparing

this book. These efforts include the development, research and testing of the

theories and programs to determine their effectiveness. The author and publisher

shall not be liable in any event for the incidental or consequential damages in

connection with, or arising out of, the furnishing, performance, or use of these

programs.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form or by

any means, without the permission in writing from the author.

Computer Aided Structural Analysis

CONTENTS

ABBREVIATION .................................................................................................................................................... 6

1. INTRODUCTION (BEFORE YOU BEGIN…)......................................................................................... 7

LINEAR STATIC STRESS ANALYSIS .................................................................................................................... 10

DYNAMIC ANALYSIS .......................................................................................................................................... 11

RANDOM VIBRATION......................................................................................................................................... 12

RESPONSE SPECTRUM ANALYSIS....................................................................................................................... 12

TIME HISTORY ANALYSIS.................................................................................................................................. 13

TRANSIENT VIBRATION ANALYSIS .................................................................................................................... 13

VIBRATION ANALYSIS (MODAL ANALYSIS) ...................................................................................................... 14

BUCKLING ANALYSIS......................................................................................................................................... 15

THERMAL ANALYSIS .......................................................................................................................................... 16

BOUNDARY ELEMENT ....................................................................................................................................... 17

4. SIGN CONVENTION (MIND YOUR SIGNS)........................................................................................ 19

7. SPECIFYING LOADS............................................................................................................................... 27

13. MAXIMUM BENDING MOMENT, SHEAR FORCE AND REACTION IN BUILDING FRAME:

SUBSTITUTE (EQUIVALENT) FRAME ....................................................................................................... 38

19. SUB-STRUCTURING TECHNIQUE AND SYMMETRY (BREAK THEM INTO PIECES…) ... 46

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

28. COMMON FINITE ELEMENTS LIBRARY FOR LINEAR STATIC AND DYNAMIC STRESS

ANALYSIS .......................................................................................................................................................... 89

MATERIAL NON-LINEARITY ............................................................................................................................ 115

GEOMETRIC NON-LINEARITY .......................................................................................................................... 116

36. MECHANICAL EVENT SIMULATION .......................................................................................... 119

PROGRAMS..................................................................................................................................................... 130

CIVIL ENGINEERING PROGRAMS ...................................................................................................................... 131

MECHANICAL ENGINEERING PROGRAMS ......................................................................................................... 134

SOME CAD PROGRAMS… ............................................................................................................................... 137

42. HOW TO SELECT THE MOST APPROPRIATE PROGRAM FOR YOUR NEED? ................. 139

44. FILE NAME EXTENSION GUIDE (FOR SOME CAD/CAE PROGRAMS) ............................... 143

OPERATING SYSTEM RELATED ......................................................................................................................... 144

ANALYSIS PROGRAM RELATED ........................................................................................................................ 145

46. REFERENCES ..................................................................................................................................... 148

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Abbreviation

Several abbreviations have been used throughout this book. They have been

defined in respective sections, but here is a list of them at a glance.

[k] – Stiffness

BM – bending moment

C - damping

CAD – computer aided design/drawing

CAE – computer aided engineering

CAM – computer aided manufacturing

E – modulus of elasticity

FE – finite element

FEA – finite element analysis

FEM – finite element method

fy – yield strength of steel

G – shear modulus

I – 2nd moment of inertia

IS – Indian Standard code

LRFD – load and resistance factor design

LSSA – linear static stress analysis

M, m – mass

MDF – multi degree freedom

MES – mechanical event simulation

NLA – non-linear analysis

RSA – response spectra analysis

SDF – single degree freedom

SF – shear force

T – time period of vibration

THA – time history analysis

UDL – uniformly distributed load

VRML – virtual reality markup language

x – displacement

x’ – velocity

x” – acceleration

ε – Strain

µ, ν – Poisson’s ratio

σ – Normal stress

τ – Shear stress

ωn – natural frequency of the structure

ξ – Damping ratio

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

In this book I shall tell you some practical tips for structural analysis using

computer. Most structural engineering books are written to tell you how you

will perform the calculation by hand. But even sometimes analysis using

computer can be very tricky. You may need to manipulate computer input to

solve a problem, which may at first appear to be unsolvable by that program.

expensive. Most small-scale engineering firms keep only one analysis program.

Even for a large corporate companies it is seldom possible to maintain more

than two standard analysis packages. Therefore it is essential that you use your

present analysis program to its full extent.

analysis to score good marks in the exam! But it can help you to earn more

money by enabling you to analyze some structures more easily and accurately,

which you were previously thought too difficult to deal with your existing

analysis program.

Also, I am not going to teach you any particular structural analysis computer

program. However, the techniques of analysis discussed here are applicable to

most standard analysis packages.

the boring theory and calculation to minimum level.

No special knowledge is required to get the most out of this book. Only

Bachelor Degree knowledge in Civil/Mechanical Engineering is assumed.

However some parts of the book do discuss some topics which are normally

covered in Master’s degree level in detail. Also, I expect that you are familiar

with at least one standard structural analysis package otherwise you may

find the contents of this book quite terse!

This book does not contain listing of any computer program; because I know

that most readers will not bother to type them or to even read them.

But remember the most important advice: A structure will not behave as the

computer program tells it should regardless of how accurate the program

seems or how expensive it is! Thus goes the famous proverb “With good

engineering judgement you can produce on the back of an envelop that which

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

otherwise cannot be produced with a ton of computer output”. You should paste

this in front of your computer so that you see it everyday. (I did it!)

Before you accuse me by complaining that my tips do not work with your

program, I like to mention following important points.

• I did not work with all the structural analysis programs available in the

market.

• Some features I discussed here may not be available in your program. It can

even happen that the program you are using has better option to handle a

particular problem compared to what I discussed in this book.

• I am only providing you some “clues” for more effective use of structural

analysis programs. However, every analysis problem is unique depending on

type of project, cost, client’s requirement etc. Those specific criteria you

have to solve yourself.

• Documentation of the program you are using is very important. The program

manuals are the best source of help always.

deliberately so that you don’t feel bored. The paragraphs are small and to the

point. We have often returned to same topics in several sections from different

viewpoints. Wherever necessary, numerical examples have been presented.

There are also some exercises. Please try to solve them with your structural/FE

analysis programs.

www.enselsoftware. com in World Wide Web. I shall be more than happy to

answer your queries. Now sit back, relax and enjoy the book.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

This section is a head start for those who are using structural analysis programs

for the first time. As the name suggests, Computer Aided Structural Analysis is

the method of solving your structural analysis problem with the help of

computer software. In earlier generation analysis programs, you had to supply

the programs the nodal co-ordinates, member incidence (i.e. between what

nodal points a particular member is connected), material properties, sectional

properties of the all members and the loads (nodal force/moment/distributed

member loads etc.). You also had to supply how the structure was supported,

fixed, hinged or roller. The program then calculated the member forces, nodal

reactions and joint displacements and presented in a tabular format. This type of

structural analysis programs is still used in junior years in the university as a

first learning tool. However, the commercial structural analysis programs of

modern days are far more powerful and easy to use. Here, you can actually

‘draw’ your model on screen (as if you’re drawing in a paper with a pencil!)

with the mouse and keyboard! Everything is graphical. You draw models

graphically, apply loads and boundary conditions graphically and visualize the

shear force, bending moment and even deflected shape diagram graphically. For

the first time users, it seems rather like a magic! The availability of these

programs has completely changed the way we analyze structures compared to

we did the same just a decade ago! Now it is a child’s play to analyze structures

having more than 10,000 degrees of freedom! However, analyzing structures

using computers has created many other new problems. First, you must be very

familiarize with the programs you are using. You must clearly understand its

limitation and assumptions. All programs can’t be applied for analyzing all

types of structures. Most programs solve the structures by stiffness method,

though solution algorithm may differ from one program to another. What is

most important is that you must interpret the output result accurately. This book

will show you how to perform quickly, accurately and proper interpretation of

data in easiest way. You will also learn to analyze many new kinds of structures

without learning theoretical calculations! Sounds interesting? At the end of this

book, you will also learn about some very recent concepts of structural analysis.

Bon Voyage!

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

3. Analysis types

In this section, you will learn various analysis options those are offered by FEA

programs. You are already familiar with most of the types of analyses, and some

are new to you. (References 8 and 15 were considered for this section.)

This is the most common type of analysis. When loads are applied to a body, the

body deforms and the effects of the loads are transmitted throughout the body.

To absorb the effect of loads, the body generates internal forces and reactions at

the supports to balance the applied external loads. Linear Static analysis refers

to the calculation of displacements, strains, and stresses under the effect of

external loads, based on some assumptions. They are discussed below.

1. All loads are applied slowly and gradually until they reach their full

magnitudes. After reaching their full magnitudes, load will remain constant (i.e.

load will not vary against time). This assumption lets us disregard insignificant

inertial and damping forces due to negligibly small accelerations and velocities.

Time-variant loads that induce considerable inertial and/or damping forces may

warrant dynamic analysis. Dynamic loads change with time and in many cases

induces considerable inertial and damping forces that cannot be neglected.

is linear. If you double the magnitude of loads, for example, the response of the

model (displacements, strains and stresses) will also double. You can make

linearity assumption if

a. All materials in the model comply with Hooke’s Law that is stress is directly

proportional to strain.

b. The induced displacements are small enough to ignore the change is stiffness

caused by loading.

c. Boundary conditions do not vary during the application of loads. Loads must

be constant in magnitude, direction and distribution. They should not change

while the model is deforming.

If the above assumptions are not valid, then we shall have to treat the problem

as non-linear analysis. I shall devote a few sections on non-linear analysis later.

Some FEA programs offer contact/gap elements. With this option, available

during meshing, contacting mating faces may separate during loading and hence

the load distribution in the model will change based on the gap forces generated.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

crazy?

Calculation of stresses

‘Quadrature’ points, located inside each element. (See you FEA textbook for

details) These points are selected to give optimal results. The program then

calculates stresses at the nodes of each element by extrapolating the results

available at the ‘Gaussian’ points. After a successful run, multiple results are

available at nodes common to two or more elements. These results will not be

identical because the finite element method is an approximate method. For

example, if a node is common to three elements, there can be three slightly

different values for every stress component at that node.

During result visualization, you may ask for element stresses or nodal stresses.

In calculating element stresses, the program averages the corresponding nodal

stresses for each element. In calculating nodal stresses at a node, the program

averages the corresponding results from all elements contributing to the stresses

at that node.

Dynamic analysis

applied to it varies with time. The most common case of dynamic analysis is the

evaluation of responses of a building due to earthquake acceleration at its base.

Every structure has a tendency to vibrate at certain frequencies, called natural

frequencies. Each natural frequency is associated with a certain shape, called

mode shape that the model tends to assume when vibrating at that frequency.

When a structure is excited by a dynamic load that coincides with one of its

natural frequencies, the structure undergoes large displacements. This

phenomenon is known as ‘resonance’. Damping prevents the response of the

structures to resonant loads. In reality, a continuous model has an infinite

number of natural frequencies. However, a finite element model has a finite

number of natural frequencies that is equal to the number of degrees of freedom

considered in the model. The first few modes of a model (those with the lowest

natural frequencies), are normally important. The natural frequencies and

corresponding mode shapes depend on the geometry of the structure, its

material properties, as well as its support conditions and static loads. The

computation of natural frequencies and mode shapes is known as modal

analysis. When building the geometry of a model, you usually create it based on

the original (undeformed) shape of the model. Some loading, like a structure’s

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

structure’s original geometry. These geometric changes may have, in some

cases, significant impact on the structure’s modal properties. In many cases, this

effect can be ignored because the induced deflections are small.

This is just a prelude to dynamic analysis. You will find several topics on

dynamic analysis later in this book. However, since I shall not discuss theory of

structural dynamics here, I strongly recommend that you read a structural

dynamic textbook if you haven’t done so already.

Time History analysis, Transient vibration analysis and Vibration modal

analysis are extensions of dynamic analysis.

Random Vibration

Engineers use this type of analysis to find out how a device or structure

responds to steady shaking of the kind you would feel riding in a truck, rail car,

rocket (when the motor is on), and so on. Also, things that are riding in the

vehicle, such as on-board electronics or cargo of any kind, may need Random

Vibration Analysis. The vibration generated in vehicles from the motors, road

conditions, etc. is a combination of a great many frequencies from a variety of

sources and has a certain "random" nature. Random Vibration Analysis is used

by mechanical engineers who design various kinds of transportation equipment.

Engineers provide input to the processor in the form of a ‘Power Spectral

Density’ (PSD), which is a representation of the vibration frequencies and

energy in a statistical form. When an engineer uses Random Vibration he is

looking to determine the maximum stresses resulting from the vibration. These

stresses are important in determining the lifetime of a structure of a

transportation vehicle. Also, it would be important to know if things being

transported in vehicles will survive until they reach the destination.

Engineers use this type of analysis to find out how a device or structure

responds to sudden forces or shocks. It is assumed that these shocks or forces

occur at boundary points, which are normally fixed. An example would be a

building, dam or nuclear reactor when an earthquake strikes. During an

earthquake, violent shaking occurs. This shaking transmits into the structure or

device at the points where they are attached to the ground (boundary points).

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

design structures in earthquake-prone areas of the world. The quantities

describing many of the great earthquakes of the recent past have been captured

with instruments and can now be fed into a response spectrum program to

determine how a structure would react to a past real-world earthquake.

Mechanical engineers who design components for nuclear power plants must

use response spectrum analysis as well. Such components might include nuclear

reactor parts, pumps, valves, piping, condensers, etc. When an engineer uses

response spectrum analysis, he is looking for the maximum stresses or

acceleration, velocity and displacements that occur after the shock. These in

turn lead to maximum stresses. You will find an example of response spectrum

analysis later.

forces etc.) of the structure against time due to dynamic excitation applied on

the structure. You will find more stuff on this particular type of analysis in later

sections.

Transient Vibration Analysis

When you strike a guitar string or a tuning fork, it goes from a state of inactivity

into a vibration to make a musical tone. This tone seems loudest at first, then

gradually dies out. Conditions are changing from the first moment the note is

struck. When an electric motor is started up, it eventually reaches a steady state

of operation. But to get there, it starts from zero RPM and passes through an

infinite number of speeds until it attains the operating speed. Every time you rev

the motor in your car, you are creating transient vibration. When things vibrate,

internal stresses are created by the vibration. These stresses can be devastating if

resonance occurs between a device producing vibration and a structure

responding to. A bridge may vibrate in the wind or when cars and trucks go

across it. Very complex vibration patters can occur. Because things are

constantly changing, engineers must know what the frequencies and stresses are

at all moments in time. Sometimes transient vibrations are extremely violent

and short-lived. Imagine a torpedo striking the side of a ship and exploding, or a

car slamming into a concrete abutment or dropping a coffeepot on a hard floor.

Such vibrations are called "shock, " which is just what you would imagine. In

real life, shock is rarely a good thing and almost always unplanned. But shocks

occur anyhow. Because of vibration, shock is always more devastating than if

the same force were applied gradually.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

All things vibrate. Think of musical instruments, think of riding in a car, think

of the tires being out of balance, think of the rattles in an airplane when they are

revving up the engines, or the vibration under your feet when a train goes by.

Sometimes vibration is good. Our ears enable us to hear because they respond to

the vibrations of sound waves. Many times things are made to vibrate for a

purpose. For example, a special shaking device is used in foundries to loosen a

mold placed in sand. Or, in the food and bulk materials industries, conveyors

frequently work by vibration. Usually, however, vibration is bad and frequently

unavoidable. It may cause gradual weakening of structures and the deterioration

of metals (fatigue) in cars and airplanes. Rotating machines from small electric

motors to giant generators and turbines will self destruct if the parts are not well

balanced. Engineers have to design things to withstand vibration when it cannot

be avoided. For example, tyres and shock absorbers (dampers) help reduce

vibration in automobiles. Similarly, flexible couplings help isolate vibrations

produced by the engines. Vibration is about frequencies. By its very nature,

vibration involves repetitive motion. Each occurrence of a complete motion

sequence is called a "cycle." Frequency is defined as so many cycles in a given

time period. "Cycles per seconds” or "Hertz”.

Individual parts have what engineers call "natural" frequencies. For example, a

violin string at a certain tension will vibrate only at a set number of frequencies,

which is why you can produce specific musical tones. There is a base frequency

in which the entire string is going back and forth in a simple bow shape.

Harmonics and overtones occur because individual sections of the string can

vibrate independently within the larger vibration. These various shapes are

called "modes". The base frequency is said to vibrate in the first mode, and so

on up the ladder. Each mode shape will have an associated frequency. Higher

mode shapes have higher frequencies. The most disastrous kinds of

consequences occur when a power-driven device such as a motor for example,

produces a frequency at which an attached structure naturally vibrates. This

event is called "resonance." If sufficient power is applied, the attached structure

will be destroyed. Note that ancient armies, which normally marched "in step,"

were taken out of step when crossing bridges. Should the beat of the marching

feet align with a natural frequency of the bridge, it could fall down. Engineers

must design so that resonance does not occur during regular operation of

machines. This is a major purpose of Modal Analysis. Ideally, the first mode

has a frequency higher than any potential driving frequency. Frequently,

resonance cannot be avoided, especially for short periods of time. For example,

when a motor comes up to speed it produces a variety of frequencies. So it may

pass through a resonant frequency. Other vibration processes such as Time

History, Response Spectrum, Random Vibration, etc. are used in addition to

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Modal Analysis to deal with this type of more complex situation. These are

called Transient Natural Frequency Processors.

Buckling analysis

If you press down on an empty soft drink can with your hand, not much will

seem to happen. If you put the can on the floor and gradually increase the force

by stepping down on it with your foot, at some point it will suddenly squash.

This sudden scrunching is known as "buckling."

Models with thin parts tend to buckle under axial loading. Buckling can be

defined as the sudden deformation, which occurs when the stored membrane

(axial) energy is converted into bending energy with no change in the externally

applied loads. Mathematically, when buckling occurs, the total stiffness matrix

becomes singular (see section 8).

The failure is not one because of stress but geometric stability. Once the

geometry of the part starts to deform, it can no longer support even a fraction of

the force initially applied. The worst part about buckling for engineers is that

buckling usually occurs at relatively low stress values for what the material can

withstand. So they have to make a separate check to see if a product or part

thereof is okay with respect to buckling.

Slender structures and structures with slender parts loaded in the axial direction

buckle under relatively small axial loads. Such structures may fail in buckling

while their stresses are far below critical levels. For such structures, the

buckling load becomes a critical design factor. Stocky structures, on the other

hand, require large loads to buckle, therefore buckling analysis is usually not

required.

to be avoided when designing support columns, load bearing walls and sections

of bridges which may flex under load. For example an I-beam may be perfectly

"safe" when considering only the maximum stress, but fail disastrously if just

one local spot of a flange should buckle! In mechanical engineering, designs

involving thin parts in flexible structures like airplanes and automobiles are

susceptible to buckling. Even though stress can be very low, buckling of local

areas can cause the whole structure to collapse by a rapid series of ‘propagating

buckling’.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

model. Buckling loads are associated with buckling modes. Designers are

usually interested in the lowest mode because it is associated with the lowest

critical load. When buckling is the critical design factor, calculating multiple

buckling modes helps in locating the weak areas of the model. This may prevent

the occurrence of lower buckling modes by simple modifications.

Thermal analysis

Conduction, Convection and Radiation. Thermal analysis calculates the

temperature distribution in a body due to some or all of these mechanisms. In all

three mechanisms, heat flows from a higher-temperature medium to a lower-

temperature one. Heat transfer by conduction and convection requires the

presence of an intervening medium while heat transfer by radiation does not. I

include a brief discussion on thermal analysis here. You must have read all

these in high school. In this book, I shall not discuss anything more about

thermal analysis.

Conduction

Thermal energy transfers from one point to another through the interaction

between the atoms or molecules of the matter. Conduction occurs in solids,

liquids, and gasses. For example, a hot cup of coffee on your desk will

eventually cool down to the room-temperature mainly by conduction from the

coffee directly to the air and through the body of the cup. There is no bulk

motion of matter when heat transfers by conduction. The rate of heat conduction

through a plane layer of thickness X is proportional to the heat transfer area and

the temperature gradient, and inversely proportional to the thickness of the

layer.

Convection

Convection is the heat transfer mode in which heat transfers between a solid

face and an adjacent moving fluid (liquid or gas). Convection involves the

combined effects of conduction and the moving fluid. The fluid particles act as

carriers of thermal energy.

Radiation

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

electromagnetic waves because of their temperature. All bodies with

temperatures above the absolute zero emit thermal energy. Because

electromagnetic waves travel in vacuum, no medium is necessary for radiation

to take place. The thermal energy of the sun reaches earth by radiation. Because

electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light, radiation is the fastest heat

transfer mechanism. Generally, heat transfer by radiation becomes significant

only at high temperatures.

There are two modes of heat transfer analysis based on whether or not we are

interested in the time domain.

In this type of analysis, we are only interested in the thermal conditions of the

body when it reaches thermal equilibrium, but we are not interested in the time

it takes to reach this status. The temperature of each point in the model will

remain unchanged until a change occurs in the system. At equilibrium, the

thermal energy entering the system is equal to the thermal energy leaving it.

Generally, the only material property that is needed for steady state analysis is

the thermal conductivity.

In this type of analysis, we are interested in knowing the thermal status of the

model at different instances of time. A thermos designer, for example, knows

that the temperature of the fluid inside will eventually be equal to the room-

temperature (steady state), but he is interested in finding out the temperature of

the fluid as a function of time. In addition to the thermal conductivity, we also

need to specify density, specific heat, initial temperature profile, and the period

of time for which solutions are desired.

Boundary Element

A type of finite element sometimes used to connect the finite element model to

fixed points in space. Typically this fixity is set with global boundary

conditions, in which the fixity is totally rigid. A boundary element, on the other

hand, allows for a flexible connection to the fixed space. Boundary elements

and boundary points are normally used to simulate the constraints that actually

occur when an object is used in the real world. For example, if a coffee cup is

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

sitting on the table and a weight is placed on top of the coffee cup, then the table

is the boundary. Boundary points would be points on the plane of the table that

are defined as being fixed in space and to which nodes of a finite element model

of the coffee cup are attached. If the table has a spongy surface, you might want

to use boundary elements to account for the flexibility. With many FEA

software, boundary elements have an additional capability of imposing and

enforced displacement upon a model. The force created by this imposed

displacement would be calculated automatically. Additionally, the forces

generated at a boundary by forces on the model can be obtained as output using

boundary elements.

There are another very powerful types of analysis offered by high-end FEA

programs, known as Mechanical Event Simulation or Virtual Prototyping. You

will find this in section 36.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

In structural analysis, sign convention is very important. You must follow same

sign convention throughout your life! Normally, the force towards right is taken

as positive and force acting upwards is considered positive. Anti-clockwise

moment is taken as positive. This has been shown in following figure for 2D

plane.

Fy

All positive

Mz

Fx

Figure 4-1

Most standard analysis programs follow this sign convention. Although you can

use any convention of your own, but I strongly advise you against that. You will

always be fine with this convention. Please note that, because of taking y

positive upwards, when specifying gravity loads, you often need to use “minus”

sign to do so.

For 3D structures, the sign convention will be of same type but somewhat

complicate. This is shown below.

Y

My All positive

Fy Mx

X

Fz Fx

Z Mz

Figure 4-2

When you see bending moment diagrams, remember that some programs draw

them in tension side or some may do the opposite. Also note that the “sign” of

bending moment diagrams indicate the “direction” (as shown in figure 4-1 and

4-2), they do not indicate whether the bending moment is sagging or hogging.

Axial forces are normally considered positive for tensile forces and negative for

compressive forces.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

When dealing with 3D structures, the program will generally consider y-axis as

elevation. This is as expected, because when dealing with 2D structures, you

will normally use x-y plane. But it has exceptions as well. Some programs, by

default use x-z plane for 2D analysis. Of course you can direct every analysis

program to consider z-axis (or even x-axis) as elevation. My main point here to

make you understand that co-ordinate system is very flexible. But you must

follow same sign convention throughout.

Different programs may follow slight different sign conventions. Before using

the program, you should be familiar with that program’s sign convention. Solve

some basic problems with them first and consult the user guide. As an example,

the following figures show how SAP90/2000 describes frame member internal

forces.

AXIS 2 T P AXIS 1

T

AXIS 3

Figure 4-3

Compression face

V2

M2

V3 M3

Tension face

Positive Moment and Shear [1-3 plane]

Figure 4-4

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Now please solve the following problems using your program and check the

result with the answer given.

-3 kN/m (case 2)

5 kN (case 1)

Node 4

Node 3 5m

6m 6m

Cross section made of concrete E=20GPa

Node 1 Node 2

fixed hinged

Figure 4-5

Figure 4-6

The above figure shows the bending moment diagram and the free body

diagram of each member. Now check the result and the sign with your analysis

program. Please note that your program may draw the bending moment diagram

on opposite side compared to what shown here! Observe the sign convention.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

All members are made of

3 kN steel (E=200 GPa) with

100-mm side square section

3m 0.208 -3.642

2.0

2.833 2.833

-2 kN

4m 4m

Figure 4-7

The axial forces are shown as italics in the above figure. Note that the left end is

hinged and right end is roller.

It is interesting to know that with some programs, you may need to “tell” the

program that the structure is a ‘truss’ by specifying ‘moment releases’ in the

truss members. Otherwise, you may wonder why the program result shows

bending moment diagram in truss! Different programs have different options for

specifying moment (or axial force, torsion etc.) releases.

Some programs, which allow you to draw plate elements on screen, you should

draw them in counter clockwise fashion. Otherwise you may get awkward

result.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Proper node and joint numbering is very important for large models. Those

programs, which allow you to “draw” the model on screen, apply joint and

member numbers automatically. This default scheme may not always be

convenient for you, especially if you are analyzing a multi-story building.

Fortunately, most programs offer re-labeling option and you can even use

alphanumeric labels. Since it is impractical to re-number hundreds of members

manually, you should do it automatically.

Generally, beams, columns and slabs are numbered on the story or floor level

they reside. In that case, you can direct the program to use X-Z-Y re-labeling

pattern (assuming Y-axis is the elevation). You may number all beams in the B-

5-10 or B05010 fashion where “B” indicates beam, next number indicates

“floor” and the last number stands for serial number of beam on that floor.

Similar procedure may be adopted for numbering columns, slabs and other

structural members. You can also create ‘group’ for same type of members

whose design will be same such as all columns in a particular floor.

However, most programs automatically re-number nodes internally while

solving and again display the result in user specified numbering.

global stiffness matrix so that non-zero terms in the matrix tend to become

‘closer’ rather than getting ‘dispersed’. Generally, the non-zero elements of

global stiffness matrix are limited to a band adjacent to its diagonal. Lower

bandwidth means less time necessary for solving equations. For example, in a

multistory frame (assuming the height is more than the length); if you number

nodes row wise (horizontally or more precisely along smaller dimension),

bandwidth will be less compared to column wise (vertical i.e. larger dimension)

node numbering.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

section properties of the members, particularly for 3D structures. You may get

help from the following examples.

Plan of columns

Figure 6-1

In the above figure, the beams are of 200 x 300 mm and columns 200 x 400 mm

oriented as shown in plan. Beams can be specified as 200x300 mm without any

problem. But for columns, you have to be careful. Generally, the programs will

ask you to specify ‘depth’ and ‘width’ of the member. If you specify depth =

400 mm and width = 200 mm then you will get exact section as shown in figure

6-2.

If you specify the dimension in opposite manner, then you will get wrongly

oriented section for the columns. The above figure is taken from real time view

of SAP2000. If your program does not offer real time view (i.e. the members

should look like in the real structure in 3 dimension) option, you’re out of luck!

Many programs, however, have the option for specifying sectional dimension

using ‘tx’ and ‘ty’ (or it might be ‘ty’ and ‘tz’ or ‘t2’ and ‘t3’) option. I have

tried with various programs this sectional dimension input. In most cases width

= 200 and height (or depth) = 400 worked.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Y

Z X

Figure 6-2

Sometimes you may need to specify inertia directly especially for irregular

shaped sections. Normally the programs offer only ‘Iz’ and ‘Iy’ options. The

most often used is the ‘Iz’. For the beam discussed above, Iz = 200x3003/12 and

Iy = 300x2003/12. For the column, Iz = 200x4003/12 and Iy = 400x2003/12.

One important thing you must understand is the concept of ‘member local axes’.

In most analysis programs, the ‘local axes’ settings are different from ‘global

axes’. Normally, the ‘local axes’ are defined as shown in figure 6-3.

Figure 6-3

Some programs can display ‘local axes’ for all members. Please explore your

program’s resource files to see how it handles display of local member axes.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Y

Z

Figure 6-4

The above figure shows orientation of local axes for the inclined member. Note

that in your program, the orientation for local axes may be slightly different; for

example, direction of Z axis may be in opposite direction. The orientation of

global axes is also shown in blue color. It is clear that, when you are defining

section properties in terms of local axes, even an ‘inclined’ member is

considered as ‘straight’. We shall come to local and global axes story again

when we discuss interpretation of analysis output.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

7. Specifying Loads

All programs have the option for specifying concentrated and uniformly

distributed loads. Some programs allow you to assign a point load on beam

without creating a node at that point (the program itself creates a node there

internally) where as most programs require that you can assign concentrated

loads only at nodes. So, you may need to ‘split’ the member to create

intermediate nodes. If your concentrated load is inclined, you better resolve it

into horizontal and vertical components yourself and then apply them.

Specifying UDL is easy. However, trouble arises, then the load becomes

varying. The most common example of varying load is on the beams coming

from slabs as shown in figure 7-1. The lengths of the beams are ‘L’.

Unfortunately, very few programs will calculate distributed loads form slabs

automatically. More often than not, you’ll have to specify the slab load yourself.

Some programs allow specifying trapezoidal loads on beam members, however,

some allow only triangular load. In that case, you need to ‘split’ each beam into

three segments (not necessarily equal) and apply triangular loads at end

segments and UDL on mid segment.

αL Total Load = W (N) UDL = w (N/m)

Yes, this is somewhat cumbersome if you have, say 200 beam members! But

you can avoid trapezoidal loads all together with slight loss of accuracy as

shown in figure 7-2. If we equate fixed end moments in two beams (of figure 7-

1 and 7-2), we get

-------------- WL = ------ or w = ----------------------- … (7.1)

12 x (1-α) 12 (1 – α) x L

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

r 1 1.02 1.05 1.068

It is seen that maximum difference of mid span moment for figure 7-1 and 7-2 is

6.8%, which is quite small. So, we can safely replace trapezoidal load with UDL

whose magnitude is given by w as shown in (7.1).

Under some circumstances, you may have non-linearly varying (e.g. parabolic)

type of loads. Except in high-end FEA programs, you can’t input the load

through equation. The only way out is, split your member into several sections,

and specify concentrated loads varying through nodes (or UDL varying through

segments). More number of divisions, better the result is.

You may wonder whether you can model all the slabs in your building frame

using plate elements instead of converting loads to beams as shown in figure 7-

1. Of course you could. But there are several disadvantages! First of all, your

analysis program must have ‘plate’ element to do this. Many frame analysis

programs don’t have plate element! If you use ‘plates’, then you must ‘mesh’ it

before running analysis. If you have, say 100 slabs (i.e. plates) with 10x10

mesh, you’ll have 11x11x100 = 12,100 extra nodes compared to that you’ll

have if you transfer the loads on beams. Not only this takes much more time to

have your analysis done, but also it will swamp you with tons of output (just

count the number of total plate elements – their stress values etc.)! It has been

proved that with the conventional slab load distribution as shown in figure 7-3,

you’re quite correct.

Figure 7-3

Another type of load, which often creates problem, is due to hydrostatic of earth

pressure. If your analysis program has easy method to specify such type of

loads, consider yourself really lucky! If you’re applying hydrostatic load on a

plate element, apply load before meshing the plate. Sometimes the program

allows you to specify separate load at four nodes of the plates (and intermediate

values are interpolated) though this is not really necessary in day to day

analysis. Hydrostatic load normally takes the shape as of figure 7-4.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 7-4

To specify you generally supply fluid height, axis and density. Now the density

may be tricky. For example, in the above figure, the load acts towards the plate.

But what to do if we want make it act in opposite direction (i.e. away from

plate)? Surprisingly, changing the density into negative works! (Argh!) (I don’t

know whether all programs behave in this way, but I found this trick works in

Visual Analysis).

Surcharge or earth pressure load can be specified in the same way as that of

hydrostatic load. If your load needs to be like figure 7-5, then just place the fluid

level at higher level.

Water level

Figure 7-6 shows another trick where you need to superpose two types of loads

to get the desired resultant load distribution. Uniform pressure on plates can

easily be applied. While you analyze water tanks, these tricks come handy.

When you’re applying distributed load on inclined member, it may act in two

different manners as shown in figures 7-7 and 7-8.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

In figure 7-8, the load is projected on horizontal axis. This is the common case.

In figure 7-7, the load is acting perpendicular to the member. Most analysis

programs can handle both types of loading conditions shown. But it’s your

responsibility to apply correct method.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

square cross section (I = 8.33E-6 m4) is 5 m long and fixed at bottom end. A

load is applied axially to the column. Find the buckling load.

Figure 8-1

First draw the column, define the column properties and then apply any load,

which you know that is well below Pcr. Now see if the column buckles! No, it

won’t. To get the correct result you must activate the “Frame instability” or “P-

∆” analysis option yourself to force the computer to make iterations! Now

gradually increase the load and re-analyze. At one instant, the computer will

show you a message, which will say that the program has encountered a

negative diagonal term in member stiffness matrix and analysis will terminate.

Note this load. This is the minimum buckling load. You are likely to see that

even when the column buckles, the deflected shape of the column is drawn

straight!

You may ask why computer can’t account for buckling in normal analysis.

Well, most analysis programs, by default, perform first order analysis. That is, it

sets stiffness matrix, solves it and then calculates axial forces from it. When you

instruct it to perform P-∆ analysis, it performs iteration to find out actual axial

forces. Remember if you are using a very cheap program or some non-

commercial program, it may not have P-∆ analysis option! Be careful!

You may wonder, why the computer itself does not choose P-∆ analysis always.

Hmm, it would have been nicer. But think of the time required for performing

such analysis. I once analyzed a 20 storied 3D frame in VA, which had 10 bays

in both x and y direction. With 233 MHz, 16 MB RAM computer it took me 20

minutes to perform first order analysis. If you want to perform P-∆ analysis for

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

such structure using a standard PC and inexpensive program, chances are that

your system will crash! Check it!

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

You may have been taught to use portal and cantilever method for analysis of

effect of lateral loads in frames. Both of these methods assume a point of

contraflexure at mid point of beams and columns, which is often grossly

inaccurate. Just analyze any frame subjected to lateral loading by these methods

and then compare the results with exact analysis by computer. You will find as

much as 50% to 60% difference of moments and shear forces. If computer is

available, you must not use these methods. Even for preliminary analysis, when

you do not know the size of the members in the structure, still these methods are

not useful. You can do the same easily by using computer.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

uniformly distributed load. How do you calculate its deflection at midpoint?

You may, of course, use the familiar equation ∆ = 5wL4/384EI. But remember,

here you must use effective moment of inertia of the section and not the gross

moment of inertia of the section if applied moment (wL2/8 in this example)

exceeds cracking moment capacity. Here w stands for dead + live load. Most

computer programs do not take into account the reduced moment of inertia

because of cracking. Since sometimes Ie comes equal to 50% of Ig, when you do

not calculate Ie, you may just double the deflection as found from computer

analysis which takes Ig. Please note that, for all members you may not need to

use Ie because for all members calculated moments may not exceed cracking

moments. Once you have got Ie, you can use the same analysis program to find

out the deflection of desired members. But you must note following things.

1. To find out deflection at middle of a beam, you must have a node there. You

can achieve this by splitting the beam into two members. Most analysis

programs have the option of doing this.

2. Changing I values of some members does not alter moment and shear values

which you have got previously using Ig.

3. Ie can be calculated only when you have designed the member i.e. you have

specified number and diameter of reinforcement bars.

4. When you are specifying I value explicitly, ensure that you do not define

beam width and depth or radius, otherwise you may get absurd results.

The formulas for calculating cracked moment of inertia are given below (Ref.

1).

Icr = b(kd)3/3 + nAs(d-kd)2

Where k = ((2ρn + (ρn)2)0.5 – ρn and ρ = As/bd

Icr = b(kd)3/3 + (2n-1)As’(kd-d’) + nAs(d-kd)2

Where k = ((2n(ρ+2 ρ’d’/d) + n2(ρ +2 ρ’)2)0.5 – n(ρ + 2 ρ’), ρ = As/bd and ρ’ =

A’s/bd

Icr = bw(kd)3/3 + (b-bw)hf3/12 + (b-bw)hf(kd-hf/2)2 + nAs(d-kd)2

Where k = (ρ n + 0.5(hf/d)2)/( ρ n + hf/d) and ρ = As/bd

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

For a T-beam with k>hf – use same equation as that for a rectangular beam.

In all cases n = Es/Ec.

measured as cube compressive strength of concrete; and Ec = 4700√fck MPa if

fck is cylinder compressive strength.

What is said above stands for short-term (immediate) deflection. You must add

long term deflection due to creep and shrinkage as well.

deflection (discussed above) due to dead load (+ live load, if live load remains

in place for extended periods of time) by creep factor ξ = ν/(1+50ρ’)

Where ν = 0.787(months) 0.229 but not greater than 2.0 and ρ’ = area of

compression steel/gross cross sectional area of the member.

This simple trick works for 1 dimensional member only i.e. for beams. For 2

way members e.g. slab, things are not as easy. We shall discuss later how to find

the deflection of 2-way slab by using finite element analysis.

Most codes provide you minimum depth of members if you do not calculate

deflection. But these values are always overestimated and thus lead to

uneconomical design for multistory buildings. Don’t be lazy. Always calculate

deflection, you can save money!

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Most programs do not take into account deformation due to shear force. For

normal beams where depth of beams are much less than their lengths, neglecting

shear deformation does not lead to erroneous result but where length of beam is

very close to depth of beam it can lead to large error. In fact if (Length of

beam/Depth of beam) < 2 then the beam is termed as deep beam. There, shear

deformation must be taken into account.

Consider the following problem. A point load of 1 MN is applied at the free end

of 1-m long steel cantilever beam. The cross section of the beam is 400x600

mm. The total deflection is ∆ = PL3/3EI + 6PL/5GA (the equation comes from

strain energy theorem) = 0.000234 + 0.00007143 = 0.0003029 m. See what

deflection your program shows! Chances are that it will show only 0.000234 m.

So, what do you learn? Now make the beam section 600x400 mm and you will

find that the total deflection is very near to bending deflection. Some programs

offer option for specifying shear area. In that case, they can take into effect of

shear deformation. Check whether your program has this option.

Figure 11-1

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

If your program supports specifying inclined local axes for a particular member,

you are lucky. In this case you just need to mention in what angle you want to

rotate the local axes of the selected member; then you will specify the joint

restraints in usual manner and it will be considered as an inclined support. But if

your program does not have this feature, you need to try out something else.

You can achieve this by specifying a “spring” of infinite stiffness. Normally you

can specify a spring at any angle. The spring reaction is the resultant of X and Y

components of reaction. In case of roller support you will get the reaction

automatically from spring reaction.

university? – Moment distribution, Slope deflection, Portal, Cantilever,

Kani’s rotation contribution, Conjugate beam, Graphical – Funicular

polygon & Maxwell diagram – Williot-Mohr diagram, Three moments

theorem, Column analogy, Moment area, Substitute frame, Method of

joints & method of section for trusses. Probably you know all or most of

the above classical methods of analysis. Now be honest, how many of

the above methods you still use to solve structures after you have started

using computer analysis programs? Probably none! Academic people

will argue that all the said methods are to be mastered for a better

understanding of structural response. Do you think so? I don’t. Well,

among the methods listed above, the moment distribution is most

popular. This is quite logical, because this method is easy, does not

involve solution of simultaneous equations and converges rapidly. We

shall discuss substitute frame method later (see section 13) while

considering maximum bending moment, shear force etc. in building

frames. Did you notice that all these methods are used for frame analysis

only? You may like to know that 80% to 90% of all real world structures

analyzed are frame structures. Although you have learnt flexibility and

stiffness approach while studying computer method of analysis, only

stiffness method is used in computer programs. Modern world’s most

powerful analysis method – finite element method is also a stiffness

method in essence.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

building frame: Substitute (Equivalent) frame

A frame member will not experience maximum bending moment, shear force

and reaction when it is fully loaded. Here we shall combine classical

approximate substitute frame with computer analysis. But before that note the

following live load distribution criteria.

Maximum positive bending moment at Load that span and then alternates

center of span spans

Maximum positive bending moment at Load adjacent spans and then alternate

center of span spans

Maximum negative bending moment Load adjacent spans and then alternate

at support spans

Maximum column reaction Load adjacent spans and then alternate

spans

Maximum positive bending moment at Load all spans except adjacent spans

support

In all cases, dead load must always be applied over all spans.

Some codes say that if live load intensity does not exceed 75% of dead load

intensity, then you can load all spans together with dead and live load without

any combination. But if you have computer, it is always better to perform the

actual combination to get maximum values of force and moment.

In classical substitute frame (see figure 13-1), we isolate one single floor with

the assumption of columns at top and bottom floors are fixed. Then we apply

the combinations described above to get maximum member forces.

In case of computer analysis, though you still need to apply the live load in

same combination as discussed above, yet you need not isolate one particular

floor. Rather, you should just apply the required span load combination in any

floor. In case of regular shaped building elevation, result obtained from one

floor will be same for other floors. For example, in the (figure 13-2) shown, the

load combination stands for maximum negative support moment in first interior

column (actually both interior columns since this structure is symmetric) in 2nd

floor (bottom most floor, i.e. ground floor is normally denoted by “0” in

structural analysis convention). The value obtained for support moment under

this condition will also be the maximum support moment for 1st, 3rd and 4th

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

floor. (Though it is customary to use reduced live load in roof level). Similarly,

other load combinations can be used in same manner.

Figure 13-1

Figure 13-2

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Take any statically determinate structure, for example a simply supported beam

or a simple truss. Apply a settlement in one of its supports. Now analyze the

structure. You will see an interesting phenomenon. Though the program will

correctly say zero member force, still it will draw a bending moment or axial

force diagram! In a statically determinate structure, there should not be any

member force developed due to support settlement. Hooray, you have

discovered a bug in the program!

The reason of this awkward shape can be explained. Although the member force

is zero, the program calculates it as a very small (say 10-100) number. The

graphic code picks up this small but finite number and draws the force diagram.

Now take a statically indeterminate structure. Say a continuous beam. Make one

of its support settle to an amount and perform the analysis. You should find

some member forces in the beam. Well, now take a statically indeterminate

truss. The truss should be externally indeterminate. For example, you can take a

2-support truss whose both supports are hinged (pinned) as shown in figure 14-

1. Now apply a downward settlement in any one of its supports and analyze the

structure. Most likely, you will see zero force in all members after the analysis.

This is not correct!

Figure 14-1

Most standard analysis package use truss stiffness matrix based on ignoring the

support displacement perpendicular to member’s local axis. That’s why you get

the wrong answer. But since the members’ length change, there are strains,

which would create the axial forces. If you want to know the actual member

forces after such support settlement, you need to modify the member stiffness

matrix considering the displacement in perpendicular direction as well.

Unfortunately, you can’t do it with most available programs.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

15. 2D versus 3D

for easier input and analysis. For example, consider the following structure as

shown in figure 15-1.

Figure 15-1

You can easily analyze just one plane frame as shown in fig. 15-2. Whenever

possible, try to convert 3D structures into 2D in this way. 2D structures are not

only easier to model, but also they can be ‘handled’ and analyzed much more

easily compared to 3D structures.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 15-2

Look, in fig. 15-1, the loads are towards X direction. If there were additional

loads of same type towards Z direction, you could adopt similar 2D frame (on

YZ plane) as shown in fig. 15-2. You can then superpose the result as long as it

is a linear structure with material and member section properties are the same.

into 2D? I shall discuss this when covering dynamic analysis in detail.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Most frame analysis programs do not have curve element. You will need to

replace the curved member by a number of straight members. Obviously, more

the number of straight members used better the accuracy is. While drawing

straight members for curve elements, it is a good idea to change grid setting into

“polar” form instead of normal rectangular setting. Another way of doing this is

to figuring the straight members’ nodal co-ordinates in spreadsheet (for

example, Microsoft Excel or Lotus 123). This is useful when the equation of

curve is known as y = f(x) e.g. parabolic arch. By using spreadsheet’s built-in

commands, you can easily find out y co-ordinates of the curve against each x

co-ordinate. Some programs can “copy” and “paste” member and nodal

information to and from spreadsheet file. You may like to know that it is

theoretically possible to create stiffness matrix of a curved member.

Y

4m X

20 m

Figure 16-1

The answer is: left vertical reaction 375 kN ↑, right vertical reaction 125 kN ↑,

horizontal reactions are 312.5 kN inward at both ends. With 20 straight-line

segments, you should get exact answer within 1% accuracy. Note that the

theoretical answer has been obtained by (H = ∫ My dx / ∫ y2 dx) formula.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Many programs have the option of specifying tapered or variable cross sectional

members. If so, you’re lucky. If not, still you’re lucky as you are reading this

book! To specify a tapered section by yourself, you should ‘break’ the members

into a number of parts (more the number, better is the result). Then you should

specify various A (areas) and I (inertia) for each segment. This will become

clear from the following problem.

2 4

15 15

Figure 17-1

The figure shows a tapered beam. Hinged at left end and fixed at right end. A

clockwise moment (hence minus sign) of 5000 has been applied at middle of the

beam. It is required to analyze the beam. The cross sections at both ends have

been shown. Please note that the beam has been ‘divided’ into 8 sections. Width

of the sections is same throughout. But the depth is varied as (from left most

section) 2, 2.25, 2.5, 3, 3.25, 3.5, 3.75, 4. The calculated reaction at left end is –

163 (i.e. downward) and at right end is +163 (i.e. upward) compared to

theoretical answer of 170. The bending moment at just left of mid-point of beam

is – 2443 (theoretically –2549) and that of right is 2557 (theoretically 2451).

You will get more accurate answer if you divide the beam into more number of

elements. Note another interesting point that, in this problem, I didn’t specify

any unit or E value of material! You should get same answer whatever unit you

use. Although some programs do allow you to specify “linearly” tapered

members; you still need to apply this trick for “non-linearly” (e.g. cubic or

parabolic) tapered members.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Many programs allow you to define a spring support, but none will allow you to

connect two nodes by a spring. But you can achieve this! Replace the spring by

a member connected between those two nodes where the spring is required.

Choose the properties of that member so that stiffness of spring equals AE/L of

that connected member. E should be same as that of material of the spring.

Choose A and L value properly, keeping L small; because if you choose large L,

the member will buckle easily. Also, do not forget to release moment on this

member i.e. this spring replacement member should carry axial load only. After

analysis, you must check whether axial load in spring replacement member is

below its buckling load (π2EI/L2). This can be automatically checked if you

activate P-∆ analysis (see section 8) option in your program. This trick works!

Figure 18-1

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

pieces…)

the structure rather than the whole. This approach is useful to reduce the labor

(cost and time) of preparing the data, of computing and of interpretation of the

results. When an isolated part of a structure is analyzed, it is crucial that the

boundary conditions ‘sub-structures’ accurately represent the conditions in the

actual structure. As a first simple example, consider the following structure as

shown in figure 19-1. You are required to analyze the structure.

10 kN A = 2002 mm²

4m E = Steel

-5 kN/m

20 kN

4m

4m 4m 4m

Figure 19-1

If you separate the upper floor and then analyze only that portion, you will get

the result as shown below.

10 kN

11.44 kNm

11.44 kNm 5 kN 5 kN

4.28 kN 4.28 kN

Figure 19-2

With the result shown above, the applied loads on the bottom floor of the actual

structure will be as shown below.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

25 kN

4.28 kN 5 kN 4.28 kN

A B C D

Figure 19-3

node and 5 kN reaction from upper floor. The reactions you will get in the lower

floor should be same as that of obtained if you considered the whole structure as

shown in figure 19-1.

For your check, the ultimate results are as given below for problem figure 19-1.

Node Fx kN Fy kN Mz kNm

A -6.223 -14.85 15.58

B -5.99 30.54 15.18

C -11.2 20.64 22.08

D -6.583 3.675 15.81

From the above example, it is clear that; you need to apply opposite of reactions

as loads on lower floor frames.

The procedure described here seems too meager for this particular structure, but

this method is an absolute must for doing a fine meshed finite element analysis.

It may happen that, if you run the whole structure once, it may exceed the

program’s or your computer’s resource limit. That’s why it’s so important to

‘break them into pieces’.

They behave better than unsymmetrical ones. For symmetrical structures, this

sub-structuring technique is a great time saver. When the structure has one or

more planes of symmetry, it is possible to perform the analysis on one-half, one-

quarter or an even smaller part of the structure, provided that the appropriate

boundary conditions are applied at the nodes of the plane(s) of symmetry.

Followings are some examples of exploiting symmetry of structures.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Actual beam

Figure 19-4

Fixed

Figure 19-5

Actual beam

Figure 19-6

Figure 19-7

Remember, in order to take advantage of symmetry, both the structure

(geometry and material) and the applied load must be symmetric. Although,

you can still take advantage of symmetry even if the loading is ‘anti-symmetric’

(i.e. one half of the loading is similar to other half in magnitude but opposite in

direction), the procedure will be somewhat screwy. In all cases, our sign

convention is same as described in section 4 earlier. Now consider plane frames

with even number of bays as shown in fig. 19-8. This frame can be detached,

after applying proper boundary condition, as shown in fig. 19-9. Plane frame

with odd number of spans has been shown in figure 19-10. Here you will have

to apply boundary condition of X translation and Z rotation prevented in mid

points of the middle beams as shown in fig. 19-11. Symmetrical structures are

not only easier to analyze but also perform better than unsymmetrical structures

in real life!

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 19-8

Fixed

Fixed

Fixed

Figure 19-9

- 49 -

Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 19-10

Figure 19-11

Exercise

Solve some problems yourself on the basis of above example models. Unless

you analyze the models and visualize the results, things will not be crystal clear

to you. If you face any problem, don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail! You will

find advanced info on 3D structures’ symmetry, plate’s symmetry etc. in later

sections.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

method of analysis, we consider it as a straight beam. How far is this

assumption justified? Consider the figure of the staircase shown below.

Figure 20-1

The first figure shows exact shape of a flight of a staircase with loads (including

self-weight). The second figure is the approximation of the same staircase as

simple beam. The section of concrete staircase may be taken as 1-m width x

150-mm depth. The length of simple beam equals 1.25 + 2.75 + 1 = 5 m.

Theoretically, loading on landing should be less than that of inclined flight. In

approximate calculation, it is assumed same load is acting through out the span

for conservative result. The results of both analyses are shown in next figure. In

this case we have considered the staircase as simply supported. Depending on

casting, it may be fixed-fixed or fixed-pinned as the case may be. In fact

staircases are more often analyzed as fixed-fixed support condition. From the

analysis it is found that maximum mid span moment is almost same in both

analyses. Shear forces (reactions) are also more or less equal. This proves that

approximate analysis of staircase is not really inaccurate! In hand calculation,

moment was computed using simple M = wL2/8 formula.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 20-2

This analysis was done in Visual Analysis 3.5. An interesting point is to note

that, both structures were analyzed as a single file. This is applicable to most

analysis programs. You may analyze as many as separate structures in a single

file even they are not connected together. Now think about the following

paradox. Following three beams are all simply supported (left end pinned and

right end roller). Their projected length on plan is same in all cases (say 10 m).

They are all acted by same uniformly distributed load on ‘projected’ length (say

10 kN/m). Find out what will be the bending moment at mid spans.

10 m 10 m

10 m

Figure 20-3

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

What result do you see? The bending moment (and reactions as well) is same in

all cases! If you took w = 10 kN/m and L = 10 m, then Mmax = wL2/8 = 10*102/8

= 125 kNm. It shows that, for the simple beam, bending moment is same

irrespective of beam’s geometry. This happens because all three beams shown

are statically determinate structures. Now make all the beams fixed at both ends.

Now re-analyze them and you will see different bending moments for all cases.

The example problem I presented in this section for staircase, was simply

supported in both ends. That’s why you got same bending moment! Had they

been fixed at ends, the results would not have matched. However, they still

would not differ appreciably from traditional straight beam calculation.

Still in doubt why you got same result for statically determinate beams? Well,

the reason is simple. As the beams were simply supported, horizontal reactions

at supports are zero (since we have only loading acting downward). So, moment

due to ‘eccentricity’ of geometry is also equal to zero. This will be from

following figure.

x

Figure 20-4

This internal moment (= Hex at any section of distance x from end) causes the

bending moment to differ from the value as in case of straight beams (where ex

= 0 at all sections). In case of statically indeterminate beams, both H and ex are

non-zero. So, the internal forces differ depending on geometry of the beam.

When you analyzed two hinged arches as a student you probably used the

equation: Arch moment = Beam moment – He. Didn’t you?

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

21. Cables

carries ‘tension’ only. So, you should define a cable in the same way as truss

member (which carries axial force only) but additionally you will have to

specify that it can take tension only (no compression). Some analysis programs

may not have the option of defining a tension only member!

Once you have specified cables in this way, the analyses are pretty

straightforward. While viewing the result, you should check whether cables’

axial force diagram shows tension only (generally positive number) and no

bending moments. That’s all.

An example of cable structure is shown in fig 21-1. After performing the

analysis, check your answer with exact result as given.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 21-1

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

0, MBA = 75, MBE = -117, MEB = 41, MEC = -41, MBD = 41, Mid span of EC = 84

kNm.

Figure 21-2

It is also possible to analyze the cable shown in figure 21-2. Use suitable values

for span, sags and loads. Then find out the tension in cables. This is given as an

exercise to you! If the loads are all unequal, the tensions in the cables will be

different. Check if equation of static equilibrium is satisfied at each node.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Does your program offer specifying pre-stressed cable profile? If yes, then

good. If not then read the following tricks. Observe sign conventions carefully.

PyA PyB

yA θA θB yB PθA PθB

c

P P

c

θA = (4c + yA – yB)/L

L/2 L/2 θB = (4c – yA + yB)/L

Figure 22-1

PyA PyB

yA θA θB yB PθA PθB

P P(θA + θB) P

Total length L

Figure 22-2

Observe the figures very carefully. They are really confusing! Try to

comprehend the following worked out problem. Please note that the θ values are

in radians. Note that the yA and yB indicate eccentricity of the cable at supports

in upward direction from center of gravity of concrete (cgc) line. Upward

distance is positive at supports and downward distance is positive at mid spans

for pre-stressed cable profile (majority of standard analysis programs follow this

sign convention). If the cable distances are of opposite sense compared to what

shown in above figures, then ‘arrows’ of moments will be reversed.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

shown below.

So, θA = (0.5+0.5)/10 = 0.1 rad

And θB = (0.5+0.5)/5 = 0.2 rad

and 500 x 0.5 = 250 kNm on right end of left span.

(0.1 + 0.2) = 150 kN.

So, θA = (4 x 0.6 + 0.5 – 0.4)/15 = 0.17 rad

And θB = (4 x 0.6 – 0.5 + 0.4)/15 = 0.15 rad

And c = (0.5 + 0.4)/2 + 0.6 = 1.05 m

So, equivalent upward load w = 8 x 500 x 1.05/152 =

18.67 kN/m. Also, support moment at left end of

right span is 250 kNm and on right end is 500 x 0.4

= 200 kNm. So, the equivalent forces on the beam

will be of as shown in figure 22-4 (axial force P is

not shown).

Figure 22-3

Figure 22-4

Now the forces shown in blue color will go to support directly. Moments shown

in orange color will cancel each other. So, the remaining forces that will act are

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

shown in green color. The ultimate equivalent load will be that of as shown in

figure 22-5.

Figure 22-5

So, for pre-stressing force, the beam should be analyzed for the loading shown

above. Naturally, the beam will also carry dead load and live load as well.

Analyze the beam for these loads as separate cases and then combine the results

as desired. In actual practice there are always more than one cables. You can

analyze effect of each cable separately and then superpose to get the net result.

Also remember that, there is a uniform compressive stress ‘P/A’ in the concrete

in addition to the bending stress due to pre-stress, dead load and live load. For

more information on this subject, please see any standard textbook on pre-

stressed concrete. I have shown here only linear and parabolic cable profile.

Although parabolic profile is the most common, there are other types of profiles

possible. See your textbook for details.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

We now come to the most outstanding and most versatile method of structural

analysis: the Finite Element Method. It has made possible to analyze virtually

all kinds of structures that human brain ever can imagine! If you have studied

finite element before, you may skip this section. Those who did not, I present a

very very brief introduction of the subject. There exist more than 1001 books in

this subject. But I warn you; the theory of finite element analysis is very

complex!

What is meant by finite element? The answer is any element, which is not

infinite. Don’t be exasperated; this is the real definition of finite element.

Did you play with mechano when you were a child? Just think how you built a

model car or house by “Lego” parts? Now consider each part of mechano as

“finite element”. A number of mechano elements were needed to build your

model car or house.

“bars”. Here the “bars” are “finite elements” of the “frame”.

I hope you have probably realized now that the frame analysis, so far what we

have discussed in preceding sections, is actually finite element analysis in

essence where each finite element is a “bar”.

Figure 23-1

This is the longitudinal section of a beam shown. That is, you are viewing a

beam from its length side. Observe that here we consider the beam as 2-

dimensional “Plane stress” structure. Don’t confuse this with 2D or 3D frame.

By 2D or 3D frame we actually mean “Plane” and “Space” frame. In all

previous cases, we treat all beams as “bars” like a “stick”. But in the above

figure we are treating the beam taking into effect of its length as well as depth.

That’s why it is 2D. Had we considered the width of beam in the analysis, it

would have been termed as 3D solid. Pretty confusing! Look, there is a “cut” in

the beam. The beam is simply supported, left end pinned, right end roller. It is

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

various points of the beam. Please note that analysis of this problem by classical

method is close to impossible.

So, first we divide the beam into a number of “triangular finite elements”. Then

we shall determine the member stiffness matrix [k] of each individual triangular

element and ultimately we shall have to combine the member stiffness matrices

into “global stiffness matrix” [K]; pretty much the way we did in case of frame

analysis. Then we shall have to apply the boundary condition on [K] matrix.

Figure 23-2

After that we need to construct force matrix [P]. For this, distributed load must

be converted to appropriate nodal loads by applicable equations. So, our

problem can be represented by familiar equation [P] = [K][D]. From this

equation we can solve for [D] and then we can find out nodal stresses form

σ] = [C][εε] where [C] matrix differs in various cases like plane stress,

equation [σ

plane strain etc. We are describing this problem as plane stress because we

considered only 2 dimensions (X and Y) and stress variation along width (Z

direction) has not been taken into account. That means we have taken care of

only σx, σy and τxy. In this problem we considered the beam is made of

“triangular” finite elements, but we could have also considered it is made of

“rectangular” finite elements as shown in figure 23-3.

Figure 23-3

If you analyze the beam with both triangular and rectangular elements as shown

above, you will see that you get accurate answer when you use rectangular

elements. It proves one very fundamental concept of finite element analysis:

You must choose proper element for particular problem. You do get correct

result with triangular finite element but you must use very fine mesh compared

to rectangular element. In general, triangular element is not a good choice. If

you are interested to know why triangular element behaves in such way, you

should consult any standard finite element analysis textbook.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 23-4

As a crude rule, when you use triangular you will normally need much finer

“mesh” than rectangular elements. The assembly of elements in finite element

analysis is called “mesh”. Most powerful finite element programs can generate

mesh automatically if you specify the boundary surfaces of the models. If you

want to analyze the same beam in 3D then your model will look like as shown

in figure 23-5.

Figure 23-5

In this case finite element will be 3D solid element like shown in figure 23-6.

Figure 23-6

This is an 8 noded finite element because it has 8 nodal points. If its each vertex

has one additional point in the middle, then it would have been 20 noded finite

element. Higher is the number of nodal points in an element better is the

accuracy of the solution. But higher noded elements are difficult to calculate

even with a computer since total number of nodes increases the size of global

stiffness matrix. Whatever element you use, it must be compatible.

Compatibility means there must not be any discontinuity or overlapping among

the elements when the analysis model deforms under applied load. You can

combine more than one kind of element in single structure. You should use

more number of elements where you anticipate stress variation is more

irregular. There are a lot more other finite elements in addition to basic

triangular and rectangular elements discussed above.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

One distinguishing feature of finite element method is that it does not provide

“closed form” solution. Every problem in finite element analysis is unique. This

probably needs little more explanation. Think of a simple beam. In classical

method of analysis, you can make a program, which takes L, E, I and w as input

and computes deflection at any point by solving the equation of elastic line,

which can be easily formulated. But in case of finite element analysis, if you

change the length of the beam, it becomes another new problem because the

geometry of the model changes. Of course you can change E or w values or

boundary condition without remodeling the whole structure.

approximate result. I used the word “almost” because finite element analysis

does produce exact result only when the finite element is “bar” that is in “frame

structures”.

You may be wondering that if finite element method can solve any structure,

then what is the justification of studying classical methods of analysis. Aha! A

real question indeed! You can realize it yourself. Just think of solving a simple

beam in finite element method (this is presented just after this section). After

you solve this beam by finite element method, you can easily check whether the

result is correct or not by comparing the answer obtained by classical method.

But now imagine the analysis of the fuselage of an airplane or the propeller of a

ship. How do you check the correctness of these analyses? Therefore you must

accept the finite element analysis result as exact result! That’s why it is so

important that finite element analysis models must be created to simulate the

actual structure as much as possible. You must use proper combination of finite

elements, sufficiently accurate mesh, proper load and applicable boundary

conditions. It is often a common practice to analyzing the structure first with a

particular mesh and then repeating the whole analysis after doubling the mesh to

see whether the result converges. But this method has drawbacks! Your

program cannot analyze the structure if your number of mesh nodal points

exceed the program’s capacity. Moreover, it is very difficult to predict

beforehand what particular “finite element” will best simulate the structure. This

is especially a demanding task for very complex structures.

engineering, bio-medical engineering, mechanical engineering and structural

engineering etc. Some manufacturing companies spend millions of dollars every

year in finite element analysis!

I am concluding finite element introduction here. But you must realize that it is

not so easy as it seems. Researchers are still developing new finite elements.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Sometimes even the most expensive finite element analysis programs produce

wrong answer to complex problems. If you feel inclined to know more about

this wonderful (?) tool of analysis, I strongly recommend that you to go through

some standard finite element method textbooks.

One word of advice, many engineers tempt to use finite element analysis

everywhere even when it is possible to analyze the particular structure using

classical method of analysis. My main aim is to make you realize that finite

element analysis is required only when it is absolutely necessary. Remember

that finite element analysis programs are very expensive and they also demand

great part of contribution from you for preparing input and interpreting output.

1. Defining the model (i.e. drawing it either in the finite element program’s

graphical interface or importing it from a CAD program).

2. Creating the mesh (most programs can automatically generate mesh for best

result).

3. Defining the boundary conditions.

4. Defining the loads.

5. Performing analysis (may take hours for complicated models!)

6. Interpreting the result (very important).

The steps are pretty straightforward. But there are many glitches!

In next page you will find an exercise of simply supported beam with uniformly

distribute load analyzed by FEA method. This example is for your

understanding of the basic concept of FEA only. In practice, this problem

should be solved by simple flexure formula of σ = My/I. Remember this!

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Exercise

A 5-m steel (E=200GPa) beam has width 200 mm and depth 500 mm. It is

loaded by 10-kN/m uniformly distributed load. ν = 0.3. Its left end is hinged and

right end is roller. Find deflection at mid point and maximum bending stress in

the beam by finite element analysis. Try following modeling:

1. Plane stress analysis with 20 rectangular elements, each 0.5x0.25 m size.

That means there are 10 elements in X direction and 2 elements in Y

direction. You can convert the uniform load into nodal loads by applying

0.25 kN at extreme nodes and 0.5 kN at intermediate nodes.

2. Solid model analysis. Use standard solid brick or tetrahedral element. Most

finite element analysis programs offer these elements.

structure should look similar to this

figure.

Figure 23-7

In case of plane stress model formulation, you should use plate finite element

whose thickness will be equal to the depth in Z direction. In this problem, this is

equal to width of the beam. After performing the finite element analysis, you

should get the answer: mid point deflection 1.95x10-4 m maximum stress 3.75

MPa. Your program may display slight different result due to numerical round

off in calculation.

The deflected shape should resemble the following figure. Original shape is

shown by dotted line. This 2D-beam analysis was performed in Visual Analysis.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 23-8

The figure 23-9 shows one of mid plane stresses, local σx distribution.

Your program should have the option to display other stresses e.g. σy , τxy etc.

Interpreting the finite element analysis result is very important. It is expected

that you spend equal or more time in interpreting analysis result compared to

the time previously spent in preparation of the model.

Later we shall see how finite element analysis can produce incompatible result.

There you will realize why it is essential to learn some theory behind the finite

element analysis.

Figure 23-9

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

To analyze the beam as 2D, you should not face any difficulty. However, you

should take into account many other things when you analyze the same beam as

3D solid. Firstly, what will be the load? Look, here we’ve applied a total load of

10 kN/m x 5 m = 50 kN acting on the upper face area of 5 m x 0.2 m = 1 m. So,

the applied load we have to specify as 50 kN/m² pressure normal to the upper

surface. Be careful about the load’s direction. Now, comes the main hurdle, the

meshing. If you are using a high-end FEA program, it will mesh the model

itself. By default, the program will mesh it by using brick elements or

tetrahedral elements. The next figure shows the beam with automatically

generated tetrahedral mesh. You may note that, such high density meshing is

not really required for this very problem. If you manually mesh with 20

numbers (2 elements along depth and 10 elements along length, similar to

shown in fig. 23-7) 8-noded solid elements, (as in SAP2000) you will get exact

result for this problem. Left end boundary condition is X, Y, Z translation fixed

along bottom edge and Z translation fixed along bottom edge on right end.

Figure 23-10

Figure 23-11

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Did you see that finite element analysis programs normally give you output in

the form of nodal displacements and stresses. It does not show you bending

moment or shear force diagram. Why? Well, why do you need bending moment

and shear force values? To calculate stresses later, isn’t it? Finite element

analysis programs directly give you the stress values!

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

I think by this time you have at least tried to open first few pages of a FEA

textbook and probably bogged down by heavy theory. Well, I am here to rescue

you. Unfortunately, most FEA textbooks do not contain sufficient numerical

examples to make the whole thing transparent to the readers. If you study the

following numerical example along with your FEA textbook, you might find it

easier to comprehend now. So, let’s start…

Figure 24-1

Figure 24-1 shows a plate divided into two triangular shaped finite elements.

This is a plane stress problem. The figure also shows the degrees of freedom

(DOF) of the system. Please note that the value of modulus of elasticity E is

taken as 200x106 N/m². In fact, the values taken in this problem are not realistic.

My main aim is to present various steps of FEA computation through a simple

numerical problem. The division of the plate into a mere two elements is done

just for illustration purpose only. In actual practice, the plate should be divided

into a larger number of elements (triangular or rectangular etc.).

Anyway, we now begin solving the problem. I hope you’ve already familiar

with ‘shape function’. This is the function, which describes displacement of any

point within an element as a function of nodal displacements of the element.

The definition will be clear as we solve the problem. Shape function matrix is

normally denoted by [N].

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

All FEA textbooks describe how to derive shape functions for various elements.

So, we shall assume that we already know the shape function for the triangular

element.

We consider element 1 at first. Its nodal points are 1,2 and 3. The co-ordinates

are (0,0), (4,0) and (4,4) respectively. If the area of the triangle is A, then we

know

1 x1 y1 1 0 0

1 1

A = 1 x2 y 2 = 1 4 0 = 8...m 2

2 2

1 x3 y3 1 4 4

Where, (x1, y1), (x2, y2) and (x3, y3) are the co-ordinates of node 1, 2 and 3

respectively.

( x 2. y3 − x3. y 2) + x( y 2 − y3) + y ( x3 − x 2)

N1 = = 1 − 0.25 x

2A

( x3. y1 − x1. y3) + x( y3 − y1) + y ( x1 − x3)

N2 = = 0.25 x − 0.25 y

2A

( x1. y 2 − x 2. y1) + x( y1 − y 2) + y ( x 2 − x1)

N3 = = 0.25 y

2A

∂N 1 ∂N 2 ∂N 3

0 0 0

∂x ∂x ∂x

∂N 1 ∂N 2 ∂N 3

[ B] = ∂[ N ] = 0 0 0

∂y ∂y ∂y

∂N 1 ∂N 1 ∂N 2 ∂N 2 ∂N 3 ∂N 3

∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x ∂y ∂x

− 0.25 0 0.25 0 0 0

= 0 0 0 − 0.25 0 0.25 ......m −1

0 − 0.25 − 0.25 0.25 0.25 0

Now we set the ‘Constitutive matrix’ [C] as (for plane stress only)

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

1 ν 0 200 0 0

E

[C ] = ν 1 0 = 0 200 0 .10 6...N / m 2

1 −ν 2

1 −ν

0 0 0 0 100

ν

V

If we perform the calculation, we shall get stiffness matrix for element 1 as:

1 0 −1 0 0 0

0 0 .5 0 .5 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 0

−1 0 .5 1 .5 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 0

[k ]1 = .10 6......N / m

0 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 1 .5 0 .5 −1

0 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 0 .5 0 .5 0

0 0 0 −1 0 1

Note that, it is a 6x6 matrix. Its DOF are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Thickness t = 0.01

m. Following exactly same steps, we can easily find stiffness matrix for element

2. This is given as an exercise for you. Calculation is same. Only you have to

use x1 = 0, y1 = 0 (point 1), x2 = 4, y2 = 4 (point 3), x3 = 0, y3 = 4 (point 4).

0 .5 0 0 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 0 .5

0 1 0 0 0 −1

0 0 1 0 −1 0

[k ] 2 = .10 6......N / m

− .0 .5 0 0 0 .5 0 .5 − 0 .5

− 0 .5 0 −1 0 .5 1 .5 − 0 .5

0 .5 −1 0 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 1 .5

For element 2, DOF are 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8. So, the global stiffness matrix [K]

becomes, [K] = [k]1 + [k]2. In matrix format,

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

1 .5 0 −1 0 0 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 0 .5

0 1 .5 0 .5 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 0 0 −1

−1 0 .5 1 .5 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 0 0 0

0 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 1 .5 0 .5 −1 0 0

[K ] = .10 6.......N / m

0 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 0 .5 1 .5 0 −1 0

− 0 .5 0 0 −1 0 1 .5 0 .5 − 0 .5

− 0 .5 0 0 0 −1 0 .5 1 .5 − 0 .5

0 .5 −1 0 0 0 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 1 .5

Our next step is to calculate applied nodal forces. In the problem, we have a

varying distributed force. In FEA, we must transfer distributed loads into

equivalent nodal loads. The formula for converting distributed loads into nodal

loads is:

{re } = ∫ [ N ]T q...dx

For more explanation on this topic, see your favorite (or not so favorite) FEA

textbook.

q1 q2 L(2q1+q2)/6 L(q1+2q2)/6

L L

Actual distributed load Equivalent nodal load

Figure 20-2

Note that the applied load is in DOF 3 and 5 direction. So, force matrix becomes

an 8x1 matrix. However, still we did not specify the boundary condition. Since,

nodes 1 and 4 are pinned, DOF 1, 2 and 7, 8 will be fixed. Therefore, we have to

adjust both global stiffness and force matrix with DOF 3, 4, 5, 6 only.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

0

0

8000

0

[F ] = .....N

4000

0

0

0

1 .5 − 0 .5 − 0 .5 0

− 0 .5 1 .5 0 .5 −1

[K ]B = .10 6.........N / m

− 0 .5 0 .5 1 .5 0

0 −1 0 1 .5

8000

0

[F ]D = ..........N

4000

0

Calculated displacement for DOF 3, 4, 5, 6 is

[d]c = [K]B-1.[F]D or

7.43

1.71

[d ]c = .10 −3..........m

4.57

1.14

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

0

0

7.43

1.71

[d ] = .10 −3........m

4.57

1.14

0

0

Our main analysis is complete. Now we shall ‘post process’ our result. Suppose,

we like to know the strains and stresses at all three nodes of element 1. The

strain matrix is defined by [ε] = [B][d].

0

0

εx − 0.25 0 0.25 0 0 0 1875

7.43

[ε ] = ε y = 0 0 0 − 0.25 0 0.25 . .10 = − 143 10 − 6

−3

1.71

γ xy 0 − 0.25 − 0.25 0.25 0.25 0 − 286

4.57

1.14

σx 371450

[σ ] = σ y = − 28550 . .......N / m 2

τ xy − 28600

Displacement at any point within the element [u] = [N][d]

d1

d2

ux N1 0 N2 0 N3 0 d3

= . =

uy 0 N1 0 N2 0 N3 d4

d5

d6

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

0

0

0.25 0 0.25 0 0 .5 0 7.43 4.14

10 −3 = 10 −3........m

0 0.25 0 0.25 0 0 .5 1.71 1 .0

4.57

1.14

1. In this problem, [B] = constant i.e. it does not involve any terms containing x

or y. However, this is the case only for triangular element. That’s why it’s

called Constant Strain Triangle. For rectangular and other elements, [B] is a

function of x and y (and z for 3D cases).

2. Since strain is constant, stresses at any point within element are also

constant.

3. Distributed load should be converted to equivalent nodal loads.

4. The commercial FEA programs basically performs the same operation as

described above. They calculate stress/strain at all points inside the elements

and plots as colorful contour diagram as output.

5. Did you realize the labor involved in solving with just 2 elements and 8

DOF. Now imagine what will happen with 100,000 nodes. It vindicates

absolute necessity of computers in FEA.

6. The answer we have got here is not correct. This is as expected because we

have considered only two elements. Use your analysis program to generate a

mesh and see what will be the exact answer. Next try the problem with four

rectangular elements. See your FEA textbook to find out [N] matrix for

rectangular elements. The stiffness matrix for rectangular elements is given

by

b a

[k ] = ∫ ∫ [ B]

T

[C ][ B].t...dxdy

−b − a

Here you have to integrate ‘numerically’. (Oops!) I think you are already feeling

bore. Let’s have a snack break!

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Let’s solve a simple plate by finite element analysis. Our model is 3-m x 2-m

size and 10 mm thick. The plate is made of steel (E = 200 GPa). It is simply

supported. Ignore self-weight of the plate. It is acted by 100-kPa uniformly

distributed load over its surface. Find the deflection at mid point of the plate.

The theoretical answer is 0.65-mm i.e. 0.00065 m. If you get 0.0005 or 0.0007

m deflection using your program, it may be considered sufficiently accurate.

First hurdle is how you should ‘mesh’ the plate. Most programs will allow you

to divide the plate into number of smaller plates within it. So, do it. Expensive

programs can create the optimum mesh for you! If you mesh the plate 15x10

elements, it should be enough for this problem. Now comes the boundary

condition. Specify two adjacent edges as pinned and the other two adjacent

edges as rollers. It will make the plate simply supported. Consider sign

convention as described in section 4.

Roller

Pinned Roller

Pinned

Figure 25-1

options for specifying surface loads. Also make sure the load acts ‘downward’.

If everything goes ok, you should get the answer. The deflected shape should

resemble a saucer. The programs typically show many other stress-components

like Von Mises, S11, Max. Principal etc. I shall discuss about them later.

Now solve the same problem with some different boundary conditions like all

edges fixed and heavier loads etc. Check your answers with theoretical

solutions. Make a ‘cut’ anywhere in the plate and see what happens.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Suppose you have made a model of moment frame with masonry walls and

concrete floor slabs as ‘plates’. Now why you need to ‘mesh’ the plates? The

problem with this is that the plate elements are only connected to the supporting

members at the nodes. In the real world structures, the plates are in continuous

contact with the supporting members. Modeling the structure in this way can

cause larger deflections in some members than if they were modeled with

intermediate connections. The walls may also be too stiff when modeled as a

single element. Another concern involves load path continuity. If a distributed

surface load were applied to the floor plates, the load would be transferred to the

corners of the plate and directly down to the columns. The supporting beams

would receive no load. To fix these problems the single plate will have to be

split into smaller pieces, so that more nodes are provided to allow the real world

connection to be more accurately modeled. The more each plate is split the

more accurate the model becomes. However, more elements require more time

to analyze, this is particularly important with large models. Interpreting the

result also becomes complicated. Finally, it is not clear into how many elements

you should split the plates (Ref. 6). You may wonder that we don’t split frame

(beam/truss) members. Well, as I already stated that for ‘bar’ finite elements, we

can form the exact stiffness matrix. So we don’t need to split them. Although,

occasionally you may need to split frame members too for applying nodal point

loads. For linear structures, even if you split frame members, you still get same

result. But for non-linear structures, you will get different (usually more

accurate) result if you split frame members. More on non-linear structures in

some later sections. So, keep going on!

Why not start with this very plate problem? First, analyze the plate with only

6x4 mesh. Your mid point deflection should come 5.91x10-4 m. Clearly, this is

not equal to theoretical 6.5x10-4 m. So, you need to increase your mesh density

i.e. you have to decrease your mesh size. Let’s apply 15x10 mesh (see fig. 25-

2). As I already mentioned you earlier, in this case you should get exact mid

point deflection. So, this mesh is sufficient. But hey, in actual problem you

won’t know the answer beforehand! So, how do you know that you get exact

answer with 15x10 mesh? What you have to do is that, you analyze the plate

again but with 30x20 mesh. You will observe that you get same displacement as

in case of 15x10 mesh. Now your result is correct. So, we just increased mesh

density and see whether our result converges and we stopped when done. This

trick normally works in most of the FEA problems, however, there may be

situations where increasing mesh density only may not produce good result! We

may need to use more complex elements. For example, instead of 4-noded plate

element we can use 8-noded plate element. I shall discuss more about it later.

Another point, should you rely upon convergence of displacement or of stress?

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

In general, stresses in FEA are ‘less’ accurate than displacements (since stresses

are calculated from displacements, see the worked out problem of previous

section). So, you should aim at displacement convergence. Take stress diagrams

of the point when displacements converge (in 30x20 case for this problem).

Figure 25-2

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

In this section you will learn how to interpret FEA result. This is one of the

most important tasks. I shall start with very basic beam and truss and then

gradually move to complex stress components.

First consider a simple truss member. When it’s in tension, the force acts on it

as shown below.

Figure 26-1

The tensile stress developed in the member is simply equal to Force/Area. Until

the stress exceeds the value of yield stress of the material of the member, the

member will not fail. On the other hand, consider a member under compressive

force.

Figure 26-2

Here the stress is also Force/Area but in this case, buckling may occur. The

maximum stress that the member can withstand depends on the material and the

‘slenderness ratio’ (= length/side dimension) of the member. Try to avoid

compression member as far as possible. This is current trend in design. All

tension member structures like tents etc. are very efficient and cost effective.

moment and shear force, although sometimes effect of axial forces may be quite

as much. The next figure shows positive direction of the bending moments and

shear forces acting on a beam.

Figure 26-3

The bending moment causes bending stress (= My/I) on the beam. The reactions

cause shear stress (= VQ/Ib). For beams curved in plan, in addition to these

forces, torsion also comes (see figure 26-4). Things will get really messy if

unsymmetrical bending is considered. This is discussed later.

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Figure 26-4

Now consider a most general case of the stresses acting on a solid element.

σy

τyx

τxy

τyz

σx

Y τzy τzx

τxz

X

Z

σz

Figure 26-5

All stress components are shown in figure 26-5. I’m sure you’ve seen this figure

several times since your first year of university, didn’t you?

In straight beam, we have only σx. Please see figure 26-1 and you will

appreciate the stress component diagram shown there. Note that in that beam,

you will get values for only σx stress components, which is obvious.

Typically, all FEA programs will show you Von Mises stress by default after

analysis is finished. Now what does this mean anyway?

on Von Mises – Hencky theory which, predicts that yielding in ductile material

occurs when distortion energy per unit volume of the material equals or exceeds

the distortion energy per unit volume of the same material when it is subjected

to yielding in a tensile test. The theory takes into account the energy associated

with changes in the shape of the material. This criterion is used to analyze

materials that would fail in a ductile manner. In a nutshell, The Von Mises

stress is a measure of stress intensity required for a material (generally a

metallic material), to start yielding and become plastic. Before showing you

mathematical concept of Von Mises stress, please let me introduce Principal

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stresses. Von Mises stress has no implication in brittle materials like concrete

and soil.

point, for certain co-ordinate axis rotations, shear stresses vanish; the remaining

three normal stress components are called principal stresses. The directions

associated with principal stresses are called the principal directions. The three

principal stresses are denoted by σ1, σ2 and σ3.

The Von Mises stress is computed from the six stress components as follows:

1

1

σ VM = [ ((σ x − σ y ) 2 + (σ y − σ z ) 2 + (σ z − σ x ) 2 ) + 3.(τ xy + τ yz + τ zx )] 2

2 2 2

2

(σ 1 − σ 2 ) 2 + (σ 2 − σ 3 ) 2 + (σ 3 − σ 1 ) 2

σ VM =

2

Hence, the Factor of Safety = σ limit / σ Von Mises

Then comes Maximum Shear Stress criterion, which is also known as Tresca

yield criterion. According to this theory yielding of material begins when the

absolute maximum shear stress reaches the shear stress that causes the same

material to yield in a tensile test. This criterion is mostly used to analyze

materials that would fail in a ductile manner.

There are two other failure criteria mainly for brittle materials – Mohr Coulomb

Stress and Maximum Normal Stress.

theory, failure occurs when:

σ1 >= σ Tensile Limit if σ1 > 0 and σ3 > 0

σ3 >= -σ Compressive Limit if σ1 < 0 and σ3 <0

(σ1/σ Tensile Limit – σ3/σ Compressive Limit) < 1 if σ1 >= 0 and σ3 <= 0

Hence, the Factor of Safety = 1/(σ1/σ Tensile Limit – σ3/σ Compressive Limit)

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This criterion is used for brittle materials whose tensile and compressive

strength properties are different.

when maximum principal stress reaches the ultimate strength of the material

when subjected to simple tension. That means, failure is predicted to occur

when σ1 >= σ limit where σ1 is the maximum principal stress.

This criterion is used for brittle materials whose ultimate strength is same for

both tension and compression. Please remember that brittle materials do not

have specific yield points. (Ref. 15)

What factor of safety you use is entirely your responsibility. In machine design,

it is not uncommon to use a factor of safety value in the range of 10 to 20.

Most frame analysis and design programs show the ratio of (applied stress/

allowable stress) for every member after performing design as per code

specification. If the ratio is less than 1, then design is same. Ratio more than 1

indicates re-design is necessary.

Please see Section the section on Folded Plate for more information on

interpreting FEA result.

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In this section you will learn some tips for creating a better FE mesh. But the

things are really messy! When your model is quite simple, remember the

following advises.

of triangular elements as they give more accurate results. Remember that, the

four corners of a quadrilateral element should all lie on the same plane. If this is

not possible, use two triangular elements in place of each quadrilateral.

a square – 1:1 element. Elements with a base/height ratio up to 1:2 give good

results, but elements with a ratio of 1:5 will be unreliable. However, many FEA

programs have the options, which allow you to specify maximum aspect ratio.

But be careful, if you specify too low aspect ratio, the program may not be able

to generate the mesh successfully at all! Many a times you will be forced to use

1:50 as lowest acceptable aspect ratio value. Yikes! If you do not specify such

upper limit for aspect ratio, the program may occasionally churn out elements

with aspect ratio as high as 1:1,000 even if you are using a $20,000 program!

possible, If not, the internal angles should not vary greatly from 90°. Angles of

30° or 150° will greatly reduce accuracy. Elements with convex angles should

never be used. However, due to geometry of the model, more often than not you

will have to use quadrilateral elements.

results. However, it is always better to avoid triangular elements.

Mesh density – the mesh density need not be constant throughout the model.

The program assumes a linear result distribution through the element. If the

actual result through the elements is not linear but parabolic, for example, it is

obvious that there will be a decrease in the accuracy. In a fine mesh, the result

diagram through any one element will always be approximately linear.

Increase the number of elements where there is a greater rate of change in the

internal forces. For example; around supports (where bending moments increase

sharply), openings and large concentrated loads.

relatively low results are expected. Remember that the connection to adjacent

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

elements is through the element end nodes only and so nodes located along an

edge of an element between end nodes are ineffective. Use triangular or

trapezoidal shaped elements to step between rough and fine quadrilateral

meshes.

If you have doubts as to the accuracy of the results in a particular area of the

model, rerun the problem with a finer mesh in that area and compare results.

The results converge to the exact solution, as the mesh becomes more refined.

Life will be much troublesome if you need to analyze complex solid models.

Here you need to consider many other parameters. Most FEA programs, by

default, generate ‘tetrahedral’ mesh for solids. Some programs, however, allow

you to specify how you want the mesh to be generated. Figure 27-1 shows how

your model looks with a tetrahedral mesh. Figure 27-2 shows same model with

combination of 8-noded brick, tetrahedral, 5 or 6-noded transition elements.

Some programs (e.g. Algor) offer following types of mesh generations.

Standard – used for most meshes by default. It gives you the highest quality

mesh and the lowest number of elements. Standard solid meshing works from

the surface inward. It will make 8-node brick elements on and near the surface

of the model while making 6, 5 or 4-node transition elements in the center of the

model as needed.

All 8-Node Bricks – this option should be used only for processors that accept

only 8-node bricks. In many cases, these are fluid flow processors (for analysis

of pipe network, this topic is not discussed in this book). This option can make 4

to 5 times the number of elements as the "Standard" option.

No Pyramids – the "No Pyramids" option builds brick meshes with 8, 6 and 4-

node elements, but no 5-node pyramid elements.

Tetrahedral from Quads – the "Tetrahedral from Quads" option is for generating

a tetrahedral solid mesh from a quadrilateral surface mesh.

node elements plus 6-node and 4-node elements, but no 5-node pyramid

elements.

tetrahedral solid mesh from an equilateral triangular surface mesh. This is the

most common type of mesh for a large number of FEA programs.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 27-2 shows boundary condition (fixed) and pressure load of 1000

lbf/sq.inch (I had to use FPS unit because the YOKE model file was in ‘inch’

unit.)

described in just next section.

We shall come to the same ‘yoke’ model later on, when we discuss how to

interpret FEA results.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 27-1

In the above figure only the mesh has been shown. The boundary condition and

pressure load for this particular analysis has been shown in next figure. You

may use ‘coarser’ or ‘finer’ mesh in your program. Normally, the programs

create the mesh using a default mesh density. If can control the mesh

size/density using a slider in the program.

You may wonder whether the result will change depending on what kind of

mesh you are using. Well, not really in general. However, there are special

cases, where you should use particular type of mesh for best result. See the chart

in next section.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 27-2

Figure 27-3 shows Von-mises stress (described later) diagram of figure 27-1

after analyzing the model in COSMOS/Design Star.

The same model with mesh as of figure 27-2, is analyzed using Algor and

shown in figure 27-4.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 27-3

Figure 27-4

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

28. Common Finite Elements library for Linear Static and Dynamic

Stress Analysis

3-D Truss, 2-nodes Truss elements are used to provide

stiffness between two nodes. These

elements transmit compressive and

tensile loads along their axis. They do

not carry any bending load.

3-D Beam, 2-nodes Beam elements are used to provide

elongational, flexural and rotational

stiffness between two nodes. These

elements can possess a wide variety of

cross-sectional geometries including

many standard types

3-D Membrane Membrane plane stress elements are

Plane Stress, 3- used to model "fabric-like" structures,

nodes such as tents, cots, domed stadiums,

etc. They support three translational

degrees of freedom and in-plane

(membrane) loading. Orthotropic

3-D Membrane material properties may be

Plane Stress, 4- temperature dependent. Incompatible

nodes modes are available.

2-D Elasticity, 3- Elasticity elements are used for plane

nodes strain, plane stress and axisymmetric

formulations. They support two

translational degrees of freedom.

2-D Elasticity, 4- Orthotropic material properties may be

nodes temperature dependent. Incompatible

modes are available.

the behavior of solids. They support

three translational degrees of freedom

as well as incompatible displacement

modes. Applications include solid

objects, such as wheels, turbine

blades, flanges, etc.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

of pressure vessels, automobile body

parts, etc. They support three

translational and two rotational

degrees of freedom as well as

orthotropic material properties. An

optional rotational stiffness around the

perpendicular axis is automatically

3-D Plate, 4-nodes added to the node of each element.

A thin composite plate element is

available for use in models such as

mechanical equipment, bicycle

frames, etc. A thick composite plate

element is also available and can be

used in models such as honeycomb

sandwich structures, aerospace

products, etc. Both thin and thick

composite plate elements have no

limitations regarding orientation or

stacking sequence and support the

Tsai-Wu, maximum stress and

maximum strain failure criteria.

Tetrahedral, 4- Tetrahedral elements are used to

nodes model solid objects, such as gears,

engine blocks and other unusually

shaped objects. They support three

translational degrees of freedom. They

are also available in higher order

formulations (mid-side nodes).

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

conjunction with other elements. A

boundary element rigidly or elastically

supports a model and enables the

extraction of support reactions.

Boundary elements are also used to

impose a specified rotation or

translation.

Gap/Cable, 2-nodes The gap element simulates

compression, where deflection makes

two nodes touch and transmit force,

such as when a ball bearing moves in a

joint. Using gap elements, stresses,

bending moments and axial forces

where the bearing and joint meet can

be determined.

A cable element simulates tension,

where two nodes moving away from

each other a specified distance cause

the element to become active. It is still

a small-deflection, small-strain

analysis, but with deflection-sensitive

connectivity.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

designed to carry any load. Beams, columns and slabs carry all loads. However,

in high rise buildings, it is important to ensure adequate ‘lateral stiffness’ to

resist horizontal forces induced by wind or earthquake. For such buildings, if we

solely depend on beams and columns for providing lateral stiffness, then the

sway movement will be quite disturbing, vibration can easily be felt by the

occupants and structural members may develop high stresses in them. Concrete

walls, which have high ‘in-plane’ stiffness, are placed at convenient locations in

the building to provide necessary resistance to horizontal forces are known as

shear walls.

Shear walls are often provided surrounding elevator or staircase. Figure 29-1

shows a typical arrangement of shear walls in a building frame. The exterior

shear walls are shown red and the interior shear walls surrounding central

columns are shown yellow for easy visualization. This is one of the most

common arrangements for shear walls. In the figure only a 5-storied building

has been shown. In practice, shear walls are generally provided in tall buildings.

Shear walls resist bending. So, reinforcement must be provided inside them.

The area and arrangements of steel bars are calculated in usual manner.

However, analysis of shear wall and frame must be done properly. In early days,

when computer was not available, the frame-shear wall interaction was a very

complicated task. It involved lots of assumptions and mind-boggling

calculations. One common classical method was that of MacLeod. If you want

to torment yourself, go and get an Advanced Structural Analysis textbook and

try to solve a shear wall problem using classical methods.

The advent of FEA has made life much easier for us. Just model the building

first. You can do it easily using your analysis program’s graphics editor (or you

can import it from CAD program) and then add ‘plates’ in the place of shear

walls. Specify thickness and material properties of the walls (i.e. plates). Then

‘mesh’ the plates (see Section 25 for how to mesh plates). And your model is

ready for cooking (I mean analyzing)! Run your favorite FEA analyzer, and you

will instantly get displacements, shear forces, bending moments, stresses in the

beams, columns and walls. Isn’t that easy?

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 29-1

However, actual difficult part comes after the analysis. Look, I told you already

that if there were no shear walls, the forces in the beams and columns would

have been much higher compared to those of with shear walls present. So, lesser

values of forces mean smaller dimension of members and less amount of

reinforcement. But inclusion of shear walls will raise the expense again. So,

there must a trade off at some point. You must analyze several model structures

with various shear wall arrangements to get the most economical yet practical

structure. Sometimes, it may be necessary to provide shear walls with openings

for windows, doors etc. for architectural reasons. Openings reduce the stiffness

of the shear wall.

Exercise

Assume suitable dimensions for the building frame shown in figure 29-1. Apply

some realistic horizontal forces at floor levels and analyze the structure with and

without shear walls. See how the result changes with shear walls. Use a

different arrangement for shear walls and analyze again. Which arrangement

comes out to be the best?

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

folded plates involve laborious calculations. Moreover, there is no single

classical method available for general analysis of folded plates. They depend on

the shape of folded plates. Some common methods are – Simpson’s,

Whiteney’s, Iterative, Three-shear equations etc. However, if you use FEA, then

the analysis itself is quite simple and the labor involves only preparing the

model correctly and interpreting the result properly. Your analysis programs

must have ‘plate’ elements to successfully analyze folded plates. Modeling the

folded plates sometimes can be really tricky. We shall discuss various aspects of

folded plate analysis with the following example as shown in figure 30-1. The

front view is shown in the figure and the length of the structures is 12 m as

shown in figure 30-2 with mesh for sufficiently accurate result.

C G D

Thickness 150 mm 3m

A F

3m 4.5 m 3m

Figure 30-1

The frame is loaded with 1.5 kPa uniformly distributed load in addition to the

self-weight. The folded plate is made of concrete. If you use your analysis

program’s graphics editor for input, the quickest way to create the model is: (1)

draw the model first using frame element so that the shape like as of figure 35-1

(2) then copy the frames over 12 m distance (3) now draw the plates (4) after

the plates are drawn, delete the frame members since they were drawn here only

to ease the model (5) now mesh the plates (6) apply boundary condition, in this

problem, the sides of the plates are fixed (7) apply plate thickness, material

properties etc. (8) apply surface loads on plates BC, CD and DE.

After you apply the loads, visualization should look like as that of figure 30-3.

If you draw the plates in wrong orientation, the load direction may appear

awkward as shown in figure 30-4. If it happens, delete the particular plate and

redraw again in the opposite direction compared to previous case. For this

reason, it is a good practice to mesh the plates, after you have applied the loads

properly. Although, to make your figure change from 30-4 to 30-3, you may be

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

tempted to change the load into –1.5 kPa for plate DE, however, it may create

problem while interpreting the output.

Fixed on side

Fixed on side

12 m

Figure 30-2

Figure 30-3

Figure 30-4

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Are you wondering whether we can take advantage of the symmetry? Of course

we do. In fact, only 1/4th of the structure needs to be analyzed. The appropriate

boundary conditions are shown in figure 30-5 with respect to the global axes

shown in the same figure.

all free

Z rotation fixed

Y

Z X

all fixed

Figure 30-5

deflected shape of the structure yourself in your mind before performing the

actual analysis. Of course, you may bypass this mental exercise by analyzing

the whole structure rather than taking advantages of the symmetry. You may

wonder why I did not give you theoretical result the above folded plate analysis.

Well, theoretical calculations are also based on certain simplified assumptions,

which may not completely valid many cases (See Section 3, for example). I

admit that you need some benchmark problems to compare your analysis

output, still you should start relying on your FEA output to gain confidence!

After performing the analysis, you will get following stress components – σx,

σy, σz, τxy, τyz, τzx in global axes direction and σx, σy, τxy in local axes

direction along with maximum principal normal stress σ, minimum principal

normal stress σ and maximum principal shear stress τ. The concept needs

clarification.

We have already discussed local axes concept. Now, every ‘plate’ element of

the above folded plate may be considered ‘lying’ in a ‘2D plane’ even if it is

actually ‘inclined’ in the real structure. For example, a ‘plate element’ of BC

may be visualized as shown in figure 30-6. This figure is a specific case of

figure 30-5 where stress variation along Z-axis is negligible.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

σy τyx = - τxy

y τxy

x

σx

Figure 30-6

The visualization will be more apparent from the figure 30-7, where local axes

for the vertical, inclined and horizontal plate elements’ are shown.

Y

X

Y

X

Z Global

Figure 30-7

axes. Here you’ll find all 6-stress components since we now speak in 3D space.

Question: My analysis program doesn’t explicitly show global and local axes

stress components. How do I know which convention it is following?

Answer: Difficult to say. Generally, most programs give output with respect to

local axes. But there are some programs, which show the result with respect to

local axes for some type of ‘elements’ and with respect to global axes for some

other type of ‘elements’! Really confusing! See your programs’ manuals for

details. However, you better solve some benchmark problems (with known

answer) to check.

Question: Shall I provide the reinforcement on the basis of forces on global axes

or local axes?

Answer: Local axes forces.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 30-8

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 30-9

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30-10.

Figure 30-10

The span of plate (along X axis) is 10 m and thickness of all four plates is 100

mm. The plates are made of concrete and are acted by 3-kPa downward (i.e.

along –Z direction) load perpendicular to the surface of the plates. Sides

(leftmost and rightmost edges but not middle edge) of the plates are fixed. The

global X stress (σx in N/m2) after analysis (in Algor) is shown in figure 30-11.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 30-11

Exercise

Model and analyze the plate yourself and check if you’ve got the same result.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

31. Shells

assured, I’m not going to swamp you with differential equations. Theoretical

background on shell is extensive and if you are interested, you should consult a

textbook on shell theory. Here I shall discuss only what you should know for

shell analysis using FEA.

20 m

5m

Figure 31-1

75-mm thick concrete. A uniformly distributed load of 3 kPa inward (i.e.

towards center of the shell, perpendicular to the surface of the plate at every

point, not horizontally projected) is acting over it (including self-weight i.e. you

need not add self-weight load). The sides of the shell are pinned. You are to

analyze the shell. Your first task is to model the shell. Some programs can

generate this kind of shell through a model wizard. Then you are lucky. If your

program does not have this option, you need to start from scratch. First create

the arc. Note that, either you can draw the arc exactly (if your programs graphic

editor permits) or you need to follow the procedure as outlined in Section 5. If

you draw the arc, remember to ‘break’ it into a combination of ‘lines’. Then

copy the ‘lines’ through out the length of the shell (20 m in this example). If you

break the arc into lines before, copying into suitable interval creates the mesh

automatically. The concept may appear garbled if you just are reading, but will

be clear if you try to draw the shell model yourself. A 20x80 mesh is sufficient

for this shell. In most practical cases, your shell will be ‘thin’ i.e. thickness of

the shell is much less compared to width or length. So, there will be only three

stress components σx, σy and τxy and other three stress components will be zero.

Thin shell theory is also known as ‘membrane’ theory. On the other hand,

‘thick’ shells are analyzed using ‘bending’ theory. There are various types of

shells – hemispherical, cycloid, conical, hyperbolic etc. Classical theories of

shells often vary with different geometric shapes, although FEA treatment of

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

shells is same for all shell types. The shell theory is extremely complicated and

if you lean too much in that subject you may find a place in lunatic asylum too

soon! One advantage of shell is that, because of its curve shape, less material is

required compared to beam or slab to carry same load. In other words, the ratio

of load carried/ amount of material used is higher for shells. However, because

of constructional difficulties, shells are still of limited use. Yes, like the folded

plate discussed in previous section, you can again take advantage of symmetry

as shown in figure 31-2.

Y

Z X

pinned

free

Figure 31-2

For other types of shells, if the loading and geometry are symmetrical, you can

always take advantage of symmetry. Although you have the right to place the

origin at anywhere, I prefer to keep the origin at the center of the shell. It has

some ‘psychological’ advantages.

The analysis output for σ in local X-axis is shown in figure 31-3. The analysis

was done in Algor. You should note some important points. First of all, all FEA

programs display output in colorful stress contour range. Normally, you can

‘adjust’ the range yourself. It is always advisable to specify a range of your

own. This is because, the highest (and lowest) range generally covers only one

or two elements in extreme ends of the model due to some numerical round of.

In fact, 99% of all elements’ stresses fall within the 80% region of stress range

shown in the display by default. So, keep on adjusting stress range until you are

convinced that your model shows optimum design stress range. In figure 31-3,

the maximum and minimum stresses are respectively 5 kPa and –20 kPa. Check

what answer you get in your program.

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Figure 31-3

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

So far our study was confined within static analysis. In this section we shall

learn some aspects of dynamic analysis. The theory and field of structural

dynamics are very large. Even a decent introduction of this subject would

require at least 100 pages. I am just describing some very basic concepts of

structural dynamic useful for practicing engineers. If you’ve already studied the

theory of structural dynamic then it’s great. If not, I advise that you start reading

a textbook of structural dynamic besides this book. It will make you understand

the applications of dynamics discussed in this book in an easily understandable

manner.

At the beginning, let me explain the difference between static and dynamic

analysis. In static analysis, the applied force is constant but in dynamic analysis,

the applied force varies with time. It is not necessary that dynamic analysis

always involves application force only, it may be due to shaking of ground due

to earthquake. In civil engineering applications, dynamic analysis mostly

involves determination of maximum response (i.e. displacement etc.) of the

structure due to some applied ground acceleration.

some common terms.

Degrees of Freedom – consider the typical spring mass damper system as shown

below.

Stiffness k

Figure 32-1

It has mass 'm' and stiffness 'k'. It can move in only the direction shown by the

arrow. So, this model has one degree of freedom. We call this single degree of

freedom (SDF) system. We also assume that the mass 'm' is 'lumped' at the top

of model as shown by the filled circle. This means, the mass of the stick, though

distributed though out its length, we assume as if it is concentrated at one place

as shown by the circle. This model may reflect idealization of a single story

building, where the roof mass is concentrated as shown in the figure. If there is

more than one story, then floor mass of each story may be considered as

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

freedom (MDF) structures. Things may appear little bit terse at the beginning,

but gradually everything will seem comprehensive. I assure you!

In practice most structures are of MDF type. However, that does not imply that

we need not study theory of SDF structures, because many MDF structures can

be 'broken' into separate SDF structures and can be easily analyzed rather than

analyzing the whole structures!

amount of force, it will vibrate (move from this direction to that direction).

Unless there is ‘something’ to prevent vibration, it will go on vibrating forever.

But in actual practice, the ‘amplitude’ of vibration will gradually diminish and

after some time, the model will come to rest. This process by which free

vibration diminishes is known as ‘damping’.

vibrates. It’s measured in radian per second. It is related to natural time period

Tn = 2π/ωn. Natural frequency is computed using ωn = (stiffness/mass)0.5. For

damped structures, damped natural frequency ωd = ωn(1- ξ ²)0.5.

values in the range of 0 to 1. It is often expressed in %. For example 100%

damping means the structure will not vibrate at all. However, for most practical

structures, this value lies in the range of 5% to 20% i.e. ξ = 0.05 to 0.2.

the resulting displacement might be much more than that obtained by simple

static analysis. More displacement means higher values of internal forces

(bending moment, shear force etc.) and subsequently higher values of stresses in

the members. If the stress reaches the yield strength of the material the structure

will collapse!

For a time varying applied force, if I apply calculated values of the force at

particular instant of time and then perform static analysis with that force, shall I

get correct displacement etc.?

No, you won’t (even for a linear structure)! The concept of structural dynamics

is different from static analysis theory. You must perform exact dynamic

analysis.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

earthquake analysis. Normally, in low height buildings, dynamic analysis does

not produce much different result compared to static analysis. However, for all

structures, where vibration is a major factor in design, dynamic analysis must be

performed. Designing of machine foundations always requires dynamic

analysis. For highly important structures like bridges, dams, nuclear reactors

etc. dynamic analyses are very important. Theory of structural dynamics is

applicable equally to buildings as well as automobiles!

[ M ]{ X&

&} + [C ]{ X&} + [ K ]{ X } = F (t )

Where, [M] = mass matrix (kg or Ns²/m), [C] = damping matrix (Ns/m), [K] =

stiffness matrix (N/m), X = displacement (m), X’ = velocity (m/s), X” =

acceleration (m/s²) and F(t) = Force (N).

acceleration instead of nodal forces. Here, u(t)”g denotes ground acceleration

(m/s²). If F(t) = 0, then the situation is known as free vibration. If [C] = 0, then

we call undamped motion. However, in real life, [C] is never equal to zero.

dynamic analyses – simple to complex! By this time I expect that you will also

study a few pages of dynamics textbook. Suggested chapters for reading in your

textbook are – introduction and simple formulation for SDF systems, direct

solution of differential equation of motion, damped and undamped motion,

response to harmonic and periodic excitation, numerical evaluation of dynamic

response, equation of motion for MDF systems, modal and response spectrum

analyses. If you are interested, you may read all the chapters of the book, but

above topics are enough for understanding the calculations presented in this

book. You may read Ref. 5, 16, 17 to start with in dynamics.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

I hope that by this time you’ve read a few pages of structural dynamics

textbook. Yes? Great, they you can appreciate following calculation.

Consider the following structure. It resembles a water tank over a tower. I shall

show you how to perform accurate dynamic analysis without any computer

program!

1000 kN

acceleration

m/s2

t2

3m

0 1

time (s)

1m

Figure 33-1

All the members of the tower shown are made of steel with 200x200 mm square

sides. The base of the tower is given an acceleration of 1-s duration as shown in

the figure. It is desired to calculate the displacement of the structure at t = 0.5 s.

Of course, you can model the entire structure using your analysis program. Then

apply base acceleration input and find out the displacement response curve for

entire duration. However, you will soon discover that you can solve it much

quickly using simple hand calculation and just static analysis program! Anyway,

you need to model the structure first! After all, we need to know the stiffness of

the whole structure.

When you are doing exact time history dynamic analysis, your model should

look like figure 33-2. Apply a lumped mass of (1000/10)/2 = 50 kNs2/m on the

two uppermost nodes as shown (we divide the weight 1000 kN by g = 10 m/s²

to get the mass). Note the direction of applied lumped masses because we are

interested in calculating the displacement in this direction. Next apply the base

acceleration data as shown in the figure 33-1. You may generate the data using

spreadsheet and refer the text file in your analysis program. For linear dynamic

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

analysis time interval of one tenth of duration of applied force is sufficient. So,

here we use 0.1 s interval. Since we are considering the structure as SDF, only 1

mode is used in the analysis. After performing the dynamic analysis we get

from the time vs. displacement curve that the displacement at t = 0.5 s is –

7.64E-4 m.

50 kNs²/m 50 kNs²/m

Y

X

Figure 33-2

Now we are going to see what we get if we perform the analysis using Duhamel

Integral. In this case, after modeling the structure, our first step is to calculate its

stiffness. For this we need to apply a force (say 1 kN) in the upper left nodal

point. Then run a static analysis and note the displacement of any of the

uppermost nodes.

Displacement ∆

1 kN

Figure 33-3

kN/m. We treat the whole structure as a SDF with a lumped mass of 100 kNs²/m

and stiffness k. Let’s determine the natural frequency of the structure as ωn =

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Consider 5% of damping i.e. ζ = 0.05. In Duhamel integral we need to use the

term p(τ) for the applied force. But here we have ‘ground acceleration’ as input

and not the ‘force’. The relationship between the ‘force’ and ‘acceleration’ can

be related by ‘Force = - mass x acceleration’ i.e. p(τ) = - m.a(τ). So, our p(τ)

will equal -100τ2 because in this problem, the acceleration is defined as t² and

mass m = 100 kNs²/m.

t

1 −ςω n ( t −τ )

u (t ) =

mϖ d ∫ p(τ )e

0

sin ω d (t − τ )dτ

ωd = ωn (1- ζ2)0.5 = 17.6 rad/s. So, the ultimate equation takes the form as

shown below.

0.5

− 100

τ 2 e ( −0.05)(17.64 )( 0.5−τ ) sin 17.6(0.5 − τ )dτ = −7.64 E − 4...m

100 x17.6 ∫0

u (0.5) =

After performing the numerical integration, we get the same answer as that of in

exact dynamic analysis program! However, in dynamic analysis using the

program, you will get the time vs. displacement plot over the entire duration,

wherefrom you can get the maximum displacement at once. But in case of

analysis using Duhamel’s integral, you need to perform the calculation at

several points to get the maximum response. In this particular problem, the

input excitation is defined by simple algebraic function, which makes use of

Duhamel’s integral feasible. In actual practice, the input excitation is often

defined as a set of data at some specified interval (normally at 0.02 s interval for

earthquake ground acceleration data). So, there you must use numerical

methods like what your analysis programs do.

involves. The basic steps of dynamic analyses are:

2. Define the ‘lumped masses’ (normally your duty, however some smart

programs can calculate lumped masses themselves from structure’s

dimension and sectional properties). You also need to specify a suitable

value of damping ratio.

3. Apply an input excitation (time varying ground acceleration or time varying

force).

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

4. Specify how many mode shapes you do want (generally you need same

number of mode shapes equal to the number of stories in structure, however

sometimes you may need to venture more or less number of mode shapes

depending on problem type). Normally (but not always) first three mode

shapes are sufficient for subsequent calculations. However, for multi-story

buildings, contribution of higher modes is quite significant.

5. Some programs may ask you what algorithm you want to follow – eigen-

vector or ritz-vector (more about this later).

6. Now it’s time to analyze the structure. Dynamic analysis invariably takes

more time than static analysis because it performs iteration to find out mode

shapes. After finishing it displays the natural time periods (hence frequency

therefrom) of the structure for each modes, mode shapes and time vs.

displacement (and velocity, acceleration etc.). Some programs can also

display other parameters such as base shear etc. One word of caution, the

mode shapes are ‘relative’ displacements and not the actual displacements.

7. Now it’s time to interpret the result. Generally it’s your task to find out the

stresses developed in the members due to dynamic analysis. You can do it by

noting maximum displacement and then calculating the bending moment

developed there from.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

In this section, we shall discuss the ‘Response Spectra’ and ‘Time History’

dynamic analyses in detail. Of greatest interest in dynamic analysis is the

deformation of the system, or displacement of the mass relative to moving

ground, to which the internal forces are linearly related. Knowing maximum

lateral displacement of the structure would be useful in providing enough

separation between adjacent buildings to prevent their pounding against each

other during an earthquake. Moreover, total acceleration of the structure would

be needed if the structure is supporting sensitive equipment and the motion

imparted to the equipment is to be determined.

(displacement, velocity, acceleration or any other quantity of interest) to a

specified load function for all possible single degree of freedom systems.

Once the deformation response history has been evaluated by dynamic analysis,

the internal forces can be determined by static analysis of the structure at each

time instant (discussed later).

A typical response spectra for 1940 El Centro earthquake has been shown in

figure 34-1. First we need to determine natural period Tn (or frequency f = 1/Tn

in cycles per second) of the structure. Then we’ll have to check the damping

ratio of the structure. Using this, we can directly read the maximum

displacement of the structure from the figure as shown.

One thing to note is that, you must have response spectra chart for the particular

excitation (e.g. El Centro earthquake in this case). If you need to analyze a

structure for another earthquake, you need to use response spectra for that

earthquake. It means that, someone must have prepared the response spectra

chart before you use it in your analysis. The procedure of developing response

spectra is discussed in any standard structural dynamics textbook and not

discussed here. However, you may note that considerable computational effort

is required to generate such charts. So, the modern trend is to perform full time

history analysis, which is more versatile and accurate, for structures.

majority of analysis programs do not), there is no point of going for response

spectra method.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

By now you must have realized that the response spectra analysis is a ‘short cut’

to find out maximum response directly from the chart without performing time

history analysis.

Response spectra for elastic system for the 1940 El Centro earthquake ξ =0, 2, 5, 10, 20%

Figure 34-1

For example, assume our structure has natural frequency of 1 Hz. Also assume

10% of critical damping. From the figure 34-1, we see that the vertical arrow

(shown blue) drawn from Tn = 1 s, intersects the displacement line for 10%

damping at 3.3 inches displacement (shown green). So, the maximum relative

displacement response of our structure is 3.3 inches if it is excited by the 1940

El Centro earthquake ground acceleration. Also seen that horizontal arrow

(shown blue) extends to the pseudo velocity axis at 18.5 inch/s. Please note that

the axes are in logarithmic scale.

Since earthquake can’t be predicted, you may like to analyze your structure for

several past earthquake effects. Instead of using response spectra for each

earthquake, you can use ‘design response spectrum’, which represents a kind of

average response spectrum for design.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

During dynamic analysis, the program will calculate the stiffness of the

structure internally. However, you need to supply modal damping ratio yourself.

This method is sufficiently accurate for linear structures with classical damping.

Figure 34-2 recommends damping values (Ref.5).

ratio %

Working stress, Welded steel, pre-stressed concrete, well reinforced concrete 2-3

no more than (only slight cracking)

about ½ yield Reinforced concrete with considerable cracking 3-5

point Bolted and/or riveted steel, wood structures with nailed or 5-7

bolted joints

At or just below Welded steel, pre-stressed concrete (without complete loss in 5-7

yield point pre-stress)

Pre-stress concrete with no pre-stress left 7-10

Reinforced concrete 7-10

Bolted and/or riveted steel, wood structures with nailed or 10-15

bolted joints

Wood structures with nailed joints 15-20

Figure 34-2

Since, damping properties of the materials are still not well established; it is

quite a challenging task to determine exact damping of the structures, especially

in non-linear range. In fact, stiffness of the structure also varies with time

(Yikes!) due to deterioration of the structure. The change in stiffness is often

used for ‘retrofitting’ the structure. Determining exact stiffness and damping of

the structure is known as ‘system identification’. There are several techniques

for this purpose, but the most popular is ‘wavelet’ analysis, which has recently

attracted attention of the engineers.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

analysis. Availability of powerful computers and software, more and more non-

linear analyses are being done than ever before. But what is NLA all about?

Why there is so much hype about it? Let’s the adventure starts!

Recall that the main assumption in linear analysis (LSSA), is that the stress-

strain curve is linear and deformation is small. Right? But we have to consider

NLA if any or both of the above assumptions are violated. There are mainly two

types of non-linearity. The first is ‘Material Non-linearity’ and the second is

‘Geometric Non-linearity’. We shall study them in detail.

Material Non-linearity

σ σ σ

Et

Ei

Yield point

E E

ε ε ε

(a) (b) (c)

Figure 35-1

The figure (a) shows stress-strain curve for perfectly linear material. Figure (b)

shows stress-strain curve for ‘bi-linear’ material (typical for carbon steel). The

curve is linear (slope E) up to yield point, where from it changes its slope to Et

though remain linear again. E is our familiar modulus of elasticity or Young’s

modulus. Et is known as ‘strain hardening modulus’. In the range of ‘E’ the

material remains elastic, but in the range of ‘Et’ it becomes ‘plastic’. This

material behavior is known as material non-linearity. Now consider figure (c).

Here the curve is entirely non-linear. E value changes at every point of the

curve. This is also a typical example of material non-linearity.

steps are given below.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

3. Find deflection at that instant of time as ∆Di = ∆Fi/[K]i, where [K]i is global

stiffness matrix of the structure at that instant of time.

4. Find strain ε = ∆L/L. There from, find Ei as shown in figure 35-1 (c). You

will have to find ε and corresponding Ei for every member of the structure

using above equation.

5. Update each element stiffness matrix [k] using this new value of Ei.

6. Update global [K]i as [K]i+1.

7. Go to step 2 and apply load ∆Fi+1.

8. Find deflection ∆Di+1 = ∆Fi+1/[K]i+1 as in step 3 and repeat through step 6.

9. Total deflection D = Σ(∆Di).

Did you realize the labor involved in the calculation for a large structure?

Geometric Non-linearity

In conventional linear analysis, the stiffness matrix for each element (and thus

global stiffness matrix) remains constant throughout analysis. This stiffness

matrix is formed on the basis of co-ordinates of the nodes of the structure. If the

deformation of the structure is small, then co-ordinates of the deflected nodes of

the structures will not move too much from its original configuration. In that

case, stiffness matrix formed on the basis of original nodal co-ordinates and

deflected nodal co-ordinates will be almost same.

Figure 35-2

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 35-3

Now, the stiffness matrix [K] depends on nodal co-ordinates of nodes N1, N2,

N3 and N4 of the truss. Original geometry is shown by dotted line, solid line

shows deflected shape. Now if the co-ordinates of deflected truss be ND1, ND2,

ND3 and ND4, then we can construct another stiffness matrix [KD] from new

co-ordinates of the nodes. If the deflection is ‘large’, then [K] will not be equal

to [KD]. This is the main theory behind geometric non-linearity. If we increment

the load at each time instant and update [K] according to ‘changing’ displaced

position of the structure, then it will be a geometric non-linear analysis. So, the

main steps for geometric non-linear analysis are summarized below.

2. Apply load ∆Fi at each time instant.

3. Compute (element and then) global stiffness matrix [K]i depending on

original configuration of the structure.

4. Find deflection ∆Di = ∆Fi/[K]i

5. Update [K] to [K]i+1 on the displaced nodes of the structure.

6. Go to step 1, update load to ∆Fi+1

7. Find deflection ∆Di+1 = ∆Fi+1/[K]i+1

8. Repeat above steps until ∆Dn = ∆Dn-1

9. Then total deflection D = Σ(∆Di).

This calculation is more demanding than material non-linearity case, since you

will have to perform the whole calculation of setting up stiffness matrix at every

step! Now imagine what will happen if you need to analyze a large complex

structure with both types of non-linearity. May I add some dynamics as well?

Hey buddy, why people learn engineering?

What are you looking for? A numerical example? Well, may be in some later

sections! But there remains one most important question – when you should

consider a deformation large enough for geometric NLA? The answer is not

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

easy! Often in large deformed state, the structure may behave entirely different

manner than that of small-deformed state. This depends on particular type of

structure, loading and material properties etc. Some analysis programs have an

in-built option to warn you if deflection comes out to be more than certain

percentage (say 5%) of length of largest dimension of the structure. The %

value is by no means to be taken as an absolute in determining whether or not

displacements are large. In a very long or very tall structure, inter-story or

inter-span deflections can easily be less than 5% of the overall dimension yet

large enough to violate the small displacement assumptions. The ultimate

decision is yours!

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

the name suggests, this is a method by which you can perform a ‘virtual

experiment’. Traditional FEA programs calculate stresses usually at a single

instant of time and requires assumption about forces. That means, in linear static

stress analysis, you must input the force quantity explicitly. But MES

intrinsically calculates loads and stresses as motion takes place at each instant in

time throughout the event, facilitating a more efficient design/analysis process

since the need to estimate and specify forces is eliminated. The whole thing will

become clear if you consider an example.

Mass m

dimension L x B x d

Figure 36-1

The figure shows an experiment where a weight of ‘mg’ is dropped over a bar

of known dimension form a specific height ‘h’. We need to determine the

stresses at the bars.

F F

Figure 36-2

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Look, here we need to specify the force ‘F’ explicitly. But in case of MES, all

we need to do is specify the dimension of the bar, height h and dimension and

weight of the falling object, position of the objects and the meshing the model

(as shown in fig. 36-1). When we perform MES on the model, it does a time

varying analysis at each instant. The program will display stress and motion at

each instant of time. You will see the steps like animation. Did you realize the

advantage? You actually performed a virtual experiment of a mechanical event!

The example given here may appear too simple, but imagine that this method

can be successfully employed in crash test simulation of an automobile!

However, there are a few disadvantages as well. The very simple example

described above took me 90 minutes to perform for just 1-second simulation in

a 233 MHz PII computer. So, when you make a simulation of real world

problems say, crash test simulation, it may take as much as 24 hours of

computing! No joking! Anyway, MES is highly sophisticated analysis indeed.

In fact, to use these kinds of calculations seriously, you will need a super

computer rather than a PC!

stiffness of the structure and d = displacement. But, from Newtons 2nd law of

motion, we know, F = ma, where m = mass and a = acceleration. So, we can

write ma = Kd and this is our governing equation for MES. Later we shall see

how this equation is part of general structural dynamic equation ma + cv + kd =

F(t), where c = damping, v = velocity of body and F(t) = time varying force.

simultaneous analyses of a model for more than one physical effect. Some

example of multi-physics analyses are – thermal stress, fluid flow, combined

thermal and fluid flow, electricity and electro-magnetism. Let me explain in a

lucid way. Suppose you want to analyze fluid flow around an airfoil. (Sounds

whacky?) With multi-physics analysis, you can visualize pattern of fluid flow

over the surface of the airfoil in real time view. You can verify and see whether

the flow at a particular point is laminar or turbulent. The things are really mind-

boggling. A detailed analysis of these topics is beyond the scope of this book. If

you are really inclined this kind of analyses, you better try using the FEA

programs, which offer these features, for example, Algor, Adams, Ansys etc.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

geometry from CAD packages like AutoCAD. If you find it difficult to draw

the actual structure in the analysis program, particularly 3D frame or complex

structures for finite element analysis, drawing them in AutoCAD/Mechanical

Desktop/Solid Edge/Solid works etc. are an easy alternative. Since the CAD

programs themselves are high-end drawing programs, creating the drawing in

them is always easier. But be careful! Not all analysis programs can import all

CAD object types.

are automatically created at the intersections. Sometimes “Plates” (known as

“2D Solid” in AutoCAD) can also be imported. Remember to “Explode”

rectangles, poly-lines and polygons into “Lines”. After drawing the structure in

AutoCAD, be sure to “Export” it into “DXF” format. Please note that DXF files

are AutoCAD’s version specific. If your analysis program can’t read AutoCAD

R2000 DXF then you should save the AutoCAD drawing file in R14 or R13

DXF format. You can also perform reverse process that is exporting your

analysis model from your analysis program to AutoCAD DXF format.

Frame Line

Nodes Automatically created at intersections

of elements

Plate 2D Solid / 3D Face

Shell 3D Solid

Except for simple lines, other AutoCAD entities are often treated differently by

various programs. If you are importing DXF file with plate, shell or wire frame

elements, you may find discrepancy in geometry upon importing. Therefore, it

is always better to check what AutoCAD entities your program can successfully

import. If you find your program can’t successfully import AutoCAD drawing

(DWG/DXF), then you should draw in the analysis program’s graphical

environment. Note that your analysis programs may or may not keep track of

AutoCAD’s ‘layers’ feature in imported drawing.

drawing programs like Mechanical Desktop, Solid Edge, Solid Works etc. In

these programs, you can modify the geometry by just changing the dimensions.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Suppose you have drawn the following drawing in AutoCAD as shown in fig.

37-1. If you change the radius of the right end circle, the drawing will look as

that of fig. 37-2. However, in parameter defined CAD programs, if you ‘tell’ the

program, that the lines will always be tangent to the circles, the drawing will be

updated automatically as shown in fig. 37-3.

Figure 37-3

Did you see the difference? This kind of relationship is very convenient for

solid object modeling. Some of the already named CAD programs have the

capability of converting 2D drawings in to 3D solid models! Wow!

A popular ‘neutral file’ format for solid models is IGES (Initial Graphics

Exchange Specification). Many CAD programs can export solid models into

this format. These files have *.IGES or *.IGS extension. This is actually a text

file. Programs write model information in the files. When you import an IGES

file, the analysis programs read that information and re-generate the model.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Do you know what VRML stands for? Well, it’s Virtual Reality Mark-up

Language. It’s a new wonder of visual display. Fortunately, a large number of

structural analysis programs can export your model to VRML format. This file

has an extension of WRL. You can view VRML files using any standard web

browser like Internet Explorer. However, you must install first the VRML

viewer support files (normally come with your operating system CD). VRML

files can show the models in a 3D view like in actual life! You can rotate,

enlarge or even ‘walk through’ your model! You can even visualize different

materials of the structure. It’s an excellent feature to impress your clients

because you can show them what your structure will look like when it would be

built in real life. You are probably aware of ‘rendering’ feature of CAD

programs. VRML is just like that, but looks more realistic. VRML is actually a

text file. The browser reads the data in the file first and then develops the

realistic model. But here’s a warning! Finite element solid models, which

contain thousands of nodes, can result to very large VRML files. Moreover,

when you will try to open the same file using your web browser, the computer

may create staggeringly large (> 1 GB) virtual memory in your hard disk and it

will take a few minutes to display the model on screen.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

In this section, I’m going little bit off track. I’ll show you how to solve linear

programming problems using your favorite spreadsheet! Linear programming is

often required by engineers to solve certain design problem for example – in

pre-stressed concrete section design and various other ‘optimization’ problems

etc. Linear programming can be also be solved in programs like MATHCAD or

MATLAB etc., however, since these mathematical applications are not very

common in design offices, you better bet on versatile spreadsheets. Do you

know spreadsheet is the largest selling type of application in the world? The

procedure presented here are for Microsoft Excel 97, but if you any other

spreadsheet like Lotus 123 or Borland Quattro Pro you will find similar

functions in those programs as well. I assume that you are familiar with basic

spreadsheet operations. So, I’m directly going to the problem. Please make sure

that you have installed Analysis ToolPak add-in in Excel.

5y <= 180 and x => 0, y => 0. Our aim is find out the maximum value of ‘Z’

subjected to above constraints.

Step 1: Define the problem as shown in the figure 39-1, which resembles the

cells of the spreadsheet.

A B

1 X 0

2 Y 0

3 Z =3*B1+4*B2

4 C1 =4*B1+2*B2

5 C2 =2*B1+5*B2

Figure 39-1

Note that in cell B3, the equation for Z has been input. Here cells B1 and B2

stands for variable x and y respectively. The strings in column A is for

understanding purpose only. The constraints are defined in cells B4 and B5.

You may like to note that there are two more constraints that both x and y has to

be positive number. These constraints will later be defined using B1 and B2

cells. After you do this, initially all cells in the range B1:B5 will show 0.

Step 2: Click on ‘Tools’ and then ‘Solver…’ from Excel’s menu bar. The solver

dialog box appears as shown in figure 39-2.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Figure 39-2

Make the ‘Set Target Cell’ box to cell B3, because this cell contains the

definition of our main function Z. Now set the ‘By Changing Cells:’ to

$B$1:$B$2. You can either type the cell range yourself or you can select the

range on the worksheet by clicking the red arrows as shown in the figure. Also

make sure that the ‘Equal To:’ selection is set to ‘Max’ for this problem. When

done, click on ‘Add’ button to specify constraints. When you do so, you will see

following dialog box.

Figure 39-3

Specify the Cell Reference and Constraint (for 4x + 3y <= 80) so that the figure

look like as shown below.

Figure 39-4

In the same way specify the other three constraints namely 2x + 5y <= 180, x

=> 0, y => 0. Click OK when done. After that ‘Solver Parameters’ dialog box

should look like figure 39-5.

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Figure 39-5

everything seems ok, click the ‘Solve’ button. And that’s all. Excel will solve it

within seconds and dumps you another dialog box like figure 39-6.

Figure 39-6

You will of course want to retain solver solution. Now you get the solution as

shown in figure 39-7.

A B

1 X 2.5

2 Y 35

3 Z 147.5

4 C1 80

5 C2 180

Figure 39-7

Obviously the maximum value of Z comes out to be 147.5 and for x = 2.5 and y

= 35. So, our problem is solved.

Exercise

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

>= 0, 3a – b + 2c <= 7, 2a + 4b >= - 12, - 4a + 3b + 8c <= 10.

Answer is Pmin = - 28.6 for a = 6.2, b = 11.6 and c = 0.

exploit its full potential. Often you’ll find that spreadsheet is your best rescuer.

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Figure 40-1

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When students see the reinforcement bar arrangements in building codes, they

normally have a hard time digesting it. This is because; detailing is often shown

in single color, which makes it difficult to follow. Figure 40-1 shows detailing

arrangement for a continuous beam as per IS456-1978 and SP34. Note that only

the bending reinforcement is shown. You must provide shear reinforcement

with vertical stirrups as well. Reinforcement arrangement generally follows

bending moment pattern in the beam. If interested, you can model the beam as

2D FEM (as discussed in Section 23) to visualize what are the highest zones of

stresses. Building codes specify lots of guidelines in ‘terse’ languages!

Unfortunately, detailing in most analysis programs is often unreliable. This is

mainly because, unlike analysis, design is subjective. Many codes allow the

engineers to use their ‘judgment’ in detailing. In fact, detailing is a subject

itself. A good designer must not finish his duty only after analysis, he should

prepare the accurate detailing as well let alone the drawing too if possible. The

general trend in design offices is that the detailing is done by the draftsman

rather than the engineer who performs the analysis. This often creates a

‘communication gap’, which is undesirable. Remember, if detailing is wrong,

then all the result of a good analysis will go astray! Traditionally, the detailing

drawing is drawn in monochrome (single) color. However, because of

availability of low cost color printing, the printing cost has been drastically

reduced in recent times. So, whenever possible, use colors in your drawings. It

will make the whole thing much clearer to everybody. The world around us is

colorful, why not your drawings?

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Analysis Programs

I have discussed my personal views about the programs. You should test them

yourself, before deciding which program will serve your purpose best. Actual

prices may vary.

We shall divide the programs in two main groups – Civil Engineering and

Mechanical Engineering analysis programs. You must differentiate between

them first. A typical civil/structural-engineering program offers beam and truss

elements and sometimes plate/shell elements as well. It also often offers design

features (concrete/steel/aluminum/wood) for slabs, beams, columns, trusses,

footings, base plates etc. according to various country codes. It may include

both static and dynamic analysis. In contrasts, a typical mechanical engineering

analysis program contains a large number of element types for solid modeling.

This includes brick, tetrahedral etc. elements. In addition, it also includes all the

elements used in civil engineering analysis i.e. beams, plates etc. In fact,

mechanical engineering programs use finite element analysis in true sense.

These programs’ features include static, dynamic, thermal, multi-

physics/mechanical event simulation/virtual prototyping etc. Mechanical

engineering analysis programs are normally far more expensive than pure civil

engineering analysis programs. Since, mechanical programs offer versatile finite

element library, it is possible to solve all types of civil engineering structural

analysis problems using these programs. However, there are drawbacks as well.

Mechanical engineering programs do not offer concrete design facility

according to country codes. They mainly concentrate on solid model analysis

e.g. machine parts, rather than pure frame structures. Also, their output for

frame structures is generally much less varied compared to pure civil

engineering structures. So, for day to day building or industrial structure

analysis, it is much better to use civil engineering analysis programs. Although

some developers offer product for both civil and mechanical engineering

analysis, they generally contain separate modules for specific type of analyses.

I only described a brief description of the most used programs only. Note that I

didn’t have the opportunity to use all the programs myself. This is because not

all developers offer demo/trial version of their programs. The programs, which I

have used, I presented the features available, ease of use, reliability etc. For

other programs, I wrote the descriptions from product literature. I again tell you

that my personal views about the programs may differ a lot from your views.

So, judge them yourself before buying.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Developer: Integrated Engineering Software

Website: www.iesweb.com

Description: 3D frame and 2D plate, P-delta analysis, response spectra dynamic

analysis, concrete/steel/wood/aluminum design as per US codes.

Price: USD 700 – 1,500 (Student version USD 50 only!)

Demo: 30-day trial full version CD available

My comment: An excellent program for frame and plate analysis. Simple to use

and very user-friendly. Student version has no node or member size limitation!

Has excellent customer support.

Developer: Computer and Structures Inc.

Website: www.csiberkeley.com

Description (for non-linear version): Static, Dynamic Response Spectrum, Time

History, Bridge and Dynamic Nonlinear Time History Analysis with frame,

shell, solid, asolid and non-linear link (as external Damping, Base Isolators, Gap

and Hook) elements. Concrete and steel design as per ACI, AASTHO,

Canadian, British and Euro codes. Its predecessor SAP90 is still used for

educational purposes.

Price: USD 5,000 – 7,000

Demo: 30-node demo CD available

My comment: Good overall general-purpose static/dynamic structural analysis

program. Easy to use. However, non-linear analysis options are difficult to

comprehend. Also, solid elements can’t be drawn graphically.

Developer: Integrated Technical Software

Website: www.spacegass.com

Description: Frame analysis only – beam, truss, grillage and cable etc., non-

linear dynamic and concrete/steel design. Supports Australian, British, Euro and

US code.

Price: USD 1,000

Demo: 30-day full version copy can be downloaded from net. File size 6 MB.

My comment: Good program for frame analysis. However, graphics should

have been better. It shows different sections in various colors, which makes

geometry creation easier. Some dialog boxes offer too many options. Data can

be entered conveniently by on screen as well as using spreadsheet like format.

However, there is no plate element and time history dynamic analysis is not

available.

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Developer: Risa Technology

Website: www.risatech.com

Description: 3D-frame and 2D-plate analysis program.

Price: Not known

Demo: 150-node 150-member demo can be downloaded from net. File size

around 6 MB including tutorial.

My comment: Graphics should be better.

Developer: Research Engineers Inc. (recently re-named as Netguru Inc.)

Website: www.reiworld.com

Description: Frame and finite element analysis, dynamic and non-linear

analysis, design of piles, retaining wall, bolt groups, pre-stress concrete, as per

US, Indian, Canadian, Japanese, Chinese, European etc. codes.

Price: USD 5,000 – 6,000/ INR 75,000 – 150,000

Demo: 6-member demo CD available.

My comment: Overloaded with many features but I found quite difficult to use.

Program’s help files are not very comprehensive. Demo version is ridiculously

limited to do anything good.

Developer: ATIR

Website: www.atir.com

Description: 3D-frame and plate/shell static/dynamic analysis program.

Concrete and steel design according to European, Indian, Canadian, British and

US code. Separate bridge and foundation design modules are available.

Price: USD 4,000 – 4,500/ INR 75,000 – 150,000 (full capacity student version

INR 25,000)

Demo: 12-node demo CD available.

My comment: Interface is somewhat complex. Its model wizard can generate

various types of structures easily. Design feature is quite good. Due to node size

limitation, I couldn’t test it extensively.

Developer: Georgia Institute of Technology

Website: www.gtstrudl.gatech.edu/gtstrudl

Description: 3D frame, plate, non-linear dynamic, finite element analysis etc.

Price: USD 2,000 – 12,500/ INR 60,000 – 80,000

Demo: 50-node 200-member Student version CD available

My comment: Somewhat complicated to use.

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Developer: SAFI

Website: www.safi.com

Description: Frame, plate/shell linear/non-linear static and dynamic analysis.

Price: Not known

Demo: 50-node 50-member demo can be downloaded from web site.

My comment: I didn’t use it.

Developer: Integrated Structural Software

Website: www.robot-structures.com http://www.autofea.com/

Description: Frame, truss, cable, plate, shell, grillage non-linear static/dynamic

analysis, concrete/steel design.

Price: Not known

Demo: 25-member demo CD available.

My comment: I didn’t use it.

Developer: Inter CAD

Website: www.axisvm.com

Description: Performs static, vibration and buckling analysis on any

combination of truss, beam, rib, membrane, plate, and shell 3D structures, gap

and spring elements for nonlinear support modeling. Supports Eurocode.

Price: USD 800 – 2,000

Demo: 30-beam/truss, 100-surface element version can be downloaded from the

net. File size around 5 MB.

My comment: Graphics is good, but has too many dialog boxes for model

creation. Some common commands are difficult to find.

Developer: Computers and Structures Inc.

Website: www.csiberkeley.com

Description: Specific program for building frame analysis. Similar to SAP2000

in features – static & dynamic analyses – automatic load distribution to

members, steel, concrete design and optimization, non-linear pushover analysis,

US and Euro codes.

Price: Not known

Demo: Not offered

My comment: User friendliness is similar to that of SAP2000. Unless your

design job involves only multistory building frames, it is better to use SAP2000,

which is more versatile.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Website: www.diana.nl

Description: finite element analysis – static/dynamic, soil/concrete, solid

modeling, pre-stress, mobile loads, modeling of embedded reinforcement in

concrete, bridge, dam, offshore structure design. Various separate

design/analysis modules are available. Available on Unix as well.

Price: Not known

Demo: Not offered

My comment: I didn’t use it.

Developer: Enterprise Software Products Inc., Structural Dynamic Research

Corporation

Website: www.femap.com

Description: Finite element pre and post processor only. Does not analyze

anything by itself.

Price: USD 3,500 – 5,000

Demo: 300-node demo CD available (30-day trial full version available in North

America only) with m-tab (www.sai-mtab.com) stress for analysis.

My comment: Draws models, creates mesh and import/export models from/to

20 different finite element analysis programs’ formats. Has many advanced

options but difficult to use. Sometimes cannot translate models successfully to

some specific formats. FEMAP is sometimes bundled with other finite element

analysis programs.

Developer: Engineering Mechanics Research Corporation

Website: www.emrc.com

Description: Finite element analysis

Price: Not known

Demo: Available from net, but not clear what file to download.

My comment: I didn’t use it.

Developer: Algor Inc.

Website: www.algor.com

Description: Linear and non-linear static and dynamic finite element stress

analysis with motion for physics based mechanical event simulation/virtual

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prototyping. Incorporates beam, truss, plate, 2D, membrane, brick, contact, gap,

laminar, composite, sandwich, tetrahedral etc. elements. Can import model from

varieties of CAD programs. Separate modules are available for CAD

integration, heat, electricity, fluid flow, pipe stress etc. analysis.

Price: USD 2,000 – 18,000

Demo: 30-day trial full version CD available.

My comment: Very powerful programs containing lots of features, but advanced

options are difficult to use without training. Good buy if you analyze complex

finite element models often. To use this program to its full extent, you should

have good knowledge of finite element theory.

Developer: Structural Research & Analysis Corp.

Website: www.cosmosm.com

Description: Analyzes solid by finite element method; linear stress analysis,

dynamic analysis, buckling, heat transfer, can import model from a variety of

CAD programs. Separate modules are available for non-linear static/dynamic

analysis, fatigue, optimization, fluid flow and electro-magnetism.

Price: USD 5,000 – 20,000

Demo: 30-day trial program can be downloaded from net. File size 55 MB. Trial

CD also available.

My comment: Excellent FEA program. Easy to use. Uses special Fast FE solver,

which is many times faster than common FEA solver. Can’t create model by

itself (GeoStar is required to create models, Nstar for non-linear analysis), but

can import model from a variety of CAD programs. Graphics is also very good.

Help system is comprehensive. However, Design Star analyzes 3D solid models

only and does not have beam/truss elements.

Developer: HKS

Website: www.hks.com

Description: Non-linear/dynamic finite element analysis for mechanical, civil,

structural, biomedical etc. Various other modules are available for wave

propagation, heat, offshore design, CAD/CAE integration.

Price: Not known

Demo: Not offered.

My comment: I didn’t use it.

Developer: Ansys

Website: www.ansys.com

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modules are available for structural, mechanical, multi-physics, thermal, fluid

flow, acoustic, electro-magnetism etc.

Price: Not known

Demo: Not offered.

My comment: I didn’t use it.

Developer: Mechanical Dynamics Inc.

Website: www.adams.com

Description: Analysis and virtual prototyping (mechanical event simulation) of

mechanical systems. Separate modules are available for linear, car, engine, tyre,

rail, hydraulics, mechanism etc.

Price: Not known

Demo: Not offered.

My comment: Finite element application for mechanical engineering. Versatile

program but complex. To use this program to its full extent, you should have

good knowledge of mechanics and finite element theory. With Adams, you can

create a whole model of virtually anything – a sports car to a railway

locomotive with all engineering details and they you can analyze it! You can

even simulate it! It’s a really wonderful program! Like a video game, you can

drive a car here and can refine analysis at every stage! Besides this, Adams has

all other features of a typical FEA program. These programs will drive you

mad!

Developer: Macro Industries/NASA

Website: www.nastran.com

Description: Finite element analysis of frame, plate, shell, solid, shear panel,

fluid etc.

Price: USD 2,750

Demo: Version 1.0 is available for downloading. File size 12 MB.

My comment: I didn’t use it.

Developer: Mechanical Solutions

Website: www.mechsolutions.com/products/patran

Description: Finite element analyses, can read/write to various other FEA

programs’ formats, various modules are available separately.

Price: Not known

Demo: Not offered.

My comment: I didn’t use it.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Developer: Adina R & D Inc.

Website: www.adina.com

Description: Finite element analysis of solid, fluid flow etc.

Price: Not known

Demo: Not offered

My comment: I didn’t use it.

Developer: Structural Dynamics Research Corporation

Website: www.i-deas.com

Description: Integrated CAD/CAM/CAE Finite element analysis. Mechanical

event simulation – virtual prototyping etc.

Price: Not known

Demo: Not offered

My comment: I didn’t use it.

Developer: AutoFEA Inc.

Website: www.autofea.com http://www.autofea.com/

Description: Static, buckling, frequency, dynamic, spectrum, thermal, electric,

seepage and nonlinear static FE analyses.

Price: USD 285 – 5,000 (depending on node capacity)

Demo: 300-node demo can be downloaded from net.

My comment: Complicated to use.

Some developers provide feature-limited demo. See their web site for details.

Website: www.autodesk.com

Website: www.solid-edge.com

Website: www.solidworks.com

Website: www.cadkey.com

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Website: www.turbocad.com

Prices in INR are shown only for those companies, which have dealer/

representative in India and you can buy the product in Indian currency. Some

companies sell their full capacity student version at reduced cost, but that

version cannot be used commercially. Some developers do offer university

license at very nominal cost.

A useful point on downloading large files from the Internet. Use a download

utility program such as Go!Zilla (www.gozilla.com) or something else, which

can resume broken download from where it left. Also, it can be set to disconnect

from Internet automatically after downloading is complete.

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42. How to select the most appropriate program for your need?

Here are some simple points to check before buying the program.

How easy is the program? How quickly you can create and analyze a model

using the program after installing? Use the sample problems in this book and

see how quickly you can analyze the structures with your programs.

Try reading the programs’ manuals at first. See if you can analyze models

successfully by just reading the example problems rather than by getting help

from the developers.

How good is the interface? Does the program follow standard Windows

conventions? For example, pressing F1 should bring context sensitive help and

Ctrl+O should show Open File… dialog box.

How good is the visualization? Does the model look similar to actual structure?

Does it offer dynamic viewing? Can it show the model in VRML format?

10x10 bays 20-story building, the program should draw the model by itself. Can

it create finite element mesh automatically? Can you control the size of mesh

yourself?

Before buying a program decide what features you do really need. There is no

justification of buying a high-end ‘feature overloaded’ expensive finite element

analysis program if your main purpose is building-frame analysis. Such

programs are generally much less expensive. In general, most civil

engineering design firms do not need high-performance FEA programs.

Only a frame analysis program will serve the purpose in most of the cases.

FEA is still mainly used in mechanical engineering.

Does the program is ‘forgiving’? Can it check model for instability or buckling

by itself? Does it allow ‘snapping’ members to intersection or end points?

How good is the program’s post processing capability? Can it show force

diagrams for any individual member? Can you clearly see the reaction forces in

the result? Can it display bending moment or shear force values in the

respective diagram?

How about printing through the program? Will it allow you to change paper

size, margin etc. before printing?

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What about generating report of analysis? Does it have the option of displaying

tailor made report specific to project requirement or it just dumps 100 pages of

numbers without telling you what to do with them?

Check if your program is compatible with other programs in the market. Many

programs allow copy-paste option with spreadsheet programs. Some offer cross

platform (i.e. different operating system) compatibility. Check if the program

can import/export models from/to CAD or other analysis programs.

Next comes the design part. Some programs do not offer design capability

according to your country code. This may dictate you to choose an inferior

program just for the sake of design calculation. Unlike analysis, design is not

something impossible to do manually. Sometimes, it is possible to ‘tailor made’

other codes according to your country codes. For example, in reinforced

concrete design, Euro code and Indian code give almost identical values of steel

area. You can use one code instead of other without much loss of accuracy. So,

the choice is yours.

An important point – how good is the customer support? Some companies may

offer free technical support by phone/e-mail. Others may insist on annual

maintenance contact (and demands a hefty sum for it). But to use high-end FEA

programs, you really need developers support. There will be many situations

when you will require technical support to know what a particular command

does or whether the program does a particular calculation automatically etc.

Lastly, what is your budget? Can you afford buying the program what impresses

you most? Some finite element analysis programs are very fascinating but their

prices often make them affordable by large corporate firms only.

Ask the vendors whether they offer free demo. Some generous companies may

offer 30-day full product trial. However, most companies offer limited

capability (e.g. 100-node maximum) demos. These limited demos may hide the

programs actual performance from you. You may not realize certain pitfalls of

the program unless you use full product for sometime. Therefore, try to select

your program from those, which offer full-product tryouts. Sometimes even the

low cost commercial versions of the programs do have node or member size

limitation (e.g. 1500 nodes maximum for SAP2000 Standard version)!

(hasp/dongle) as copy protection. It means that if you want to use the programs

in more than one computer, you need to pay more! Although it may be against

the law to copy the program into another computer, I don’t find it wrong to

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make another copy in your laptop computer. But copy protection will prevent

you even doing that. Remember this while selecting your program.

Since these programs are quite expensive it does not make sense to change your

analysis programs frequently. More so, new programs may not open or analyze

your existing old projects. So, when you will select programs, you have keep in

mind that you must use it continuously for a couple of years at least. Ask the

developers how they like to upgrade their products in the near future.

My main aim is to make you realize that you must try the programs first before

making a final decision on purchase. Every company will boast that their

products are the best. They will swamp you with pictures of structures designed

using their programs! Very few companies offer you a money back guarantee

with first few weeks of purchase. Therefore, it is not an easy task to choose the

most suitable product for your need. But if you follow the above guidelines you

may by a gainer.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Before performing an analysis, check carefully all input data. Verify loads are

in the directions you intended. Make sure co-ordinate directions as per you

specified. Check the member properties and end releases. Verify that you have

the correct support conditions. Take a look at the real time view (if this feature

is available in your program) of the structure and visually observe member sizes

and locations. Are they correct? You might also use spreadsheet like input

reports to make sure no information have missed.

When you obtain analysis results from analysis programs, you should perform

some simple checks to verify that the results are valid. First of all, look at the

deformed shapes that are presented to you. Do they make sense based on the

loading and structure?

(Generally, the displaced shape is automatically scaled suitably so that you can

see it!) If displacements are too large, the basic assumption of small

displacement is violated and results must be questioned. In that case you should

perform geometrically non-linear analysis.

Third, look at the member internal forces and stress levels reported in the

highest stressed members (beam/shell etc.) elements. Do these stresses yield,

crack, or fail or buckle the material? Again if they do, the response is violating

the basic assumption of linear-elastic material behavior.

As a fourth check, look for static check. If your loads are correct, yet reactions

do not balance, check for nearly unstable structures. If you have poor geometry

or very flexible members in critical areas, the structure may collapse due to

instability.

it carefully. Convince yourself that the results are correct before continuing.

Recall that “With good engineering judgment you can produce on the back of an

envelop that which otherwise cannot be produced with a ton of computer

output”.

If you think you have found an error in the program, contact the program

developers immediately for clarification.

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

Extension Description

ANS Ansys input

ASM Mechanical Desktop/Solid Edge assembly

CDL Cadkey wire frame model

DAT Nastran input

DFT Solid Edge draft

DGXASM Cosmos Design Star Assembly

DGXPRT Cosmos Design Star Part

DWG AutoCAD drawing /Mechanical Desktop model

DXF AutoCAD drawing interchange

ESD Algor input

IGS IGES solid model

INP Abaquas input

MOD Femap input

NAS Nastran input

NEU Patran input

NIS NISA input

PAR Solid Edge part model

PRT Solid Works model

SAT AutoCAD objects representing trimmed NURB surfaces, regions,

and solids to an ACIS file in ASCII (SAT) format. Other objects,

such as lines and arcs, are ignored.

SDB SAP2000 input

SG Spacegass input

SLDPRT Solid Works

STD STAAD input

STL Stereolithograph Apparatus (SLA) format, in which the solid data

is transferred as a faceted mesh representation consisting of a set

of triangles

STP STEP model

UNV SDRC I-DEAS

VAP Visual Analysis project

WRL VRML file

X_T Parasolid

Note: during runtime, programs create various files with different file name

extensions. If you delete those files, you may not view result without analyzing

the model again.

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computer with same amount of memory (preferably with same hardware

configuration as well). If the program runs successfully there, try reinstalling the

program in your computer. Rarely, the program may demand better quality

graphics card. (This is more common in computer games rather than structural

analysis programs, though!) If all fails, stuff some more RAM into your

computer and see what happens. If you're lucky everything will go ok, if not

contact the program vendor. Sometimes, simply changing your color setting

from 256 to 16/24-bit color works!

2. This program has preformed an illegal operation and will be shut down. If

the problem persists, contact the program vendor.

This is a common error message for all Windows programs. It can be rectified

by just rebooting the machine in most cases. However, if you continue to get the

message every time, something is definitely wrong. Contact the developers.

3. This program is set to run in DOS mode. All other programs will shut

down if you proceed. Continue?

Some analysis programs are made in such cumbersome manner, that they

incorporate some Windows programs and some DOS programs. I am not sure

why this happen. It may be due to operating system problem rather than that of

your analysis program. Try reinstalling the program. If it's of no use, then I am

afraid that you may need to reformat your hard disk and load all from scratch. I

myself faced this very situation while installing Algor for the first time. After

erasing everything from my hard disk, and then refilling all, I was finally to run

the program.

run now.

The possibilities of this cause are endless. Did the problem start after installing

any new application? Then uninstalling that application might help. There may

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be some jumbled DLL and OCX files. My SAP2000 refused to show dynamic

analysis result after I loaded GT-STRUDL. Ultimately I discovered that an

OCX file required by SAP2000 was overwritten by STRUDL with backdated

version. After restoring that file, both were happy again.

Analysis programs, which display the specific error message, are shown within

bracket. “Common” means many analysis programs show this

message/problem.

You must specify proper boundary conditions, so that the structure does prevent

rigid body motion. That means the global stiffness matrix must not be singular.

Also see (8).

Same as above. However, some FEA programs can still continue solving the

problem and ultimately you may get result with no force or stress at all. Quite

confusing!

Some programs will not accept any load case that has no loading specified.

Remove that load case or apply some load in that load case.

forces/stress in the result (common)

The resulting forces/stress might be too small. Try changing the units, for

example, from kN-m to N-mm and see if you find any value now. Also see (2).

It means that the joint has no stiffness in that direction. It should be connected

to at least one member or support without releases.

6. Excessive loss of accuracy during the solution of equations – the structure

is unstable of ill-conditioned (also Lost 6.4 digits of accuracy) (SAP)

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Computer Aided Structural Analysis

arithmetic. This allows for 15 significant digits to be carried in the calculation.

An internal check estimates the number of digits of accuracy lost during the

reduction of each degree of freedom. A warning is issued when the loss is

estimated to be above 6 digits and the degree of freedom is listed when this

occurs. Users should check the displacements, reactions and global equilibrium

balances to assure that the digit loss has not unacceptably degraded the results.

When the program detects over 11 digits accuracy loss it stops further

processing as the results are suspect. You should check for global instability and

local instability at or around the degree of freedom reported. See also (13).

prevent rigid body displacement (translational or rotational) to Z direction.

Specify a suitable constraint in that direction.

A really annoying situation! Your structure has become a mechanism. So, any

load will make it fail (collapse). This is where you need to use your engineering

judgement. Add or remove some members until it becomes a stable structure.

You will have to perform some trial and error. This problem mainly occurs in

complex trusses.

9. I have applied loads on the model, but I can’t see the loads (common)

Look if there is any load ‘toggle’ menu. Some programs treat nodal load and

surface/pressure loads differently. You may need to specify surface/pressure

loads by some separate command. Sometimes there may be a pressure load

‘multiplier’. Make sure that it is not set to zero.

10. A smoothed stress tensor may not be meaningful for this model (Algor)

Stress values like σx, σy, τxy etc. is not meaningful for particular analysis

result. It is not so much that a smoothed tensor may not be accurate for a model,

but rather that with some element types and element generation methods, the

tensor may not provide meaningful results, i.e. a random mesh on a composite

element type.

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11. I see that my program does not have plate and shell elements separately

(common)

Some programs only have ‘shell’ element. In that case, ‘plate’ is considered a

special type of shell element (e.g. SAP2000). In some other programs, only

plate element is offered and shell is considered a type of ‘plate’ element (e.g.

Algor). However, there are many programs (e.g. Visual Analysis, Risa etc.)

which offer only ‘plate’ element, which can’t be used for shell analysis.

another’s is always bad. Except for very simple models, it often leads to loss of

data and thus unsuccessful translation. I strongly discourage you to exporting

whole FEA model data in this way. However, if you still want to do that, check

the following points:

• Have you defined the mesh? Most programs can’t export to another FEA

format unless you create the mesh.

• Be careful about the units used in both programs.

• If full model (i.e. with mesh, boundary conditions, loads etc.) export does

not work, then try exporting the model with mesh only.

• Upon importing the model in desired program, check the model carefully.

• Suppose you are exporting the model from program ‘A’ to ‘B’s format and

you will open it using another program ‘C’. Then make sure ‘C’ can also

‘read’ that ‘version’ of ‘B’s data!

varying stiffness. When a very stiff member is connected to a very flexible

member and their stiffness matrices are assembled into the structure stiffness

matrix, some of the stiffness terms of the flexible member can be completely

lost due to their insignificance in comparison with the stiffness terms of the stiff

member. Hence, the flexible member is not completely represented and ill

conditioning occurs. If after the analysis, the sum of the reactions equals the

sum of the applied loads then it can be assumed that the frame is well

conditioned.

- 147 -

Computer Aided Structural Analysis

46. References

3rd edition, by Noel J. Everard, McGraw Hill

2. Finite Element Analysis: Theory and Programming, by Krishnamoorthy,

Tata McGraw Hill

3. Concept and Application of Finite Element Method, by Cook, Malkus,

Plesha, John Willey & Sons.

4. Schaum outline series of Finite Element, by Buchanan, McGraw Hill

5. Dynamics of Structures, by Chopra, Prentice Hall

6. Users’ Guide, Visual Analysis 3.5, IES

7. Users’ Guide, SAP2000, CSI

8. Algor R12 information brochures, tutorials and newsletters, Algor Inc.

9. Reinforced Concrete Design Vol 1 & 2, by Punmia, Laxmi Publication

10. Basic Structural Analysis, 2nd edition, by Reddy, Tata McGraw Hill

11. Shell Analysis, by Bairagi, Khanna Publisher

12. Users’ Guide, Femap

13. Users’ Guide, Strap

14. User’s Guide, Strudl

15. User’s Guide, Cosmos/Design Star, SRAC

16. Structural Dynamics, by M. Paz, E & FN Spons.

17. Elements of Structural Dynamics, by Glen Berg, Prentice Hall

18. Users’ Guide, Spacegass

The above list is not exhaustive. There are many other better books available.

You can find online reviews of a good number of books at www.amazon.com.

- 148 -

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