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ANSYS Mechanical APDL Contact Technology

Guide

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Table of Contents
1. Contact Overview .................................................................................................................................... 1
1.1. General Contact Classification ........................................................................................................... 1
1.2. Contact Capabilities .......................................................................................................................... 2
1.2.1. Surface-to-Surface Contact Elements ........................................................................................ 3
1.2.2. Node-to-Surface Contact Elements ........................................................................................... 4
1.2.3. 3-D Line-to-Line Contact .......................................................................................................... 4
1.2.4. Line-to-Surface Contact ............................................................................................................ 4
1.2.5. Node-to-Node Contact Elements .............................................................................................. 4
2. GUI Aids for Contact Analyses ................................................................................................................ 7
2.1. The Contact Manager ........................................................................................................................ 7
2.2. The Contact Wizard ........................................................................................................................... 8
2.3. Managing Contact Pairs .................................................................................................................... 9
3. Surface-to-Surface Contact ................................................................................................................... 11
3.1. Using Surface-to-Surface Contact Elements ..................................................................................... 11
3.2. Steps in a Contact Analysis .............................................................................................................. 11
3.3. Creating the Model Geometry and Mesh ......................................................................................... 12
3.4. Identifying Contact Pairs ................................................................................................................. 12
3.5. Designating Contact and Target Surfaces ........................................................................................ 13
3.5.1. Asymmetric Contact vs. Symmetric Contact ............................................................................ 14
3.5.1.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 14
3.5.1.2. Using KEYOPT(8) ............................................................................................................ 14
3.6. Defining the Target Surface ............................................................................................................. 15
3.6.1. Pilot Nodes ............................................................................................................................ 15
3.6.2. Primitives ............................................................................................................................... 15
3.6.3. Element Types and Real Constants .......................................................................................... 15
3.6.3.1. Defining Target Element Geometry ................................................................................ 15
3.6.4. Using Direct Generation to Create Rigid Target Elements ......................................................... 16
3.6.5. Using ANSYS Meshing Tools to Create Rigid Target Elements ................................................... 17
3.6.5.1. Some Modeling and Meshing Tips ................................................................................. 20
3.6.5.2. Verifying Nodal Number Ordering (Contact Direction) of Target Surface .......................... 20
3.7. Defining the Deformable Contact Surface ....................................................................................... 21
3.7.1. Element Type ......................................................................................................................... 22
3.7.2. Real Constants and Material Properties ................................................................................... 23
3.7.3. Generating Contact Elements ................................................................................................. 23
3.8. Geometry Correction for Contact and Target Surfaces ...................................................................... 24
3.9. Set the Real Constants and Element KEYOPTS .................................................................................. 26
3.9.1. Real Constants ....................................................................................................................... 26
3.9.1.1. Positive and Negative Real Constant Values .................................................................... 28
3.9.2. Element KEYOPTS ................................................................................................................... 29
3.9.3. Selecting a Contact Algorithm (KEYOPT(2)) ............................................................................. 31
3.9.3.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 31
3.9.4. Determining Contact Stiffness and Allowable Penetration ....................................................... 32
3.9.4.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 32
3.9.4.2. Using FKN and FTOLN .................................................................................................... 33
3.9.4.3. Using FKT and SLTO ....................................................................................................... 33
3.9.4.4. Using KEYOPT(10) .......................................................................................................... 34
3.9.4.5. Using KEYOPT(6) ............................................................................................................ 35
3.9.4.6. Chattering Control Parameters ....................................................................................... 35
3.9.5. Choosing a Friction Model ...................................................................................................... 36
3.9.5.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 36
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ANSYS Mechanical APDL Contact Technology Guide


3.9.5.2. Coefficient of Friction .................................................................................................... 36
3.9.5.3. Using TAUMAX, FACT, DC, and COHE ............................................................................... 37
3.9.5.4. Static and Dynamic Friction Coefficients ......................................................................... 37
3.9.5.5. Forced Frictional Sliding Using Velocity Input ................................................................. 39
3.9.5.6. User-defined Friction ..................................................................................................... 39
3.9.6. Selecting Location of Contact Detection ................................................................................. 39
3.9.6.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 39
3.9.6.2. Using KEYOPT(4) and TOLS ............................................................................................. 40
3.9.6.3. Using the Surface Projection Based Contact Method (KEYOPT(4) = 3) .............................. 41
3.9.7. Adjusting Initial Contact Conditions ........................................................................................ 43
3.9.7.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 43
3.9.7.2. Using PMIN, PMAX, CNOF, ICONT, STRM. KEYOPT(5), and KEYOPT(9) .................................. 43
3.9.8. Physically Moving Contact Nodes Towards the Target Surface .................................................. 49
3.9.9. Determining Contact Status and the Pinball Region ................................................................ 50
3.9.9.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 50
3.9.9.2. Using PINB .................................................................................................................... 51
3.9.10. Avoiding Spurious Contact in Self Contact Problems ............................................................. 51
3.9.11. Selecting Surface Interaction Models .................................................................................... 52
3.9.11.1. Background ................................................................................................................. 52
3.9.11.2. Using KEYOPT(12) ........................................................................................................ 52
3.9.11.3. Using FKOP .................................................................................................................. 53
3.9.11.4. Bonded Contact for Shell-Shell Assemblies ................................................................... 54
3.9.12. Modeling Contact with Superelements ................................................................................. 55
3.9.12.1. Background ................................................................................................................. 55
3.9.12.2. Using KEYOPT(3) .......................................................................................................... 55
3.9.13. Accounting for Thickness Effect ............................................................................................ 56
3.9.13.1. Background ................................................................................................................. 56
3.9.13.2. Using KEYOPT(11) ........................................................................................................ 56
3.9.14. Using Time Step Control and Impact Constraints ................................................................... 56
3.9.14.1. Background ................................................................................................................. 56
3.9.14.2. Using KEYOPT(7) .......................................................................................................... 56
3.9.15. Using the Birth and Death Option ......................................................................................... 57
3.10. Controlling the Motion of the Rigid Target Surface ......................................................................... 57
3.11. Applying Necessary Boundary Conditions to the Deformable Elements .......................................... 58
3.12. Applying Fluid Pressure-Penetration Loads .................................................................................... 58
3.12.1. Applying Fluid Penetration Pressure ..................................................................................... 59
3.12.2. Specifying Fluid Penetration Starting Points .......................................................................... 60
3.12.3. Specifying a Pressure-Penetration Criterion ........................................................................... 61
3.12.4. Specifying a Fluid Penetration Acting Time ........................................................................... 62
3.12.5. Redefining or Modifying the Pressure-Penetration Loads ....................................................... 64
3.12.6. Postprocessing Fluid Pressure-Penetration Loads .................................................................. 64
3.13. Defining Solution and Load Step Options ...................................................................................... 65
3.14. Solving the Problem ...................................................................................................................... 66
3.15. Reviewing the Results ................................................................................................................... 67
3.15.1. Points to Remember ............................................................................................................. 67
3.15.2. Reviewing Results in POST1 .................................................................................................. 67
3.15.3. Reviewing Results in POST26 ................................................................................................ 69
4. Node-to-Surface Contact ...................................................................................................................... 71
4.1. The Node-to-Surface Contact Element ............................................................................................. 71
4.2. Performing a Node-to-Surface Contact Analysis ............................................................................... 72
4.2.1. CONTA175 KEYOPTS ............................................................................................................... 72
4.2.1.1. KEYOPT(3) ..................................................................................................................... 72

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4.2.1.2. KEYOPT(4) ..................................................................................................................... 73
4.2.2. CONTA175 Real Constants ...................................................................................................... 73
4.3. Using CONTA175 for Multiphysics Contact ....................................................................................... 73
5. 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact .................................................................................................................. 75
5.1. The 3-D Line-to-Line Contact Element ............................................................................................. 75
5.2. Modeling Beam-to-Beam Contact ................................................................................................... 76
5.3. Performing a 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact Analysis ........................................................................... 77
5.3.1. KEYOPTs and Real Constants ................................................................................................... 78
5.3.1.1. Real Constants R1, R2 ..................................................................................................... 78
5.3.1.2. KEYOPT(3) ..................................................................................................................... 79
5.3.1.3. Real Constants FKN and FKT ........................................................................................... 79
5.3.1.4. Real Constant TOLS ........................................................................................................ 79
5.3.1.5. KEYOPT(4) ..................................................................................................................... 80
6. Line-to-Surface Contact ........................................................................................................................ 81
6.1. The 3-D Line-to-Surface Contact Element ........................................................................................ 81
6.2. Performing a 3-D Line-to-Surface Contact Analysis .......................................................................... 82
6.2.1. KEYOPTs and Real Constants ................................................................................................... 82
6.2.1.1. Real Constants FKN and FKT ........................................................................................... 83
6.2.1.2. Accounting for Thickness Effect (CNOF and KEYOPT(11)) ................................................. 83
6.2.1.3. Real Constant TOLS ........................................................................................................ 83
6.2.1.4. KEYOPT(4) ..................................................................................................................... 83
7. Multiphysics Contact ............................................................................................................................. 85
7.1. Modeling Thermal Contact .............................................................................................................. 85
7.1.1. Thermal Contact Behavior vs. Contact Status ........................................................................... 85
7.1.2. Free Thermal Surface .............................................................................................................. 86
7.1.3. Temperature on Target Surface ............................................................................................... 86
7.1.4. Modeling Conduction ............................................................................................................ 86
7.1.4.1. Using TCC ...................................................................................................................... 86
7.1.4.2. Using the Quasi Solver Option ....................................................................................... 87
7.1.5. Modeling Convection ............................................................................................................. 87
7.1.6. Modeling Radiation ................................................................................................................ 88
7.1.6.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 88
7.1.6.2. Using SBCT and RDVF .................................................................................................... 88
7.1.7. Modeling Heat Generation Due to Friction .............................................................................. 89
7.1.7.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 89
7.1.7.2. Using FHTG and FWGT ................................................................................................... 89
7.1.8. Modeling External Heat Flux ................................................................................................... 89
7.2. Modeling Electric Contact ............................................................................................................... 89
7.2.1. Modeling Surface Interaction ................................................................................................. 90
7.2.1.1. Background ................................................................................................................... 90
7.2.1.2. Using ECC ...................................................................................................................... 90
7.2.2. Modeling Heat Generation Due to Electric Current .................................................................. 91
7.3. Modeling Magnetic Contact ............................................................................................................ 91
7.3.1. Using MCC ............................................................................................................................. 92
7.3.2. Modeling Perfect Magnetic Contact ........................................................................................ 92
8. Node-to-Node Contact .......................................................................................................................... 93
8.1. Node-to-Node Contact Elements ..................................................................................................... 93
8.2. Performing a Node-to-Node Contact Analysis .................................................................................. 93
8.2.1. Creating Geometry and Meshing the Model ............................................................................ 94
8.2.2. Generating Contact Elements ................................................................................................. 94
8.2.2.1. Generating Contact Elements Automatically at Coincident Nodes ................................... 94
8.2.2.2. Generating Contact Elements Automatically at Offset Nodes .......................................... 94
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8.2.2.3. Node Ordering .............................................................................................................. 95
8.2.3. Defining the Contact Normal .................................................................................................. 95
8.2.4. Defining the Initial Interference or Gap ................................................................................... 96
8.2.5. Selecting the Contact Algorithm ............................................................................................. 96
8.2.6. Applying Necessary Boundary Conditions ............................................................................... 97
8.2.7. Defining the Solution Options ................................................................................................ 97
8.2.8. Solving the Problem ............................................................................................................... 99
8.2.9. Reviewing the Results ............................................................................................................ 99
9. Multipoint Constraints and Assemblies .............................................................................................. 101
9.1. Modeling Solid-Solid and Shell-Shell Assemblies ........................................................................... 102
9.2. Modeling a Shell-Solid Assembly ................................................................................................... 104
9.3. Surface-Based Constraints ............................................................................................................. 107
9.3.1. Defining Surface-Based Constraints ...................................................................................... 109
9.3.2. Defining Influence Range (PINB) ........................................................................................... 109
9.3.3. Degrees of Freedom of Surface-Based Constraints ................................................................. 110
9.3.4. Specifying a Local Coordinate System ................................................................................... 110
9.3.5. Additional Guidelines for a Force-Distributed Constraint ....................................................... 111
9.3.6. Additional Guidelines for A Rigid Surface Constraint ............................................................. 111
9.3.7. Modeling a Beam-Solid Assembly ......................................................................................... 112
9.4. Modeling Rigid Bodies .................................................................................................................. 113
9.4.1. Modeling Contact between Rigid Bodies .............................................................................. 113
9.5. Overconstraint Detection and Elimination ..................................................................................... 114
9.6. Restrictions and Recommendations for Internal MPC ..................................................................... 114
10. Dynamic Contact and Impact Modeling ........................................................................................... 117
10.1. Energy and Momentum Conserving Contact ............................................................................... 117
10.1.1. Energy Conservation .......................................................................................................... 118
10.1.2. Automatic Time Stepping ................................................................................................... 118
10.1.3. Penetration and Relative Velocity ........................................................................................ 118
10.1.4. Impact Between Rigid Bodies ............................................................................................. 118
11. Spot Welds ......................................................................................................................................... 121
11.1. Defining a Spot Weld Set ............................................................................................................. 122
11.1.1. Creating a Basic Spot Weld Set with SWGEN ........................................................................ 122
11.1.2. The Components of a Spot Weld ......................................................................................... 126
11.1.3. Adding Surfaces to a Basic Set ............................................................................................ 128
11.2. Listing and Deleting Spot Welds .................................................................................................. 131
12. Debonding ........................................................................................................................................ 133
12.1. Including Debonding in a Contact Analysis .................................................................................. 133
12.1.1. Cohesive Zone Materials Used for Debonding ..................................................................... 134
12.1.1.1. Bilinear Material Behavior with Tractions and Separation Distances (TBOPT = CBDD) .... 134
12.1.1.2. Bilinear Material Behavior with Tractions and Critical Fracture Energies (TBOPT =
CBDE) ..................................................................................................................................... 134
12.1.2. Debonding Modes ............................................................................................................. 135
12.1.3. Other Considerations for Debonding .................................................................................. 135
12.1.4. Postprocessing ................................................................................................................... 135
A. Example 2-D Contact Analysis with Fluid Pressure-Penetration Loading .................................................. 137
A.1. Problem Description ..................................................................................................................... 137
A.2. Input File ...................................................................................................................................... 140
Index ........................................................................................................................................................ 145

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List of Figures
2.1. Contact Manager Toolbar ........................................................................................................................ 7
2.2. Example of a Contact Wizard Dialog ........................................................................................................ 9
3.1. Localized Contact Zones ....................................................................................................................... 13
3.2. ANSYS Geometric Entities and Their Corresponding Rigid Target Elements ............................................. 18
3.3. A Single Circular Target Segment Created From Arc Line Segments ........................................................ 18
3.4. Meshing Patterns for Arbitrary Target Surfaces ....................................................................................... 19
3.5. Smoothing Convex Corner .................................................................................................................... 20
3.6. Correct Node Ordering .......................................................................................................................... 20
3.7. Contact Element Types .......................................................................................................................... 22
3.8. Specification of the Contact Surface's Outward Normal .......................................................................... 24
3.9. Geometry Correction Applied to Revolute and Spherical Surfaces .......................................................... 25
3.10. Depth of the Underlying Element ........................................................................................................ 29
3.11. Sliding Contact Resistance .................................................................................................................. 37
3.12. Friction Decay ..................................................................................................................................... 38
3.13. Contact Detection Located at Gauss Point ........................................................................................... 40
3.14. Contact Detection Point Location at Nodal Point ................................................................................. 40
3.15. Node Slippage Using Nodal Integration KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2 .................................................................. 41
3.16. Surface Projection Based Contact ........................................................................................................ 42
3.17. Contact Surface Adjustment With ICONT ............................................................................................. 45
3.18. Contact Surface Adjustment (PMIN, PMAX) .......................................................................................... 46
3.19. A Scenario in Which Initial Adjustment Will Fail .................................................................................... 46
3.20. Ignoring Initial Penetration, KEYOPT(9) = 1 ........................................................................................... 48
3.21. Components of True Penetration ......................................................................................................... 48
3.22. Ramping Initial Interference ................................................................................................................ 49
3.23. Effect of Moving Contact Nodes .......................................................................................................... 50
3.24. Auto Spurious Prevention ................................................................................................................... 52
3.25. Penalty-Based Shell-Shell Assembly ..................................................................................................... 54
3.26. Path Dependent Fluid Penetration Loading ......................................................................................... 59
3.27. Free End Points (2-D) and Free Open Edges (3-D) ................................................................................. 61
3.28. Fluid Penetration Acting Time (FPAT) Greater Than Substep ................................................................. 63
3.29. Fluid Penetration Acting Time (FPAT) Less Than Substep ...................................................................... 64
4.1. Node-to-Surface Contact Elements ........................................................................................................ 71
5.1. Line-to-Line Contact Elements .............................................................................................................. 75
5.2. Internal Contact (One Beam Sliding Inside Another) ............................................................................... 76
5.3. External Contact (Two Beams Roughly Parallel) ...................................................................................... 76
5.4. External Contact (Two Beams Cross Each Other) .................................................................................... 77
5.5. Continuous Line Segments ................................................................................................................... 78
5.6. Equivalent Circular Cross Section ........................................................................................................... 79
6.1. Line-to-Surface Contact Elements ......................................................................................................... 81
6.2. Continuous Line Segments ................................................................................................................... 82
7.1. Target Temperature ............................................................................................................................... 86
8.1. Node-to-Node Contact Element ............................................................................................................ 93
8.2. Contact Between Two Concentric Pipes ................................................................................................. 95
8.3.Two Concentric Pipes, Normals Rotated Properly .................................................................................... 96
8.4. Example of Overconstrained Contact Problem ....................................................................................... 97
9.1. Example of Shell-Solid Assembly ......................................................................................................... 104
9.2. Shell-Solid Assembly (Original Mesh) ................................................................................................... 105
9.3. Shell-Solid Assembly with Shell-Solid Constraint Option ...................................................................... 106
9.4. Shell-Solid Constraint - No Intersection (use KEYOPT(5) = 4 or 5) ........................................................... 107
9.5. Rigid Surface Constraint ...................................................................................................................... 108
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9.6. Force-Distributed Constraint ............................................................................................................... 108
9.7. Slider Link ........................................................................................................................................... 111
9.8. Free Radial Expansion Under Torque Load ........................................................................................... 111
9.9. Beam-Solid Assembly Defined by Rigid Surface Constraint ................................................................... 112
9.10. Beam-Solid Assembly Defined by Force-distributed Constraint ........................................................... 113
11.1. Example Spot Weld Configuration ..................................................................................................... 121
11.2. Default Projection Direction for Node 1 ............................................................................................. 123
11.3. Default Projection Direction for Nodes 1 and 2 ................................................................................... 124
11.4. User-specified Projection Direction, Node 1 ....................................................................................... 124
11.5. User-specified Projection Direction, Nodes 1 and 2 ............................................................................. 125
11.6. Search Radius for Spot Weld .............................................................................................................. 126
11.7. Nodes Included in Constraint Equations ............................................................................................ 127
11.8. Beam Element Created for Spot Weld ................................................................................................ 127
11.9. Surfaces Added to Basic Spot Weld Set .............................................................................................. 129
11.10. Node Reordering for Beam Elements ............................................................................................... 130
A.1. Diagram of Planar Seal Model ............................................................................................................. 137
A.2. Meshed Planar Seal Model .................................................................................................................. 138
A.3. Fluid Pressure Loading on Planar Seal .................................................................................................. 138
A.4. Intermediate Fluid Pressure Distribution ............................................................................................. 139
A.5. Final Fluid Pressure Distribution .......................................................................................................... 139
A.6. Time History of Fluid Pressure for Three Contact Elements ................................................................... 140

List of Tables
1.1. Contact Support ..................................................................................................................................... 2
3.1. Summary of Real Constant Defaults in Different Environments ............................................................... 27
3.2. Summary of KEYOPT Defaults in Different Environments ........................................................................ 30

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Chapter 1: Contact Overview


Contact problems are highly nonlinear and require significant computer resources to solve. It is important
that you understand the physics of the problem and take the time to set up your model to run as efficiently
as possible.
Contact problems present two significant difficulties. First, you generally do not know the regions of contact
until you've run the problem. Depending on the loads, material, boundary conditions, and other factors,
surfaces can come into and go out of contact with each other in a largely unpredictable and abrupt manner.
Second, most contact problems need to account for friction. There are several friction laws and models to
choose from, and all are nonlinear. Frictional response can be chaotic, making solution convergence difficult.
In addition to these two difficulties, many contact problems must also address multi-field effects, such as
the conductance of heat, electrical currents, and magnetic flux in the areas of contact.
If you do not need to account for friction in your model, and the interaction between the bodies is always
bonded, you may be able to use the internal multipoint constraint (MPC) feature (available for certain contact
elements) to model various types of contact assemblies and surface-based constraints (see Multipoint Constraints and Assemblies (p. 101) for more information). Another alternative is to use constraint equations or
coupled degrees of freedom instead of contact to model these situations (see "Coupling and Constraint
Equations" in the Modeling and Meshing Guide for more information). The external constraint equations or
coupling equations are only suitable for small strain applications.
In addition to the implicit contact capabilities discussed in this guide, ANSYS also offers explicit contact
capabilities with the ANSYS LS-DYNA explicit dynamics product. Explicit capabilities are ideally suited for
short-duration contact-impact problems. For more information on the ANSYS LS-DYNA product and its
contact capabilities, see the ANSYS LS-DYNA User's Guide.

1.1. General Contact Classification


Contact problems fall into two general classes: rigid-to-flexible and flexible-to-flexible. In rigid-to-flexible
contact problems, one or more of the contacting surfaces are treated as rigid (i.e., it has a much higher
stiffness relative to the deformable body it contacts). In general, any time a soft material comes in contact
with a hard material, the problem may be assumed to be rigid-to-flexible. Many metal forming problems
fall into this category. The other class, flexible-to-flexible, is the more common type. In this case, both (or
all) contacting bodies are deformable (i.e., have similar stiffnesses). An example of a flexible-to-flexible contact
is bolted flanges.

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Chapter 1: Contact Overview

1.2. Contact Capabilities


Five contact models are available: node-to-node, node-to-surface, surface-to-surface, line-to-line, and lineto-surface. Each type of model uses a different set of contact elements and is appropriate for specific types
of problems as shown in the following table:

Table 1.1 Contact Support


NotetoNode

Nodeto- Surface

Surface-to-Surface

LinetoLine

Lineto- Surface

Contact Element No.

178

175

171,
172

173,
174

176

177

Target Element No.

--

169,
170

169

170

170

170

2-D

--

--

--

3-D

--

small

large

large

large

large

large

Sliding
Cylindrical
Gap

Pure Lagrange Multiplier

Augmented
Lagrange Multiplier

Lagrange Multiplier on Normal and Penalty on Tangent

Internal Multipoint Constraint (MPC)

--

Contact Stiffness

semiauto

semiauto

semiauto

semiauto

semiauto

semiauto

Auto-meshing
Tools

EINTF

ESURF

ESURF

ESURF

ESURF

ESURF

Lower-Order

Higher-Order

--

Y (2-D
only)

Rigid-Flexible

Flexible-Flexible

Thermal Contact

--

--

--

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1.2.1. Surface-to-Surface Contact Elements


NotetoNode

Nodeto- Surface

Surface-to-Surface

LinetoLine

Lineto- Surface

Contact Element No.

178

175

171,
172

173,
174

176

177

Target Element No.

--

169,
170

169

170

170

170

Electric Contact

--

--

--

Magnetic
Contact

--

--

--

To model a contact problem, you first must identify the parts to be analyzed for their possible interaction.
If one of the interactions is at a point, the corresponding component of your model is a node. If one of the
interactions is at a surface, the corresponding component of your model is an element: either a beam, shell,
or solid element. The finite element model recognizes possible contact pairs by the presence of specific
contact elements. These contact elements are overlaid on the parts of the model that are being analyzed
for interaction. The various contact elements, and procedures for using them, are described in this guide.
An overview of the contact elements and their capabilities follows. For detailed information on any of these
elements, refer to the Element Reference and the Theory Reference for the Mechanical APDL and Mechanical
Applications.

1.2.1. Surface-to-Surface Contact Elements


Support is available for both rigid-to-flexible and flexible-to-flexible surface-to-surface contact elements.
These contact elements use a "target surface" and a "contact surface" to form a contact pair.

The target surface is modeled with either TARGE169 or TARGE170 (for 2-D and 3-D, respectively).

The contact surface is modeled with elements CONTA171, CONTA172, CONTA173, and CONTA174.

To create a contact pair, assign the same real constant number to both the target and contact elements.
You can find more details on defining these elements and their shared real constant sets in Surface-to-Surface
Contact (p. 11).
These surface-to-surface elements are well-suited for applications such as interference fit assembly contact
or entry contact, forging, and deep-drawing problems. The surface-to-surface contact elements have several
advantages over the node-to-node element CONTA175. These elements:

Support lower and higher order elements on the contact and target surfaces (in other words, cornernoded or midside-noded elements).

Provide better contact results needed for typical engineering purposes, such as normal pressure and
friction stress contour plots.

Have no restrictions on the shape of the target surface. Surface discontinuities can be physical or due
to mesh discretization.

Allow modeling of fluid pressure penetration loads.

Using these elements for a rigid target surface, you can model straight and curved surfaces in 2-D and 3-D,
often using simple geometric shapes such as circles, parabolas, spheres, cones, and cylinders. More complex
rigid forms or general deformable forms can be modeled using special preprocessing techniques (see Defining
the Target Surface (p. 15) for more information).
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Chapter 1: Contact Overview


Surface-to-surface contact elements are not well-suited for point-to-point, point-to-surface, edge-to-surface,
or 3-D line-to-line contact applications, such as pipe whip or snap-fit assemblies. You should use the nodeto-surface, node-to-node, or line-to-line elements in these cases. You also can use surface-to-surface contact
elements for most contact regions and use a few node-to-surface contact elements near contact corners.
The surface-to-surface contact elements only support general static and transient analyses, buckling, harmonic,
modal or spectrum analyses, or substructure analyses.

1.2.2. Node-to-Surface Contact Elements


CONTA175 is a node-to-surface contact element. It supports large sliding, large deformation, and different
meshes between the contacting components. Contact occurs when the element penetrates one of the target
segment elements (TARGE169, TARGE170) on a specified target surface. CONTA175 is typically used to
model point-to-surface contact applications, such as the corners of snap-fit parts sliding along the mating
surface.
You can also use CONTA175 to model surface-to-surface contact, if the contacting surface is defined by a
group of nodes and multiple elements are generated. The surfaces can be either rigid or deformable. An
example of this type of contact problem is a wire inserted into a slot.
Unlike the node-to-node contact elements, you do not need to know the exact location of the contacting
area beforehand, nor do the contacting components need to have a compatible mesh. Large deformation
and large relative sliding are allowed, although this capability can also model small sliding.
CONTA175 does not support 3-D higher-order elements on the contact surface side. The element can fail if
the target surface is severely discontinuous. No contour plots are available for contact results.

1.2.3. 3-D Line-to-Line Contact


The line-to-line contact element, CONTA176, is typically used to model 3-D beam-to-beam contact (crossing
beams or beams that are parallel to each other) or a pipe sliding inside another pipe. Some practical applications are woven fabric and tennis racquet strings.
CONTA176 can be attached to 3-D beam or pipe elements and supports both low-order and higher-order
elements on the contact surface. The target surface is modeled with 3-D line segments (TARGE170 straight
line or parabolic line elements). This element supports large sliding and large displacement applications.
For more information on how to use CONTA176, see 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact (p. 75).

1.2.4. Line-to-Surface Contact


The line-to-surface contact element, CONTA177, can be used to model a 3-D beam or shell edge contacting
solid or shell elements. CONTA177 supports both low-order and higher-order elements on the contact surface.
The target surface is modeled with 3-D target segment elements (TARGE170). This element is also suitable
for large sliding and large displacement applications. For more information on how to use CONTA177, see
Line-to-Surface Contact (p. 81).

1.2.5. Node-to-Node Contact Elements


Node-to-node contact elements are typically used to model point-to-point contact applications. To use nodeto-node contact elements, you need to know the location of contact beforehand. These types of contact
problems usually involve small relative sliding between contacting surfaces (even in the case of geometric
nonlinearities). An example of a node-to-node contact application is the traditional pipe whip model, where
the contact point is always located between the pipe tip and the restraint.
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1.2.5. Node-to-Node Contact Elements


Node-to-node contact elements can also be used to solve a surface-to-surface problem if the nodes of the
two surfaces line up, the relative sliding deformation is negligible, and deflections (rotations) of the two
surfaces remain small. These are typically problems with faceted and simple geometry. An interference fit
problem is an example of a surface-to-surface problem where the use of node-to-node contact may be sufficient.
Another use of node-to-node contact elements is in extremely precise analysis of surface stresses, such as
in turbine blade analysis.
The CONTA178 element is the best choice for most node-to-node problems. It offers a wide range of options
and solver types.

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Chapter 2: GUI Aids for Contact Analyses


Several GUI aids are available to help you create and manage contact pairs. The Contact Manager allows
you to define, view, and edit contact pairs. It provides a convenient way to manage all contact pairs for your
entire model. The Contact Wizard, which is accessed from the Contact Manager, leads you through the
process of creating contact pairs.
The following contact-related GUI topics are available:
2.1.The Contact Manager
2.2.The Contact Wizard
2.3. Managing Contact Pairs

2.1. The Contact Manager


You can access the Contact Manager via the Contact Manager icon
in the ANSYS Standard Toolbar, or
via the menu path Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Contact Pair. The Contact Manager is available at
the Begin level and in the following processors: preprocessor (PREP7), solution (SOLU), and general postprocessor (POST1).
The Contact Manager Toolbar provides an intuitive interface for the creation and management of contact
pairs. The manager supports surface-to-surface contact analysis, node-to-surface contact analysis (using
CONTA175), and the internal multipoint constraint (MPC) method of contact .

Figure 2.1 Contact Manager Toolbar

Contact Wizard - Accesses the Contact Wizard GUI described in The Contact Wizard (p. 8). Allows you
to manually define target and contact surfaces. Supports both 2-D and 3-D geometries as well as rigidflexible (with optional pilot node) or flexible-flexible contact. (Primitives are not supported by contact
wizard.) The wizard also supports surface-based constraint contact pairs.

Contact Properties - Allows you to specify the properties of the contact pair(s) via real constants and
KEYOPTs for the contact elements used.

Delete Contact Pairs - Deletes the contact pairs selected in the contact pair list.

Contact Selection Options - Specifies display of contact elements, target elements, or both.

Plot Elements/Results - Displays the elements of selected contact pairs; or displays the contact results,
if available (POST1 only), specified in the Contact Results field for selected contact pairs. Results are
displayed if Model Context is specified as "Result-"; otherwise, elements are displayed. The display can
be limited to contact, or target, or both as specified in the Contact Selection Options field. (Note that
CONTA175 results will not display graphically, but can be listed with the List Elements/Results icon.)

Show Normals - Specifies whether or not to display the normals on the elements when plotting contact
pairs
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Chapter 2: GUI Aids for Contact Analyses

Flip Normals - Flips the element normals of the selected contact pair. This action is limited to the elements specified in the Contact Selection Options field.

Switch Contact and Target - Inverts the target surface and the contact surface with each other. This
is applicable only to flexible-to-flexible surface-to-surface contact pairs.

List Elements/Results - Lists the elements of the selected contact pairs; or lists the contact results, if
available (POST1 only), specified in the Contact Results field for selected contact pairs. Results are listed
if Model Context is specified as "Result-"; otherwise, elements are listed. The listing is restricted to the
elements specified in the Contact Selection Options field.

Model Context - Displays the contact pairs in the context of the entire model using a translucent plot,
or shows only the contact pairs. If set to "Result-" (POST1 only), controls display/listing of contact pair
results.

Check Contact Status - Provides contact status information for selected contact pairs. Several options
are available (click and hold down the Check Contact Status button to access these options):

Run a partial solution of the initial contact state (CNCHECK,POST command) that can be subsequently
postprocessed from the contact manager. (See CNCHECK for more information.)

Physically move contact nodes to the target surface (CNCHECK,ADJUST command) in order to close
a gap or reduce a penetration (see Physically Moving Contact Nodes Towards the Target Surface (p. 49).)

Display a detailed listing of status information for each contact pair.

Reset target element and contact element key options and real constants to their default values
(CNCHECK,RESET command).

Contact Results - Shows the contact result items for subsequent viewing using the Plot Elements/Results
and List Elements/Results icons.

The bar below the toolbar icons minimizes or maximizes the Contact Pair list box below it. The Contact Pair
list box displays the defined contact pairs. You can select contact pairs from this list for displaying or editing
purposes.

2.2. The Contact Wizard


This Contact Wizard will lead you through the process of manually creating contact pairs. The wizard supports
rigid-flexible (with optional pilot node) and flexible-flexible contact, and supports both surface-to-surface
and node-to-surface configurations. (Note that the wizard does not support rigid target primitives.) The
Contact Wizard also supports surface-based constraint contact pairs.
To use the Contact Wizard, access the Contact Manager Toolbar and click on the Contact Wizard icon. The
wizard steps you through setting up the contact analysis. Below is an example of the screens you will see.

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2.3. Managing Contact Pairs

Figure 2.2 Example of a Contact Wizard Dialog

The Contact Wizard remains unavailable (dimmed) if you haven't meshed any portion of your model. If you
wish to create a rigid-flexible model, mesh only those parts of the model which will be used as flexible
contact surfaces (do not mesh the rigid target surfaces) before launching the wizard. If you wish to create
a flexible-flexible model, mesh all parts of the model which will be used as contact surfaces (including target
surfaces) before launching the wizard.
You can specify target and contact surfaces using lines, areas, volumes, selected set of nodes, or node
components. Note that the wizard allows you to choose more than one area for the target and contact
surfaces, thus allowing multiple areas to form a single contact surface. If you specify a rigid target surface,
you will then have the option to define a pilot node for that contact pair. (The pilot node step is mandatory
if you define a surface-based constraint contact pair by picking the Pilot Node Only option.)
After you specify the target and contact surfaces, you can specify properties of the contact pair (real constants
and KEYOPTs) before creating the contact pair. When you finish specifying all the required data, click the
Create button to create the contact and target element types, a unique real constant set with the real
constant values, and the elements that make up the contact and target surfaces.

2.3. Managing Contact Pairs


As discussed in Surface-to-Surface Contact (p. 11) it is paramount that the contact elements be oriented
correctly for proper contact detection. The contact manager provides tools that help you
1.

Verify that the normals of the contact and target surfaces are in the correct direction

2.

Reverse normals of elements that are not oriented correctly

You can choose to display one or more contact pairs on which to perform the above listed operations. Then
you have an additional option of only displaying the contact surface or the target surface when verifying
or reversing the element normals. In addition these elements can be displayed independently or in the
context of your entire model. In the later case the contact elements are highlighted in a translucent plot of
your model.
Another important function is to edit the properties of the contact pair(s) as needed. The properties include
real constant values and key option values as discussed earlier. The Contact Properties button in the contact
manager provides a simple to use interface that allows the properties of the selected contact pair(s) to be
reviewed and modified if needed.

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Chapter 2: GUI Aids for Contact Analyses


Note that when you have multiple contact pairs, it is possible to have conflicts in the real constant values
or in the KEYOPT settings. When you have such conflicts, the properties dialog for those real constants or
KEYOPT settings is left blank.
Finally, you can display or list specific contact result items (contact status, penetration, pressure, etc.) for the
selected contact pairs. This option is only available in POST1, and only if a result set is available. The contact
results can be displayed independently or in the context of your entire model. (For CONTA175, results can
be listed but not displayed graphically.)

Note
Prior to displaying or listing result items associated with the initial contact configuration resulting
from the CNCHECK,POST command, you need to issue the appropriate FILE and SET,FIRST commands to read the results from the proper results file (see CNCHECK for details).

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


You can use the surface-to-surface contact elements to model either rigid-flexible or flexible-flexible contact
between surfaces. The Contact Manager provides an easy-to-use interface to help you construct and manage
contact definitions. You can access the manager via the Contact Manager icon
in the ANSYS Standard
Toolbar, or via the menu path Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Contact Pair. See GUI Aids
for Contact Analyses (p. 7) for more information on using the Contact Manager.
This chapter explains how to set up a surface-to-surface contact analysis using both the command and GUI
approaches. The following topics are available:
3.1. Using Surface-to-Surface Contact Elements
3.2. Steps in a Contact Analysis
3.3. Creating the Model Geometry and Mesh
3.4. Identifying Contact Pairs
3.5. Designating Contact and Target Surfaces
3.6. Defining the Target Surface
3.7. Defining the Deformable Contact Surface
3.8. Geometry Correction for Contact and Target Surfaces
3.9. Set the Real Constants and Element KEYOPTS
3.10. Controlling the Motion of the Rigid Target Surface
3.11. Applying Necessary Boundary Conditions to the Deformable Elements
3.12. Applying Fluid Pressure-Penetration Loads
3.13. Defining Solution and Load Step Options
3.14. Solving the Problem
3.15. Reviewing the Results

Note
The procedures described in this chapter also apply to node-to-surface contact analyses using
CONTA175, 3-D beam-to-beam contact analyses using CONTA176, and 3-D line-to-surface contact
using CONTA177 unless otherwise noted.

3.1. Using Surface-to-Surface Contact Elements


In problems involving contact between two boundaries, one of the boundaries is conventionally established
as the "target" surface, and the other as the "contact" surface. For rigid-flexible contact, the target surface
is always the rigid surface, and the contact surface is the deformable surface. For flexible-to-flexible contact,
both contact and target surfaces are associated with the deformable bodies. These two surfaces together
comprise the "contact pair." Use TARGE169 with CONTA171, CONTA172, or CONTA175 to define a 2-D contact
pair. For 3-D contact pairs, use TARGE170 with CONTA173, CONTA174, CONTA175, CONTA176, or CONTA177.
Each contact pair is identified via the same real constant number.

3.2. Steps in a Contact Analysis


The basic steps for performing a typical surface-to-surface contact analysis are listed below. Each step is
then explained in detail in the following sections.
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


1.

Create the model geometry and mesh

2.

Identify the contact pairs

3.

Designate contact and target surfaces

4.

Define the target surface

5.

Define the contact surface

6.

Set the element KEYOPTS and real constants

7.

Define/control the motion of the target surface (rigid-to-flexible only)

8.

Apply necessary boundary conditions

9.

Apply fluid pressure-penetration loads

10. Define solution options and load steps


11. Solve the contact problem
12. Review the results
Each contact-specific step also has a corresponding GUI approach where you use functions and features on
the Contact Toolbar.

3.3. Creating the Model Geometry and Mesh


First, create solid model entities that represent the geometry of the contacting bodies. Set element types,
real constants, and material properties as you would for any ANSYS analysis. Mesh the contacting bodies by
meshing the areas or volumes with the element type that you have chosen. For more information, see the
Modeling and Meshing Guide.
Command(s): AMESH, VMESH
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Meshing> Mesh

Note
You should avoid midside-noded elements for 3-D contact surfaces when using node-to-surface
element CONTA175.

3.4. Identifying Contact Pairs


You must identify where contact might occur during the deformation of your model. Once you've identified
potential contact surfaces, you define them via target and contact elements, which will then track the kinematics of the deformation process. Target and contact elements that make up a contact pair are associated
with each other via a shared real constant set.
The contact zone can be arbitrary; however, for the most efficient solution (primarily in CPU time), you may
want to define smaller, localized contacting zones, but be sure your zones are adequate to capture all necessary contact. Different contact pairs must be defined by a different real constant set, even if the element
real constant values do not change. There is no limit on the number of surfaces allowed.

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3.5. Designating Contact and Target Surfaces

Figure 3.1 Localized Contact Zones

Depending on the geometry of the model (and the potential deformation), multiple target surfaces could
interact with the same zone of the contact surface. In such cases, you must define multiple contact pairs
(using multiple overlapping contact elements), each with its own real constant number. See Figure 3.1 (p. 13).
The geometry-based contact pair generation tools (see the Contact Wizard) may create unnecessary contact
and target elements which are never in contact during solution. For modeling small sliding contact or assembly
contact, you can issue CNCHECK,TRIM to remove contact and target elements which are initially in far-field
(that is, open and not near contact). The trimming is based on the contact pinball size; the smaller the pinball
radius, the greater the number of contact and target elements that will be deleted. The contact trimming
option is useful in Distributed ANSYS runs to achieve better performance.

3.5. Designating Contact and Target Surfaces


Contact elements are constrained against penetrating the target surface. However, target elements can
penetrate through the contact surface. For rigid-to-flexible contact, the designation is obvious: the target
surface is always the rigid surface and the contact surface is always the deformable surface. For flexible-toflexible contact, the choice of which surface is designated contact or target can cause a different amount
of penetration and thus affect the solution accuracy. Consider the following guidelines when designating
the surfaces:

If a convex surface is expected to come into contact with a flat or concave surface, the flat/concave
surface should be the target surface.

If one surface has a fine surface mesh and, in comparison, the other has a coarse mesh, the fine mesh
should be the contact surface and the coarse mesh should be the target surface.

If one surface is stiffer then the other, the softer surface should be the contact surface and the stiffer
surface should be the target surface.
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

If higher-order elements underly one of the external surfaces and lower-order elements underly the
other surface, the surface with the underlying higher-order elements should be the contact surface and
the other surface should be the target. However, for 3-D node-to-surface contact, the lower-order elements should be the contact surface. The higher-order elements should be the target surface.

If one surface is markedly larger than the other surface, such as in the instance where one surface surrounds the other surface, the larger surface should be the target surface.

In the case of 3-D internal beam-to-beam contact modeled by CONTA176 (a beam or pipe sliding inside
another hollow beam or pipe), the inner beam should be considered the contact surface and the outer
beam should be the target surface. However, when the inner beam is much stiffer than the outer beam,
the inner beam can be the target surface.

These guidelines are true for asymmetric contact; however, asymmetric contact may not perform satisfactorily
for your model. The following section details the difference between asymmetric and symmetric contact
and outlines some of the situations that require symmetric contact.

3.5.1. Asymmetric Contact vs. Symmetric Contact


3.5.1.1. Background
Asymmetric contact is defined as having all contact elements on one surface and all target elements on the
other surface. This is sometimes called "one-pass contact." This is usually the most efficient way to model
surface-to-surface contact. However, under some circumstances asymmetric contact does not perform satisfactorily. In such cases, you can designate each surface to be both a target and a contact surface. You can
then generate two sets of contact pairs between the contacting surfaces (or just one contact pair; for example,
a self-contact case). This is known as symmetric contact (or "two-pass contact"). Obviously, symmetric contact
is less efficient than asymmetric contact. However, many analyses will require its use (typically to reduce
penetration). Specific situations that require symmetric contact include models where

The distinction between the contact and target surfaces is not clear.

Both surfaces have very coarse meshes. The symmetric contact algorithm enforces the contact constraint
conditions at more surface locations than the asymmetric contact algorithm.

If the meshes on both surfaces are identical and sufficiently refined, the symmetric contact algorithm may
not significantly improve performance and may, in fact, be more "expensive" in CPU time. In such circumstances, pick one surface to be the target and the other the contact surface.
For a symmetric contact definition, ANSYS may find one side of a contact surface as closed and the other
side of the surface as closed. In this case, it can be difficult to interpret the results. The total contact pressure
acting on both sides is the average of the contact pressures on each side of the surface.

3.5.1.2. Using KEYOPT(8)


When there are several contact pairs involved in the model, and the graphical picking of contact and target
surfaces is difficult, you can just define the symmetric contact pairs and, by setting KEYOPT(8) = 2, ANSYS
will internally select which asymmetric pair is to be used at the solution stage based on the guidelines
mentioned above in Designating Contact and Target Surfaces.

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3.6.3. Element Types and Real Constants

Note
In any contact model, you can mix different types of contact pairs: rigid-to-flexible or flexible-toflexible contact; symmetric contact or asymmetric contact. However, only one type can exist with
a contact pair.

3.6. Defining the Target Surface


The target surface can be 2-D or 3-D and either rigid or deformable. For deformable target surfaces, you will
normally use the ESURF command to generate the target elements along the boundaries of an existing
mesh. You can follow the same method to generate the deformable contact surface (see Defining the Deformable Contact Surface (p. 21) for details). If you are modeling 3-D line-to-line contact and the underlying elements are a part of shell edges, issue ESURF,,,LINE to generate 3-D line or parabola segments along the
shell edges.
You should not use the following rigid target segments for a deformable target surface: ARC, CARC, CIRC,
CYL1, CONE, SPHE, POINT, or PILO. For rigid target surfaces, the following provides general guidelines.
In 2-D cases, the shape of the target surface is described by a sequence of straight lines, circular arcs, and
parabolas, all of which can be represented with the target segment element TARGE169. You can use any
combination to define the complex target surface geometry. In 3-D cases, the shape of the target surfaces
is described by a sequence of triangles, quadrilaterals, straight lines, parabolas, cylinders, cones, and spheres,
which can be represented with TARGE170. You can use any reasonable combination of low/high-order triangles
and quadrilaterals to model a target surface with a complex, arbitrary geometry.

3.6.1. Pilot Nodes


The rigid target surface can also be associated with a "pilot node," which is really an element with one node,
whose motion governs the motion of the entire target surface. You can think of a pilot node as a handle
for the rigid target surface. Forces/moments or rotations/displacements for the entire target surface usually
should be prescribed on the pilot node. The pilot node can be one of the nodes on the target element or
a node at any arbitrary location. The location of the pilot node is important only when rotation or moment
loading is required.

3.6.2. Primitives
You can use circle, cylinder, cone, and sphere primitives to model the target (which require real constants
to define the radius). You can combine primitive segments with general segments (such as lines, parabolas,
triangles, and quadrilaterals) to define a target surface. Primitives cannot be defined directly in the Contact
Wizard. The primitives do not support MPC based bonded or no-separation contact.

3.6.3. Element Types and Real Constants


Before generating the target element, first define the element type (TARGE169 for 2-D or TARGE170 for 3D):
Command(s): ET
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Element Type> Add/Edit/Delete

3.6.3.1. Defining Target Element Geometry


You define characteristics of the target element geometry through real constants R1 and R2 as follows:
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

For CONTA171 and CONTA172:

R1 is the radius if the target shape (TARGE169) is a circle.


R2 is the element thickness if the underlying element is a superelement set as plane stress with
thickness (KEYOPT(3) = 3). The default value is 1.

For CONTA173 and CONTA174 (also applies to node-to-surface element CONTA175, and to line-to-surface
element CONTA177):

R1 is the radius if the target shape (TARGE170) is a cylinder, cone, or sphere.


R2 is the radius of a cone at the second node.

For CONTA176, used to model 3-D beam-to-beam contact:

R1 is the radius of circular beams on the target side (target radius). Use a positive value when
modeling external beam-to-beam contact. Use a negative value to represent the inner radius of the
outer beam (or pipe) when modeling internal beam-to-beam contact.

R2 is the radius of circular beams on the contact side (contact radius). Use a positive value for both
external and internal beam-to-beam contact.

To set the real constant number for the target elements:


Command(s): REAL
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Real Constants
For TARGE169 and TARGE170, you need only set real constants R1 and R2 (if required). For a complete description of the target elements, element shapes, and real constants, see the description of TARGE169 and
TARGE170 in the Element Reference.

Note
Specifying real constants (R1, R2) manually is necessary only if you use direct generation to create
your target elements, or if you model 3-D beam-to-beam contact with CONTA176. You can also
use the ANSYS meshing tools to create the elements, or use the Contact Manager Toolbar.

3.6.4. Using Direct Generation to Create Rigid Target Elements


To generate target elements directly, use the following command or GUI path:
Command(s): TSHAP
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements> Elem Attributes
You then specify the element shape. Possible shapes are:

Straight line (2-D and 3-D)

Parabola (2-D and 3-D)

Clockwise arc (2-D)

Counterclockwise arc (2-D)

Circle (2-D)

Three-node triangle (3-D)

Six-node triangle (3-D)

Four-node quadrilateral (3-D)

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3.6.5. Using ANSYS Meshing Tools to Create Rigid Target Elements

Eight-node quadrilateral (3-D)

Cylinder (3-D)

Cone (3-D)

Sphere (3-D)

Point (2-D or 3-D)

Pilot node (2-D and 3-D)

Once you specify a target element shape, all subsequent elements will have that shape until you specify
another shape.

Note
You cannot mix 2-D and 3-D target elements on the same target surface.
You cannot mix rigid target elements with deformable target elements on the same target surface.
During solution, ANSYS assigns a deformable status to target elements with underlying elements
and assigns a rigid status to target elements without underlying elements. If a portion of the
underlying elements of a deformable surface are deleted, an error will occur in solution.
You can generate the nodes and elements using standard ANSYS direct generation techniques. For more
information on direct generation modeling techniques, see "Direct Generation" in the Modeling and Meshing
Guide.
Command(s): N, E
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Nodes
Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements
You can then verify your element shapes by listing the elements.
Command(s): ELIST
GUI: Utility Menu> List> Elements> Nodes + Attributes

3.6.5. Using ANSYS Meshing Tools to Create Rigid Target Elements


You can also let ANSYS generate the elements automatically using the standard ANSYS meshing capabilities.
ANSYS will recognize the proper target element shape based on the solid model and will ignore the TSHAP
setting.
To generate a pilot node, use the following command or GUI path:
Command(s): KMESH
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Meshing> Mesh> Keypoints

Note
KMESH always creates pilot nodes.
To generate POINT segments, use the Direct Generation method or use ESURF,,,POINT command on selected
nodes.

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


To generate 2-D rigid target elements or 3-D rigid line/parabola segments, use the following command or
GUI path. ANSYS creates a single line over each line, parabolic segments over B-splines, and arc segments
over each arc and line fillet (see Figure 3.2 (p. 18)). If all the arcs form a closed circle, ANSYS creates a single
circular segment (see Figure 3.3 (p. 18)). However, if the arcs that form a closed circle are created from imported or archived geometry (such as IGES), ANSYS might not create a single circular segment.
Command(s): LMESH
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Meshing> Mesh> Lines

Figure 3.2 ANSYS Geometric Entities and Their Corresponding Rigid Target Elements

Figure 3.3 A Single Circular Target Segment Created From Arc Line Segments

To generate 3-D rigid target elements, use the following command or GUI path.
Command(s): AMESH
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Meshing> Mesh> Areas
If the surface segments on the solid model form a complete sphere, cylinder, or cone, then ANSYS automatically generates a single primitive 3-D target element through the AMESH command. By creating fewer
elements, the analysis becomes more computationally efficient. For arbitrary surfaces, you should use AMESH
to generate target elements. In these cases, the quality of the meshed target shape is not important. It is
more important that the target elements represent the rigid surface geometry well.

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3.6.5. Using ANSYS Meshing Tools to Create Rigid Target Elements


We recommend using mapped meshing on all possible areas. If there is no curvature on the edges of the
surface, assign one division on that edge. TARGE169 with a rigid specification will always mesh with one
element division, per line, ignoring any LESIZE setting. The default target element shape is quadrilateral. If
you want a triangular target element shape, use MSHAPE,1. Figure 3.4 (p. 19) shows the meshing patterns
for arbitrary target surfaces. The following command or GUI path will generate a mapped mesh wherever
possible (otherwise, if not possible, it will generate a free mesh).
Command(s): MSHKEY,2
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Meshing> Mesh> Areas> Target Surf
If the target surface is flat (or nearly flat), you may select low-order target elements (3-node triangular or 4node quadrilateral elements). If the target surface is curved you should select high-order target elements
(6-node triangular or 8-node quadrilateral). By doing so, set KEYOPT(1) = 1 in the target element definition.

Note
Low-order target elements result in "cheaper" CPU usage in getting penetration and gap; however,
the meshed surface may not be smooth. Higher-order target elements are more "expensive" to
use in getting the penetration and gap, but they need many fewer elements to discretize the
whole curved target surface.

Note
If target elements are created via program meshing (through the KMESH, LMESH, or ESURF
commands) the TSHAP command is ignored and ANSYS chooses the correct shape codes automatically.

Figure 3.4 Meshing Patterns for Arbitrary Target Surfaces

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

3.6.5.1. Some Modeling and Meshing Tips


A target surface can be made up of two or more disconnected regions. Where possible, you should localize
the contact zone by defining multiple target surfaces (each with a different real constant number). There
are no restrictions on the shape of the rigid surfaces. Smoothing is not required. However, you must ensure
that the mesh discretization of the curved surfaces on the rigid target surface is adequate. Excessively coarse
discretization can cause numerical convergence problems. It can be difficult to obtain a converged solution
in a large sliding simulation if the target surface has sharp convex corners. To avoid such modeling problems,
use line or area fillet functions on the solid model to smooth out the sharp corner, use a more refined mesh,
or use high-order element in the region of abrupt curvature changes (see Figure 3.5 (p. 20)).

Figure 3.5 Smoothing Convex Corner

3.6.5.2. Verifying Nodal Number Ordering (Contact Direction) of Target Surface


The node order of the target surface elements is critical because it defines contact direction. For 2-D contact,
the associated (deformable) contact elements must lie to the right of the target surface when moving from
the first node to the second node along the target surface line (see Figure 3.6 (p. 20)).

Figure 3.6 Correct Node Ordering

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3.7. Defining the Deformable Contact Surface


For 3-D contact, the target element numbering should be such that the rigid surface's outward normal points
toward the contact surface. The outward normal is determined by the right-hand rule.
For 3-D line segments, the target nodes must be numbered in a sequence that defines a continuous line.
The line can be made up of linear or parabolic segments, depending on whether the underlying beam is
made up of first order or second order elements.
To check the direction of the normals, turn on the element coordinate systems.
Command(s): /PSYMB,ESYS,1
GUI: Utility Menu> PlotCtrls> Symbols
If the element normals do not point toward the contact surface, select this element and reverse the direction
of the surface normals.
Command(s): ESURF,,REVE
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements> Surf/Contact> Surf to Surf
or, reorient the element normals:
Command(s): ENORM
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Move/Modify> Elements> Shell Normals

Note
Contact on target primitives (such as a complete circle, cylinder, cone, or sphere), can occur only
on the outside surfaces of such target bodies.

3.7. Defining the Deformable Contact Surface


To create the deformable contact surface, you must define that surface using one of the following contact
elements:

CONTA171 or CONTA172 (for 2-D)

CONTA173 or CONTA174 (for 3-D)

CONTA175 (for 2- or 3-D)

CONTA176 or CONTA177 (for 3-D line)

The contact surface is defined by the set of contact elements that comprise the surface of the deformable
body. These contact elements have the same geometric characteristics as the underlying elements of the
deformable body. The contact surface elements are of the same order as the underlying elements (loweror higher-order), with compatible nodes along the edges. The higher-order contact elements can match
lower-order underlying elements by dropping the midside nodes. The underlying elements can be solid,
shell, beam, or pipe elements. The contact surface can be on either side of the shell or beam elements. The
underlying elements may also be a superelement. However, axisymmetric harmonic elements may not be
used as underlying elements.
As with the target surface elements, you must define the contact surface element type, then select the correct
real constant number (the real constant number must be the same as the one used for the target surface
for each contact pair), and finally generate the elements.

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

3.7.1. Element Type


The four surface-to-surface contact element types are shown in the figure below, followed by a brief description of each element. For complete information on these element types, see the Element Reference.

Figure 3.7 Contact Element Types

CONTA171: This is a 2-D, 2-node, lower order line element that can be located on the surfaces of 2-D
solid, shell, or beam elements (such as SHELL208).

CONTA172: This is a 2-D, 3-node, higher order parabolic element that can be located on the surfaces
of 2-D solid or beam elements with midside nodes (such as PLANE183).

CONTA173: This is a 3-D, 4-node, lower order quadrilateral element that can be located on the surfaces
of 3-D solid or shell elements (such as SHELL181). It can be degenerated to a 3-node triangular element.

CONTA174: This is a 3-D, 8-node, higher order quadrilateral element that can be located on the surfaces
of 3-D solid or shell elements with midside nodes (such as SHELL281). It can be degenerated to 3- to
7-node quadrilateral/triangular shapes.

The following elements can also be defined using the method described here.

CONTA175: This is a 2- or 3-D, 1-node element that can be located on the surface of 2-D lower order
and higher order solid or beam elements or 3-D lower order solid or shell elements. Use CONTA175 for
node-to-surface contact.

CONTA176: This is a 3-D line element that can be located on the surface of 3-D beam and pipe elements.
The element can be a 2-node line or a 3-node parabola, depending on whether the underlying element
is lower or higher order. Use CONTA176 to model 3-D beam-to-beam contact.

CONTA177: This is a 3-D line element that can be located on the surface of 3-D beam and pipe elements
or on the edge of 3-D shell elements. The element can be a 2-node line or a 3-node parabola, depending
on whether the underlying element is lower or higher order. Use CONTA177 to model 3-D line-to-surface
contact.

Use the following command to define the contact element type.


Command(s): ET
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Element Type> Add/Edit/Delete

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3.7.3. Generating Contact Elements

3.7.2. Real Constants and Material Properties


After defining the element type, you need to select the correct real constant set. The real constant set for
each contact surface must be the same one used for the corresponding target surface for each contact pair.
Each contact pair must reference its own real constant number.
ANSYS uses the material properties of the underlying elements to calculate an appropriate contact (or penalty)
stiffness. ANSYS automatically defines a default value for tangent (sliding) contact stiffness that is proportional to MU and the normal stiffness. If the underlying element is a superelement, the material property
set for the contact elements must be the same as that of the original structural elements used during the
formation of the superelement.

3.7.3. Generating Contact Elements


You can generate contact elements either through direct generation or by generating the surface automatically from the exterior faces of the underlying elements. We recommend that you use automatic generation;
this approach is simpler and more reliable.
To automatically generate contact elements, follow these steps:
1.

Select the nodes on the meshed deformable body. For each surface, view the node list. If you are
certain that particular nodes will never come into contact, you can omit those nodes and reduce CPU
time. However, you should always include more nodes than you think you'll need so that you don't
miss unexpected areas of contact.
Command(s): NSEL
GUI: Utility Menu> Select> Entities

2.

Generate the contact elements.


Command(s): ESURF
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements> Surf/Contact> Surf to Surf
If the contact surface is attached to areas or volumes that are meshed with solid elements, ANSYS
automatically determines the outward normal needed for contact calculations. If the underlying elements
are beam or shell elements, you must indicate which surface (top or bottom) is the target surface.
Command(s): ESURF,,TOP or BOTTOM
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements> Surf/Contact> Surf to Surf
Use the TOP setting (default) to generate contact elements with their outward normals the same as
the beam or shell elements' normals. Use the BOTTOM setting to generate contact elements with their
outward normals opposite the beam or shell elements' normals. You must make sure that all elements
in the beam or shell element selection have their normals consistently oriented. If the underlying elements are solid elements, then the TOP or BOTTOM setting has no effect.

3.

Check the direction of the outward normals for the contact elements. The direction of the contact
surface's outward normal is critical for proper contact detection. For 3-D surface-to-surface contact
elements CONTA173 and CONTA174, the node numbering follows the right hand rule to define its
outward normal. The contact surface's outward normal should point toward the target surface. Otherwise,
ANSYS may detect over-penetration of the surfaces at the beginning of the analysis and have difficulty
finding an initial solution. In most of these cases, the analysis will fail immediately. For the 3-D line-toline contact element CONTA176 and the 3-D line-to-surface contact element CONTA177, the contact
nodes must be ordered in a sequence that defines a continuous line. Figure 3.8 (p. 24) illustrates both
proper and improper specification of the contact surface's outward normal.
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


Command(s): /PSYMB,ESYS
GUI: Utility Menu> PlotCtrls> Symbols

Figure 3.8 Specification of the Contact Surface's Outward Normal

If the surface normals are specified incorrectly, you must either change them by reversing the node
number order of the selected elements.
Command(s): ESURF,,REVE
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements> Surf/Contact> Surf to Surf
Or, you can reorient the element normals.
Command(s): ENORM
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Move/Modify> Elements> Shell Normals

Note
ESURF,,TOP or BOTTOM and checking the direction of outward normals will not apply to nodeto-surface contact (CONTA175) because it is a single-node element with no surface normal associated with it.

3.8. Geometry Correction for Contact and Target Surfaces


In general, curved contact and target surfaces can be well approximated by linear (lower order) or quadratic
(higher order) contact and target elements when the mesh is sufficiently refined. However, in certain circumstances this is not the case; for example, when linear elements are used or when the midside nodes of
quadratic elements do not lie exactly on the initial curved geometry because a third party mesh generator
was used. Thus, in some contact applications, using a faceted surface in place of the true curved geometry
can significantly affect the accuracy of contact stresses.
To avoid this problem, you can use an optional geometric correction for spherical and revolute (cylindrical)
surfaces via SECTYPE and SECDATA section commands. Geometry correction is available for 3-D surfaceto-surface contact elements; TARGE170, CONTA173, and CONTA174.
A spherical correction can be applied to surfaces approximating a portion of a sphere (or nearly a sphere).
Use the commands:
SECTYPE,SECID,CONTACT,SPHERE
SECDATA,X0,Y0,Z0
! sphere center location in global Cartesian coordinates

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3.8. Geometry Correction for Contact and Target Surfaces


A revolute (cylindrical) correction can be applied to surfaces approximating a portion of a revolution (or
nearly a revolution), such as a cylinder or cone. Use the commands:
SECTYPE,SECID,CONTACT,CYLINDER
SECDATA,X1,Y1,Z1,X2,Y2,Z2
! location of two ends of cylindrical axis in global Cartesian coordinates

The spherical correction requires that you specify the sphere's center location in global Cartesian coordinates,
and the cylindrical correction requires that you input the axis of revolution in global Cartesian coordinates.
The defined geometry correction can be applied to specific contact and target elements via a section ID.
Use the SECNUM command prior to creating contact and target elements to associate the elements with a
particular section ID, or use the EMODIF command to assign a section ID to existing elements.
You can apply more than one geometry correction to the same contact or target surface. In the peg and
slot example below, the peg is one contact surface. Two geometry corrections are applied to this contact
surface: a revolute correction on the conical body and a spherical correction on the spherical tip. The cylindrical slot (target surface) requires only a revolute correction.

Figure 3.9 Geometry Correction Applied to Revolute and Spherical Surfaces

spherical correction

revolute correction

Original model configuration

Finite element model showing results

This geometry correction technique assumes that the initial locations of the contact or target element corner
nodes (but not necessarily the midside nodes of quadratic elements) lie on the true initial surface geometry.
Geometry correction is most beneficial for small deflection analyses (small or large sliding).

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

3.9. Set the Real Constants and Element KEYOPTS


ANSYS uses several real constants and KEYOPTs to control contact behavior using surface-to-surface contact
elements. For more information in addition to what is presented here, refer to the individual contact element
descriptions in the Element Reference.
If you decide the real constant and KEYOPT settings you have specified for a particular contact pair are not
appropriate, you can use the CNCHECK,RESET command to reset all values back to their default settings.
Some real constants and key options are not affected by this command; see CNCHECK for details.
In many cases, certain default settings may not be appropriate for your specific model. You can issue the
CNCHECK,AUTO command to obtain optimized KEYOPT and real constant settings in terms of robustness
and efficiency. Usually, only the undefined or default KEYOPT settings and real constants are changed. Refer
to the CNCHECK command description for details of which settings are typically changed. You should always
verify these changes by issuing the CNCHECK,DETAIL command to list current contact pair properties. If
necessary, you can overwrite the optimized settings by redefining specific KEYOPTs (KEYOPT command)
and real constants (RMODIF command).

3.9.1. Real Constants


Two real constants, R1 and R2, are used to define the geometry of the target surface elements. The remaining
are used by the contact surface elements.

R1 and R2 define the target element geometry.

FKN defines a normal contact stiffness factor.

FTOLN is a factor based on the thickness of the element which is used to calculate allowable penetration.

ICONT defines an initial closure factor (or adjustment band).

PINB defines a "pinball" region.

PMIN and PMAX define an allowable penetration range for initial penetration.

TAUMAX specifies the maximum contact friction.

CNOF specifies the positive or negative offset value applied to the contact surface.

FKOP specifies the stiffness factor applied when contact opens or the damping coefficient for standard
contact.

FKT specifies the tangent contact stiffness factor.

COHE specifies the cohesion sliding resistance.

TCC specifies the thermal contact conductance coefficient.

FHTG specifies the fraction of frictional dissipated energy converted into heat.

SBCT specifies the Stefan-Boltzmann constant.

RDVF specifies the radiation view factor.

FWGT specifies the weight factor for the distribution of heat between the contact and target surfaces
for thermal contact or for electric contact.

ECC specifies the electric contact conductance or capacitance per unit area.

FHEG specifies the fraction of electric dissipated energy converted into heat.

FACT specifies the ratio of static to dynamic coefficients of friction.

DC specifies the decay coefficient for static/dynamic friction.

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3.9.1. Real Constants

SLTO controls maximum sliding distance when MU is nonzero and the tangent contact stiffness (FKT)
is updated at each iteration (KEYOPT(10) = 2) or when KEYOPT(2) = 3.

TNOP specifies the maximum allowable tensile contact pressure.

TOLS adds a small tolerance that extends the edge of the target surface.

MCC specifies the magnetic contact permeance (3-D only).

PPCN specifies the pressure-penetration criterion (surface contact elements only).

FPAT specifies the fluid penetration acting time (surface contact elements only).

COR specifies the coefficient of restitution for impact between rigid bodies using impact constraints
(KEYOPT(7) = 4).

STRM specifies load step number for ramping penetration.

Real constant defaults can vary depending on the environment you are working in. The following table
compares the default values between ANSYS and the ANSYS Workbench. See your ANSYS sales representative
for more information about ANSYS Workbench.

Table 3.1 Summary of Real Constant Defaults in Different Environments


Real Constants

Description

ANSYS Default

ANSYS
Workbench
Default

No.

Name

R1

Radius associated with target geometry [5]

n/a

R2

Radius associated with target geometry

n/a

1
Superelement thickness [5 (p. 28)]
3

FKN

Normal penalty stiffness factor

[1]

FTOLN

Penetration tolerance factor

0.1

0.1

ICONT

Initial contact closure

PINB

Pinball region

[2]

[2]

PMAX

Upper limit of initial penetration

PMIN

Lower limit of initial penetration

TAUMAX

Maximum friction stress

1.00E+20

1.00E+20

10

CNOF

Contact surface offset

11

FKOP

Contact opening stiffness or


Damping coefficient

1
0

1
0

12

FKT

Tangent penalty stiffness factor

13

COHE

Contact cohesion

14

TCC

Thermal contact conductance

[3]

15

FHTG

Frictional heating factor

16

SBCT

Stefan-Boltzmann constant

n/a

17

RDVF

Radiation view factor

n/a

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


Real Constants

Description

ANSYS Default

ANSYS
Workbench
Default

No.

Name

18

FWGT

Heat distribution weighing factor

0.5

0.5

19

ECC

Electric contact conductance

[7]

20

FHEG

Joule dissipation weighting factor

n/a

21

FACT

Static/dynamic ratio

22

DC

Exponential decay coefficient

23

SLTO

Allowable elastic slip

1%

1%

24

TNOP

Maximum allowable tensile contact


pressure

[6]

[6]

25

TOLS

Target edge extension factor

[4]

[4]

26

MCC

Magnetic contact permeance

n/a

27

PPCN

Pressure-penetration criterion

n/a

28

FPAT

Fluid penetration acting time

0.01

n/a

29

COR

Coefficient of restitution

30

STRM

Load step number for ramping penetration

1.

FKN = 10 for bonded. For all other, FKN = 1.0, but if bonded and other contact behavior exists, FKN =
1 for all.

2.

Depends on contact behavior (rigid vs. flex target), NLGEOM,ON or OFF, KEYOPT(9) setting, KEYOPT(12)
setting, and the value of CNOF (see Using PINB (p. 51)).

3.

Calculated as a function of highest conductivity and overall model size.

4.

10% of target length for NLGEOM,OFF.


2% of target length for NLGEOM,ON.

5.

R1 and R2 are used to define the target element geometry. See Defining Target Element Geometry (p. 15)
and the target element descriptions (TARGE169 and TARGE170) for details on how they are used for
different geometries.

6.

TNOP defaults to the force convergence tolerance divided by contact area at contact nodes.

7.

Calculated as a function of lowest resistivity and overall model size.


Command(s): R
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Real Constants

3.9.1.1. Positive and Negative Real Constant Values


For the real constants FKN, FTOLN, ICONT, PINB, PMAX, PMIN, FKOP, FKT, SLTO, and TNOP, you can specify
either a positive or negative value. ANSYS interprets a positive value as a scaling factor and interprets a
negative value as the absolute value. ANSYS uses the depth of the underlying element as the reference value
to be used for ICONT, FTOLN, PINB, PMAX, and PMIN. For example, a positive value of 0.1 for ICONT indicates
an initial closure factor of 0.1 x depth of the underlying element. However, a negative value of 0.1 indicates

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3.9.2. Element KEYOPTS


an actual adjustment band of 0.1 units. Contact related settings (ICONT, FTOLN, PINB, PMAX, PMIN, FKN,
FKT, SLTO) are always averaged across all contact elements in a contact pair.
Figure 3.10 (p. 29) shows the depth of the underlying element for a solid element. If the underlying elements
are shell or beam elements, the depth will usually be 4 times the element thickness.

Figure 3.10 Depth of the Underlying Element

Each contact pair has a pair-based depth which is obtained by averaging the depth of each contact element
across all the contact elements in a contact pair. This can avoid the problem of very different element-based
depths when there are meshes with large variations in element sizes.

Note
When the contact pair depth is too small (for example, 10-5), the machine precision may not
guarantee the accuracy of penetration to be calculated. You should scale the length unit in the
model.

3.9.2. Element KEYOPTS


Each contact element includes several KEYOPTS. We recommend using the default settings, which are suitable
for most contact problems. For some specific applications, you can override the defaults. The element KEYOPTS
allow you to control several aspects of contact behavior.

Degrees of freedom (KEYOPT(1))

Contact algorithm (defaults to augmented Lagrangian) (KEYOPT(2))

Stress state when superelements are present (KEYOPT(3)) for 2-D surface-to-surface contact (see note
below for other meanings of KEYOPT(3))

Location of contact detection point (KEYOPT(4))

CNOF Automated adjustment (KEYOPT(5))

Contact stiffness variation range (KEYOPT(6))

Time step control and impact constraints (KEYOPT(7))

Asymmetric contact selection (KEYOPT(8))


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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

Effect of initial penetration or gap (KEYOPT(9))

Contact stiffness update (KEYOPT(10))

Shell thickness effect (KEYOPT(11)) (not applicable to CONTA176 or CONTA177)

Behavior of contact surface (rough, bonded, etc.) (KEYOPT(12))

Behavior of fluid penetration load (KEYOPT(14))

Note
For node-to-surface contact (CONTA175), KEYOPT(3) specifies the contact model. For line-to-line
contact (CONTA176), KEYOPT(3) specifies the type of beam-to-beam contact. KEYOPT(3) is not
used for line-to-surface contact (CONTA177).
KEYOPT defaults can vary depending on the environment you are working in. The following table compares
the default values between ANSYS, the ANSYS Contact Wizard, and the ANSYS Workbench. See your ANSYS
sales representative for more information about ANSYS Workbench.

Table 3.2 Summary of KEYOPT Defaults in Different Environments


KEYOPT

Description

ANSYS

ANSYS
Contact
Wizard

ANSYS Workbench Default Linear


(bonded, no
sep)

ANSYS Workbench, Default Nonlinear (standard,


rough)

Selects DOF*

Manual

Auto

Auto

Auto

Contact Algorithm

Aug.
Lagr.

Aug.
Lagr.

Pure Penalty

Pure Penalty

Stress state when superele- no sument is present


per
elem

no super
elem

n/a

n/a

Location of contact detection point

gauss

gauss

gauss

gauss

CNOF/ICONT adjustment

No adjust

No adjust

No adjust

No adjust

Contact stiffnes variation

Use default
range

Use default
range

Use default
range

Use default
range

Element level time increment control

No control

No control

No control

No control

Asymmetric contact selection

No action

No action

No action

No action

Effect of initial penetration Include


or gap
all

Include
all

Exclude all

Include all

10

Contact stiffness update

Between Between Between


load
iteraload steps
steps
tions

Between load
steps

11

Beam/shell thickness effect

Exclude

Exclude

30

Exclude

Exclude

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3.9.3. Selecting a Contact Algorithm (KEYOPT(2))


KEYOPT

Description

ANSYS

ANSYS
Contact
Wizard

ANSYS Workbench Default Linear


(bonded, no
sep)

ANSYS Workbench, Default Nonlinear (standard,


rough)

12

Behavior of contact surface

Standard

Standard

Bonded

n/a

14

Behavior of fluid penetration load

Iterationbased

Iterationbased

n/a

n/a

*Manual: Requires user to define.


Auto: Selection is based on DOF of underlying element.
Command(s): KEYOPT, ET
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Element Type> Add/Edit/Delete

3.9.3. Selecting a Contact Algorithm (KEYOPT(2))


3.9.3.1. Background
For surface-to-surface contact elements, ANSYS offers several different contact algorithms:

Penalty method (KEYOPT(2) = 1)

Augmented Lagrangian (default) (KEYOPT(2) = 0)

Lagrange multiplier on contact normal and penalty on tangent (KEYOPT(2) = 3)

Pure Lagrange multiplier on contact normal and tangent (KEYOPT(2) = 4)

Internal multipoint constraint (MPC) (KEYOPT(2) = 2)

The penalty method uses a contact "spring" to establish a relationship between the two contact surfaces.
The spring stiffness is called the contact stiffness. This method uses the following real constants: FKN and
FKT for all values of KEYOPT(10), plus FTOLN and SLTO if KEYOPT(10) = 2.
The augmented Lagrangian method (which is the default) is an iterative series of penalty methods. The
contact tractions (pressure and frictional stresses) are augmented during equilibrium iterations so that the
final penetration is smaller than the allowable tolerance (FTOLN). Compared to the penalty method, the
augmented Lagrangian method usually leads to better conditioning and is less sensitive to the magnitude
of the contact stiffness. However, in some analyses, the augmented Lagrangian method may require additional iterations, especially if the deformed mesh becomes too distorted.
The pure Lagrange multiplier method enforces zero penetration when contact is closed and "zero slip" when
sticking contact occurs. The pure Lagrange multiplier method does not require contact stiffness, FKN and
FKT. Instead it requires chattering control parameters, FTOLN and TNOP. This method adds contact traction
to the model as additional degrees of freedom and requires additional iterations to stabilize contact conditions.
It often increases the computational cost compared to the augmented Lagrangian method.
An alternative algorithm is the Lagrange multiplier method applied on the contact normal and the penalty
method (tangential contact stiffness) on the frictional plane. This method enforces zero penetration and allows
a small amount of slip for the sticking contact condition. It requires chattering control parameters, FTOLN
and TNOP, as well as the maximum allowable elastic slip parameter SLTO.
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


Another method, the internal multipoint constraint (MPC) algorithm, is used in conjunction with bonded
contact (KEYOPT(12) = 5 or 6) and no separation contact (KEYOPT(12) = 4) to model several types of contact
assemblies and kinematic constraints. See Multipoint Constraints and Assemblies (p. 101) for more information
on how to use this feature.

Note
The Lagrange multiplier methods (KEYOPT(2) = 3, 4) and MPC approach (KEYOPT(2) = 2) do not
support the Gauss point detection option (KEYOPT(4) = 0) for surface-to-surface contact. They
support the nodal detection options for surface-to-surface contact and node-to-surface contact.
When using these options, be careful not to overconstrain the model. The model is overconstrained
when a contact node has prescribed boundary conditions, CE and CP equations. ANSYS usually
detects and eliminates the overconstraints. However, there is no guarantee that the program will
eliminate all the cases of overconstraint. You should always verify your model carefully to address
this issue. The Lagrange multiplier also introduces more degrees of freedom which may result in
spurious modes for modal and linear eigenvalue buckling analyses. The augmented Lagrangian
method would be a better choice for these analysis types.

Note
The Lagrange multiplier methods (KEYOPT(2) = 3, 4) introduce zero diagonal terms in the stiffness
matrix. Any iterative solver (PCG or AMG) will encounter a preconditioning matrix singularity with
these methods. Therefore, you should switch to sparse solver.

Note
If overconstraint occurs in bonded shell-shell assemblies when using the MPC algorithm, you can
switch to the penalty method or the augmented Lagrangian method. See Bonded Contact for
Shell-Shell Assemblies (p. 54) for more information.

Note
For 3-D higher order contact elements (CONTA174), the Lagrange multiplier method is applied
at each contact node (including mid-side nodes), but the penalty method is applied on the center
of the contact elements, even when KEYOPT(2)=3,4 is set.

3.9.4. Determining Contact Stiffness and Allowable Penetration


3.9.4.1. Background
For the augmented Lagrangian method and penalty method, normal and tangential contact stiffnesses are
required. The amount of penetration between contact and target surfaces depends on the normal stiffness.
The amount of slip in sticking contact depends on the tangential stiffness. Higher stiffness values decrease
the amount of penetration/slip, but can lead to ill-conditioning of the global stiffness matrix and to convergence difficulties. Lower stiffness values can lead to a certain amount of penetration/slip and produce an
inaccurate solution. Ideally, you want a high enough stiffness that the penetration/slip is acceptably small,
but a low enough stiffness that the problem will be well-behaved in terms of convergence.

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3.9.4. Determining Contact Stiffness and Allowable Penetration


ANSYS provides default values for contact stiffnesses (FKN, FKT), allowable penetration (FTOLN), and allowable
slip (SLTO). In most cases, you do not need to define the contact stiffness. In addition, we recommend that
you use KEYOPT(10) = 2 to allow the program to update the contact stiffness automatically.

3.9.4.2. Using FKN and FTOLN


For certain contact problems, you may choose to use the real constant FKN to define a normal contact
stiffness factor. The usual factor range is from 0.01-1.0, with a default of 1.0. The default value is appropriate
for bulk deformation. If bending deformation dominates, we recommend using a smaller value (0.1).

Note
The default contact normal stiffness is affected by defined material properties, element size, and
the total number of degrees of freedom in the model. Many factors may be applied to the actual
contact normal stiffness during the solution. The default contact stiffness listed in the Contact
Manager or by the CNCHECK command may be different from the actual contact stiffness reported
by the ETABLE command. You should check the value reported by ETABLE to confirm that the
appropriate contact normal stiffness is used.
Use real constant FTOLN in conjunction with the augmented Lagrangian method. FTOLN is a tolerance factor
to be applied in the direction of the surface normal. The range for this factor is less than 1.0 (usually less
than 0.2), with a default of 0.1, and is based on the depth of the underlying solid, shell, or beam element
(see Figure 3.10 (p. 29)). This factor is used to determine if penetration compatibility is satisfied. Contact
compatibility is satisfied if penetration is within an allowable tolerance (FTOLN times the depth of underlying
elements). The depth is defined by the average depth of each individual contact element in the pair. If ANSYS
detects any penetration larger than this tolerance, the global solution is still considered unconverged, even
though the residual forces and displacement increments have met convergence criteria. You can also define
an absolute allowable penetration by specifying a negative value for FTOLN.

Note
When the contact stiffness is too large (for example, 1016), the machine precision may not guarantee good conditioning of the global stiffness matrix. In this case, you should scale the force
unit in the model if possible.

Note
FTOLN is also used in the Lagrange multiplier methods (KEYOPT(2) = 3, 4) as a chattering control
parameter.

3.9.4.3. Using FKT and SLTO


ANSYS automatically defines a default tangential contact stiffness that is proportional to MU and the normal
stiffness FKN. The default tangential stiffness corresponds to a default value of FKT = 1.0. A positive value
for FKT is a factor; a negative value indicates an absolute value of tangential stiffness.
For KEYOPT(10) = 2, or when the Lagrange multiplier on normal and penalty on tangent option is used
(KEYOPT(2) = 3), ANSYS updates tangential contact stiffness based on current contact normal pressure, PRES,
and maximum allowable elastic slip, SLTO (KT = FKT*MU* PRES/SLTO). The real constant SLTO is used to
control maximum sliding distance when FKT is updated at each iteration. ANSYS provides default tolerance

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


values which work well in most cases. You can override the default values for SLTO (1% of average contact
length in pair) by defining a scaling factor (positive value when using command input) or an absolute value
(negative value when using command input). A larger value will enhance convergence but compromise accuracy. Based on the tolerance, current normal pressure, and friction coefficient, the tangential contact
stiffness FKT can be obtained automatically. In certain cases users can override FKT by defining a scaling
factor (positive input value) or absolute value (negative input value) (see Positive and Negative Real Constants
for more information).

Note
FKN, FTOLN, FKT, and SLTO can be modified from one load step to another. They can also be
adjusted in a restart run. Determining a good stiffness value may require some experimentation
on your part. To arrive at a good stiffness value, you can try the following procedure as a "trial
run":
1.

Use a low value for the contact stiffness to start. In general, it is better to underestimate
this value rather than overestimate it. Penetration problems resulting from a low stiffness
are easier to fix than convergence difficulties that arise from a high stiffness.

2.

Run the analysis up to a fraction of the final load (just enough to get the contact fully established).

3.

Check the penetration and the number of equilibrium iterations used in each substep. If
the global convergence difficulty is caused by too much penetration (rather than by residual
forces and displacement increments), FKN may be underestimated or FTOLN may be too
small. If the global convergence requires many equilibrium iterations for achieving convergence tolerances of residual forces and displacements rather than the resulting penetration,
FKN or FKT may be overestimated.

4.

Adjust FKN, FKT, FTOLN, or SLTO as necessary and run the full analysis. If the penetration
control becomes dominant in the global equilibrium iterations (that is, if more iterations
were used to converge the problem to within the penetration tolerance than to converge
the residual forces), you may increase FTOLN to permit more allowable penetration or increase FKN.

Note
For bonded contact and rough contact, ANSYS uses MU = 1.0 to calculate tangential contact
stiffness.

Note
Generally, the contact stiffness, FKN and FKT, has units of FORCE/LENGTH3. However, for contact
force-based models the contact stiffness has units FORCE/LENGTH. This applies to CONTA175
with KEYOPT(3) = 0, and to CONTA176 and CONTA177.

3.9.4.4. Using KEYOPT(10)


The normal and tangential contact stiffness can be updated during the course of an analysis, either automatically (due to large strain effects that change the underlying element's stiffness) or explicitly (by user-specified
FKN or FKT values). KEYOPT(10) governs how the normal and tangential contact stiffness is updated when

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3.9.4. Determining Contact Stiffness and Allowable Penetration


the augmented Lagrangian or penalty method is used. In most cases we recommend that you use KEYOPT(10)
= 2 to allow the program to update contact stiffnesses automatically. The possible settings for KEYOPT(10)
are:

KEYOPT(10) = 0: the contact stiffness will be updated at each load step if FKN or FKT is redefined by
the user. Stiffness and other settings (ICONT, FTOLN, SLTO, PINB, PMAX, and PMIN) are averaged across
contact elements in a contact pair. The default contact stiffness is determined by underlying element
depth and material properties.

KEYOPT(10) = 2: the normal contact stiffness will be updated at each iteration based on the current
mean stress of the underlying elements and the allowable penetration, FTOLN, except in the very first
iteration. The default normal contact stiffness for the first iteration is the same as described for KEYOPT(10)
= 0. If bisections occur in the beginning of the analysis, the normal contact stiffness will be reduced by
a factor of 0.2 for each bisection. The tangential contact stiffness will be updated at each iteration based
on the current contact pressure, MU, and allowable slip (SLTO).

Note
When a Lagrange multiplier method (KEYOPT(2) = 3, 4) or MPC algorithm (KEYOPT(2) = 2) is used,
KEYOPT(10) is ignored.

3.9.4.5. Using KEYOPT(6)


The default method of updating normal contact stiffness is suitable for most applications. However, the
variational range of the contact stiffness may not be wide enough to handle certain contact situations. In
the case of a very small penetration tolerance (FTOLN), a larger normal contact stiffness is often needed.
Furthermore, to stabilize the initial contact condition and to prevent rigid body motion, a smaller normal
contact stiffness is required.
The allowed contact stiffness variation is intended to enhance stiffness updating when KEYOPT(10) = 2 by
calculating an optimal allowable range in stiffness for use in the updating scheme. To increase the stiffness
variational range, set KEYOPT(6) = 1 to make a nominal refinement to the allowable stiffness range, or KEYOPT(6) = 2 to make an aggressive refinement to the allowable stiffness range.

3.9.4.6. Chattering Control Parameters


The Lagrange multiplier methods (KEYOPT(2) = 3, 4) do not require contact stiffness, FKN and FKT. Instead
they require chattering control parameters, FTOLN and TNOP, by which ANSYS assumes that the contact
status remains unchanged. FTOLN is the maximum allowable penetration and TNOP is the maximum allowable
tensile contact pressure.

Note
A negative contact pressure occurs when the contact status is closed. A tensile contact pressure
(positive) refers to a separation between the contact surfaces, but not necessarily an open contact
status. However, the sign of the contact pressure is switched during postprocessing.

Note
For contact force-based models, TNOP is the maximum allowable tensile contact force. This applies
to CONTA175 with KEYOPT(3) = 0, and to CONTA176 and CONTA177.

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


The behavior can be described as follows:

If the contact status from the previous iteration is open and the current calculated penetration is
smaller than FTOLN, then contact remains open. Otherwise the contact status switches to closed and
another iteration is processed.

If the contact status from the previous iteration is closed and the current calculated contact pressure
is positive but smaller than TNOP, then contact remains closed. If the tensile contact pressure is larger
than TNOP, then the contact status changes from closed to open and ANSYS continues to the next iteration.

ANSYS will provide reasonable defaults for FTOLN and TNOP. FTOLN defaults to the displacement convergence
tolerance. TNOP defaults to the force convergence tolerance divided by contact area at contact nodes.
Keep in mind the following when providing values for FTOLN and TNOP:

A positive value is a scaling factor applied to the default values.

A negative value is used as an absolute value (which overrides the default).

The objective of FTOLN and TNOP is to provide stability to models which exhibit contact chattering due to
changing contact status. If the values you use for these tolerances are too small, the solution will require
more iterations. However, if the values are too large, the accuracy of the solution will be affected since a
certain amount of penetration or tensile contact force is allowed.

3.9.5. Choosing a Friction Model


3.9.5.1. Background
In the basic Coulomb friction model, two contacting surfaces can carry shear stresses up to a certain magnitude
across their interface before they start sliding relative to each other. This state is known as sticking. The
Coulomb friction model defines an equivalent shear stress , at which sliding on the surface begins as a
fraction of the contact pressure p ( = p + COHE, where is the friction coefficient and COHE specifies the
cohesion sliding resistance). Once the shear stress is exceeded, the two surfaces will slide relative to each
other. This state is known as sliding. The sticking/sliding calculations determine when a point transitions
from sticking to sliding or vice versa.
As an alternative to the program-supplied friction model, you can define your own friction model with the
USERFRIC subroutine (see User-defined Friction (p. 39)).
For frictionless, rough, and bonded contact, the contact element stiffness matrices are symmetric. Contact
problems involving friction produce unsymmetric stiffnesses. Using an unsymmetric solver is more computationally expensive than a symmetric solver for each iteration. For this reason, ANSYS uses a symmetrization
algorithm by which most frictional contact problems can be solved using solvers for symmetric systems. If
frictional stresses have a substantial influence on the overall displacement field and the magnitude of the
frictional stresses is highly solution dependent, the symmetric approximation to the stiffness matrix may
provide a low rate of convergence. In such cases, choose the unsymmetric solution option (NROPT,UNSYM)
to improve convergence.

3.9.5.2. Coefficient of Friction


The interface coefficient of friction, MU, is used for the Coulomb friction model. You can input MU as a material property for the contact elements. Use MU = 0 for frictionless contact. For rough or bonded contact
(KEYOPT(12) = 1, 3, 5, or 6; see Selecting Surface Interaction Models), ANSYS assumes infinite frictional resistance regardless of the specified value of MU. MU can have dependence on temperature, time, normal
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3.9.5. Choosing a Friction Model


pressure, sliding distance, or sliding relative velocity. Suitable combinations of up to two fields can be used
to define dependency; for example, temperature only, temperature and sliding distance, or sliding relative
velocity and normal pressure. If the underlying element is a superelement (MATRIX50), the material property
set must be the same as the one used for the original elements that were assembled into the superelement.
ANSYS provides two models for Coulomb friction: isotropic friction (2-D and 3-D contact) and orthotropic
friction (3-D contact). The isotropic friction model is based on a single coefficient of friction, MU. You can
use either TB command input (recommended method) or the MP command to specify MU. The orthotropic
friction model is based on two coefficients of friction, MU1 and MU2. Use TB command input to specify MU1
and MU2 in two principal directions (see the element descriptions for CONTA173, CONTA174, CONTA175,
CONTA176, and CONTA177 for a description of the principal directions for each individual element). See
Contact Friction (TB,FRIC) in the Element Reference for details on how to specify the coefficients of friction.

3.9.5.3. Using TAUMAX, FACT, DC, and COHE


ANSYS provides one extension of classical Coulomb friction: real constant TAUMAX is maximum contact
friction with units of stress. This maximum contact friction stress can be introduced so that, regardless of
the magnitude of normal contact pressure, sliding will occur if the friction stress reaches this value. You
typically use TAUMAX when the contact pressure becomes very large (such as in bulk metal forming processes).
TAUMAX defaults to 1.0e20. Empirical data is often the best source for TAUMAX. Its value may be close to
y
3

, where y is the yield stress of the material being deformed.

Another real constant used for the friction law is the cohesion, COHE (default COHE = 0), which has units of
stress. It provides sliding resistance, even with zero normal pressure (see Figure 3.11 (p. 37)).

Figure 3.11 Sliding Contact Resistance

Two other real constants, FACT and DC are involved in specifying static and dynamic friction coefficients,
as described in the next section.

3.9.5.4. Static and Dynamic Friction Coefficients


The coefficient of friction can depend on the relative velocity of the surfaces in contact. Typically, the static
coefficient of friction is higher than the dynamic coefficient of friction.
ANSYS provides the following exponential decay friction model:

= MU (1 + (FACT 1)exp( DC Vrel ))


where:
= coefficient of friction.
MU = dynamic coefficient of friction.
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


FACT = ratio of static to dynamic coefficients of friction. It defaults to the minimum value of 1.0
DC = decay coefficient, which has units of time/length. Therefore, time has some meaning in a static
analysis. DC defaults to zero. When DC is zero, the equation is rewritten to be = MU for the case of
sliding and = FACT*MU for the case of sticking.
Vrel = slip rate calculated by ANSYS.
For the isotropic friction model, MU is input using the MP command or the TB command as explained above.
For orthotropic friction, MU is the equivalent coefficient of friction computed from MU1 and MU2 which are
specified with TB command input:
2
(1 + 2 )
2
2

Figure 3.12 (p. 38) shows the exponential decay curve where the static coefficient of friction is given by:

FACT MU

Figure 3.12 Friction Decay

MU
V rel
You can determine the decay coefficient if you know the static and dynamic coefficients of friction and at
least one data point (1 ; Vrel1). The equation for friction decay can be rearranged to give:

DC =

38

1 MU
n

Vrel1
(FACT 1) MU
1

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3.9.6. Selecting Location of Contact Detection


If you do not specify a decay coefficient and FACT is greater than 1.0, the coefficient of friction will change
suddenly from the static to the dynamic value as soon as contact reaches the sliding state. This behavior is
not recommended because the discontinuity may lead to convergence difficulties.

3.9.5.5. Forced Frictional Sliding Using Velocity Input


In a static analysis, you can model steady-state frictional sliding between two flexible bodies or between a
flexible and a rigid body with different velocities. In this case the sliding velocities no longer follow the
nodal displacements, and they are predefined through the CMROTATE command. This command sets the
velocities on the nodes of the element component as an initial condition at the start of a load step. ANSYS
determines the sliding direction based on the direction of the sliding velocities. The amplitude of the velocities does not affect the solution.
This feature is primarily useful for generating sliding contact at frictional contact interfaces in a brake squeal
analysis. In this case, the contact pair elements (either the contact elements or the target elements) on the
brake rotor need to be included in the rotating element component (CM command) that is specified on the
CMROTATE command. We recommend that you include only the contact elements or only the target elements
in the element component.
Velocities defined by CMROTATE will be ignored for the following contact definitions:
Frictionless contact
Rough contact (KEYOPT(12) = 1)
Bonded contact (KEYOPT(12) = 2, 5, 6)
MPC contact (KEYOPT(12) = 2)

Note
You should always verify the sliding direction when the velocities defined by CMROTATE are
applied on nodes that are shared by more than one frictional contact pair. In this situation, you
can redefine any contact elements that have a potentially incorrect sliding direction as frictionless
contact.

3.9.5.6. User-defined Friction


You can write a USERFRIC subroutine to program your own friction model for 2-D and 3-D contact elements
(CONTA171, CONTA172, CONTA173, CONTA174, CONTA175, CONTA176, CONTA177, and CONTA178). See
User-defined Friction in the Element Reference for more information on how to use this feature. See also the
Guide to ANSYS User Programmable Features for a detailed description of the USERFRIC subroutine.

3.9.6. Selecting Location of Contact Detection


3.9.6.1. Background
Contact detection points are located at the integration points of the contact elements which are interior to
the element surface. The contact element is constrained against penetration into the target surface at its
integration points. However, the target surface can, in principle, penetrate through into the contact surface,
see Figure 3.13 (p. 40).

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

Figure 3.13 Contact Detection Located at Gauss Point

ANSYS surface-to-surface contact elements use Gauss integration points as a default, which generally provide
more accurate results than the nodal detection scheme, which uses the nodes themselves as the integration
points. The node-to-surface contact element, CONTA175, the line-to-line contact element, CONTA176, and
the line-to-surface contact element, CONTA177, always use the nodal detection scheme.

3.9.6.2. Using KEYOPT(4) and TOLS


The nodal detection algorithms require the smoothing of the contact surface (KEYOPT(4) = 1) or the
smoothing of the target surface (KEYOPT(4) = 2), which is quite time consuming. You should use this option
only to deal with corner, point-surface, or edge-surface contact (see Figure 3.14 (p. 40)). KEYOPT(4) = 1 specifies
that the contact normal be perpendicular to the contact surface. KEYOPT(4) = 2 specifies that the contact
normal be perpendicular to the target surface. Use this option (KEYOPT(4) = 2) when the target surface is
smoother than the contact surface.

Figure 3.14 Contact Detection Point Location at Nodal Point

Be aware, however, that using nodes as the contact detection points can lead to other convergence difficulties,
such as "node slippage," where the node slips off the edge of the target surface, see Figure 3.15 (p. 41). In
order to prevent node slippage, you can use real constant TOLS to extend the target surface when the default
setting still cannot avoid the problem. For most point-to-surface contact problems, we recommend using
CONTA175; see Node-to-Surface Contact (p. 71) later in this guide.

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3.9.6. Selecting Location of Contact Detection

Figure 3.15 Node Slippage Using Nodal Integration KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2

Smoothing is required for nodal detection algroithms, and it is performed by averaging surface normals
connected to the node. As a result, the variation of the surface normal is continuous over the surface, which
leads to a better calculation of friction behavior and a better convergence.
Real constant TOLS is used to add a small tolerance that will internally extend the edge of the target surface
when you define the contact detection at the nodal point (KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2). TOLS is useful for problems
where contact nodes are likely to lie on the edge of targets (as at symmetry planes or for models generated
in a node-to-node contact pattern). In these situations, the contact node may repeatedly "slip" off the target
surface and go completely out of contact, resulting in convergence difficulties from oscillations. Units for
TOLS are percent (1.0 implies a 1.0% increase in the target edge length). A small value of TOLS will usually
prevent this situation from occurring. The default value is 10 for small deflection and 2 for large deflection
(NLGEOM, ON).

Note
The definition of KEYOPT(4) in node-to-surface contact element CONTA175 is different. KEYOPT(4)
= 1 for surface-to-surface contact is equivalent to KEYOPT(4) = 1 for node-to-surface contact.
However, KEYOPT(4) = 2 for surface-to-surface contact is equivalent to KEYOPT(4) = 0 for nodeto surface contact. See KEYOPT(4) (p. 73). For the 3-D line-to-line contact element CONTA176 and
the 3-D line-to-surface contact element CONTA177, KEYOPT(4) is not used to select the location
of contact detection, and the contact normal is always perpendicular to both the contact and
target surfaces. For CONTA176 and CONTA177, KEYOPT(4) is used to specify a surface-based
constraint type.

3.9.6.3. Using the Surface Projection Based Contact Method (KEYOPT(4) = 3)


You can define the surface projection contact method by setting KEYOPT(4) = 3 for CONTA173 and CONTA174.
For this method, the contact detection remains at contact nodal points. This option enforces a contact
constraint on an overlapping region of the contact and target surfaces (see Figure 3.16 (p. 42)) rather than
on individual contact nodes (KEYOPT(4) = 1, 2) or Gauss points (KEYOPT(4) = 0). The contact penetration/gap
is computed over the overlapping region in an average sense. The advantages of using this option are the
following:

In general, it provides more accurate contact tractions and stresses of underlying elements compared
with other KEYOPT(4) settings.
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

The results are less sensitive to the designation of the contact and target surface.

It satisfies moment equilibrium when an offset exists between contact and target surfaces with friction.

Contact forces do not jump when contact nodes slide off the edge of target surfaces. The real constant
TOLS is not used with this option.

Figure 3.16 Surface Projection Based Contact


Contact element

Overlapping area

Target element
(1) Contact and target
element meshes

(2) Original element


positions

(3) Overlapping region


after projection

There are certain disadvantages to using surface projection based contact, as follows:

This method is computationally more expensive since more nodes are included in each contact constraint
condition, especially if higher order contact/target elements are used in the model. This effect will be
more obvious when a modal has a large percentage of contact/target elements, or when the target
elements are much more refined than the contact elements.

This method calculates the penetration/gap over the contacting area in an average sense. When a
model has corner or edge contact, the averaged penetration/gap could be quite different than the real
geometric penetration observed at contact nodes. In this situation, mesh refinement is usually required
in order to achieve an accurate solution.

Note
The surface projection contact method currently does not support the following:
1.
2.

Thermal convection modeling

3.

Thermal radiation modeling

4.

Transient dynamics using the HHT algorithm

5.

Rigid surfaces defined by primitive target segments

6.

42

The MPC contact option (KEYOPT(2) = 2)

3-D contact/target elements with partially dropped midside nodes (dropping all midside
nodes is supported)

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3.9.7. Adjusting Initial Contact Conditions

3.9.7. Adjusting Initial Contact Conditions


3.9.7.1. Background
Rigid body motion is usually not a problem in dynamic analyses. However, in static analyses, rigid body
motion occurs when a body is not sufficiently restrained. "Zero or negative pivot" warning messages and
impractical, excessively large displacements indicate unconstrained motion in a static analysis.
In simulations where rigid body motions are constrained only by the presence of contact, you must ensure
that the contact pairs are in contact in the initial geometry. In other words, you want to build your model
so that the contact pairs are "just touching." However, you can encounter various problems in doing so:

Rigid body profiles are often complicated, making it difficult to determine where the first point of contact
might occur.

Small gaps between element meshes on both sides of the element pair can be introduced by numerical
round-off, even if the solid model is built in an initially-contacting state.

Small gaps can exist between the integration points of the contact elements and target surface elements.

For the same reasons, too much initial penetration between target and contact surfaces can occur. In such
cases, the contact elements may overestimate the contact forces, resulting in nonconvergence or in breakingaway of the components in contact.
The definition of initial contact is perhaps the most important aspect of building a contact analysis model.
Therefore, you should always issue the CNCHECK command before starting the solution to verify the initial
contact status. You may find that you need to adjust the initial contact conditions. ANSYS offers several
ways to adjust the initial contact conditions of a contact pair.

3.9.7.2. Using PMIN, PMAX, CNOF, ICONT, STRM. KEYOPT(5), and KEYOPT(9)
The following techniques can be performed independently or in combinations of one or more at the beginning
of the analysis. They are intended to eliminate small gaps or penetrations caused by numerical round-off
due to mesh generation. They are not intended to correct gross errors in either the mesh or in the geometric
data.
1.

Use real constant CNOF to specify a contact surface offset.


Specify a positive value to offset the entire contact surface towards the target surface. Use a negative
value to offset the contact surface away from the target surface.

Note
If user-defined values are input for both CNOF and PINB, you must ensure that PINB is
greater than CNOF. Otherwise, CNOF will be ignored. However, if a user-defined CNOF is
input and the PINB value is left at its default value, the PINB value will be adjusted so that
it is larger than the CNOF value, as described in Using PINB.

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

Note
For the CONTA177 line-to-surface element, CNOF can be used to model thickness of the
underlying beam elements. Input half of the beam thickness for CNOF to properly model
the thickness effects. See Accounting for Thickness Effect (CNOF and KEYOPT(11)) (p. 83) for
more information.
ANSYS can automatically provide the CNOF value to either just close the gap or reduce initial penetration. Set KEYOPT(5) as follows:
1: Closes the gap
2: Reduces initial penetration
3: Either closes the gap or reduces initial penetration
Tabular input can also be used to define CNOF. The tabular input can be defined as a function of time
and/or x,y,z location (in global or local coordinates). As an example of when tabular input may be
useful, consider the case of a CAD geometry based on nominal values. The geometry may lack a slight
curvature variation that is important for analysis purposes. Moving nodes to the actual positions can
be a tedious process, yet using the original geometry and neglecting the slight variation in curvature
will result in a different contacting area. Consequently, use of CNOF as a function of location allows
you to easily include curvature that varies with location without having to modify the original CAD
geometry.
2.

Use the real constant ICONT to specify a small initial contact closure. This is the depth of an "adjustment
band" around the target surface. A positive value for ICONT indicates a scaling factor relative to the
depth of the underlying elements. A negative value indicates an absolute contact closure value. The
value of ICONT defaults to zero if KEYOPT(5) = 0, 1, 2, or 3. (The ICONT default is different when KEYOPT(12) = 6 for bonded-initial contact; see Selecting Surface Interaction Models (p. 52) for more information). If KEYOPT(5) = 4, ANSYS provides a small (but meaningful) value for ICONT according to the
geometric dimensions, and prints a warning message stating what value was assigned. Any contact
detection points that fall within this adjustment band are internally shifted to be on the target surface
(see Figure 3.17 (p. 45)(a)). Only a very small correction is suggested; otherwise, severe discontinuity
may occur (see Figure (b)).
The difference between CNOF and ICONT is that the former shifts the entire contact surface with the
distance value CNOF, the latter moves all initially open contact points which are inside of adjustment
band ICONT onto the target surface.

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3.9.7. Adjusting Initial Contact Conditions

Figure 3.17 Contact Surface Adjustment With ICONT

(a) before adjustment

Contact
Surface
Target Surface

(b) after adjustment

ICONT
Contact
Surface

Contact
Surface

Potential
discontinuity
Target Surface

3.

Use real constants PMIN and PMAX to specify an initial allowable penetration range. When either PMAX
or PMIN is specified, ANSYS brings the target surface into a state of initial contact at the beginning of
the analysis (see Figure 3.18 (p. 46)). If the initial penetration is larger than PMAX, ANSYS adjusts the
target surface to reduce penetration. If the initial penetration is smaller than PMIN (and within the
pinball region), ANSYS adjusts the target surface to ensure initial contact. Initial adjustment for contact
status is performed only in translational modes.
Such adjustment of initial contact status will be performed for a rigid target surface that has either
prescribed loads or displacements. Similarly, a target surface that has no boundary conditions specified
may also be adjusted for initial contact.
When all the target surface nodes have a prescribed value of zero, the initial adjustment using PMAX
and PMIN will not be performed.
Note that ANSYS treats applicable degrees of freedom for target surface nodes independently. For
example, if you specify the UX degree of freedom to be "zero," then no initial adjustment is possible
along the X direction. However, the PMAX and PMIN options will still be activated in the Y and Z directions.
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


The initial status adjustment is an iterative process. ANSYS uses a maximum of 20 iterations. If the
target surface cannot be brought into an acceptable penetration range (i.e., in the range of PMIN to
PMAX), the analysis proceeds with the original geometry. ANSYS issues a warning message in such
circumstances, and you may need to manually adjust your initial geometry.
Figure 3.19 (p. 46) illustrates a problem in which initial contact adjustment iteration will fail. The UY
degree of freedom for the target has been restrained. Therefore, the only possible adjustment for initial
contact is in the X direction. However, in this problem, any movement of the rigid target surface in
the X direction will not establish initial contact.
For flexible-to-flexible contact, this technique not only moves the entire target surface but also moves
the whole deformable body which attaches to the target surface. Make sure there is no other contact
surface or target surface connecting with the deformable body.

Figure 3.18 Contact Surface Adjustment (PMIN, PMAX)

Figure 3.19 A Scenario in Which Initial Adjustment Will Fail

4.

Set KEYOPT(9) to adjust initial penetration or gap; see Figure 3.20 (p. 48).
True initial penetration includes two parts:

46

Penetration or gap due to geometry

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3.9.7. Adjusting Initial Contact Conditions


Penetration or gap due to user-defined contact surface offset (CNOF).
See Figure 3.21 (p. 48).
KEYOPT(9) provides the following capabilities:

To include initial penetration from both geometry and contact surface offset, set KEYOPT(9) = 0.
This is the default.

To ignore initial penetration from both effects, set KEYOPT(9) = 1. When KEYOPT(12) = 4 or 5, this
setting for KEYOPT(9) will also ignore the initial force in open-gap springs, thus creating an initially
"perfect" contacting surface having no initial forces acting across the contact interface.

To include the defined contact surface offset (CNOF) but ignore the initial penetration due to
geometry, set KEYOPT(9) = 3. When KEYOPT(12) = 4 or 5, this setting for KEYOPT(9) will also ignore
the initial force in open-gap springs, thus creating an initially "perfect" contacting surface having
no initial forces acting across the contact interface.

For problems such as an interference fit, over-penetration is expected. These problems often have
convergence difficulties if the initial penetration is step-applied in the first load step. You may overcome
convergence difficulties by ramping the initial penetration over the first load step, see Figure 3.22 (p. 49).
The following KEYOPT(9) settings provide ramped capabilities:

To ramp the total initial penetration (CNOF + the offset due to geometry), set KEYOPT(9) = 2.

To ramp the defined contact surface penetration, but ignore the penetration due to geometry, set
KEYOPT(9) = 4.

For both of the above KEYOPT(9) settings, you should also set KBC,0 and not specify any external loads
in the first load step. Also, be sure that the pinball region is big enough to capture the initial interference.
By default, the ramping options are active only within the first load step. However, you may have a
situation where there are multiple interference fits that you want to model sequentially (that is, the
interference present in each contact pair will be resolved in different load steps). You can define the
load step number in which the ramping option will take place for a given contact pair by using the
real constant STRM. For example, you may want to perform a different loading in load step 1, then
resolve an interference fit in load step 2 for one contact pair, and finally resolve an interference fit in
load step 3 for another contact pair. To accomplish this, you would set STRM = 2 for the first contact
pair and set STRM = 3 for the second contact pair. Note that contact will still be active prior to the
load step specified by the STRM real constant.
You can use the above techniques in conjunction with each other. For example, you may wish to set a very
precise initial penetration or gap but the initial coordinates of the finite element nodes may not be able to
provide sufficient precision. To accomplish this, you could:
1.

Use ICONT to move the initial open contact points just onto the target surface.

2.

Use CNOF to specify a penetration (positive value) or gap (negative value).

3.

Use KEYOPT(9) = 3 to resolve the initial penetration in the first substep (or KEYOPT(9) = 4 to gradually
resolve the initial penetration).

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

Figure 3.20 Ignoring Initial Penetration, KEYOPT(9) = 1

Figure 3.21 Components of True Penetration

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3.9.8. Physically Moving Contact Nodes Towards the Target Surface

Figure 3.22 Ramping Initial Interference

ANSYS provides a printout (in the output window or file or via the CNCHECK) of the model's initial contact
state for each target surface at the beginning of the analysis. This information is helpful for determining the
maximum penetration or minimum gap for each target surface.
If no contact is detected for a specific target surface, ANSYS issues a warning. This occurs when the target
surface is far from contact (i.e., outside of the pinball region), or when the contact/target elements have
been killed.
See Positive and Negative Real Constants for more information on these real constants.

3.9.8. Physically Moving Contact Nodes Towards the Target Surface


You can adjust the initial contact status in order to close the gap by doing one of the following:
(a) Define an initial contact adjustment via real constant ICONT. (ICONT may change the shape of the
contact detection surface.)
(b) Define a contact offset via real constant CNOF. (CNOF does not change the shape of the contact detection surface.)
(c) Ignore the penetration by setting KEYOPT(9) = 1. (KEYOPT(9) = 1 does change the shape of the contact
detection surface.)
However, these adjustment methods do not truly change the physical locations of contact nodes; rather,
the contact detection locations are adjusted.

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


The initial adjustment due to (a) is applied only once in the beginning of the contact analysis, where each
contact detection point within the ICONT range is made to be in initial contact with the target surface. The
contact adjustments due to (b) and (c) offset the entire contact detection surface to close any gap that is
present. In doing so, methods (b) and (c) introduce a "rigid region" between the contact and target surfaces
during the entire analysis, which can cause a certain amount of residual force if a large rotation appears at
the contact surface. This problem can be alleviated by issuing the CNCHECK,ADJUST command, which
physically moves contact nodes towards the target surface under the following circumstances:

Only when using the nodal detection option (KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2), or when using CONTA175 or CONTA177,
or when using CONTA176 with KEYOPT(3) = 0 (parallel beams).

Initially open contact nodes inside the ICONT zone.

Initially penetrated nodes with KEYOPT(9) = 1.

After issuing the CNCHECK,ADJUST command, the coordinates of the nodes that have been moved are
modified as shown in Figure 3.23 (p. 50). You can change other contact related settings in PREP7 (for example,
set KEYOPT(4) = 0 to use the Gauss detection option) and save the Jobname.DB file. Issuing the SAVE
command before issuing the CNCHECK,ADJUST command is recommended in order to resume the Jobname.DB file with the original contact configuration.
For those contact pairs whose contact nodes you do not wish to physically move towards target surface,
do not define KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2.

Figure 3.23 Effect of Moving Contact Nodes

3.9.9. Determining Contact Status and the Pinball Region


3.9.9.1. Background
The position and motion of a contact element relative to its associated target surface determines the contact
element status. ANSYS monitors each contact element and assigns a status:

STAT = 0 Open far-field contact (open and not near contact)

STAT = 1 Open near-field contact

STAT = 2 Sliding contact

STAT = 3 Sticking contact

A contact element is considered to be in near-field contact when its integration points (Gauss points or
nodal points) are within a code-calculated (or user-defined) distance to the corresponding target surface.

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3.9.10. Avoiding Spurious Contact in Self Contact Problems


This distance is referred to as the pinball region. The pinball region is a circle (in 2-D) or a sphere (in 3-D)
centered about the Gauss point.

3.9.9.2. Using PINB


Use real constant PINB to specify a scaling factor (positive value for PINB when using command input) or
absolute value (negative value for PINB when using command input) for the pinball region. You can specify
PINB to have any value. By default, and assuming that large deflection effects apply (NLGEOM,ON), ANSYS
defines the pinball region as a circle for 2-D or a sphere for 3-D of radius 4*depth (if rigid-to-flexible contact)
or 2*depth (if flexible-to-flexible contact) of the underlying element. (See the discussion of element depth
in Positive and Negative Real Constant Values (p. 28).) If you include no large-deflection effects (NLGEOM,OFF),
the default pinball region is half that of the large-deflection case. (For the no-separation (KEYOPT(12) = 4)
and bonded-always (KEYOPT(12) = 5 options, the PINB default is different than described here. See Selecting
Surface Interaction Models (p. 52) for more information.)

Note
If you input a value for real constant CNOF (contact surface offset) and the default PINB value (as
described above) is less than the absolute value of CNOF, the default for PINB will be set to the
absolute value of (1.1*CNOF).
The computational cost of searching for contact depends on the size of the pinball region. Far-field contact
(open and not near contact) element calculations are simple and add little computational demands. The
near-field calculations (for contact elements that are nearly or actually in contact) are slower and more
complex. The most complex calculations occur once the elements are in actual contact.
Setting a proper pinball region is useful to overcome spurious contact definitions if the target surface has
several convex regions. However, the default setting should be appropriate for most contact problems.

Note
The program will warn you when there is an abrupt change in status (for example, from far-field
to closed) during a contact analysis. This may indicate that the substep increment is too large,
or possibly (but not likely) that the pinball value (PINB) is too small.
See Positive and Negative Real Constants for more information on this real constant.

3.9.10. Avoiding Spurious Contact in Self Contact Problems


In some cases of self contact, ANSYS may erroneously assume contact between a contact and target surface
that are in very close geometrical position as shown below.

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

Figure 3.24 Auto Spurious Prevention

Contact normal

Location where
spurious contact
most likely occurs

Target normal

ANSYS will alert you when it first detects spurious contact in each load step. If ANSYS encounters such
contact on the first load step, you'll see the following error message:
Contact element x has too much penetration related to target element y. We
assume it (may be more elements) is spurious contact.

If ANSYS encounters an abrupt change in contact that it classifies as spurious contact, you'll see the following
message:
Contact element x status changed abruptly with target element y. We assume
it (may be more elements) is spurious contact.

ANSYS issues such messages only once per load step. It does not notify you of additional cases of spurious
contact that were ignored during the load step.

3.9.11. Selecting Surface Interaction Models


3.9.11.1. Background
The surface-to-surface contact elements support normal unilateral contact models as well as other mechanical surface interaction models.

3.9.11.2. Using KEYOPT(12)


Use KEYOPT(12) to model different contact surface behaviors.

KEYOPT(12) = 0 models standard unilateral contact; that is, normal pressure equals zero if separation
occurs.

KEYOPT(12) = 1 models perfectly rough frictional contact where there is no sliding. This case corresponds
to an infinite friction coefficient and ignores the material property MU.

KEYOPT(12) = 2 models no separation contact, in which the target and contact surfaces are tied (although
sliding is permitted) for the remainder of the analysis once contact is established.

KEYOPT(12) = 3 models "bonded" contact, in which the target and contact surfaces are bonded in all
directions (once contact is established) for the remainder of the analysis.

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3.9.11. Selecting Surface Interaction Models

KEYOPT(12) = 4 models no separation contact, in which contact detection points that are either initially
inside the pinball region or that once involve contact always attach to the target surface along the
normal direction to the contact surface (sliding is permitted).

KEYOPT(12) = 5 models bonded contact, in which contact detection points that are either initially inside
the pinball region or that once involve contact always attach to the target surface along the normal
and tangent directions to the contact surface (fully bonded).

KEYOPT(12) = 6 models bonded contact, in which the contact detection points that are initially in a
closed state will remain attached to the target surface and the contact detection points that are initially
in an open state will remain open throughout the analysis.

For all types of bonded contact (KEYOPT(12) = 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6), separation of contact can be modeled using
the debonding feature. For more information, see Debonding (p. 133).
For the no-separation option (KEYOPT(12) = 4) and the bonded-always option (KEYOPT(12) = 5), a relatively
small PINB value (pinball region) may be used to prevent any false contact. For these KEYOPT(12) settings,
the default for PINB is 0.25 (25% of the contact depth) for small deformation analysis (NLGEOM,OFF) and
0.5 (50% of the contact depth) for large deformation analysis (NLGEOM,ON). (The default PINB value may
differ from what is described here if CNOF is input. See Using PINB (p. 51) for more information.)
For the bonded-initial option (KEYOPT(12) = 6), a relatively large ICONT value (initial contact closure) may
be used to capture the contact. For this KEYOPT(12) setting, the default for ICONT is 0.05 (5% of the contact
depth) when KEYOPT(5) = 0 or 4.
See Positive and Negative Real Constants for more information on the real constants mentioned above.

Note
For bonded contact definitions (KYEOPT(12) = 5 or 6), if the contact is not in a just touching
position, you may find that no zero modes appear for free vibration. To avoid this issue, use the
MPC approach instead of other contact algorithms.

3.9.11.3. Using FKOP


The FKOP real constant can be used in two different ways, depending on the surface interaction model used.
For no separation or bonded contact (KEYOPT(12) = 2 through 6), FKOP is the stiffness factor applied when
contact opens. For standard or rough contact (KEYOPT(12) = 0 or 1), FKOP represents a contact damping
coefficient.
When modeling either no-separation or bonded contact, you may need to set a value for FKOP to apply a
stiffness factor when contact opens. If FKOP is a scaling factor (positive value for command input), the true
contact opening stiffness equals FKOP times the contact stiffness applied when contact closes. If FKOP is an
absolute value (negative value for command input), the value is applied as an absolute contact opening
stiffness. The default FKOP value is 1.
No separation and bonded contact generate a "pull-back" force when contact opening occurs, and that force
may not completely prevent separation. To reduce separation, define a larger value for FKOP. Also, in some
cases separation is expected while connection between the contacting surfaces is required to prevent rigid
body motion. In such instances, you can specify a small value for FKOP to maintain the connection between
the contact surfaces (this is a "weak spring" effect).
For standard contact (KEYOPT(12) = 0) or rough contact (KEYOPT(12) = 1), you can use FKOP to define a
contact damping coefficient. This option is primarily used to damp relative motions between the contact
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


and target surfaces for open contact. It provides certain resistance to reduce the risk of rigid body motion.
The damping force is calculated by
Fd = FKOP Vrel dA c
where Vrel is the slip rate and Ac is the area domain of the contact surface. The units of the damping coefficient
are FORCE/(AREA*VELOCITY). For the contact force-based model, the units are FORCE/VELOCITY. To specify
the contact damping coefficient, enter a negative number for FKOP. Positive input will be ignored.

3.9.11.4. Bonded Contact for Shell-Shell Assemblies


The bonded contact options (KEYOPT(12) = 5 or 6) can be used with the MPC approach (KEYOPT(2) = 2) to
model various types of assemblies (see Multipoint Constraints and Assemblies (p. 101)). When this method is
used to model shell-shell assemblies, there may be cases where the MPC approach causes the model to be
overconstrained. To alleviate this problem, you can use a penalty-based method for shell-shell assemblies.
Using the penalty-based method constrains rotational DOFs in addition to translational DOFs. This capability
is available for contact elements CONTA173, CONTA174, and CONTA175 in conjunction with TARGE170.
To use this method, first set KEYOPT(2) = 0 or 1 (augmented Lagrangian or penalty function) and KEYOPT(12)
= 5 or 6 (bonded always or bonded initial contact) in the contact elements. Setting KEYOPT(5) = 2 (shellshell constraint) for the target elements will cause this penalty-based method to be used.
The penalty stiffness used for rotational DOFs is equal to (contact stiffness used for translational DOFs) *
(contact length). The contact stiffness for translational DOFs is input by real constant FKN, or defaults to an
internal value. The contact length is always calculated internally and it is printed in the output file. The figure
below shows the difference in using a conventional penalty-based shell-shell assembly and this method.

Figure 3.25 Penalty-Based Shell-Shell Assembly

Note
In the case of a penalty-based shell-shell assembly, spurious rotational energy exists if there are
gaps or penetrations between the contact and target surfaces. This can affect the accuracy of the
solution. In this case it is recommended that you use a shell-solid constraint type by setting
KEYOPT(5) = 3, 4, or 5 on the target element, which requires use of the MPC algorithm (KEYOPT(2)
= 2 on the contact element).

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3.9.12. Modeling Contact with Superelements

3.9.12. Modeling Contact with Superelements


3.9.12.1. Background
The surface-to-surface contact elements can model a rigid body (or one linear elastic body) contacting another linear elastic body undergoing small motions. These elastic bodies can be modeled using superelements,
which greatly reduces the number of degrees of freedom involved in the contact iteration. Remember that
any contact or target nodes must be either all master nodes of the superelements or all slave nodes of the
superelements. When the contact pair is built in original elements used to generate superelements, the
contact status will not change from its initial status.
Because the superelement consists only of a group of retained nodal degrees of freedom, it has no surface
geometry on which ANSYS can define a contact and target surface. Therefore, the contact and target surface
must be defined on the surface of the original elements before they are assembled into a superelement.
Information taken from the superelement includes nodal connection and assembly stiffness, but no material
property or stress states (whether axisymmetric, plane stress, or plane strain). One restriction is that the
material property set used for the contact elements must be the same as the one used for the original elements before they were assembled into superelements.

3.9.12.2. Using KEYOPT(3)


Use KEYOPT(3) to provide information for the 2-D analysis with superelements. In elements CONTA171 and
CONTA172, the options are as follows:

No superelement used (KEYOPT(3) = 0)

Axisymmetric, use with superelements only (KEYOPT(3) = 1)

Plane strain or plane stress with unit thickness, use with superelements only (KEYOPT(3) = 2)

Plane stress with thickness input use with superelements only (KEYOPT(3) = 3). Note that for this case,
use real constant R2 to specify the thickness.

In 3-D contact analysis, KEYOPT(3) in elements CONTA173 and CONTA174 is ignored. ANSYS will automatically
detect whether the underlying element is a superelement.

Note
KEYOPT(3) has different meanings in the node-to surface contact element, CONTA175, and in the
line-to-line contact element, CONTA176. KEYOPT(3) is not used for the line-to-surface contact
element, CONTA177.
For CONTA175, KEYOPT(3) = 1 defines the contact traction-based model. In this case, all of the
real constant inputs and contact result quantities have the same units as the surface-to-surface
contact elements. KEYOPT(3) = 0 (default) defines the contact force model. In this model, certain
real constants and contact result quantities can have different units (a factor of AREA (Length2)
difference). See KEYOPT(3) (p. 72).
For CONTA176, KEYOPT(3) specifies the type of beam-to-beam contact. See Performing a 3-D
Beam-to-Beam Contact Analysis (p. 77).

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

3.9.13. Accounting for Thickness Effect


3.9.13.1. Background
You can account for the thickness of shells (2-D and 3-D) and beams (2-D) using KEYOPT(11). (This does not
apply to 3-D beam-to-beam contact.) For rigid-to-flexible contact, ANSYS will automatically shift the contact
surface to the bottom or top of the shell/beam surface. For flexible-to-flexible contact, ANSYS will automatically shift both the contact and target surfaces which are attached to shell/beam elements. By default, ANSYS
does not account for the element thickness, and beams and shells are discretized at their mid-surface in
which penetration distance is calculated from the mid-surface.

3.9.13.2. Using KEYOPT(11)


When you set KEYOPT(11) = 1 to account for beam or shell thickness, the contact distance is calculated from
either the top or the bottom surface as specified previously in Steps in a Contact Analysis (p. 11).

Note
Only use KEYOPT(11) = 1 to account for thickness when you have shell or beam elements with
nodes located at the middle surface.
When building your model geometry, if you are going to account for thickness, remember the offsets which
may come from either the contact surface or target surface or from both. When you specify a contact offset
(CNOF) along with setting KEYOPT(11) = 1, it is defined from the top or bottom of the shell/beam, not the
mid-surface. When used with SHELL181, SHELL208, SHELL209, SHELL281, or ELBOW290, changes in thickness
during deformation are also taken into account.
Note that KEYOPT(11) is not used with the line-to-line contact element (CONTA176). For the line-to-surface
contact element (CONTA177) KEYOPT(11) is only used for shell elements on the target side.

Note
For shell and beam contact, the penetration and gap distances are always measured from the
midsurface of the shell or beam element. Any defined offset of the shell or beam element is ignored
by the contact elements.

3.9.14. Using Time Step Control and Impact Constraints


3.9.14.1. Background
Time step control is an automatic time stepping feature that predicts when the status of a contact element
will change and cuts the current time step back.
Impact constraints are used in a transient dynamic analysis to satisfy the momentum and energy balance
at the contact and target interface. See Dynamic Contact and Impact Modeling (p. 117) for more information.

3.9.14.2. Using KEYOPT(7)


Use KEYOPT(7) = 0, 1, 2, or 3 to control time stepping, where KEYOPT(7) = 0 provides no control (the default),
and KEYOPT(7) = 3 provides the most control.

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3.10. Controlling the Motion of the Rigid Target Surface

KEYOPT(7) = 0: No control. The time step size is unaffected by the prediction. This setting is appropriate
for most analyses when automatic time stepping is activated and a small time step size is allowed.

KEYOPT(7) = 1: Time step size is bisected if too much penetration occurs during an iteration, or if the
contact status changes dramatically.

KEYOPT(7) = 2: Predict a reasonable increment for the next substep.

KEYOPT(7) = 3: Predict a minimal time increment for the next substep.

Use KEYOPT(7) = 4 to activate impact constraints.

KEYOPT(7) = 4: Use impact constraints for standard or rough contact (KEYOPT(12) = 0 or 1) in a transient
dynamic analysis with automatic adjustment of the time increment.

3.9.15. Using the Birth and Death Option


The surface-to-surface contact and target elements allow birth and death and also follow the birth and death
status of their underlying elements. The elements can be removed for part of an analysis and then reactivated
for a later stage. This feature is useful for modeling complex metal forming processes where multiple rigid
target surfaces need to interact with the contact surface at different stages of the analysis. Springback
modeling often requires removing the rigid tools at the end of the forming processes. This option cannot
be used with "no separation" or bonded contact.

3.10. Controlling the Motion of the Rigid Target Surface


Rigid target surfaces are defined in their original configuration, and the motion of the entire surface is then
defined by the motion on the pilot node (or the different nodes of the target surface if no pilot node was
defined).
You must use a pilot node in any of the following situations to control the boundary conditions (and motion)
of the entire target surface:

The target surface is subjected to applied forces.

The target surface is subjected to rotations.

The target surface is connected to other elements (e.g., structural mass element MASS21).

The motion of the target surface is adjusted by the equilibrium condition.

When modelling surface-based constraints or a rigid body.

The degrees of freedom of the pilot node represent the motion of the entire rigid surface, including two
translational and one rotational degree of freedom in 2-D, and three translational and three rotational degrees
of freedom in 3-D. You can apply boundary conditions (displacement, initial velocity), concentrated loads,
rotations, etc. to the pilot node. To account for a rigid body's mass, define a mass element (MASS21) on the
pilot node. You can also define a follower element (FOLLW201) on the pilot node; the element-specified
external forces and moments will follow the motion of the pilot node.
By default, KEYOPT(2) = 0 for the target element, ANSYS checks the boundary conditions for each target
surface. If all of the following conditions are met, then ANSYS treats the target nodes along the respective
degree of freedom as fixed:

There are no explicit boundary conditions or prescribed forces for target surface nodes.

Target surface nodes are not connected to other elements.

Neither constraint equations nor node coupling have been used to constrain such nodes.
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


At the end of each load step, ANSYS releases the constraint conditions that were set internally.
The constraint conditions stored in the results file (Jobname.RST) and the database file (Jobname.DB)
may be updated due to this change. You should carefully verify whether the current constraint conditions
are expected before restarting an analysis or resolving the problem in interactive mode.
If you wish, you can control the constraint conditions of target nodes by setting KEYOPT(2) = 1 in the target
element definition.
Keep in mind the following restrictions on the target surface when using a pilot node:

Each target surface can have only one pilot node.

The pilot node can be one of the nodes on the target elements or a node at any arbitrary location.
However, it should not be a node on the contact element. The location of the pilot node becomes important only when rotations or moments are to be applied. For each pilot node, ANSYS will automatically
define an internal node and an internal constraint equation. The rotational DOF of the pilot node is
connected to the translational DOF of the internal node by the internal constraint equation. Generally,
you should not apply external constraint equations (CE) or node coupling (CP) to the pilot node.

ANSYS ignores all boundary conditions on all nodes other than the pilot node when KEYOPT(2) = 0
(default) for the target elements.

When KEYOPT(2) = 0 (default), only the pilot node can connect to other elements.

By setting KEYOPT(2) = 1 for the target elements, you can apply boundary conditions on any rigid target
nodes rather than only on the pilot node. In this case, it is your responsibility to make sure the rigid
target surface is not under-constrained or over-constrained. It is still recommended that you apply all
boundary conditions on the pilot node, even when KEYOPT(2) = 1.

Note
For flexible-to-flexible contact, no special boundary conditions treatment is performed, and KEYOPT(2) = 0 should be used.

3.11. Applying Necessary Boundary Conditions to the Deformable Elements


You can now apply any necessary boundary conditions as you would for any ANSYS analysis. For more information on applying boundary conditions, see the appropriate analysis descriptions in the Structural Analysis Guide.

3.12. Applying Fluid Pressure-Penetration Loads


Pressure-penetration loads can simulate surrounding fluid or air penetrating into the contact interface, based
on the contact status. You can apply pressure-penetration loads to flexible-to-flexible or rigid-to-flexible
contact pairs. 2-D and 3-D surface-to-surface contact elements (CONTA171, CONTA172, CONTA173, CONTA174)
support pressure-penetration loading.
Fluid pressure can penetrate into the contact interface from one or multiple locations. The fluid pressurepenetration load has a path dependent nature. The penetrating path can propagate and vary, and it will be
determined iteratively. At the beginning of each iteration, ANSYS first detects starting points which are exposed to the fluid pressure. Among the starting points, ANSYS then finds fluid penetrating points where the
contact status is open or lost, or where the contact pressure is smaller than the user defined pressure-pen-

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3.12.1. Applying Fluid Penetration Pressure


etration criterion. When a contact detection point has a contact condition of penetrating, it is subjected
to the fluid pressure, and its nearest neighboring nodes are considered to be the starting points which are
exposed to the fluid pressure as well.
The fluid pressure will not be applied to an area having a contact status of open unless the edges/ends of
the area belong to the starting points.

Figure 3.26 Path Dependent Fluid Penetration Loading


Fluid pressure is applied

Starting Point

The fluid pressure starts to penetrate into the interface between contact and target surfaces from the penetrating points. The fluid penetration can be cut off when contact between the surfaces is reestablished or
when contact pressure is larger than the fluid penetration criterion.
To model fluid penetration loads, you need to specify the following quantities:

fluid pressure

fluid penetration starting points

fluid penetration criterion

fluid penetration acting time

An example analysis showing how to apply fluid penetrating loading is presented in Appendix A (p. 137).

3.12.1. Applying Fluid Penetration Pressure


The fluid pressure must be applied to contact and target elements using the SFE command:
SFE,ELEM,1,PRES,,VAL1,VAL2,VAL3,VAL4

The pressure is applied only on the corner nodes of the contact and target elements. The pressure on the
midside nodes of CONTA172, CONTA174, TARGE169, and TARGE170 will be averaged using the pressures of
two adjacent corner nodes. VAL3 and VAL4 are not used for 2-D contact and target elements.
Pressure value VALi, which is applied to the ith node (where i = 1, 2, 3, 4 indicates node I, J, K, L, respectively)
of the contact or target element, can be a constant numerical value or a table name. If it is constant, the
magnitude of pressure will be step-applied or ramped based on the KBC command setting. To specify a
table, enclose the table name in percent signs (for example, %tabname%). Use the *DIM command to define
the table. Only one table can be specified, and it must be specified in the VAL1 position; tables specified
in the VAL2, VAL3, and VAL4 positions will be ignored.

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


The fluid pressure-penetration load will be automatically applied to the penetrating points on contact and
target surfaces based on the contact status.
By default (KEYOPT(14) = 0 on the contact element), the fluid pressure-penetration load varies during iterations
based on the current contact status. In certain cases, the default can cause an unstable convergence pattern
since the contact status and the resulting applied fluid penetration load keep changing during iterations.
When KEYOPT(14) = 1, the fluid pressure-penetration load will be applied to the contact and target elements
at the beginning of each substep and will remain constant over that substep even if the contact status keeps
changing during iterations. Small increments are often needed to obtain accurate results.
Keep the following points in mind when defining fluid penetration loads:

For flexible-to-flexible contact with a symmetric contact pair definition (including a self-contact pair),
you should apply the fluid pressure only to the contact elements.

For flexible-to-flexible contact with an asymmetric contact pair definition, you should generally apply
fluid pressure on both contact and target elements which are currently or will potentially be exposed
to the surrounding fluid. ANSYS will ignore fluid penetration loads applied to a target surface if there
are no fluid penetration loads applied to the associated contact surface within the contact pair. When
the fluid pressures are applied to both contact and target elements, ANSYS will have to identify the
penetration paths for both the contact surface and the target surface. The iterative process of determining the penetration path on the target surface is very time-consuming, particularly for 3-D contact
models. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you use a symmetric contact pair definition since it
does not require the specification of fluid penetration pressure on the target surface.

For rigid-to-flexible contact, you should apply the fluid pressure only to the contact elements. ANSYS
will automatically apply equivalent forces to the rigid target surface to balance out the applied pressure
on the contact surface. Fluid pressure applied to the rigid target surface will be ignored.

For situations in which multiple contact pairs are defined on the same surface, contact elements may
overlap each other. In this case, be careful to apply the fluid penetration pressure only once in areas
where contact elements overlap.

The fluid penetration pressure can only be applied to the contact and target elements using the SFE
command. Other pressure load commands (SF, SFL, SFA) can not be used. In addition, you should not
apply the pressure on the underlying elements.

ANSYS ignores any fluid penetration pressures applied to MPC based contact pairs.

The effects of pressure load stiffness are automatically included. If an unsymmetric matrix is needed to
achieve convergence for pressure load stiffness effects, issue the NROPT,UNSYM command.

3.12.2. Specifying Fluid Penetration Starting Points


When a fluid pressure-penetration load is applied, the fluid pressure penetrates to the surface from defined
starting points. There can be one or multiple starting points. ANSYS will automatically find the default
starting points by selecting free end points of 2-D contact/target surfaces or nodes of free open edges on
3-D contact/target surfaces ("free" meaning that the element is not fully surrounded by adjacent elements;
see figure below).

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3.12.3. Specifying a Pressure-Penetration Criterion

Figure 3.27 Free End Points (2-D) and Free Open Edges (3-D)
Free End Points
Contact Surface

Contact Surface

Free Open Edge


Target Surface

Free End Points


2D contact: Free End Point

Target Surface
3D contact: Free Open Edge

The starting points are initially exposed to the fluid and are potentially subjected to the penetration pressure.
There are no default starting points if the contact or target surface is continuous with a closed loop. The
default starting points can be overwritten using the SFE command. You can specify starting points, specify
penetrating points, and remove the default starting points with the SFE command and STAi values, as
described below. Be sure to set LKEY = 2 on the SFE command in order to specify the STAi settings. The
command format is:
SFE,ELEM,2,PRES,,STA1,STA2,STA3,STA4

STAi =
0 (default)

ANSYS determines whether the ith node is a starting point based on the contact status.The ith
node can be a default starting point if the node is a 2-D free point or is on a 3-D free edge.

STAi =
1

The ith node is the starting point which is initially exposed to the fluid. It can be a penetrating
point if the initial contact status is "open." The node may no-longer be the starting point when
the contact status changes during the deformation process.

STAi =
2

The ith node is a penetrating point.The node is always subjected to the fluid pressure in spite of
any contact status change.

STAi =
-1

The ith node will not be a default starting point even though it belongs to a 2-D free point or a
3-D free edge node.

Note
If only STA1 is specified and the other STAi values are blank, STA2, STA3, and STA4 will default
to STA1.

3.12.3. Specifying a Pressure-Penetration Criterion


You can specify a pressure-penetration criterion using the contact element real constant PPCN. When the
contact pressure is less than the criterion, the starting point turns into the penetrating point; that is, fluid
pressure starts to penetrate. Thus, a higher criterion value will allow the fluid to penetrate more easily. When
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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact


the contact pressure is greater than the criterion, the penetrating point returns back to the starting point;
that is, fluid penetration is cut off. By default, the penetration criterion (PPCN) is zero. In this case the fluid
penetration occurs only when the contact is open, and the cutoff of fluid penetration occurs only when the
contact is reestablished.
You can input PPCN as a constant value or as a table of values. The tabular input can be a function of contact
point current location (global X , Y, Z), contact pressure, time, or temperature. To input a table name, you
must enclose the name in % symbols (for example, %tabnam%). Use the *DIM command to define the table.

3.12.4. Specifying a Fluid Penetration Acting Time


When the fluid pressure penetration occurs, the fluid pressure is applied normal to the contact/target surfaces.
As with conventional pressure loading, the current amount of fluid pressure at a given substep will depend
on whether the pressure is input as a constant value or a table of values, and whether the pressure is rampor step-applied (KBC command). If the total amount of fluid pressure is applied instantaneously, convergence
difficulties may arise due to large changes in stresses near the contact interface. This is also true when the
fluid penetration pressure is removed instantaneously, as when the fluid penetration is cut off. To help stabilize the solution, ANSYS offers an option to ramp the fluid pressure linearly over a time period, during one
or several substeps.
To implement this ramping option, specify the fluid penetration acting time using the contact element real
constant FPAT. Input a positive number to define the fraction of the time increment of the load step; input
a negative number to define the absolute acting time. The default penetration acting time is 0.01 times the
time increment of the current load step.
At each penetrating point, if the time increment of the current substep is less than the fluid penetration
acting time (FPAT > (tn - tn-1)), the fluid pressure is ramped up linearly from the actual applied pressure of
the previous substep to the full current amount of the fluid pressure over the penetration acting time period;
otherwise (FPAT (tn - tn-1)), the full amount of current fluid pressure will be applied. (See figures below.)
At the pressure-penetration cutoff points, if the time increment of the current substep is less than the fluid
penetration acting time, the fluid pressure is ramped down linearly from the applied pressure of the previous
substep to a zero magnitude over the penetration acting time period; otherwise, the fluid pressure will be
immediately removed.

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3.12.4. Specifying a Fluid Penetration Acting Time

Figure 3.28 Fluid Penetration Acting Time (FPAT) Greater Than Substep
Pressure
(tn-1)

FPAT

Current Applied Pressure


(input via SFE,,,PRES)

Actual Applied Pressure


(reported as output item FPR

Time
tn-1

tn

Acual applied pressure is ramped to the full current applied pressure


when FPAT>(tn-tn-1)

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

Figure 3.29 Fluid Penetration Acting Time (FPAT) Less Than Substep
Pressure

FPAT

Current Applied Pressure


(input via SFE,,,PRES)
Actual Applied Pressure
(reported as output item FPRS)

Time
tn-1

tn

Acual applied pressure is ramped to the full current applied pressure


when FPAT<(tn-tn-1)

3.12.5. Redefining or Modifying the Pressure-Penetration Loads


You can redefine or modify fluid pressure-penetration loads and fluid penetration starting points between
load steps using the SFE command.
You can also modify the pressure-penetration criterion (real constant PPCN) and acting time (real constant
FPAT) using the RMODIF command.
To remove a fluid pressure-penetration load, use one of the following methods:

Delete the pressure load using the SFEDELE command.

Apply zero pressure using the SFE command.

Deactivate the contact elements using the EKILL command.

Because these methods remove the fluid penetration pressure immediately, convergence difficulties may
occur. To avoid this problem you can add an extra load step which applies a small fluid pressure (for example,
VALi = 1e-8) via the SFE command instead of removing the pressure.

3.12.6. Postprocessing Fluid Pressure-Penetration Loads


You can list and display the actual fluid penetration pressure applied on contact and target elements using
FPRS as a contact result item on the PLNSOL, PLESOL, PRNSOL, and PRESOL commands. For example:
PLESOL,CONT,FPRS
PLNSOL,CONT,FPRS

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3.13. Defining Solution and Load Step Options


You can also list and display the fluid penetration pressure applied on target elements by using the ETABLE
command.

3.13. Defining Solution and Load Step Options


Convergence behavior for contact problems depends strongly on the particular problem. The options listed
below are either typical or recommended for most surface-to-surface contact analyses. Please see the Command Reference for further details.
The time step size must be small enough to capture the proper contact zone. The smooth transfer of contact
forces is disrupted if the time step size is too large. The time step size is specified by a number of substeps
or the time step size itself. The following commands adjust these parameters.
Command(s): NSUBST
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Loads> Load Step Opts> Time/Frequenc> Freq and Substps
Main Menu> Preprocessor> Loads> Load Step Opts> Time/Frequenc> Time and Substps
Main Menu> Solution> Analysis Type> Sol'n Control ( : Basic Tab)
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Time/Frequenc> Freq and Substps
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Time/Frequenc> Time and Substps
Command(s): DELTIM
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Loads> Load Step Opts> Time/Frequenc> Time-Time Step
Main Menu> Solution> Analysis Type> Sol'n Control ( : Basic Tab)
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Time/Frequenc>Time-Time Step

Note
A reliable way to set an accurate time step size is to turn automatic time stepping on.
The following options are automatically invoked, but may override them if needed.
Command(s): AUTOTS,ON
GUI: Main Menu> Solution> Analysis Type> Sol'n Control ( : Basic Tab)
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Time/Frequenc> Time-Time Step or
Time and Substps
If the contact status changes during the iteration process, discontinuity can occur. To avoid a slow convergence
rate and use an updated stiffness matrix, set the Newton-Raphson option to FULL.
Command(s): NROPT,FULL,,OFF
GUI: Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Analysis Type> Analysis Options
Also, do not use adaptive descent. Adaptive descent usually does not provide any help for surface-to-surface
contact applications, and we recommend turning it off.
In cases where frictional sliding dominates, set the unsymmetric solver option (NROPT, UNSYM,,OFF) to
avoid slow convergence or divergence.
Set the number of equilibrium equations to a number that is appropriate for a reasonable time step size.
This command defaults to between 15 and 26 iterations, depending upon the physics of the problem.
Command(s): NEQIT
GUI: Main Menu> Solution> Analysis Type> Sol'n Control ( : Nonlinear Tab)
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Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Nonlinear> Equilibrium Iter
Because the iterations tend to become unstable for large increments, use the line search option to stabilize
the calculations.
Command(s): LNSRCH
GUI: Main Menu> Solution> Analysis Type> Sol'n Control ( : Nonlinear Tab)
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Nonlinear> Line Search
Turn the predictor-corrector option on, except for dynamic analyses.
Command(s): PRED
GUI: Main Menu> Solution> Analysis Type> Sol'n Control ( : Nonlinear Tab)
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Nonlinear> Predictor
Many convergence failures in contact analyses are the result of using too large a value for contact stiffness
(real constant FKN). Be sure to follow the recommendations given earlier in this chapter for estimating
contact stiffness. If such estimated values lead to a convergence failure, reduce the contact stiffness and
restart.
Conversely, if overpenetration occurs in your contact analysis, you probably need a larger value of FKN. In
this case, gradually increase the contact stiffness value to an appropriate level by redefining it using RMODIF
commands over several load steps in a restart.

Note
For most small strains, small displacements, and small sliding problems, set NLGEOM, OFF. This
setting will speed up the searching time; however, if the contact problem involves large sliding,
set NLGEOM, ON.

Note
By default, displacement (U) and rotation (ROT) convergence checking are not active. Issue the
CNVTOL,U or CNVTOL,ROT command to add displacement or rotation convergence checking, if
necessary.

3.14. Solving the Problem


You can now solve the analysis the same as you would for any nonlinear analysis. Keep the following points
in mind:

Always check the real constant sets which are related to contact pairs and check the constraint conditions
on the target surfaces. Any previous "trial runs" could have changed the settings.

Always check the target surface contact status in the beginning of the analysis. If you detect any unexpected gap (or no contact) or overestimated penetration, abort the analysis and then check your geometric model. You can issue the CNCHECK command to verify the initial contact status.

If your model is experiencing convergence difficulties due to contact, use the NLHIST command as a
debugging tool to monitor contact information during the solution. Before starting the solution, issue
NLHIST to specify the pair-based contact items (such as contact penetration or gap, contact normal
stiffness, etc.) to be tracked. The resulting data are written to a file named Jobname.nlh.

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3.15.2. Reviewing Results in POST1


NLDIAG,CONT can also be used to monitor contact information. When turned on, this feature will track
the same contact information available through NLHIST for all defined contact pairs according to the
specified writing frequency (each iteration, substep, or load step). The resulting output is stored in a
text file called Jobname.cnd.

Always check your results carefully using standard engineering guidelines.

See Solve the Analysis in the Structural Analysis Guide.


If you are restarting a contact analysis, follow the normal restart procedures as discussed in Restarting an
Analysis in the Basic Analysis Guide. However, be aware that the constraint conditions of target surfaces may
have been set internally. Verify the constraints carefully before restarting an analysis. Only the real constants
FKN, FTOLN, PINB, and FKOP can be changed, and they can only be changed at the point of restart or at
the beginning of a new load step.

3.15. Reviewing the Results


Results from a contact analysis consist mainly of displacements, stresses, strains, reaction forces, and the
contact information (e.g., contact pressure, sliding, etc.). You can review these results in POST1, the general
postprocessor, or in POST26, the time-history postprocessor. For contact-related results, you can select CONT
as a plotting or list item. While in POST1, you can also review the results from within the Contact Manager
(via the Contact Manager icon in the ANSYS Standard Toolbar). See the "Output Data" section of the element
descriptions (the Element Reference) for the available output components.
Remember that in POST1, only one substep can be read in at a time, and that the results from that substep
should have been written to Jobname.RST (or Jobname.RCN for the initial contact configuration calculated
by CNCHECK,POST). (The load step option command OUTRES controls which substep results are stored on
Jobname.RST.) A typical POST1 postprocessing sequence is described below.

3.15.1. Points to Remember


See Points to Remember in the Structural Analysis Guide.

3.15.2. Reviewing Results in POST1


The steps for reviewing results in POST1 are the same as those for a typical nonlinear analysis (see Reviewing
Results in POST1 in the Structural Analysis Guide) with the following exceptions:
For step 4, the following shows the various CONT options for the PLNSOL and PLESOL commands. You can
set these options through the Main Menu> General Postproc> Plot Results> Contour Plot> Nodal Solu
or Element Solu menu item. Choose Contact for Item, Comp and you'll see a list of the options detailed
below.
CONT

STAT

Contact status[1]:
3-closed and sticking
2-closed and sliding
1-open but near contact (near-field)
0-open and not near contact (far-field)

PENE

Contact penetration

PRES[2]

Contact pressure

SFRIC[2]

Contact friction stress

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Chapter 3: Surface-to-Surface Contact

STOT[2]

Contact total stress (pressure plus friction)

SLIDE

Contact sliding distance

GAP

Contact gap distance

FLUX

Heat flux at contact surface

CNOS

Total number of contact status changes during substep

FPRS

Fluid penetration pressure (surface-to-surface contact only)

1.

For MPC-based contact definitions, the value of STAT can be negative. This indicates that one or more
contact constraints were intentionally removed to prevent over-constraint. STAT = -3 is used for MPC
bonded contact; STAT = -2 is used for MPC no-separation contact. Negative values are valid for CONTA171, CONTA172, CONTA173, CONTA174, CONTA175, CONTA176, and CONTA177.

2.

For the contact force-based model, used for CONTA175 with KEYOPT(3) = 0, CONTA176, and CONTA177,
PRES, SFRIC, and STOT are the contact normal force, contact friction force, and total contact force, respectively.

For rigid-to-flexible contact or asymmetric flexible-to-flexible contact, the contact element provides the true
pressure and friction stress. However, for symmetric flexible-to-flexible contact, the true pressure and friction
stress is the average of the pressures and friction stresses from both sides of the contact elements.

Note
The contact results are only reported at the corner nodes of contact elements. Therefore, for
higher order contact elements, mid-side node contact can occur without pressure being reported.
In this case, the elements contact status and contact pressure reported via ETABLE may give
more precise information.
Note that the contact-specific information (CONT) plots as follows. For 2-D contact analyses, the model will
plot in gray and the requested item will be contoured as an area (trapezoid) along the edge of the model
where the contact elements are located. Use the FACT item to scale 2-D contour size. For 3-D contact analyses,
the model will plot in gray and the requested item will be contoured as a 2-D surface where the contact
elements overlay the model.
For tabular listings, you may also list contact-specific information by using the CONT label and its arguments
with the PRNSOL or PRESOL commands or their related menu items.
You should not use the PLESOL or PRESOL command to obtain contact forces for contact elements. The
force values reported by these commands may not be accurate for these elements. Instead, use the ETABLE
command to obtain contact force values.
You can also animate contact results over time. See the ANTIME command for details.
Command(s): ANTIME
GUI: Utility Menu> PlotCtrls> Animate> Over Time
If you used CNCHECK,POST to evaluate the initial contact state, you can view the contact results items for
the initial contact configuration as you would for any other load step. To do so, you must explicitly read the
results of the first load step from the results file Jobname.RCN by issuing the FILE and SET,FIRST commands
before postprocessing. Otherwise, the result file may be read improperly.

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3.15.3. Reviewing Results in POST26

3.15.3. Reviewing Results in POST26


The steps for reviewing results in POST26 are the same as those for a typical nonlinear analysis See Reviewing
Results in POST26 in the Structural Analysis Guide.

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Chapter 4: Node-to-Surface Contact


You can use the node-to-surface contact element CONTA175 to model flexible-flexible or rigid-flexible contact
between a surface and a node. Additionally, you can use these elements to represent contact between two
surfaces by specifying one surface as a group of nodes.
Node-to-surface contact is a phenomenon that occurs in most engineering applications: fasteners (nuts,
bolts, rivets, pins), metal forming, rolling operations, dynamic pipe whip, etc. Engineers are interested in the
stresses, deflections, forces, and temperature changes that occur due to contact between structural parts.
The following node-to-surface contact topics are available:
4.1.The Node-to-Surface Contact Element
4.2. Performing a Node-to-Surface Contact Analysis
4.3. Using CONTA175 for Multiphysics Contact

4.1. The Node-to-Surface Contact Element


Node-to-surface contact is represented in the ANSYS program by following the positions of points on one
surface (the contact surface, modeled by CONTA175) relative to lines or areas of another surface (the target
surface, modeled by TARGE169 or TARGE170).
CONTA175, in two or three dimensions, is depicted in Figure 4.1 (p. 71).

Figure 4.1 Node-to-Surface Contact Elements

I
Y (or Axial)

CONTA175

Y
I CONTA175

target normal

target normal

2-D associated target


surface (TARGE169)

3-D associated target


surface (TARGE170)
X
(or Radial)

X
z

Presented below are characteristics of CONTA175:

Has one node and its target surface is defined by TARGE169 or TARGE170. CONTA175 uses the same
real constant set as the surface-to-surface contact elements. See Real Constants for more information.

Supports 2-D/3-D rigid-flexible and flexible-flexible contact.

Does not support 3-D contact surfaces with midside nodes, but can support 2-D/3-D target surfaces
with midside nodes or 2-D contact surfaces with midside nodes.
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Chapter 4: Node-to-Surface Contact

Generates elements using the ESURF command, as do the surface-to-surface contact elements.

Supports structural, thermal, electric, and magnetic analyses.

Note
CONTA175 is recommended for point-to-surface or edge-to-surface problems. It can also be used
to supplement a surface-to-surface pair at strategic locations where edge contact exists. For
general surface-to-surface contact, CONTA171 through CONTA174 are recommended.

4.2. Performing a Node-to-Surface Contact Analysis


CONTA175 follows the contact pair concept used by surface-to-surface elements CONTA171 through CONTA174. CONTA175 is paired off with target elements TARGE169 and TARGE170. See Identifying Contact Pairs
for more information. CONTA175 uses most of the same element KEYOPTS and real constants as the surfaceto-surface contact elements. These are described below.
You should avoid midside-noded underlying elements of the contact surface, especially in 3-D. The effective
stiffness at the contact surface nodes is very nonuniform. For instance, for a 20-node brick (SOLID186), the
corner nodes have a negative stiffness associated with them. However, the node-to-surface contact algorithm
assumes that the stiffness is uniformly distributed across all the surface nodes when contact is made. This
condition can lead to convergence difficulties when using midside-noded elements in contact. The midsidenoded elements can only be used when bonded or no-separation contact is defined. You can still use midside
nodes on 2-D contact surfaces or on 2-D/3-D target surfaces.
The basic steps for performing a node-to-surface contact analysis using CONTA175 are the same as those
used for a typical surface-to-surface analysis using CONTA171 through CONTA174. See Steps in a Contact
Analysis for details.
The Contact Manager provides an easy-to-use interface to help you construct and manage contact definitions.
You can access the manager via the Contact Manager icon
in the ANSYS Standard Toolbar, or via the
menu path Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Contact Pair. See GUI Aids for Contact Analyses (p. 7) for more information on using the Contact Manager.
As mentioned, CONTA175 uses the ESURF command to generate elements between corresponding contact
pairs, similar to the surface-to-surface contact elements. The GUI path is:
Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements> Surf/Contact> Node to Surf
Since CONTA175 is a one node element, you are not able to plot the contact results. However, you can list
the results using the PRESOL,CONT or PRETAB commands.

4.2.1. CONTA175 KEYOPTS


CONTA175 uses most of the same KEYOPTS that are used by the surface-to-surface contact elements CONTA171 through CONTA174. KEYOPT(3) and KEYOPT(4) are used but have different meanings when used with
CONTA175. See Element KEYOPTS (p. 29) for a listing of the remaining KEYOPTS.

4.2.1.1. KEYOPT(3)
KEYOPT(3) in CONTA175 allows you to choose between a contact force-based model (KEYOPT(3) = 0, default),
and a contact traction-based model (KEYOPT(3) = 1). For the contact traction-based model, ANSYS can de-

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4.3. Using CONTA175 for Multiphysics Contact


termine the area associated with the contact node. For the single point contact case, a unit area will be used
which is equivalent to the contact force-based model.
When the traction-based model is defined, the real constants FKN, FKT, TCC, ECC, and MCC have the same
units used in surface-to-surface contact elements (CONTA171 through CONTA174), as do postprocessing
items PRES, TAUR, and TAUS.
When the force-based model is defined, the units of these quantities have a factor of AREA with respect to
those used in the traction-based model. For instance, contact stiffness FKN has units FORCE/LENGTH for the
force-based model, but FORCE/LENGTH3 for the traction-based model. PRES is the contact normal force in
the force-based model, but contact pressure in the traction-based model.

4.2.1.2. KEYOPT(4)
KEYOPT(4) in CONTA175 allows you to choose the contact normal direction. The contact normal can be
either perpendicular to the target surface (KEYOPT(4) = 0, default or KEYOPT(4) = 3), or perpendicular to the
contact surface (KEYOPT(4) = 1, 2). When contact occurs on the bottom surface of a shell or beam, and shell
thickness effect is included (KEYOPT(11) = 1), or CNOF is defined, KEYOPT(4) = 2 or 3 should be used in order
to capture the contact.
Real constant TOLS is used to add a small tolerance that will internally extend the edge of the target surface.
TOLS is useful for problems where contact nodes are likely to lie on the edge of the target (as at symmetry
planes or for models generated in a node-to-node contact pattern). In these situations, the contact node
may repeatedly slip off the target surface and so completely out of contact, resulting in convergence difficulties from oscillations.
Units for TOLS are percent (1.0 implies a 1.0% increase in the target edge length). A small value of TOLS will
usually prevent this situation from occurring. The default value is 10 for small deflection and 2 for large deflection (NLGEOM,ON).

4.2.2. CONTA175 Real Constants


CONTA175 uses the same real constants used by the surface-to-surface contact elements CONTA171 through
CONTA174), except the units of TCC, ECC, and MCC for the contact force-based model. See a listing of the
real constants in Real Constants (p. 26).

4.3. Using CONTA175 for Multiphysics Contact


You can use node-to-surface contact element CONTA175 to model thermal contact, electric contact, and
magnetic contact as you would use the surface-to-surface contact elements. For multiphysics contact, we
recommend that you use the contact traction-based model (KEYOPT(3) = 1), which allows you to use real
constants TCC, ECC, and MCC consistently with the surface-to-surface contact elements.
If you use the contact force-based model (KEYOPT(3) = 0), you should adjust the values of TCC, ECC, and
MCC up or down as you make the element mesh coarser or finer.

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Chapter 5: 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact


Contact between beams undergoing large displacements can be encountered in many practical applications.
Some examples are hydrogen sensors, water supply lines, nuclear power plant piping, cable wires and coils,
woven fabrics, and tennis racquet strings. You can model 2-D beam-to-beam contact by using 2-D surfaceto-surface contact elements, CONTA171 and CONTA172. (See Surface-to-Surface Contact (p. 11) for details
on how to use these elements.) You can model 3-D beam-to-beam contact by using the 3-D line-to-line
contact element, CONTA176.
The following beam-to-beam contact topics are available:
5.1.The 3-D Line-to-Line Contact Element
5.2. Modeling Beam-to-Beam Contact
5.3. Performing a 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact Analysis

5.1. The 3-D Line-to-Line Contact Element


3-D line-to-line contact is represented in the ANSYS program by following the positions of lines on the
contact surface, modeled by CONTA176 elements, relative to lines on the target surface, modeled by TARGE170
elements. Line-to-line contact in three dimensions is depicted in the figure below.

Figure 5.1 Line-to-Line Contact Elements


CONTA176

Y
J
X
Z

3-D associated target


line segments (TARGE170)
The CONTA176 element type:

Has two nodes or three nodes.

Is paired with a target surface defined by TARGE170 elements.

Uses the same real constant set as used for the surface-to-surface contact elements. See Real Constants (p. 26) for more information.

Supports 3-D rigid-flexible and flexible-flexible contact.

Supports 3-D beams and pipes with or without midside nodes.

Can be generated by the ESURF command, similar to the surface-to-surface contact elements.

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Chapter 5: 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact

5.2. Modeling Beam-to-Beam Contact


There are three different scenarios for 3-D beam-to-beam contact:

Internal contact, where one beam slides inside another hollow beam (Figure 5.2 (p. 76)).

External contact, where two beams are roughly parallel and contact each other along their outer surfaces
(Figure 5.3 (p. 76)).

External contact, where contact between the exterior surfaces of two beams is pointwise (Figure
5.4 (p. 77)).

Figure 5.2 Internal Contact (One Beam Sliding Inside Another)

rt

TARGE170

n
rc
d

CONTA176

Figure 5.3 External Contact (Two Beams Roughly Parallel)


CONTA176

rc

rt

TARGE170

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5.3. Performing a 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact Analysis

Figure 5.4 External Contact (Two Beams Cross Each Other)


n
CONTA176
rc

rt

TARGE170
For all three scenarios shown above, use 3-D line segments (straight line or parabola) to define the target
surface (TARGE170). You can attach the contact elements and target elements to 3-D beams or pipes, which
can be first or second order elements. Both flexible-flexible and rigid-flexible contact between two beams
can be considered.
When modeling internal contact, the inner beam (or pipe) should usually be considered the contact surface
and the outer beam (or pipe) should be the target surface. The inner beam can be considered as the target
surface only when the inner beam is much stiffer than the outer beam. When modeling external contact,
the target surface should be associated with the stiffer beam or with the beam having the coarser mesh.

5.3. Performing a 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact Analysis


Contact element CONTA176 follows the contact pair concept used by the surface-to-surface elements
(CONTA171 through CONTA174). You must pair CONTA176 with 3-D target line segments (TARGE170) to
model 3-D beam-to-beam contact. See Identifying Contact Pairs (p. 12) for more information. CONTA176
uses most of the same element KEYOPTs and real constants as the surface-to-surface contact elements. Any
differences are described in the next section.
The basic steps for performing a 3-D beam-to-beam contact analysis are the same as those used for a typical
surface-to-surface analysis using CONTA171 through CONTA174. See Steps in a Contact Analysis (p. 11) for
details.
Use the ESURF command to generate CONTA176 elements between corresponding contact pairs. (In the
GUI, pick Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements> Surf/Contact> Surf to Surf.) This
procedure is similar to that used for the surface-to-surface contact elements. If the underlying elements of
target element TARGE170 are part of shell edges, use ESURF,,,LINE to generate 3-D line or parabola target
segments.
When using the line segments to form the target surface or using line-to-line contact elements to form the
contact surface, the nodes must be entered in a sequence that defines a continuous line, as shown in the
figure below.
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Chapter 5: 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact

Figure 5.5 Continuous Line Segments

The line can be made up of linear or parabolic segments, depending on whether the attached beam is made
up of first order or second order elements. If the nodal ordering of the underlying beam elements is not
consistent, you must either change them by reversing the node number order of the selected elements
(ESURF,,REVERSE command) or make a consistent element ordering (ENORM command).
You can list the CONTA176 results using the PRESOL,CONT or PRETAB commands. Since CONTA176 is a 3D line element, you can also use the PLLS command to display element table items.

5.3.1. KEYOPTs and Real Constants


CONTA176 uses most of the same KEYOPTs that are used by the surface-to-surface contact elements, CONTA171 through CONTA174. KEYOPT(3) and KEYOPT(4) differ from the other contact elements, and KEYOPT(11)
is not used by CONTA176. See Element KEYOPTS (p. 29) for a listing of the remaining KEYOPTs.
CONTA176 uses the same real constants used by the surface-to-surface contact elements (CONTA171 through
CONTA174), except for the units of FKN and FKT. See a listing of the real constants in Real Constants (p. 26).

5.3.1.1. Real Constants R1, R2


For beam-to-beam contact, an important assumption is that of constant circular beam cross section. The
contact radius is assumed to be the same for all CONTA176 elements in the contact pair. Likewise, the target
radius is assumed to be the same for all TARGE170 elements in the contact pair. You supply the target and
contact radii through real constants R1 and R2, respectively.
For a general beam cross section, you can use an equivalent circular beam in the contact definition (see
figure below). Use these guideline to define the equivalent circular cross section:

Determine the smallest cross section along the beam axis.

Determine the largest circle embedded in that cross section.

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5.3.1. KEYOPTs and Real Constants

Figure 5.6 Equivalent Circular Cross Section

Actual beam

Contact surface

Use the first real constant, R1, to define the radius on the target side (target radius rt). Use the second real
constant, R2, to define the radius on the contact side (contact radius rc).
The contact radius R2 is always a positive number. The target radius R1 can be entered as either a negative
or positive value. Use a negative value when modeling internal contact (a beam or pipe sliding within another beam or pipe), with the input value equal to the inner radius of the outer beam. Use a positive value
when modeling external contact between the exterior surfaces of two cylindrical beams.
For beam-to-beam contact, the thickness effect is accounted for through the contact and target radii.
Therefore, KEYOPT(11) (which is used for the surface-to-surface contact elements to include or exclude
thickness effects) is not used for CONTA176.

5.3.1.2. KEYOPT(3)
For CONTA176, KEYOPT(3) determines the type of beam-to-beam contact as follows:

Use KEYOPT(3) = 0 to model external contact between parallel beams or internal contact between beams
(a beam inside a hollow beam or a pipe inside a pipe). For this case, the sign of the target radius, R1,
will determine whether you are modeling parallel beams (R1 > 0) or a beam inside a beam (R1 < 0).

Use KEYOPT(3) = 1 to model beams that cross. The target radius must be a positive value.

5.3.1.3. Real Constants FKN and FKT


CONTA176 uses the contact force-based model. The units of real constants FKN and FKT have a factor of
AREA with respect to those used in the surface-to-surface contact elements. For instance, contact stiffness
FKN has units of FORCE/LENGTH in the force-based model, but FORCE/LENGTH3 in the surface-to-surface
contact elements. PRES is the contact normal force in the force based model, but contact pressure in CONTA171 to CONTA174.

5.3.1.4. Real Constant TOLS


For CONTA176, the contact normal is uniquely defined and is perpendicular to both the contact and the
target surfaces (two contacting beams). Real constant TOLS is used to add a small tolerance that will internally
extend the edge of the target surface. TOLS is useful for problems where contact nodes are likely to lie on
the edge of the target (as at symmetry planes or for models generated in a node-to-node contact pattern).
In these situations, the contact node may repeatedly slip off the target surface and be completely out of
contact, resulting in convergence difficulties from oscillations.

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Chapter 5: 3-D Beam-to-Beam Contact


Units for TOLS are percent (1.0 implies a 1.0% increase in the target edge length). A small value of TOLS will
usually prevent this situation from occurring. The default value is 10 for small deflection and 2 for large deflection (NLGEOM,ON).

5.3.1.5. KEYOPT(4)
You can use CONTA176 with the multipoint constraint (MPC) approach (KEYOPT(2) = 2) to define surfacebased constraints. The KEYOPT(4) setting will determine the type of surface-based constraint. Set KEYOPT(4)
= 1 for a force-distributed constraint, or set KEYOPT(4) = 0 for a rigid surface constraint. See Surface-based
Constraints for more information.

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Chapter 6: Line-to-Surface Contact


You can use the 3-D line-to-surface contact element, CONTA177, to model flexible-flexible or rigid-flexible
contact between a 3-D beam and a surface or between a shell edge and a surface.
The following line-to-surface contact topics are available:
6.1.The 3-D Line-to-Surface Contact Element
6.2. Performing a 3-D Line-to-Surface Contact Analysis

6.1. The 3-D Line-to-Surface Contact Element


3-D line-to-surface contact is represented in the ANSYS program by following the positions of lines on the
contact surface, modeled by CONTA177 elements, relative to 3-D surface segments on the target surface,
modeled by TARGE170 elements. Line-to-surface contact in three dimensions is depicted in the figure below.

Figure 6.1 Line-to-Surface Contact Elements


Y
CONTA177

X
Z

J
K

I
I

K J

CONTA177

Edge of
shell elements

3-D target surface


(TARGE170)
The CONTA177 element type:

Has two nodes or three nodes.

Is paired with a target surface defined by TARGE170 elements.

Uses the same real constant set as used for the surface-to-surface contact elements. See Real Constants (p. 26) for more information.

Supports 3-D rigid-flexible and flexible-flexible contact.

Supports 3-D beams and shell edges with or without midside nodes.

Can be generated by the ESURF command (similar to the surface-to-surface contact elements) in many
cases. See Performing a 3-D Line-to-Surface Contact Analysis (p. 82) for details.

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Chapter 6: Line-to-Surface Contact

6.2. Performing a 3-D Line-to-Surface Contact Analysis


Contact element CONTA177 follows the contact pair concept used by the surface-to-surface elements
(CONTA171 through CONTA174). You must pair CONTA177 with 3-D target surface segments (TARGE170)
to model 3-D beam-to-surface or 3-D shell edge-to-surface contact. See Identifying Contact Pairs (p. 12) for
more information. CONTA177 uses most of the same element KEYOPTs and real constants as the surface-tosurface contact elements. Any differences are described in the next section.
The basic steps for performing a 3-D line-to-surface contact analysis are the same as those used for a typical
surface-to-surface analysis using CONTA171 through CONTA174. See Steps in a Contact Analysis (p. 11) for
details.
When the underlying elements are beams or edges of shell elements you can use the ESURF command to
create CONTA177 elements. (In the GUI, pick Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements>
Surf/Contact> Surf to Surf.) This procedure is similar to that used for the surface-to-surface contact elements.
When using line-to-surface contact elements to form the contact surface, the nodes must be entered in a
sequence that defines a continuous line, as shown in the figure below.

Figure 6.2 Continuous Line Segments

The line can be made up of linear or parabolic segments, depending on whether the attached beam or shell
edge is made up of first order or second order elements. If the nodal ordering of the underlying beam elements is not consistent, you must either change them by reversing the node number order of the selected
elements (ESURF,,REVERSE command) or make a consistent element ordering (ENORM command).
You can list the CONTA177 results using the PRESOL,CONT or PRETAB commands. Since CONTA177 is a 3D line element, you can also use the PLLS command to display element table items.

6.2.1. KEYOPTs and Real Constants


CONTA177 uses most of the same KEYOPTs that are used by the surface-to-surface contact elements, CONTA171 through CONTA174. KEYOPT(4) differs from the other contact elements. KEYOPT(3) and KEYOPT(8)
are not used by CONTA177. See Element KEYOPTS (p. 29) for a listing of the remaining KEYOPTs.
CONTA177 uses the same real constants used by the surface-to-surface contact elements (CONTA171 through
CONTA174), except for the units of FKN and FKT. See Real Constants (p. 26) for a complete list.

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6.2.1. KEYOPTs and Real Constants

6.2.1.1. Real Constants FKN and FKT


CONTA177 uses the contact force-based model. (Since this is the only model used for this element, KEYOPT(3)
is not used.) The units of real constants FKN and FKT have a factor of AREA with respect to those used in
the surface-to-surface contact elements. For instance, contact stiffness FKN has units of FORCE/LENGTH in
the force-based model, but FORCE/LENGTH3 in the surface-to-surface contact elements. PRES is the contact
normal force in the force based model, but contact pressure in CONTA171 to CONTA174.

6.2.1.2. Accounting for Thickness Effect (CNOF and KEYOPT(11))


For line-to-surface contact, the thickness effect of underlying beam elements (on the contact side) is accounted
for through the contact offset real constant, CNOF. The thickness effect of underlying shell elements (on the
target side) is accounted for by setting KEYOPT(11).
For the case of a beam contacting a solid, input half of the beam thickness for CNOF; KEYOPT(11) is ignored.
For the case of a beam contacting a shell surface, input half of the beam thickness for CNOF and set KEYOPT(11) = 1 to include the shell thickness effect. CNOF remains constant for the entire contact pair during
the solution. For more information on using CNOF, see Adjusting Initial Contact Conditions (p. 43). For more
information on using KEYOPT(11), see Using KEYOPT(11) (p. 56).

6.2.1.3. Real Constant TOLS


For CONTA177, the contact normal is uniquely defined and is perpendicular to the target surfaces. Real
constant TOLS is used to add a small tolerance that will internally extend the edge of the target surface.
TOLS is useful for problems where contact nodes are likely to lie on the edge of the target (as at symmetry
planes or for models generated in a node-to-node contact pattern). In these situations, the contact node
may repeatedly slip off the target surface and be completely out of contact, resulting in convergence difficulties from oscillations.
Units for TOLS are percent (1.0 implies a 1.0% increase in the target edge length). A small value of TOLS will
usually prevent this situation from occurring. The default value is 10 for small deflection and 2 for large deflection (NLGEOM,ON).

6.2.1.4. KEYOPT(4)
You can use CONTA177 with the multipoint constraint (MPC) approach (KEYOPT(2) = 2) to define surfacebased constraints. The KEYOPT(4) setting will determine the type of surface-based constraint. Set KEYOPT(4)
= 1 for a force-distributed constraint, or set KEYOPT(4) = 0 for a rigid surface constraint. See Surface-based
Constraints for more information.

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Chapter 7: Multiphysics Contact


Multiphysics applications (involving two or more fields) often require the inclusion of contact interaction
between two or more surfaces or between a surface and its surroundings. These contact interactions can
be modeled by using the thermal, electric, and magnetic capabiities of the surface-to-surface and node-tosurface contact elements (CONTA171, CONTA172, CONTA173, CONTA174, and CONTA175) .
The following multiphysics contact topics are available:
7.1. Modeling Thermal Contact
7.2. Modeling Electric Contact
7.3. Modeling Magnetic Contact

7.1. Modeling Thermal Contact


You can use surface-to-surface contact elements and the node-to-surface contact element, in combination
with thermal-structural coupled field solid elements or thermal elements, to model heat transfer that occurs
in the contact surface. To activate both the structural and thermal DOFs, set KEYOPT(1) = 1. To activate the
thermal DOF only, set KEYOPT(1) = 2.
The following thermal contact features are supported.

Thermal contact conduction between two contacting surfaces.

Heat convection from a free surface to the environment or between two open surfaces separated by
small gap (near field convection).

Heat radiation from a free surface to the environment or between two open surfaces separated by a
small gap (near field radiation).

Heat generation due to frictional dissipation.

Heat flux input.

Note
When KEYOPT(1) is set to 2 (thermal DOF only), ANSYS ignores heat generation due to friction.

7.1.1. Thermal Contact Behavior vs. Contact Status


Each contact pair can cover one or more thermal contact features. Which feature is active depends on the
contact status:
Closed Contact: Thermal contact conduction transfers heat between two contacting surfaces.
Frictional Sliding: Frictional dissipated energy generates the heat to both the contact and target surfaces.
Near-Field Contact: Both heat convection and radiation between the contact and target surfaces are
taken into account. The external flux value contributes to the contact surface.
Free-Surface Contact: Heat convection and radiation between the contact surface and the environment
are taken into account. The external flux value only contributes to both contact and target surfaces.

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Chapter 7: Multiphysics Contact


Free-surface contact refers to either far-field contact or a user-specified free thermal surface (KEYOPT(3)
= 1 on the target element).

7.1.2. Free Thermal Surface


If you wish to model free surface convection, free surface radiation, or a surface with a supplied heat flux
value, you can define a free thermal surface. A free thermal surface can be a contact surface with no associated target (that is, the contact pair lacks target elements). You can also set KEYOPT(3) = 1 of the target
element type definition to define a free thermal surface. When this KEYOPT is set, both free surface radiation
and convection are considered as long as open contact is detected. In this case, there is no convective and
radiative heat transfer between the contact and target surfaces.

7.1.3. Temperature on Target Surface


For interface heat conduction, near field convection, or near field radiation, a temperature for both the
contact and target surfaces is required. For a general target surface, the temperature varies along the surface
(see figure below). In this case, the temperature at the intersection between the target surface and the
normal from the contact detection point represents the target temperature. For a rigid target, the temperature on the pilot node represents the entire rigid target surface temperature, if the pilot node exists.

Figure 7.1 Target Temperature

Target
Target temperature
at the intersection
Far-field
contact
Contact

7.1.4. Modeling Conduction


To take into account the conductive heat transfer between contact and target surfaces, you need to specify
the thermal contact conductance coefficient which is real constant TCC.

7.1.4.1. Using TCC


The conductive heat transfer between two contacting surfaces is defined by
q = TCC X (Tt -Tc)
where:
q: is the heat flux per area.

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7.1.5. Modeling Convection


TCC: is the thermal contact conductance coefficient, having units of HEAT/(TIME * TEMPERATURE) for
force-based node-to-surface contact, or units of HEAT/(TIME * TEMPERATURE * AREA) for the tractionbased model.
Tt and Tc: are the temperatures of the contact points on the target and contact surfaces.
The TCC value is input through a real constant, which can be made a function of temperature [(Tc + Tt)/2],
pressure, time, and location by using the %TABLE% option. TCC has units of heat/(time x area x temp). If
contact occurs, a small value of TCC yields a measure amount of imperfect contact and a temperature discontinuity across the interface. For large values of TCC, the resulting temperature discontinuity tends to
vanish and perfect thermal contact is approached. When not in contact, however, it is assumed that no heat
is transferred across the interface. To model contact conduction between two surfaces where a small gap
exists, use KEYOPT(12) = 4 or 5 to define either the bonded contact or no-separation contact options
(see Selecting Surface Interaction Models).

7.1.4.2. Using the Quasi Solver Option


You can take advantage of the fast thermal transient solver option (THOPT,QUASI) in the contact analysis.
(See Nonlinear Options in the Thermal Analysis Guide for more information on this solver option.) To do so,
you must use the following contact element key options:
KEYOPT(1) = 2 - Temperature DOF only
KEYOPT(12) = 5 or 6 - Bonded always or bonded initial
The following solver options must also be set:
ANTYPE,TRANS
THOPT,QUASI
EQSLV,JCG/ICCG
The following two cases are supported:

Thermal conductivity at contact. The only real constant used is TCC, which can be a function of time
and temperature.

Perfect thermal contact which supports dissimilar meshes on both sides of the contacting interface (TCC
= infinity). This case requires the internal MPC approach (KEYOPT(2) = 2) and contact nodal detections
(KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2) or CONTA175.

7.1.5. Modeling Convection


To model convective heat transfer, you must specify the heat convection coefficient CONV using the SFE
command (with KVAL = 1 and CONV as a table parameter). CONV can be a constant value (only uniform is
allowed) or a function of temperature, time, or location as specified through tabular input. For free surface
convection (see Thermal Contact Behavior vs. Contact Status (p. 85) for a definition of free-surface contact),
you must also specify bulk temperature through the SFE command (with KVAL = 2 and CONV as a table
parameter). You can access this command through the following GUI paths:
Main Menu> Preprocessor> Loads> Define Loads> Apply> Thermal> Convection> On Elements>
Uniform
Main Menu> Solution> Define Loads> Apply> Thermal> Convection> On Elements> Uniform
The SFE surface load must be applied to the contact elements only. If either the convection coefficient or
bulk temperature is not specified, the convection loading will not be active.

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7.1.6. Modeling Radiation


7.1.6.1. Background
To model radiative heat transfer, you need to specify the following:

Emissivity value EMIS, specified through the material property definition.

Stefan-Boltzmann constant SBCT through a real constant.

Offset temperature TOFFST. If you define your data in terms of degrees Fahrenheit or degrees Celsius,
you must specify a temperature offset using the TOFFST command. You can access this command
through the following GUI paths:
Main Menu> Preprocessor> Loads> Analysis Type> Analysis Options
Main Menu> Preprocessor> Material Props

Radiation view factor RDVF, specified through a real constant (defaults to 1).

Environment (ambient) temperature. It is only used for modeling radiation between a portion of the
contact surface to the environment when the contact status is free-surface contact (see Thermal Contact
Behavior vs. Contact Status (p. 85)). The temperature is only applied on the contact elements and is input
on the SFE command with KVAL = 2 and CONV as a table parameter (this is the same as the bulk temperature in free surface convection modeling). If the environment temperature is not specified through
the SFE command, the free surface radiation loading will not be active.

7.1.6.2. Using SBCT and RDVF


When contact is open, heat transfer through radiation can occur. The equation is defined by
q = RDVF x EMIS x SBCT [(Te + TOFFST)4 - (Tc + TOFFST)4]
Where
TOFFST: The temperature offset from absolute zero to zero (defined through the TOFFST command.)
EMIS: The surface emissivity (input as material property).
SBCT: The Stefan-Boltzmann constant (input as a real constant). There is no default for SBCT, and if this
is not defined the radiation effect is excluded.
RDVF: The radiation view factor input as a real constant (defaults to 1). RDVF can be defined as a function
of temperature, gap distance, time, and location by using the %TABLE% option. It is only used for near
field radiation. For far field radiation, RDVF is set to 1.0 and a user-assigned value is ignored. Other freesurface conditions recognize user-specified RDVF.
For near-field radiation, when an intersection from a contact detection point to the target surface (in the
direction of normal to the contact point) is detected, and the gap distance is smaller than the pinball radius,
Te is the target temperature at the intersection. The radiation modeling here assumes that the radiative heat
transfer occurs in the direction of the normal between two surfaces with a small gap. By defining RDVF as
a function of gap, you can account for geometry effects. Use the Radiosity Solver method for more generalized
radiation problems (see the Thermal Analysis Guide for more information).
For free-surface contact radiation, Te becomes the ambient temperature defined by bulk temperature
input on the SFE command (with KVAL = 2 and CONV as the table). For a definition of free-surface contact,
see Thermal Contact Behavior vs. Contact Status (p. 85).

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7.2. Modeling Electric Contact

7.1.7. Modeling Heat Generation Due to Friction


7.1.7.1. Background
In order to model heat generation due to frictional dissipated energy, you should perform a coupled transient
thermal-structural analysis. If you wish you can turn off transient effects on structural DOFs by using
TIMINT,STRUC,OFF. However, you must include transient effects on the thermal DOF. Two real constants
are required:

FHTG is the frictional dissipated energy converted into heat.

FWGT is the weight factor for the distribution of heat between contact and target surfaces.

7.1.7.2. Using FHTG and FWGT


In the coupled thermal-structural contact modeling, the rate of frictional dissipation is given by
q = FHTG x x V
Where
: The equivalent frictional stress.
V: The sliding rate.
FHTG: The fraction of frictional dissipated energy converted into heat. This value defaults to 1 and can
be input as a real constant. For an input of true 0, you must enter a very small value (for example, 1E8). If you enter 0, ANSYS interprets this as an input of the default value.
The amount of frictional dissipation on contact and target surfaces is defined by
qc = FWGT x FHTG x x V
and
qT = (1 - FWGT) x FHTG x x V
Where qc is the contact side and qT is the target side, and FWGT is the weight factor for the distribution of
heat between the contact and target surfaces (input as a real constant). By default, FWGT = 0.5. For an input
of true 0, you must enter a very small value (for example, 1E-8). If you enter 0, ANSYS interprets this as an
input of the default value.

7.1.8. Modeling External Heat Flux


You can apply heat flux on the contact elements through the SFE command. Only uniform flux can be applied.
Heat flux cannot be applied on target elements. However, for near field contact, the external flux is applied
on contact and will contribute to target elements.
For a free thermal surface, if KEYOPT(3) of the target element is set to 1, the external flux is only applied on
the contact side. On a given contact element either CONV or HFLUX (but not both) may be specified. However,
you can define two different contact pairs: one models convection and the other models heat flux.

7.2. Modeling Electric Contact


You can use surface-to-surface contact elements or the node-to-surface contact element, in combination
with thermal-electric elements and solid coupled field elements to model electric current conduction. You
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Chapter 7: Multiphysics Contact


can also use surface-to-surface contact elements, in combination with piezoelectric and electrostatic elements,
to model electric charge across a contacting interface.
KEYOPT(1) provides degree of freedom options for modeling electric contact. For combined structural/thermal/electric contact, set KEYOPT(1) = 3 to activate the structural, thermal, and electric current DOFs.
For pure thermal/electric contact, set KEYOPT(1) = 4 to activate the thermal and electric current DOFs. For
piezoelectric contact, set KEYOPT(1) = 5 to activate the structural and piezoelectric DOFs. For electrostatic
contact, set KEYOPT(1) = 6 to activate the electrostatic DOF.
The electric contact features are:

Electric conduction between two contacting surfaces.

Heat generation due to electric dissipation.

Electric charge across the contacting interface.

7.2.1. Modeling Surface Interaction


7.2.1.1. Background
To take into account the surface interaction for electric contact, you need to specify the electric contact
conductance per unit area if you are using the electric current degree of freedom, or the electric contact
capacitance per unit area if you are using the piezoelectric or electrostatic degrees of freedom. For either
case, this parameter is ECC. You specify ECC through a real constant table. You can use a tabular input to
define ECC as a function of contact pressure (pressure as a table), average temperature on contact detection
point (temperature as a table), and time. If the bonded contact or no-separation contact option is set,
contact interaction can occur between two surfaces separated by a narrow gap.

7.2.1.2. Using ECC


The interaction between two contacting surfaces is defined by
J = ECC x (Vt - Vc)
where:
J = current density for the electric potential (VOLT) degree of freedom (KEYOPT(1) = 3 or 4), or the electric
charge density (KEYOPT(1) = 5, or 6).
ECC = electric contact conductance for the electric potential (VOLT) degree of freedom (KEYOPT(1) = 3
or 4), or the electric contact capacitance per unit area for (KEYOPT(1) = 5, or 6).
Vt and Vc = voltages at the contact points on the target and contact surfaces.
The ECC value is input through a real constant, which can be a function of temperature [(Tt + Tc)/2], pressure,
and time, by using the %TABLE% option. For the current conduction option, the electric contact conductance
ECC has units of electric conductivity/length. For the piezoelectric and electrostatic options, the electric
contact capacitance ECC has units of capacitance per unit area. To model surface interaction between two
surfaces where a small gap exists, use KEYOPT(12) = 4 or 5 to define either the bonded contact or noseparation contact options (see Selecting Surface Interaction Models).

Note
For force-based node-to-surface contact, ECC has units of (electric conductivity)*(LENGTH) or the
capacitance.
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7.3. Modeling Magnetic Contact

7.2.2. Modeling Heat Generation Due to Electric Current


For electric current field analyses (KEYOPT(1) = 3 or 4), the heat generation due to electric current is given
by
q = FHEG x J x (VT - VC)
Where
FHEG: The fraction of electric dissipated energy converted into heat (Joule heating). This value defaults
to 1 and can be input as a real constant. For an input of true 0, you must enter a very small value (for
example, 1E-8). If you enter 0, ANSYS interprets this as an input of the default value.
J: The current density.
Vt and Vc: The voltages at the contact points on the target and contact surfaces.
The amount of electric heat dissipation on contact and target surfaces is defined by
qc = FWGT x q
and
qT = (1 - FWGT) x q
Where qc is the contact side and qT is the target side, and FWGT is the weight factor for the contact heat
dissipation between the contact and target surfaces (input as a real constant). FWGT is the same real constant
used for frictional heat generation. By default, FWGT = 0.5. For an input of true 0, you must enter a very
small value (for example, 1E-8). If you enter 0, ANSYS interprets this as an input of the default value.

7.3. Modeling Magnetic Contact


You can use surface-to-surface contact elements or the node-to-surface contact element to model magnetic
flux across two contacted bodies. The following situations are possible.

Non-perfect contact to account for the effects of a small air gap between mating components. This
typically occurs at the interface between adjoining bodies. In this situation, there is a gap permeance
effect where an MMF drop occurs. You can model this effect by inputting the gap permeance real
constant, MCC. This option works best if the magnetic flux is normal to the gap interface.

Perfect contact across dissimilar meshes. This is typically used to model the air gap in a machine, for
example, where the rotor and stator meshes meet.

For both types of magnetic contact, you must set KEYOPT(1) = 7 to select the degree-of-freedom option.
For the 2-D case, the magnetic potential degree of fredom, AZ, is active. For the 3-D case, only the scalar
potential degree of freedom, MAG, is active, and scalar potential formulations (reduced (RSP), difference
(DSP), or general (GSP)) are available (see MAGOPT).

Note
3-D magnetic contact is not supported for the MVP formulation (AX, AY, AZ), and the edge-based
formulation (AZ).

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Chapter 7: Multiphysics Contact

Note
Non-perfect magnetic contact is only available for the 3D contact elements, CONTA173 and
CONTA174.
For more information on which element types should be used for a particular analysis, see the element discussions in the appropriate chapter of the Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Analysis Guide. For information on
the use of the AZ degree of freedom, see Specifying Element Types and Options. For more information on
the use of the MAG DOF, see Build the Model.
For details on how to set up a contact analysis, see Steps in a Contact Analysis.
For an example input listing showing a 2-D static magnetic contact analysis, see Doing an Example 2-D
Static Magnetic Contact Analysis (Command Method).

7.3.1. Using MCC


The magnetic flux across the contacting interface is defined by:
MFLUX = MCC x (Mt - Mc)
where:
MFLUX = magnetic flux density
Mt , Mc = magnetic potential at the contact points on the target and contact surfaces
MCC = contact permeance coefficient (Henries/meters2 in MKS units)
The MCC value is input through a real constant, which can be a function of temperature [(Tt + Tc)/2], pressure,
and time, by using the %TABLE% option. MCC values can be approximated as /t, where is the gap permeability and t is the gap width.
If the "no-separation contact" or "bonded contact" option is set (KEYOPT(12) = 4 or 5), contact interaction
can occur between two surfaces separated by a narrow gap.

7.3.2. Modeling Perfect Magnetic Contact


Perfect magnetic contact supports dissimilar meshes on both sides of the contacting interface (MCC = infinity).
You must use the internal MPC approach by setting KEYOPT(2) = 2. You must also set KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2
for contact nodal detection, and KEYOPT(12) = 5, 6 for bonded contact.

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Chapter 8: Node-to-Node Contact


You can use node-to-node contact elements to model point-to-point contact (flexible-flexible or rigid-flexible).
Additionally, you can use these elements to represent contact between two surfaces by specifying individual
node-to-node contact between the opposing nodes of each surface. This use requires that the nodes of the
two opposing surfaces match up geometrically and that the relative sliding between the two surfaces is
negligible. In addition, the deflections (rotations) of the two surfaces must remain small.
The following node-to-node contact topics are available:
8.1. Node-to-Node Contact Elements
8.2. Performing a Node-to-Node Contact Analysis

8.1. Node-to-Node Contact Elements


The most commonly used node-to-node element is shown in the following figure.

Figure 8.1 Node-to-Node Contact Element

In terms of solution CPU time, the CONTA178 element shown is the simplest and least expensive of all
contact element types. When modeling conditions warrant its use, it can be an effective tool for modeling
a variety of contact situations. Following are some notable features offered with CONTA178:

Several contact algorithms, including the Lagrange method (KEYOPT(2))

Semiautomatic contact stiffness (real constants FKN-FKS)

Flexibility for defining contact normal

Many contact behaviors (KEYOPT(10))

Cylindrical gap with friction (KEYOPT(4) = 4)

Damper (real constants CV1, CV2)

8.2. Performing a Node-to-Node Contact Analysis


The procedure for performing a node-to-node contact analysis is similar to that described for the node-tosurface contact elements in Node-to-Surface Contact (p. 71). The following describes the typical steps in a
node-to-node contact analysis. Each of these steps is explained in detail.
1.

Create the geometry and mesh the model.

2.

Generate the contact elements.

3.

Define the contact normal.

4.

Define the initial interference or gap.

5.

Select the contact algorithm.

6.

Apply the necessary boundary conditions.


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Chapter 8: Node-to-Node Contact


7.

Define the solution options.

8.

Solve the problem.

9.

Review the results.

8.2.1. Creating Geometry and Meshing the Model


Node-to-node contact elements transmit forces at the nodes (compared to surface-to-surface contact elements
which transmit pressures at Gauss points). This feature limits their use to low order elements only.
You must identify where contact might occur during the deformation of your model. The nodes on the two
surfaces of potential contact must line up. Once you've identified potential contact surfaces and created an
adequate mesh you can create the contact elements.

8.2.2. Generating Contact Elements


You can generate node-to-node contact element in one of two ways:
1.

Use the direct generation method:


Command(s): E
GUI: Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements> User Numbered> Thru Nodes

2.

Use the EINTF command to generate the contact elements automatically at coincident nodes or offset
nodes. This is discussed in detail in the following subsections.

8.2.2.1. Generating Contact Elements Automatically at Coincident Nodes


If the two bodies are in the just touching position, you can use the EINTF command to automatically
generate the contact elements. In this case, the menu path is Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling>
Create> Elements> Auto Numbered> At Coincident Nodes. Only nodes within the tolerance value set in
the first argument (TOLER) are considered as coincident. If you wish to check a subset of nodes for coincidence,
first select all the nodes you wish to check using the NSEL command.

8.2.2.2. Generating Contact Elements Automatically at Offset Nodes


If the two bodies are separated by a gap, the EINTF command can be used to create elements between
offset nodes by specifying the node location increments (DX, DY, DZ) in the coordinate system KCN. The
GUI path is Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Elements> Auto Numbered> Offset Nodes.
If KOPT is set to 1, the nodes belonging to the contact elements created are rotated into the coordinate
system KCN.
For example, the following figure shows contact between two concentric pipes separated by a gap. In this
example, KCN would be a cylindrical coordinate system centered in O, and DX would be set in ( TOLER).

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8.2.3. Defining the Contact Normal

Figure 8.2 Contact Between Two Concentric Pipes

8.2.2.3. Node Ordering


Node ordering can be critical in determining the contact normal. You can use EINTF,,,LOW or EINTF,,,HIGH
to control node ordering. When using the LOW argument, the 2-node elements are generated from the
lowest numbered node to the highest numbered node. When using HIGH, 2-node elements are generated
from the highest to the lowest. To check the contact normal, use /PSYMB,ESYS. If you discover that the ordering is incorrect, you can reverse it using EINTF,,,REVE. To determine which side of the interface contains
the I nodes, use the following commands:
ESEL,,ENAME,,178
NSLE,,POS,1
ESLN
NSLE
EPLOT

8.2.3. Defining the Contact Normal


The contact normal direction is of primary importance in a contact analysis with CONTA178. By default
[KEYOPT(5) = 0 and NX, NY, NZ = 0], ANSYS will calculate the contact normal direction based on the initial
positions of the I and J nodes, such that a positive displacement (in the element coordinate system) of node
J relative to node I opens the gap. However, you must specify the contact normal direction for any of the
following conditions:

If nodes I and J have the same initial coordinates.

If the model has an initial interference condition in which the underlying elements' geometry overlaps.

If the initial open gap distance is very small.

In the above cases, the ordering of nodes I and J is critical. The correct contact normal usually points from
node I toward node J unless contact is initially overlapped.
You can specify the contact normal by means of real constants NX, NY, NZ (direction cosines related to the
global Cartesian system) or element KEYOPT(5). The following lists the various options for KEYOPT(5):

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KEYOPT(5) = 0
The contact normal is either based on the real constant values of NX, NY, NZ or on node locations when
NX, NY, NZ are not defined. For two dimensional contact, NZ = 0.
KEYOPT(5) = 1 (2,3)
The contact normal points in a direction which averages the direction cosines of the X (Y, Z) axis of the
nodal coordinates on both nodes I and J. The direction cosines on nodes I and J should be very close.
This option may be supported by the NORA and NORL commands, which rotate the X axis of the nodal
coordinate system to point to the surface normal of solid models. The GUI paths for these commands
are, respectively:
Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Move/Modify> Rotate Node CS> To Surf Normal> On
Areas
Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Move/Modify> Rotate Node CS> To Surf Normal> On
Lines
Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Move/Modify> Rotate Node CS> To Surf Normal> With
Area

Figure 8.3 Two Concentric Pipes, Normals Rotated Properly

For a pipe-within-a-pipe, this portrays the normals rotated properly.


KEYOPT(5) = 4 (5,6)
The contact normal points to X (Y, Z) of the element coordinate system issued by the ESYS command.
If you use this option, make sure that the element coordinate system specified by ESYS is the Cartesian
system.

8.2.4. Defining the Initial Interference or Gap


With CONTA178, the gap size can be automatically calculated from the GAP real constant plus the node
locations (projection of vector points from node I to J on the contact normal). This is the default (KEYOPT(4)
= 0) This means that if you want the initial gap to be determined by the node locations only, set KEYOPT(4)
= 0 and the real constant GAP to 0.
If KEYOPT(4) = 1, the initial gap size is only based on the real constant GAP (it ignores the node location).
A negative value for the gap size can be used to model initial interference.
You can ramp initial interference using KEYOPT(9) = 1.

8.2.5. Selecting the Contact Algorithm


You can choose from among the following contact algorithms for CONTA178:
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8.2.7. Defining the Solution Options

Pure Lagrange Multiplier

Lagrange multiplier on the contact normal, penalty on the frictional (tangential) direction.

Augmented Lagrange method

Pure penalty method.

When using CONTA178 with the pure penalty method or the augmented Lagrange method, a semiautomatic
setting is provided for the contact normal and tangential stiffnesses.
ANSYS provides a default normal contact stiffness FKN, which is based on Young's modulus E and the size
of the underlying elements. FKN and FKS are factors. If you want to import absolute values for FKN and FKS,
use negative values.

8.2.6. Applying Necessary Boundary Conditions


You can now apply necessary boundary conditions as you would do for any ANSYS analysis. For more information on applying boundary conditions, see the appropriate analysis description in the Structural Analysis
Guide.
When using the Lagrange multiplier method, be careful not to overconstrain the model. The model is overconstrained when a contact constraint at a node conflicts with a prescribed boundary condition on that
degree of freedom at the same node. The following figure illustrates this issue:

Figure 8.4 Example of Overconstrained Contact Problem

Both nodes I and J are fixed in the X direction. The model is overconstrained only when the two bodies are
in contact and bonded contact or rough friction has been defined. It can also occur if the contact status is
sticking, In these cases, the constraint in the X-direction is duplicated which causes an overconstrained
model.
Zero Pivot and Numerical Singularity warning messages indicate overcontraints in a model. Overconstraints
can lead to convergence difficulties and/or inaccurate results. They can be easily avoided by changing the
contact definition or the boundary conditions.

8.2.7. Defining the Solution Options


Convergence behavior for contact problems depends strongly on the particular problem. The options listed
below are either typical or recommended for most node-to-node contact analyses.

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Chapter 8: Node-to-Node Contact

Set the appropriate auto time step behavior using KEYOPT(7). The SOLCONTROL command turns this
off by default.

The time step size must be small enough to capture the proper contact zone. The smooth transfer of
contact forces is disrupted if the time step size is too large. A reliable way to set an accurate time step
size is to turn automatic time stepping on. The SOLCONTROL command turns this on by default.
Command(s): AUTOTS,ON
GUI: Main Menu> Solution> Analysis Type> Sol'n Control ( : Basic Tab)
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Time/Frequenc> Time-Time Step
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Time/Frequenc> Time and Substps

Set the number of equilibrium equations to a number that is appropriate for a reasonable time step
size. With SOLCONTROL,ON, this command defaults to between 15 and 26 iterations, depending upon
the physics of the problem.
Command(s): NEQIT
GUI: Main Menu> Solution> Analysis Type> Sol'n Control ( : Nonlinear Tab)
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Nonlinear> Equilibrium Iter

Turn the predictor-corrector option on.


Command(s): PRED
GUI: Main Menu> Solution> Analysis Type> Sol'n Control ( : Nonlinear Tab)
Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Load Step Opts> Nonlinear> Predictor

Set the Newton-Raphson option to FULL, with adaptive descent on.


Command(s): NROPT,FULL,,ON
GUI: Main Menu> Solution> Unabridged Menu> Analysis Type> Analysis Options

For analysis involving friction, using NROPT, UNSYM is useful (and sometimes required if the coefficient
of friction is > 0.2) for problems where the normal and tangential (sliding) motions are strongly
coupled.

NLGEOM, ON is supported but the contact normal is not updated during the analysis. Make sure that
only small rotations occur along the contact surfaces (except for the cylindrical gap option).

Many convergence failures in contact analysis are the result of using too large a value for contact stiffness
(real constant KN). Be sure to follow the recommendations given previously in this section for an initial
estimate for contact stiffness. If such estimated values lead to a convergence failure, reduce the contact
stiffness and restart. (You must also explicitly define the tangent stiffness - see the Note below.)

Conversely, if overpenetration occurred in your contact analysis, you probably used a value of KN that
was too small. In this case, gradually increase the contact stiffness value to an appropriate level by redefining it using new R commands over several load steps in a restart. (You must also explicitly define
the tangent stiffness - see the Note statement below.)

Note
Although you can change the contact stiffness value (real constant KN), you cannot change any
other real constants between load steps. Therefore, if you plan to change KN in a restart (or from
one load step to the next), you cannot allow the value of the tangent (or "sticking") contact
stiffness (real constant KT) to be defined by default, because the program would then attempt
to redefine the tangent stiffness as the contact stiffness changed. You must explicitly define the
tangent stiffness whenever you change the contact stiffness to maintain a consistent value for
the tangent stiffness throughout all load steps.

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8.2.9. Reviewing the Results

8.2.8. Solving the Problem


You can now solve the analysis the same as you would for any linear or nonlinear analysis. See Solve the
Analysis in the Structural Analysis Guide.

8.2.9. Reviewing the Results


Postprocessing of contact result items for these elements requires the use of ETABLE commands.
The steps for reviewing results in POST26 are the same as those for a typical nonlinear analysis See Reviewing
Results in POST26 in the Structural Analysis Guide.
For general information on postprocessing, refer to the Basic Analysis Guide.

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Chapter 9: Multipoint Constraints and Assemblies


You can use the internal multipoint constraint (MPC) approach (KEYOPT(2) = 2), in conjunction with certain
bonded and no separation contact definitions (KEYOPT(12) = 4, 5, or 6), to define various contact assemblies
and kinematic constraints. This capability is available for contact elements CONTA171, CONTA172, CONTA173,
CONTA174, CONTA175, CONTA176, and CONTA177. By this method, the program builds MPC equations internally based on the contact kinematics. You can use this method to model the following contact assemblies
and surface-based constraints:

Solid-solid assembly - both contact and target surfaces paste onto solid element faces

Shell-shell assembly - both contact and target surfaces paste onto shell element faces

Shell-solid assembly - the contact surface pastes onto shell element faces and the target surfaces paste
onto solid element faces

Rigid surface constraint - the contact nodes are constrained to the rigid body motion defined by the
pilot node (similar to the CERIG command)

Force-distributed constraint - the forces or displacements applied to the pilot node are distributed to
contact nodes, in an average sense, through shape functions (similar to the RBE3 command)

Beam-solid assembly - one beam end-node is the pilot node which connects to the solid or shell surface
(use the rigid surface constraint or force-distributed constraint type of MPC)

The internal MPC approach can overcome the drawbacks of the traditional contact algorithms and other
multipoint constraint tools available in ANSYS. For example:

Degrees of freedom of the contact surface nodes are eliminated, reducing the wave front size of the
system equation solver.

No contact stiffness is required as input. For a small deformation problem, this represents true linear
contact behavior; no iterations are needed to solve the system of equations. For large deformation
problems, the MPC equations are updated during each iteration, overcoming the small strain restriction
in conventional constraint equations.

Both translational and rotational degrees of freedom can be constrained.

Generation of internal MPC is simple because it uses contact pair definitions.

Shape functions are taken into account automatically; no weight factor is needed for a force-distributed
multipoint constraint (which is similar to the RBE3 command) if you use higher order elements or
axisymmetric elements. In addition to forces, displacements can be applied on the pilot node for this
type of MPC.

The following MPC topics are available:


9.1. Modeling Solid-Solid and Shell-Shell Assemblies
9.2. Modeling a Shell-Solid Assembly
9.3. Surface-Based Constraints
9.4. Modeling Rigid Bodies
9.5. Overconstraint Detection and Elimination
9.6. Restrictions and Recommendations for Internal MPC

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Before using the internal MPC feature, be sure to review the last topic listed above on restrictions and recommendations.

9.1. Modeling Solid-Solid and Shell-Shell Assemblies


To define solid-solid or shell-shell assemblies using the internal MPC approach, you must set the following
key options on the contact elements:
KEYOPT(2) = 2

MPC based approach

KEYOPT(12) = 4, 5, or
6

No separation (see note below), bonded always, or


bonded initial

KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2

Nodal detection for CONTA171, CONTA172, CONTA173, CONTA174

KEYOPT(4) = 0 or 1

Contact normal direction for CONTA175

Note
When used with the MPC approach, the no separation option (KEYOPT(12) = 4) is only valid for
modeling solid-solid assemblies that represent a slider line or slider plane.
The following key options are ignored: KEYOPT(8) (it is always set to 2 internally), KEYOPT(10).
The following real constants are used: R1, R2, ICONT, PINB, CNOF, PMAX, PMIN, TOLS. All other real constants
are ignored.
This function works similarly to the CEINTF command for small deformation analysis (NLGEOM,OFF). Comparing it to the CEINTF command, the contact surface acts as "region A nodes," and the target surface acts
as "region B elements."
The contact surface must be defined on the deformable bodies, and the target surface must be defined on
either deformable or rigid bodies in the contact pair. In order to prevent overconstraint, only asymmetric
contact is supported. If symmetric pairs are defined, ANSYS will automatically pick one pair and ignore the
other pair (acting as KEYOPT(8) = 2). The self-contact pair definition is not supported.
If the temperature degree of freedom is active in the model (KEYOPT(1) = 1 or 2), ANSYS will build MPC
equations not only for structural degrees of freedom, but also for the temperature DOF. In this case, the real
constant TCC is ignored. If only the temperature DOF is set (KEYOPT(1) = 2) and other solution options are
defined (ANTYPE,,TRANS; THOPT,QUASI; EQSLV,JCG/ICCG), the internal MPC approach can support fast
thermal transient analysis (see Nonlinear Options in the Thermal Analysis Guide). Internal MPC equations for
temperature DOF are built to support heat transfer between the two bonded surfaces.
For the bonded always option (KEYOPT(12) = 5) and no separation option (KEYOPT(12) = 4), any contact
node that lies inside the pinball region (PINB) can be the constrained node in the MPC definition if an intersection with the target surface is detected in the contact normal direction. This holds true at the beginning
of deformation, as well as during the deformation process. A relatively small PINB may be used to prevent
any false contact. When KEYOPT(12) is set to the bonded always or no separation option, PINB defaults to
0.25 (25% of the contact depth) for small deformation analysis (NLGEOM,OFF), and 0.5 (50% of the contact
depth) for large deformation analysis (NLGEOM,ON). (The default PINB value may differ from what is described
here if CNOF is input. See Using PINB (p. 51) for more information.)
For the "bonded initial" option (KEYOPT(12) = 6), only those contact nodes that are initially in contact or
have a very small gap but lie inside the adjustment zone (ICONT) are always constrained via internal MPC.
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9.1. Modeling Solid-Solid and Shell-Shell Assemblies


Those contact nodes that are initially open will never be constrained, even though they may later penetrate
into the target surface during the deformation process. In order to capture contact, you should specify
proper ICONT or CNOF values. Use CNCHECK in conjunction with ICONT to move all the contact nodes that
are inside the ICONT zone onto the target surface in the initial configuration, without causing any strain.
When the "bonded initial" option is set and KEYOPT(5) = 0 or 4, ICONT defaults to 0.05. See Adjusting Initial
Contact Conditions (p. 43) for more information on using KEYOPT(5), CNOF, and ICONT.
You can use KEYOPT(4) on the target element (TARGE169 or TARGE170) to control individual degrees of
freedom for the constraint. For example, if you are using TARGE170 elements with 3-D contact elements,
you might specify that only UX, UY, and ROTZ be used in the constraint. You can do this by entering a six
digit value for KEYOPT(4). The first to sixth digits represent ROTZ, ROTY, ROTX, UZ, UY, UX, respectively. The
number 1 (one) indicates the DOF is active, and the number 0 (zero) indicates the DOF is not active. Therefore,
to specify that UX, UY, and ROTZ be used in the constraint, you would enter 100011 as the KEYOPT(4) value.
For the 3-D case, you can also use KEYOPT(5) of the target element (TARGE170) to explicitly define the type
of constraint. In most cases, ANSYS will automatically constrain the translational degrees of freedom for a
solid-solid assembly and constrain both translational and rotational degrees of freedom for a shell-shell assembly. The constraint types available through KEYOPT(5) are as follows:
KEYOPT(5) = 0 - Auto constraint type detection (default)
KEYOPT(5) = 1 - Solid-solid constraint (no rotational DOFs are constrained)
KEYOPT(5) = 2 - Shell-shell constraint (both translational and rotational DOFs are constrained, but they
are decoupled)
For a shell-shell assembly, you can also use the shell-solid constraint types (KEYOPT(5) = 3, 4, and 5). See
Modeling a Shell-Solid Assembly (p. 104) for more information on the shell-solid constraint types.
Keep these important points in mind when determining the type of constraint to use for the assembly:

For the 3-D case, if you specify KEYOPT(4), only the degrees of freedom that are common to both the
KEYOPT(4) degree-of-freedom set and the KEYOPT(5) degree-of-freedom set will be considered in the
constraint equations.

When the no separation option (KEYOPT(12) = 4 on the contact element) is used with the MPC approach
to model solid-solid assemblies, only the KEYOPT(5) = 0 and 1 options (auto detection or solid-solid
constraint) described above are valid. If the auto detection option is set and the program finds a shellshell or shell-solid constraint in this situation, the solution will terminate.

If overconstraint occurs in bonded shell-shell assemblies when using the MPC algorithm, you can switch
to the penalty method or the augmented Lagrangian method. See Bonded Contact for Shell-Shell Assemblies (p. 54) for more information.

The shell-shell constraint type (KEYOPT(5)=2) constrains the rotational and translational degrees of
freedom from both sides. However, the rotational and translational degrees of freedom are decoupled.
This option can model situations where one shell edge lines up well with another shell surface. This
provides a valid answer which is closer to a matching mesh solution.
If a certain amount of gap or penetration exists in the assembly interface, the shell-shell constraint option
causes artificial constraints to be added, which can result in an a inaccurate solution. In this case, it is
recommended that you use a shell-solid constraint type by setting KEYOPT(5) = 3, 4, or 5 on the target
element. One drawback of using the shell-solid constraint type is that the initial gap or penetration will
remain during the solution (similar to setting KEYOPT(9) = 1 on the contact element).

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9.2. Modeling a Shell-Solid Assembly


The 3-D shell-solid assembly provides a transition from a shell element region to a solid element region.
This approach is useful when local modeling requires a full three-dimensional model with a relatively fine
mesh, but other parts of the structure can be represented by shell elements (see Figure 9.1 (p. 104)). No
alignment is required between the solid element mesh and the shell element mesh. The contact surface or
edge must be built on the shell element side. The target surface must be built on the solid elements side.

Figure 9.1 Example of Shell-Solid Assembly

Constraint interface
Shell elements

Solid elements

To define a shell-solid assembly using the internal MPC approach, you must set the following key options
on the contact elements:
KEYOPT(2) = 2

MPC-based approach

KEYOPT(12) = 5 or 6

Bonded always or bonded initial

KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2

Nodal detection for CONTA171, CONTA172, CONTA173, CONTA174

KEYOPT(4) = 0 or 1

Contact normal direction for CONTA175

The following real constants are also used: ICONT, FTOL, PINB, CNOF, PMAX, PMIN, TOLS.
The following key options are ignored: KEYOPT(8), KEYOPT(10), KEYOPT(1) > 0.

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9.2. Modeling a Shell-Solid Assembly


In most cases, ANSYS will automatically constrain both translational and rotational degrees of freedom for
a shell-solid assembly (see Figure 9.2 (p. 105)). However, you can use KEYOPT(5) of the target element
(TARGE170) to explicitly define the type of constraint:
KEYOPT(5) = 0 - Auto constraint type detection (default). Based on the underlying element type, this
option automatically identifies the appropriate constraint type: solid-solid constraint, shell-shell constraint,
or shell-solid constraint.
KEYOPT(5) = 3 - Shell-solid constraint; both translational and rotational DOFs are constrained on shell
nodes; only translational DOFs are constrained on solid nodes (see Figure 9.3 (p. 106)).
KEYOPT(5) = 4 - Shell-solid constraint, all directions. This option acts the same as KEYOPT(5) = 3 if an intersection is found from the contact normal to the target surface. Otherwise, constraint equations are
still built as long as contact nodes and target segments are inside the pinball region. (See Figure 9.4 (p. 107)
later in this section.)
KEYOPT(5) = 5 - Shell-solid constraint, anywhere inside the pinball region. Constraint equations are always
built as long as contact node(s) and target segments are inside the pinball region, regardless of whether
an intersection exists between the contact normal and the target surface. (See Figure 9.4 (p. 107) later in
this section.)

Figure 9.2 Shell-Solid Assembly (Original Mesh)

Shell elements
(thickness J)

Contact elements
(pre-existing)
Solid elements

Target elements
TARGE170
(on top of solid)

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Figure 9.3 Shell-Solid Assembly with Shell-Solid Constraint Option

MPC equations for


shell edge solid surface

FTOLN
(influence distance)

For the shell-solid constraint option (KEYOPT(5) = 3 on TARGE170), ANSYS automatically creates an internal
set of force-distributed constraints (similar to the RBE3 command) between nodes on the shell edges and
nodes on the solid surface. The program uses the pinball region (PINB), initial adjustment zone (ICONT), and
influence distance (FTOLN) to determine which nodes on the shell edge will be constrained with which
nodes on the solid surface. Each shell node acts as the master node, and associated solid nodes act as slave
nodes.
For the bonded always option (KEYOPT(12) = 5), any shell node that lies inside the pinball region (PINB) will
be included in the constraint if an intersection with the target surface is detected in the contact normal
direction. This holds true at the beginning of deformation, as well as during the deformation process. A relatively small PINB value may be used to prevent any false contact. The default for PINB is 0.25 (25% of the
contact depth) for small deformation analysis (NLGEOM,OFF), and 0.5 (50% of the contact depth) for large
deformation analysis (NLGEOM,ON). (The default PINB value may differ from what is described here if CNOF
is input. See Using PINB (p. 51) for more information.)
For the bonded initial option (KEYOPT(12) = 6), only the shell nodes that initially lie inside the adjustment
zone (ICONT) are included in the constraint sets. Shell nodes that lie outside ICONT are not constrained with
the solid nodes. The default for ICONT is 0.05 (5% of the contact depth).
The influence distance (FTOLN) is used for the shell-solid constraint option (KEYOPT(5) =3 on TARGE170).
Each solid node is included in the constraint set if the perpendicular distance from the solid node to any
shell edge is smaller than the influence distance. FTOLN defaults to half the thickness of the shell. A positive
FTOLN value represents a scaling factor on the shell half-thickness, and a negative value represents an absolute
distance value.
A shell-solid assembly can be used in a substructure analysis. However, if a superelement is defined to represent the shell elements, shell thickness is unknown in the use pass. In this case, you must overwrite the
default setting of FTOLN (originally a factor of the shell thickness) to account for the zero thickness of the
superelement. Input an absolute value for FTOLN (that is, input a negative value) to capture all constrained
nodes when the constraint equations are built.
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9.3. Surface-Based Constraints


The KEYOPT(5) = 4 option (shell-solid constraint, all directions) can be used for the case when the shell node
does not overlap or intersect the contact surface (see figure below). However, if any intersection is detected
from the contact normal to the target surface, this option may not be the best choice because it only builds
very localized constraints between the shell node and the target segment which is intersected. The same is
always true for KEYOPT(5) = 3.
The KEYOPT(5) = 5 option (shell-solid constraint, anywhere inside pinball) is the recommended shell-solid
constraint because constraint equations are always built between a shell node and all target segments which
are inside the pinball region, regardless of the contact normal and contact intersection. Thus, the pinball
size is important since a larger pinball will result in a larger constraint set. This option is useful when you
wish to completely constrain one contact side to another. The stresses are more evenly distributed at the
shell-solid interface for this option than they would be for other shell-solid constraint types.

Figure 9.4 Shell-Solid Constraint - No Intersection (use KEYOPT(5) = 4 or 5)


Shell elements

Pinball region
Target normal

Contact normal
Shell node

Solid elements
Keep the following points in mind when modeling shell-solid assemblies:

For the shell-solid constraint type (KEYOPT(5) = 3, 4, or 5), KEYOPT(9) is ignored, and initial penetration
or gap always remains constant. To close the initial penetration or gap, issue the command
CNCHECK,ADJUST in the beginning of the analysis.

The shell-solid constraint (KEYOPT(5) = 3, 4, or 5) is not always capable of transmitting all components
of the moment at the shell nodes due to transverse shear locking of shell elements; a typical example
is the moment component that is parallel to the normal of the solid surface.

9.3. Surface-Based Constraints


A surface-based constraint can be used to couple the motion of nodes on the contact surface to a single
pilot node on the target surface. The multipoint constraint (MPC) capability of the contact elements (KEYOPT(2)
= 2) allows you to define two types of surface-based constraints:

Rigid surface constraint - In this type of constraint, the contact nodes are constrained to the rigid body
motion defined by the pilot node (see Figure 9.5 (p. 108)), similar to a constraint defined by the CERIG
command.

Force-distributed constraint - In this type of constraint, forces or displacements applied on the pilot
node are distributed to contact nodes (in an average sense) through shape functions (see Figure
9.6 (p. 108)), similar to a constraint defined by the RBE3 command.

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Figure 9.5 Rigid Surface Constraint


Imposed displacement at Pilot node
(UX, UY)

Constraint surface
remains rigid

Contact elements

Figure 9.6 Force-Distributed Constraint


Imposed displacement at Pilot node
(UX, UY)

Deformed constraint surface

Contact elements
These surface-based constraints can be used in the following applications:

To apply loads and boundary conditions to the pilot node (such as torque load or drill rotation). Example:
a bolt head submitted to a torque force using a force-distributed constraint.

To model rigid bodies. Example: rigid body definition in multi-body dynamics.

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9.3.2. Defining Influence Range (PINB)

To model rigid end conditions. Example: using a rigid surface constraint to model a rigid end plate or
rigid plane section of 3-D solid elements.

To model interactions with other joints. Example: two flexible parts linked by a hinge. This can be
modeled by two force-distributed constraint definitions whose pilot nodes are connected by a revolute
joint element.

To define transitions between solid and structure elements. Example: a beam element connected to a
solid element face.

9.3.1. Defining Surface-Based Constraints


The contact surface can be generated via the ESURF command. The contact nodes on the contact surface
are the slave nodes of the MPC equations. The pilot node is the only target segment on the target surface
side. It is the master node of the MPC equations. Forces and displacements can be applied on the pilot node
and the contact nodes. You can define a follower element (FOLLW201) on the pilot node so that the elementspecified external forces and moments on the follower element will follow the motion of the pilot node.
For a force-distributed constraint, use the following contact element key options:
Force-distributed Constraint KEYOPT Settings
KEYOPT(2) = 2

MPC based approach

KEYOPT(12) = 5 or 6

Bonded always or bonded initial

KEYOPT(4) = 1

Indicates a force-distributed constraint for CONTA171,


CONTA172, CONTA173, CONTA174, CONTA175,
CONTA176, and CONTA177

For a rigid surface constraint, use the following contact element key options:
Rigid Surface Constraint KEYOPT Settings
KEYOPT(2) = 2

MPC based approach

KEYOPT(12) = 5 or 6

Bonded always or bonded initial

KEYOPT(4) = 2

Indicates a rigid surface constraint for CONTA171,


CONTA172, CONTA173, and CONTA174

KEYOPT(4) = 0

Indicates a rigid surface constraint for CONTA175 ,


CONTA176, and CONTA177

The following key options are ignored for surface-based constraints: KEYOPT(8), KEYOPT(5), KEYOPT(7),
KEYOPT(10).
With the exception of PINB, none of the standard contact real constants are used for surface-based constraints
using internal MPC.

9.3.2. Defining Influence Range (PINB)


By default, all the contact nodes are included in the surface-based constraints. You can select a subset of
nodes from these contact nodes by defining a radius of influence range, PINB. The nodes that lie within the
spherical range (radius = PINB) centered about the pilot node are selected for the definition of the surfacebased constraints.

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9.3.3. Degrees of Freedom of Surface-Based Constraints


KEYOPT(1) > 0 is ignored for a force-distributed constraint since only structural degree-of-freedom constraints
are included. However, for a rigid surface constraint, you can use KEYOPT(1) to include other field degrees
of freedom (in addition to the structural DOFs) in the constraint sets.
The pilot node has both translational and rotational degrees of freedom. The active degrees of freedom at
the pilot node depend on the defined type of target elements. Use TARGE169 for 2-D surface-based constraints
that contain UX, UY, and ROTZ degrees of freedom. Use TARGE170 for 3-D surface-based constraints that
contain UX, UY, UZ, and ROTX, ROTY, ROTZ degrees of freedom. Generally, you should always set KEYOPT(2)=1
for the target element to indicate that boundary conditions for rigid target nodes will be user-specified.
Otherwise, ANSYS may apply internal constraints on the pilot node.
The degrees of freedom of the surface-based constraints can also be controlled by using KEYOPT(4) of the
target element (TARGE169 or TARGE170). For example, for the 3-D case (TARGE170), you might specify that
only UX, UY, and ROTZ be used in the constraint. You can do this by entering a six digit value for KEYOPT(4).
The first to sixth digits represent ROTZ, ROTY, ROTX, UZ, UY, UX, respectively. The number 1 (one) indicates
the DOF is active, and the number 0 (zero) indicates the DOF is not active. Therefore, to specify that UX, UY,
and ROTZ be used in the constraint, you would enter 100011 as the KEYOPT(4) value.
The basic formulation for the rigid surface constraint is similar to the MPC184 rigid beam and rigid link elements. However, this constraint type offers additional flexibility when you fully or partially constrain the
degrees of freedom. For examples, the following are possible configurations:

All six degrees of freedom are selected, which is equivalent to the MPC184 rigid beam.

One rotational degree of freedom is excluded, which is equivalent to the MPC184 revolute joint.

Only three translational degrees of freedom are selected, which is equivalent to the MPC184 spherical
joint or MPC184 rigid link.

9.3.4. Specifying a Local Coordinate System


You can specify the surface-based constraint in a local coordinate system. For the rigid surface constraint,
rotate the contact nodes into a local coordinate system. For the force-distributed constraint, rotate the pilot
node into a local coordinate system.
When KEYOPT(12) = 5 is set on the contact elements, the coordinate system does not rotate and it keeps
its initial configuration. When the rotation is finite and KEYOPT(12) = 6 is set on the contact elements, the
coordinate system in which the constrained degrees of freedom are specified will be co-rotated according
to the rotation of the pilot node. The degrees of freedom of the surface-based constraints will be assigned
with the co-rotated system. This is true even for the constrained degrees of freedom specified in the global
coordinate system.

Note
If all degrees of freedom are included in the constraint equations, there will be no difference
between the KEYOPT(12) = 5 and KEYOPT(12) = 6 settings.
Figure 9.7 (p. 111) shows an example of a slider link modeled with contact. A local cylindrical coordinate
system is defined at a contact node such that the x-direction is coincident with the line connecting the
contact node and pilot node. KEYOPT(4) = 10 is set for the target element type to specify that only the y
degree of freedom is constrained and other degrees of freedom are free. The coordinate system at the
contact node will be co-rotated according to the rotation of the pilot node.
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9.3.6. Additional Guidelines for A Rigid Surface Constraint

Figure 9.7 Slider Link

Contact node
Rigid body

x
y
Pilot node
Apply rotation
In another example, a cylindrical ring is clamped at one end and loaded by a torque at the other end (Figure
9.8 (p. 111)). A rigid surface constraint is used with all the contact nodes rotated into a cylindrical coordinate
system. If the x-direction constraint is free (KEYOPT(4) = 110), the ring is allowed to expand in the radial
direction.

Figure 9.8 Free Radial Expansion Under Torque Load

9.3.5. Additional Guidelines for a Force-Distributed Constraint

The pilot node is a dependent node (meaning the degrees of freedom for this node are removed). The
contact nodes are independent nodes (the degrees of freedom are retained). If the pilot node has
constraints applied to it, internally-generated MPC equations are rewritten so that the degrees of freedom
of the pilot node are no longer dependent DOF.

KEYOPT(4) of TARGE169 and TARGE170 controls the number of degrees of freedom of the pilot node.

The number of internally-generated MPCs is equal to the number of degrees of freedom defined by
KEYOPT(4) of TARGE169 and TARGE170.

9.3.6. Additional Guidelines for A Rigid Surface Constraint

The pilot node is an independent (retained) node in the constraint equation. The contact nodes are the
dependent (removed) nodes. Use with great caution when you apply any displacement constraints,

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coupling (CP command), or constraint equations (CE command) on the contact nodes since redundant
constraints are likely to occur.

KEYOPT(4) of TARGE169 and TARGE170 controls the DOF set (the number of DOF) of the contact (dependent) nodes used in the internally-generated MPCs.

The number of internally-generated MPCs is equal to the number of contact nodes times the number
of DOF.

The contact surface does not require underlying elements.

9.3.7. Modeling a Beam-Solid Assembly


The surface-based constraint technique can be used to apply transitions between solid and structure elements;
for example, a beam element connected to the solid or shell element face. One beam end node must be
the pilot node and the solid/shell nodes must be the contact nodes. The rigid surface constraint is generally
well-suited for the solid beam to solid surface case (see Figure 9.9 (p. 112)), and the force-distributed constraint
is well-suited for the flexible beam (such as a thin wall beam) to solid/shell surface case (see Figure 9.10 (p. 113)).

Figure 9.9 Beam-Solid Assembly Defined by Rigid Surface Constraint

Solid elements
Pilot node

Beam elements

Contact elements

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9.4.1. Modeling Contact between Rigid Bodies

Figure 9.10 Beam-Solid Assembly Defined by Force-distributed Constraint

Shell elements
Pilot node

Beam elements

Contact elements

9.4. Modeling Rigid Bodies


Rigid bodies are widely used for numerical simulation of multibody dynamic applications. The definition of
a rigid body in ANSYS is similar to the definition of a rigid surface constraint, except that all the elements
are defined by target elements. The motion of the rigid body is governed by the degrees of freedom at a
pilot node which allows accurate representation of the geometry, mass, and rotary inertia of the rigid body.
Each rigid body is only associated with one pilot node. The pilot node can be one of the nodes on a target
element or a node at any arbitrary location. It can be connected to point mass, follower (FOLLW201), and
deformable elements. For transient analysis you should locate the pilot node at the gravity center of the rigid
body if the center of mass is known or can be approximated. You can add a point mass element, MASS21,
to the gravity center. See Modeling Rigid Bodies in a Multibody Analysis in the Multibody Analysis Guide for
more details.

9.4.1. Modeling Contact between Rigid Bodies


You can model contact between two rigid bodies by specifying a contact pair consisting of a contact surface
on one rigid body and a target surface on another rigid body. These contact and target elements should
overlap the existing contact elements defined for the rigid bodies. Use either the augmented Lagrange algorithm or penalty algorithm (KEYOPT(2) on the contact elements) to avoid overconstraint between rigid
body constraints and contact constraints.
You cannot use the multipoint constraint (MPC) algorithm (KEYOPT(2) = 2) with bonded or no-separation
contact behavior (KEYOPT(12)) to connect two rigid bodies; doing so would cause the model to be overconstrained. Instead, add a third rigid body which connects the first two rigid bodies at their pilot nodes.

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MPC bonded contact between a flexible body and a rigid body is allowed. For this case, the contact surface
of the MPC bonded contact pair must belong to the flexible body. Otherwise, the MPC bonded constraints
and rigid body constraints would be redundant.
It is possible to model two rigid bodies that are connected or overlapping through shared rigid body nodes
or pilot nodes. To prevent overconstraint, ANSYS internally merges the two rigid bodies into one rigid body
and treats the second pilot node as a regular rigid body node.

9.5. Overconstraint Detection and Elimination


When a degree of freedom is subjected to multiple constraints, overconstraint occurs. Overconstraint can
be caused by the combination of the following constraints within the model:

User-specified constraints, including displacement constraints, constraint equations (CE command), and
coupling (CP command)

Lagrange multiplier-based contact definitions

MPC-based contact definitions

Constraints introduced through joint elements

Overconstraint may result in convergence difficulties or inaccurate solutions. In order to prevent this problem,
ANSYS tries to detect and eliminate overconstraints automatically. You can verify the eliminated constraints
during postprocessing.
ANSYS issues warning messages outlining the cause of the potential overconstraints in the beginning of a
contact analysis. You can use the CNCHECK,DETAIL command to identify the overconstraints indicated by
the messages. You should then manually remove as many unnecessary constraints as possible.
Some overconstraints occur only during the solution due to new deformed configurations or due to changes
in contact status. ANSYS will automatically eliminate a limited set of overconstraints detected during solution;
appropriate messages are issued when this occurs. For MPC-based contact pairs, the contact statuses (contact
result item STAT) are set to negative values if one or more contact constraints are removed. STAT is set to
-3 for bonded contact; STAT is set to -2 for no-separation contact. Be aware that, due to complexities, certain
overconstraints may not be easily detected.
The way the program removes the overconstraint is not unique. The order of the redundant constraints will
influence how they are removed (the first encountered is kept, the next is removed). You should always
verify the modified model carefully. You can list and display the contact status using STAT as a contact result
item for the PLESOL and PRESOL commands; for example:
PLESOL,CONT,STAT

9.6. Restrictions and Recommendations for Internal MPC


The following restrictions and guidelines apply when using the internal MPC approach.

To prevent overconstraint, displacement boundary conditions and other constraint equations or coupling
equations (ideally) should not be applied on the contact nodes for solid-solid, shell-shell, and shell-solid
assemblies, or for the rigid surface constraint type.

Sparse, PCG, and AMG solvers are recommended to solve models with constraint equations.

The MPC-based algorithm must be used with nodal detection (KEYOPT(4) = 1 or 2) for CONTA171,
CONTA172, CONTA173, and CONTA174. If nodal detection is not set, ANSYS will issue a warning message
and automatically set KEYOPT(4) = 2.

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9.6. Restrictions and Recommendations for Internal MPC

The internal MPC option does not support rigid-flexible contact when rigid surfaces are modeled by
any primitive segments (such as circle, cylinder, cone, or sphere).

The shell-solid assembly is usually used for the case where the solid mesh is fine with respect to the
shell thickness. The shell-solid interface should be located in a region of the structure where shell theory
is valid for an approximation. The accuracy of local stresses near the shell-solid interface (at least within
the shell thickness range) is not guaranteed. We recommend you include at least two solid elements
along the layer of the shell-solid interface.

Using the force-distributed constraint type of MPC with a large number of contact nodes can result in
large and dense submatrices for the global stiffness matrix. This may significantly increase the peak
memory required during element stiffness assembly. Consider reducing the number of contact nodes
if real memory or virtual memory is limited.

The force-distributed constraint creates internal constraint equations such that the motion of the pilot
node is the average of the contact nodes. For the rotations, a least-squares approach is used to define
the "average rotation" at the pilot node from the translations of the contact nodes. If the contact nodes
are colinear, then one of the rotations on the pilot node that is parallel to the colinear direction can
not be determined in terms of the translations of the contact nodes. Therefore, the associated moment
component on the pilot node in that direction can not be transmitted. When this case occurs, a warning
message is issued.

The internal MPC option will only support element birth and death if all the MPC-based contact and
target elements are active in the first load step. The birth or death option can be set only after the first
load step.

The contact related postprocessing items (ETABLE items, PRESOL,CONT, etc.) are not supported for the
internal MPC option.

MPC contact only generates internal constraint equations. It does not calculate element internal force
and stiffness matrices. Therefore, during postprocessing the option ITEM = CONT is not valid on the
PRNLD, NFORCE, and FSUM commands.

You can use the CELIST command to list the internally-generated constraint equations associated with
MPC contact . You can also use CELIST to convert the internal constraint equations to external constraint
equation. (See CELIST for details.)

MPC contact generates constraint equations that can include constant terms. These terms are included
on the right hand side of the system equation. Thus, they are scaled by the LVSCALE command when
it is used in a mode superposition analysis.

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Chapter 10: Dynamic Contact and Impact Modeling


Performing contact analysis in a transient dynamic procedure is always challenging due to the presence of
contact chattering (frequent change in contact status). One of the reasons for contact chattering is that the
contact constraints enforce constraints on nodal displacements (penetration) but do not impose any constraints on nodal velocities. Since nodal velocities and nodal accelerations are dependent on nodal displacements (see Section 17.2 Transient Analysis in the Theory Reference for the Mechanical APDL and Mechanical
Applications), any constraints on nodal displacements make the nodal velocities and nodal accelerations inconsistent. This introduces numerical errors in the transient dynamic solution in subsequent time increments
and, if left untreated, leads to numerical instability (non-convergence or incorrect solution).
Numerical damping is usually added to the time integration scheme to suppress such numerical errors.
However, addition of numerical damping does not work in several cases. For example, in problems with
multiple or repeated impacts there is constant growth of numerical error in the solution, and the analysis
eventually fails to converge in spite of large numerical damping. In other situations the analysis may converge
with addition of numerical damping, but the system response may be underdamped or overdamped depending on the growth of numerical error.
A more appropriate solution to the contact chattering problem is to treat nodal displacement and nodal
velocities consistently. One such solution is provided by Energy and Momentum Conserving Contact (p. 117).

10.1. Energy and Momentum Conserving Contact


In transient dynamic analysis with contact, if the contact and target surfaces impact each other with nonzero
relative velocities, it is important to satisfy momentum and energy balance for the contact/target interface.
This helps to more accurately predict the duration of impact and the rebound velocities after separation. In
ANSYS this can be achieved by using impact constraints with any of the 2D or 3D contact elements: CONTA171,
CONTA172, CONTA173, CONTA174, CONTA175, CONTA176, CONTA177, and CONTA178.
Impact constraints include constraints on penetration and relative velocity (see Energy and Momentum
Conserving Contact in the Theory Reference for the Mechanical APDL and Mechanical Applications). To activate
the impact constraints the following contact options must be defined for a contact element:

Contact algorithm must be one of the following:

Augmented Lagrangian (KEYOPT(2) = 0)

Penalty function (KEYOPT(2) = 1)

Lagrange multiplier on contact normal and penalty on tangent (KEYOPT(2) = 3)

Pure Lagrange multiplier on contact normal and tangent (KEYOPT(2) = 4)

Standard or rough contact (KEYOPT(12) = 0 or 1)

Impact constraints (KEYOPT(7) = 4)

The impact constraints can be used with both frictionless and frictional contact.

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Chapter 10: Dynamic Contact and Impact Modeling

10.1.1. Energy Conservation


The impact constraints are active only on the contact/target interface, so energy conservation is enforced
only for contact elements. The underlying finite elements defining the interior of impacting bodies do not
satisfy energy conservation. To ensure energy conservation, the following conditions must be satisfied for
contact elements:

Relative velocity constraint should be satisfied exactly.

No numerical damping should be used.

No friction should be specified.

Energy conservation is relatively easy to satisfy for rigid impact (when both contact and target surfaces are
rigid) as compared to flexible impact (when the target surface is rigid and the contact surface is flexible, or
both surfaces are flexible). This is because the underlying finite elements for flexible bodies excite higher
frequencies, which can make the time integration scheme unstable unless some numerical damping is used.
For rigid bodies undergoing only translation motion and impact, numerical damping is generally not needed;
however, when rigid bodies are undergoing large rotations, a small amount of numerical damping is necessary
to keep the time integration scheme from becoming unstable.

10.1.2. Automatic Time Stepping


An automatic time stepping scheme is provided to adjust the time increment size. This can be activated by
SOLCONTROL,ON,ON at the procedure level when AUTOTS,ON is set. This scheme starts adjusting size of
the time increments before impact such that there is minimum penetration in the substep where contact
is first detected. This is important because the contact algorithm will enforce the relative velocity constraints
to only prevent further penetration.
If the automatic time stepping scheme is not used, there may be some uncontrolled penetration of the
surfaces depending on the size of the time increment for the substep where contact is first detected before
the relative velocity constraint prevents further penetration.
When using fixed time increment, fixed number of substeps, or automatic time stepping (AUTOTS,ON)
without SOLCONTROL,ON,ON, you should make sure that the penetrations remain sufficiently small.

10.1.3. Penetration and Relative Velocity


When using the impact constraints, the penetration value depends on two factors:

Size of the time increment where contact is first detected

Accuracy of relative velocity constraint

The initial penetration value depends on the size of the time increment, as explained above. There is no
contact force associated with this value. The remaining penetration value comes from the enforcement of
relative velocity constraint using the contact algorithm. The value of this penetration depends on the choice
of contact algorithm, contact normal stiffness (FKN), and/or allowable penetration (FTOLN). The contact
normal force is directly related to this penetration value.

10.1.4. Impact Between Rigid Bodies


When using impact constraints to model impact between rigid bodies, a coefficient of restitution (real constant
COR) can be used to model loss of energy during impact. The coefficient of restitution defines the ratio of

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10.1.4. Impact Between Rigid Bodies


relative velocity of rigid bodies after impact to relative velocity of rigid bodies before impact , so its value
varies between 0 and 1. A value of 0 indicates that the rigid bodies stick to each other after impact, while
a value of 1 indicates that the rigid bodies rebound after impact with the magnitude of relative velocity
after impact being the same as before impact.

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Chapter 11: Spot Welds


The traditional way of modeling spot welds involves matching the meshes of different parts at the spot weld
connection points, which introduces meshing difficulties and often requires parts to be meshed manually.
In addition, this approach does not take into account the effects of the spot weld radius, and it underestimates
the strength of the spot weld connection when the radius of the spot weld is the same or lesser order of
magnitude than the mesh size.
The ANSYS spot weld feature, based on the internal multipoint constraint (MPC) approach, offers a robust
alternative to the traditional method. This feature allows you to easily model thin sheet components that
are connected with spot welds, rivets, or fasteners. The spot weld can be located anywhere between the
parts that are to be connected, independent of the mesh and the node locations. The figure below shows
an example of the spot weld configuration. Each spot weld set connects two or more surfaces.

Figure 11.1 Example Spot Weld Configuration

Node 3

Surface 3

Spot weld radius

Node 2

Surface 2

Basic Spot Weld Set

Node 1

Surface 1

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Chapter 11: Spot Welds


There are several advantages to using this mesh independent spot weld capability:

Parts can be meshed independently.

A basic spot weld set can be easily defined by specifying two surfaces to be connected and a single
node called the spot weld node near the surfaces. The spot weld node determines the location of the
spot weld.

This approach takes into account effects of the spot weld radius input by the user. ANSYS will create
multipoint constraint equations (MPCs) internally through two contact pair definitions, one on each
spot weld surface. The internal constraint equations (force-distributed constraints) couple the motion
of the surface nodes to the motion of the spot weld node in an average sense.

The spot weld can be rigid (default) or deformable. To specify a deformable spot weld, you simply define
a deformable beam element type prior to creating the spot weld.

The following spot weld topics are available:


11.1. Defining a Spot Weld Set
11.2. Listing and Deleting Spot Welds

11.1. Defining a Spot Weld Set


The general procedure for defining a spot weld set consists of the following steps:
1.

Define the basic spot weld set (SWGEN command)

2.

Define any additional surfaces for the existing spot weld set (SWADD command)

In addition, ANSYS supplies the SWLIST and SWDEL commands for listing and deleting spot weld sets.

11.1.1. Creating a Basic Spot Weld Set with SWGEN


Use the SWGEN command to define a basic spot weld set (in the GUI, pick Main Menu> Preprocessor>
Modeling> Create> Element > SpotWeld> Create New Set). The required arguments are:

Name of the spot weld set

Spot weld radius

Spot weld surfaces

First spot weld node

You can optionally specify the following:

Second spot weld node

Spot weld projection direction

Search radius

Contact and target element types

All of these inputs are discussed in detail below.


Spot Weld Set Name (Ecomp):
Use the Ecomp argument to assign a name to a new basic spot weld set. The spot weld set is a component composed of new beam, target, and contact elements. The name entered for the Ecomp argument will be used to list, delete, output, or add new surfaces to the spot weld set.

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11.1.1. Creating a Basic Spot Weld Set with SWGEN


Spot Weld Surfaces (NCM1, NCM2):
Each basic spot weld set contains two surfaces, surface 1 and surface 2, to be connected together. Use
arguments NCM1 and NCM2 to specify these surfaces. You can input the name of a predefined node
component or a meshed area number. If no nodal component names matching NCM1 and NCM2 are
found, they are assumed to be meshed area numbers.
Spot Weld Nodes (SND1, SND2):
You must specify the first spot weld node, SND1. The location of each spot weld depends on SND1. If
you specify the second spot weld node (SND2), it is used to determine the spot weld projection direction.
The second node will be generated automatically if it is not specified. You should locate SND1 and SND2
(referred to as node 1 and node 2 in figures that follow) as close to the corresponding surfaces as possible.
They can be nodes on the corresponding surfaces or independent nodes in space. If they are not on the
corresponding surfaces, node 1 will be moved to surface 1 and node 2 will be moved to surface 2.
ANSYS will determine the actual location for the spot weld nodes by first projecting node 1 onto surface
1 along the spot weld projection direction. Next, ANSYS projects node 2 to surface 2 along the spot
weld projection direction. The spot weld nodes are moved to the surfaces in the beginning of the analysis.
Spot Weld Projection Direction:
By default, the projection direction is a surface normal vector from node 1 to surface 1 (see figure below).
If you specify node 2 (SND2), the projection direction is in line with the two spot weld nodes. If node 2
is not specified, you can still explicitly define the projection direction with the DIRX, DIRY, and DIRZ
arguments.

Figure 11.2 Default Projection Direction for Node 1

Original position of
Node 1

Node 1
after projection

Surface 1

Once the actual location of node 1 has been determined, ANSYS will project node 2 to surface 2 along
the spot weld projection direction that was used for node 1. The figure below shows the projection
locations of nodes 1 and 2 given a default projection normal to surface 1.

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Chapter 11: Spot Welds

Figure 11.3 Default Projection Direction for Nodes 1 and 2

Node 2

Surface 2

Node 1

Surface 1

Original position of
Node 1
The figure below shows spot weld node 1 projected as specified by the user (either through the input
of DIRX, DIRY, and DIRZ, or by the specification of a second spot weld node).

Figure 11.4 User-specified Projection Direction, Node 1

Original position of
Node 1

Node 1
after projection

Surface 1

The figure below is another example showing the projection location of spot weld nodes 1 and 2 given
a user-specified projection direction.

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11.1.1. Creating a Basic Spot Weld Set with SWGEN

Figure 11.5 User-specified Projection Direction, Nodes 1 and 2

Node 2

Surface 2

User-defined
projection
direction

Node 1

Surface 1

Original position of
Node 1
Spot Weld Radius (SWRD):
Each spot weld is assumed to have a circular projection onto the spot weld surfaces. The projection is
defined by the required spot weld radius argument SWRD. For each spot weld surface ANSYS will build
6 force-distributed constraint equations through a contact pair. The spot weld radius determines the
influence range of the constraint equations. Each spot weld node couples with a group of nodes on the
corresponding surface within the radius. (See Figure 11.7 (p. 127) later in this section.)
Search Radius (SHRD):
ANSYS will create a contact pair for each spot weld surface. The contact pair contains one contact element
defined by the spot weld node, and target elements overlaid fully or partially on the corresponding spot
weld surface. Only the surface nodes that fall within a sphere of radius, called the search radius, with its
center at the original position of the corresponding spot weld node are used to form target elements
(see figure below). The search radius must be larger than the spot weld radius. If the search radius argument (SHRD) is not defined, ANSYS uses a default search radius that is four times the spot weld radius.

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Chapter 11: Spot Welds

Figure 11.6 Search Radius for Spot Weld


Search radius
Spot weld radius

Original position of
node 1

TARGE170 elements
within search radius

Surface 1

CONTAC175
(spot weld node 1)

Target and Contact Element Types (ITTY, ICTY):


By default, the program automatically creates the target and contact element types required for the
spot weld. However, you may use the ITTY and ICTY arguments to specify the target and contact
element types, respectively. You must also set certain key options if you specify the element types to
be used. See The Components of a Spot Weld (p. 126) for more information.

11.1.2. The Components of a Spot Weld


Each new spot weld set created by the SWGEN command consists of a beam element and two node-tosurface MPC contact pairs (see Modeling a Shell-Solid Assembly (p. 104) for more information). Each node-tosurface pair will generate 6 constraint equations. You can choose either a rigid MPC184 element (the default)
or a deformable BEAM188 element to link the spot weld surfaces. Below are detailed explanations of how
these items are generated:
1.

Contact Pairs: Two node-to-surface contact pairs are created for each new spot weld set. One pair is
for spot weld surface 1 and the other is for surface 2. Each contact pair has only one contact element,
CONTA175, which is defined by the associated spot weld node. The target elements (TARGE170) are
formed by a group of surface nodes lying within the region of the search radius. ANSYS will create an
independent real constant ID for each contact pair, and proper contact and target element type IDs.
If you prefer, you can specify the contact or target element type IDs to be used. To specify a contact
element type, use the ICTY argument on SWGEN and set the following contact element options for
that element type: KEYOPT(2) = 2 (MPC approach), KEYOPT(12) = 5 (bonded always). To specify a target
element type, use the ITTY argument on SWGEN and set the target element option KEYOPT(5) = 4
(shell-solid constraint) for that element type.

2.

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Force-distributed constraint equations: For each contact pair, ANSYS will internally form force-distributed constraint equations that distribute the internal forces of the spot weld node (that is, the
contact node) to the surface nodes (that is, the target nodes) lying within the region of the spot weld
radius. This includes all elements that fall entirely or partially within the radius (see the figure below).
In other words, it couples the motion of certain surface nodes to the motion of the spot weld node
(in an average sense). There are six constraint equations generated for each spot weld surface (that
is, each contact pair).

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11.1.2.The Components of a Spot Weld

Figure 11.7 Nodes Included in Constraint Equations


CONTAC175

Spot weld radius


Nodes to be constrained

TARGE170 elements

Surface 1
3.

Beam element: A beam element is created to connect spot weld surface 1 and surface 2. The two
beam end-nodes are the spot weld nodes, node 1 and node 2 (see Figure below). The spot weld set
can be rigid or deformable. By default ANSYS will create a rigid beam element (MPC184 with KEYOPT(1)=1) to represent a rigid spot weld. However, if the currently defined element type is BEAM188
with a solid circular cross-section, ANSYS assumes the spot weld set is deformable and a BEAM188
element is created. In this case, you must input the material properties with the MP command and
define the geometry of the beam section using the SECTYPE and SECDATA commands (see the example
listing below). Generally, BEAM188 is capable of handling a short beam situation.

Figure 11.8 Beam Element Created for Spot Weld

Node 2

Surface 2
Beam element
(MPC184 or
BEAM188)

Node 1

Surface 1

The following example input shows typical commands used to define a spot weld with a deformable BEAM188
element having a circular cross section.
MP,EX,3,200000000000. ! spot weld material properties
MP,NUXY,3,0.3

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Chapter 11: Spot Welds


SECTYPE,3,beam,csolid ! define a circular solid beam section
SECDATA,2.75e-002
! beam circular radius
ET,3,188
! element type for a deformable spot weld
TYPE,3
MAT,3
SECNUM,3
*SET,NODE1,9000
! define parameter for node number
N,NODE1,0.1,0.5,10.2 ! define spot weld node
SWGEN,SWELD1,2.75e-2,2,3,NODE1 ! Spot weld name = SWELD1
! Radius = 2.75e-2
! Spot weld surfaces = areas 2 and 3

Note
All limitations that are documented for the MPC184 link/beam element in the Element Reference
also apply when the element is used in a rigid spot weld definition. Please read the MPC184Link/Beam description carefully, especially the assumptions and restrictions.

11.1.3. Adding Surfaces to a Basic Set


Once a basic spot weld set has been created, additional surfaces can be added to the existing spot weld
set. Use the SWADD command to define the additional surfaces (in the GUI, pick Main Menu> Preprocessor>
Modeling> Create> Element > SpotWeld> Add More Surfaces). Each added surface (input as NCM1 through
NCM9) can be specified by an existing nodal component name or by a meshed area number.
In the example command below, four surfaces are added to an existing spot weld set named SWELD1. The
four surfaces include area number 3, area number 4, nodal component FAC5, and nodal component FAC6.
The search radius is 0.8.
SWADD,SWELD1,0.8,3,4,FAC5,FAC6

! Adds 4 surfaces to spot weld SWELD1.

For each new surface, ANSYS will create a new spot weld node, a new contact pair, and a new beam element
(see figure below). The location of the new node is determined by projection of one of the closest existing
spot weld nodes onto the newly added surface along the spot weld projection direction. The new node-tosurface contact pair contains the new spot weld node as a single contact node in the pair, and surface nodes
within the range of the search radius (SHRD) specified on the SWADD command. The search radius defaults
to 4 times the spot weld radius (SWRD) defined for the basic spot weld set. Each new contact pair will create
6 force-distributed constraint equations internally. A new beam is created to link the new surface to the
closest existing surface through the spot weld nodes.

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11.1.3. Adding Surfaces to a Basic Set

Figure 11.9 Surfaces Added to Basic Spot Weld Set


More surfaces

Node 4

Surface 4

Beam 3

Node 3

Surface 3

Beam 2

Spot weld radius

Node 2

Surface 2

Basic spot weld


Beam 1

Node 1

Surface 1

Original position of
Node 1
After all spot weld nodes are created, the nodes of the beam elements may be reordered to link every two
adjacent spot weld nodes (see Figure below). The ordering is important for the output, which is calculated
for each beam in a spot weld set.
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Chapter 11: Spot Welds

Figure 11.10 Node Reordering for Beam Elements


Reordered surfaces

Node 3

Surface 3

Beam 3

Node 4

Surface 4 (inserted
between 2 and 3)

Beam 2

Node 2

Surface 2

Basic spot weld


Beam 1

Node 1

Surface 1

Assuming the basic spot weld set is named SWELD, below is an example of commands that could have
produced the above figure.
SWADD,SWELD, ,3 ! Add Area 3 to spot weld set SWELD
SWADD,SWELD, ,4 ! Add Area 4 (between surfaces 2 and 3) to SWELD

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11.2. Listing and Deleting Spot Welds


Initially, when spot weld surface 3 was added, a beam was created between surfaces 2 and 3. When surface
4 was added between surfaces 2 and 3, the beam that went between surfaces 2 and 3 was redefined to go
between surfaces 2 and 4, and a new beam was created to link surfaces 4 and 3.
You can add more surfaces by repeating the SWADD command. However, the maximum number of allowable
surfaces for each spot weld set (including the two surfaces used for the basic set) is 11.

11.2. Listing and Deleting Spot Welds


Use the SWLIST command to list the spot weld sets for a specific spot weld or for all spot weld sets (in the
GUI, pick Main Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Element > SpotWeld> List). To ensure that all
defined spotwelds are listed, issue CMSEL,ALL (to select all components) before issuing the SWLIST command.
The listing will include nodes, beams, and contact pair information. If the SWLIST command is issued in
POST1 (in the GUI, pick Main Menu> General Postproc> List Results> SpotWeld Solution), the beam
forces and moments, are also output in the beam local coordinate system. The output includes axial force,
shear forces, torque, and bending moments. For a deformed spot weld set, axial stress and bending stress
are also reported.
Use the SWDEL command to delete a specified spot weld set or all spot weld sets. In the GUI, pick Main
Menu> Preprocessor> Modeling> Create> Element > SpotWeld> Delete.

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Chapter 12: Debonding


The debonding capability in ANSYS refers specifically to separation of bonded contact. It can be used to
simulate interface delamination where the interface is modeled using bonded contact with the augmented
Lagrangian method or the pure penalty method. A cohesive zone material must be used to define the
traction separation behavior of the interface. The following contact elements support debonding: CONTA171,
CONTA172, CONTA173, CONTA174, CONTA175, CONTA176, and CONTA177.
An alternative method of modeling interface delamination is to use interface elements with a cohesive zone
material (see "Interface Delamination and Failure Simulation"). However, debonding with contact elements
has the following advantages over delamination with the interface elements:

Parts forming the interface can be meshed independently.

Existing models with contact definitions can be easily modified for debonding.

Standard contact and debonding can be simulated with the same contact definitions.

Debonding can be used for various applications; for example, delamination, spot weld failure, and stitch
failure.

12.1. Including Debonding in a Contact Analysis


Debonding can be defined in any model that includes surface-to-surface (CONTA171 through CONTA174),
node-to-surface (CONTA175), line-to-line (CONTA176), or line-to-surface (CONTA177) contact. For a detailed
discussion on how to set up a contact analysis, see Surface-to-Surface Contact (p. 11).
To activate debonding for a contact pair, the following contact options must be defined for the contact
element:

Augmented Lagrangian method or pure penalty method (KEYOPT(2) = 0 or 1)

Bonded contact (KEYOPT(12) = 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6)

In addition, you must specify a cohesive zone material model with bilinear behavior for the contact elements.
Two ways to specify the material data are available:

Bilinear material behavior with tractions and separation distances (TB,CZM command with TBOPT =
CBDD)

Bilinear material behavior with tractions and critical fracture energies (TB,CZM command with TBOPT
= CBDE)

This material model is discussed in more detail in the following section.


Once you have defined the required input parameters, you can solve the analysis the same as you would
for any nonlinear analysis (see Solving the Problem (p. 66)). After debonding is completed, the surface interaction is governed by standard contact constraints for normal and tangential directions. Frictional contact
is used if friction is specified for contact elements.

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Chapter 12: Debonding

12.1.1. Cohesive Zone Materials Used for Debonding


A cohesive zone material model is needed to model debonding in a contact analysis. This material is defined
using the data table method (TB and TBDATA commands). Temperature dependent data is also allowed
(TBTEMP command). On the TB command, use Lab = CZM to denote a cohesive zone material, and use
TBOPT = CBDD or CBDE to indicate the specific material data you will provide. The two data definitions are
described below. For more information on this material, see Cohesive Zone Material Model in the Theory
Reference for the Mechanical APDL and Mechanical Applications.

12.1.1.1. Bilinear Material Behavior with Tractions and Separation Distances (TBOPT
= CBDD)
This is a linear elastic material behavior with linear softening characterized by maximum traction and maximum separation. To define this material, use the TB,CZM command with TBOPT = CBDD. Specify the material constants as data items C1 through C6 on the TBDATA command:
Constant

Symbol

Meaning

C1

max

C2

c
un

contact gap at the completion of debonding

C3

max

maximum equivalent tangential contact stress

C4

uc
t

tangential slip at the completion of debonding

C5

artificial damping coefficient

C6

flag for tangential slip under compressive


normal contact stress

maximum normal contact stress

Sample command input for this material is shown below.


TB,CZM,1,2,,CBDD
TBDATA,1, max,

c
un

, max,

uc
t

, ,

12.1.1.2. Bilinear Material Behavior with Tractions and Critical Fracture Energies (TBOPT
= CBDE)
This is a linear elastic material behavior with linear softening characterized by maximum traction and critical
energy release rate. To define this material, use the TB,CZM command with TBOPT = CBDE. Specify the
material constants as data items C1, through C6 on the TBDATA command:
Constant

Symbol

C1

max

maximum normal contact stress

C2

Gcn

critical fracture energy for normal separation

C3

max

maximum equivalent tangential contact stress

C4

Gct

C5

artificial damping coefficient

C6

flag for tangential slip under compressive


normal contact stress

134

Meaning

critical fracture energy for tangential slip

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12.1.4. Postprocessing
Sample command input for this material is shown below.
TB,CZM,1,2,,CBDE
TBDATA,1, max,Gcn, max,Gct, ,

12.1.2. Debonding Modes


Debonding involves separation of surfaces forming an interface. The direction of separation determines the
debonding mode. ANSYS detects the debonding mode based on material data that you input for normal
and tangential directions:

Mode I debonding involves separation normal to the interface. It is activated by inputting data items
C1, C2, and C5 on the TBDATA command.

Mode II debonding involves slip tangent to the interface. It is activated by inputting data items C3,
C4, and C5 on the TBDATA command.

Mixed mode debonding involves both normal separation and tangential slip. It is activated by inputting
data items C1, C2, C3, C4, and C5, and C6 on the TBDATA command.

12.1.3. Other Considerations for Debonding


Artificial Damping
Debonding is generally accompanied by convergence difficulties in the Newton-Raphson solution. Artificial
damping can be used to stabilize the numerical solution. It is activated by specifying the damping coefficient
(input on TBDATA command as C5 using TB,CZM). The damping coefficient has units of time and should
be smaller than the minimum time step size so that the maximum traction and maximum separation (or
critical fracture energy) values are not exceeded in debonding calculations.
Tangential Slip under Normal Compression
ANSYS provides an option to control tangential slip under compressive normal contact stress for mixed
mode debonding. By default, no tangential slip is allowed for this case, but it can be activated by setting
the flag to 1 (input on TBDATA command as C6 using TB,CZM).
Pinball Radius and Mesh Density
When using a fine mesh for underlying elements of bonded surfaces, you may need to increase pinball radius
(PINB) for contact elements so that it is greater than the maximum separation value in the normal direction
(contact gap when normal contact stress goes to zero). The default value for PINB is based on the depth of
the underlying element. If PINB is smaller than the maximum separation value, debonding calculations will
be bypassed when the contact gap exceeds PINB.

12.1.4. Postprocessing
All applicable output quantities for contact elements are also available for debonding: normal contact stress
(PRES), tangential contact stress (TAUR, TAUS, SFRIC), contact gap (GAP), tangential slip (TASR, TASS, SLIDE),
etc. In addition, the following debonding specific output quantities are available as NMISC data: debonding
time history (DTSTART), debonding parameter (DPARAM), and critical fracture energy (DENERI, DENERII).
For more information on how to review results in a contact analysis, see Reviewing the Results (p. 67) in
Surface-to-Surface Contact (p. 11).

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Appendix A. Example 2-D Contact Analysis with Fluid


Pressure-Penetration Loading
This example represents a planar seal compression with applied fluid pressure-penetration loading at the
contact interface. It demonstrates the application of the fluid pressure loads and the propagation of the
fluid penetration path from one starting point into the contact interface.

A.1. Problem Description


The model represents a half symmetry planar hyperelastic seal. Figure A.1 (p. 137) shows a diagram of the
model, and Figure A.2 (p. 138) shows the meshed half symmetry model.

Figure A.1 Diagram of Planar Seal Model


0.865 inches
applied
displacement

1/2 symmetry

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137

Appendix A. Example 2-D Contact Analysis with Fluid Pressure-Penetration Loading

Figure A.2 Meshed Planar Seal Model

The seal is compressed by a displacement-controlled load in the first load step. Fluid pressure is applied to
all contact elements in the second load step (see Figure A.3 (p. 138)) so that the fluid opens and penetrates
into the contact interface that was previously closed by compression.
The fluid pressure is applied using the SFE command with the load key set to 1 (LKEY = 1 on SFE). Using
SFE with the load key set to 2 (LKEY = 2 on SFE), all default starting points are suppressed (STA1 = -1) and
two elements are chosen as starting locations initially exposed to the fluid (STA1 = 1). (See Specifying Fluid
Penetration Starting Points (p. 60) for more information on the STA values.) From this location the fluid
penetrates gradually by opening the bottom part of the contact surface, while the top part of the contact
surface completely closes.

Figure A.3 Fluid Pressure Loading on Planar Seal

At the end of the first load step (compression load step) most of the contact is closed as shown in the above
figure. Plots of contact fluid pressure at an intermediate substep of load step 2 and at the end of load step
2 are shown in Figure A.4 (p. 139) and Figure A.5 (p. 139).

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A.1. Problem Description

Figure A.4 Intermediate Fluid Pressure Distribution

Figure A.5 Final Fluid Pressure Distribution

Three contact elements at the bottom of the seal are used for time history postprocessing, representing
each region that undergoes fluid penetration. Time history results for fluid contact pressure and gap are
printed and plotted to show the path of fluid penetration along the bottom contact elements. The fluid
pressure history is shown in Figure A.6 (p. 140).

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139

Appendix A. Example 2-D Contact Analysis with Fluid Pressure-Penetration Loading

Figure A.6 Time History of Fluid Pressure for Three Contact Elements

A.2. Input File


/title,Seal compression with fluid pressure-penetration loading
/com =====================================================================
/com
OBJECTIVE:
/com
The objective of this test is to verify the path of fluid
/com
penetration pressure with rigid-flex contact
/com
and CONTA171 default keyoptions.
/com
/com
DESCRIPTION:
/com
The model represents a planar seal that is compressed. Fluid
/com
pressure is applied to all contact elements so that the fluid
/com
penetrates and opens the contact that used to be closed by
/com
compression.
/com
/com
The fluid pressure is applied after the compression, and one
/com
starting point is chosen to be initially in fluid (STA=1 on SFE).
/com
From this location the fluid penetrates gradually at the bottom
/com
surface.
/com
/com
TEST SPECIFICATIONS:
/com
SOLID ELEMENTS: PLANE182 - PLANE STRESS
/com
TARGET ELEMENT: TARGE169
/com
CONTACT ELEMENT: CONTA171, K(14)=0, K(2)=0, K(4)=0
/com
MATERIAL MODEL: HYPERELASTIC
/com
/com
/com
RESULTS:
/com
At the end of load step 1 there are 3 regions where contact is
/com
closed at the bottom surface. One element from each of these
/com
regions is chosen, and the time history results for fluid
/com
contact pressure and gap are printed and plotted to show the
/com
path of fluid penetration along the bottom contact elements.
/com
Notice that at the time when the contact opens
/com
(gap is not zero), the FPRS is nonzero.
/com =====================================================================
/prep7

140

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A.2. Input File


et,1,182

! PLANE182 with plane stress option

tb,HYPER,1,1,2,MOON
tbtemp,0
tbdata,,80,20,0,,,
/com

**** Build the model ****

k,1
k,2,0.333,0
k,3,0.867,0.867
k,4,1.1,0.867
k,5,1.1,1
k,6,0.8,1
k,7,0.267,0.133
k,8,0,0.133
l,1,2
*repeat,7,1,1
l,8,1
lfillt,1,2,0.20
lfillt,2,3,0.15
lfillt,5,6,0.20
lfillt,6,7,0.15
lfillt,7,8,0.05
lfillt,8,1,0.05
al,all
k,98,-1.0,0
k,99,1.1,0
lstr,99,98
k,100,-1.0,1.0
k,101,1.1,1.0
lstr,100,101
lcomb,8,13
lcomb,8,14
esize,0.02
type,1
mat,1
smrtsize,5
amesh,all
allsel

lsel,s,,,4
nsll,s,1
d,all,ux,0
allsel
/com

! Set element attributes and meshing parameters

! Mesh the model

! BCs to model half symmetry

**** Contact pair creation ****

et,2,169
et,3,171
keyopt,3,10,2
mp,mu,2,0.2 ! Friction
r,2
/com

**** Top and bottom rigid targets ****

type,2
real,2
mat,2
lesize,15,,,1
lesize,16,,,1
lmesh,15,16
/com

**** Contact on the planar seal ****

lsel,s,line,,1,12
lsel,u,line,,4

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141

Appendix A. Example 2-D Contact Analysis with Fluid Pressure-Penetration Loading


nsll,s,1
type,3
esurf
allsel,all
finish
/solu
allsel
esel,s,ename,,169
nsle
nsel,r,loc,y,1
d,all,uy,-0.865 ! Move top rigid target
nlgeom,on
time,1
nsubst,25,2000,5
outres,all,all
allsel
nropt,unsym ! Unsymmetric due to friction
solve
esel,s,ename,,171 ! Select only contact elements
sfe,all,1,PRES, ,150 ! Apply fluid pressure of 150 to all contact elements
sfe,all,2,pres,,-1 ! Suppress default starting points (STA1 = -1)
nsel,s,loc,x ! Select a location for starting points
esln
esel,r,ename,,171 ! Reselect only the contact elements
sfe,all,2,pres,,1 ! Specify the above location to be initially in fluid (STA1 = 1]
allsel
nsubst,100,1000,10
solve
finish
/com

**** Post1 postprocessing ****

/post1
/show
set,2,last
finish
/com

**** Post26 time history postprocessing ****

/post26
timerange,1,2
esol,2,523,138 ,cont,fprs,CONTFPRS1
esol,3,523,138 ,cont,gap,CONTGAP1
/com *****************************************************************************
/com History of contact gap and fluid pressure for an element in the
/com region that opens first
/com *****************************************************************************
prvar,2,3
esol,4,578,53 ,cont,fprs,CONTFPRS2
esol,5,578,53 ,cont,gap,CONTGAP2
/com ****************************************************************************
/com History of contact gap and fluid pressure for an element in the
/com region that opens later
/com *****************************************************************************
prvar,4,5
esol,6,517,6,cont,fprs,CONTFPRS3
esol,7,517,6,cont,gap,CONTGAP3
/com ****************************************************************************
/com History of contact gap and fluid pressure for contact element
/com that opens last
/com *****************************************************************************
prvar,6,7

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A.2. Input File


/title,Time history of fluid pressure for three contact elements
/axlab,y,Fluid pressure
plvar,2,4,6
finish

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144

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Index
B
beam-to-beam contact, 75

C
contact analysis, 1
asymmetric vs. symmetric contact, 14
beam-to-beam, 2, 75
birth and death option, 57
boundary conditions for node-to-node contact, 97
boundary conditions for surface-to-surface contact,
58
chattering controls, 31
choosing surfaces, 13
conduction, 86
contact algorithm, 31, 96
contact direction, 20
contact location detection, 39
Contact Manager, 7, 11
contact pairs, 9, 12
contact status, 50, 85
contact stiffness, 3132
contact surface elements, 3
Contact Wizard, 8
convection, 87
debonding, 133
deformable contact surface, 21
direct generation to create rigid target elements, 16
electric contact, 89
electrostatic elements, 89
emissivity, 88
explicit dynamics, 1
flexible-to-flexible, 1, 11
fluid pressure-penetration loads for surface-to-surface contact, 58
free surface convection, 86
free surface radiation, 86
free thermal surface, 86
friction model, 36
gap, 96
Gauss integration points, 39
generating node-to-node contact elements, 94
generating surface-to-surface contact elements, 23
geometry correction, 24
heat flux, 86, 89
heat generation due to electric current, 91
heat generation due to friction, 89
initial contact conditions, 43
initial interference, 96
internal MPC, 101

line-to-line, 4
line-to-surface, 81
localized contact zone, 20
magnetic contact, 91
moving contact nodes, 49
node ordering in node-to-node analysis, 95
node-to-node, 2, 4, 93
node-to-surface, 2, 4, 71
node-to-surface KEYOPTS, 72
node-to-surface real constants, 73
normals, 7, 20, 23, 95
open far-field contact status, 50
open near-field contact status, 50
overall steps, 11
overconstrained contact problem, 97
penalty stiffness, 23
penetration, 31
piezoelectric elements, 89
pinball region, 50
point-to-point, 4
point-to-surface, 4
radiation, 88
results, 67
rigid-to-flexible, 1, 11, 57
self contact, 14, 51
shells, 56
sliding contact status, 50
slippage, 39
solution options for node-to-node contact, 97
solution options for surface-to-surface contact, 65
solving, 66
spurious contact, 51
Stefan-Boltzmann constant, 88
sticking contact status, 50
summary of contact capabilities, 2
superelements, 55
surface interaction for electric contact, 90
surface interaction models, 52
surface-to-surface, 23, 11, 22
surface-to-surface KEYOPTS, 29
surface-to-surface material properties, 23
surface-to-surface real constants, 23, 26
symmetric/unsymmetric solver, 36
target element shapes, 16
target surface definition, 15
target surface element types and real constants, 15
target surface modeling and meshing tips, 20
target surface nodal number ordering, 20
target surface pilot node, 15, 57
target surface primitives, 15
temperature required, 86
thermal contact, 85

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145

Index
thickness effect, 56
time step control, 56
using meshing tools to create rigid target elements,
17

D
debonding, 133
delamination
in a contact analysis, 133

F
fluid pressure-penetration loads, 58

I
internal MPC, 101

L
line-to-surface contact, 81

M
magnetic analysis
contact, 91
multipoint constraint, 101

P
penalty stiffness
in contact analysis, 23
pilot node
in contact analysis, 15, 57

S
spot welds, 121

146

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