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# PERGAMON

## The Galerkin method for static analysis of simply

supported plates of general shape
M.M. Saadatpour, M. Azhari *
Department of Civil Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran
Received 17 December 1996; received in revised form 15 February 1998

Abstract
A theoretical formulation for the static analysis of arbitrary quadrilateral shaped plates is presented. The
procedure is based on the Galerkin method and uses the natural coordinates to express the geometry of general
plates in a simple form. This approach is easily adaptable for analysis of triangular plates. The method is
programmed and several plate examples are solved to illustrate the accuracy and validity of the method. Deection
and bending moments of trapezoidal, parallelogram, triangular, and sector plates under static loads are obtained
and the results, where possible, are veried with those published elsewhere. # 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights
reserved.
Keywords: Galerkin method; Static analysis; Simply supported plates

1. Introduction
The analysis of arbitrarily shaped thin plates has
been of interest to structural designers over several
decades. Analysis of these plates are strongly dependent on the boundary conditions and geometrical
shape. It is widely recognized that closed form solutions are possible only for a limited set of simple
boundary conditions and geometries [1, 2].
For analysis of arbitrarily shaped plates, several numerical methods such as the nite element, nite dierence and nite strip methods are usually applied .
Although the discretization methods provide a general
framework for general plates, it invariably results in
problems which possess a large number of degrees of
freedom. This deciency was overcome by using the
well-known RayleighRitz method , which does not
need the mesh generation.
The classical RayleighRitz method has been
deployed by many researchers for static and dynamic
responses of general plates. Bhat used the orthogonal
polynomials to express the bending deection of rec-

* Corresponding author.

## tangular plates under static loads . Kim and

Dickson employed a set of orthogonal polynomials to
study the analysis of rectangular and circular
plates [8, 9]. Later, they used simple polynomials to
analyze the right triangular isotropic and orthotropic
plates .
Liew presented the static analysis of arbitrary
shaped plates subject to static loading. The analysis
was performed using the principle of minimum potential energy with the admissible pb-2 Ritz functions .
Liew and Wang [12, 13] and Liew and his colleague 
used the RayleighRitz and Lagrangian multiplier to
study the vibration of general plates with complicated
support conditions. Vibration of arbitrary plates of
general trapezoidal platform was studied by Liew et
al.  and Lim et al. . Recently, Liew and Liu
deployed the dierential quadrature method for
Kirchhof plates of arbitrary shapes .
The Galerkin method is a powerful numerical solution technique to dierential equations. This method
involves direct use of the dierential equation, so it
does not need the existence of a functional. Therefore
the method has a broader range of application than
does the RayleighRitz method for problems of solid
mechanics . Although the RayleighRitz method has

0045-7949/98/\$see front matter # 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 0 4 5 - 7 9 4 9 ( 9 8 ) 0 0 0 7 3 - X

## M. Saadatpour, M. Azhari / Computers and Structures 69 (1998) 19

Table 1
Interpolation functions for parabolic boundaries
Nodes

Ni(x, Z)

Corner
Mid-side (5,7)
Mid-side (6,8)

1
4(1 + xix)(1 + ZiZ) i = 1,4
1
2(1 + ZiZ) Zi=31
2
1
2(1 Z )(1 + xix) xi= 31

## J1 and J2 are, respectively, the rst and second order

Jacobian matrix of mapping dened as


J11 J12
;
J1
J21 J22
3
2 2
J212
2J12 J11
J11
7
6 2
J2 4 J21
J222
2J21 J22
5

## been widely employed, less attention has been paid to

the Galerkin method.
In the present paper, by using the Galerkin method,
a theoretical formulation for static analysis of quadrilateral plates is presented. Natural coordinates are
used in conjunction with Galerkin method to provide
one single superelement in order to express the whole
plate. An arbitrarily shaped quadrilateral plate may be
presented by mapping a square dened in the natural
coordinates. A major advantage of the method used
here for the analysis of arbitrarily shaped plates is that
it does not require any mesh discretization and, consequently, it needs only very minimal input data for
computations.

J12 J21

## J11 J22 J12 J21

in which
J11

N
X

xi Ni;x ;

J12

N
X

i1

J21

N
X

and

yi Ni;x ;

i1

xi Ni;Z ;

J22

N
X

i1

yi Ni;Z

i1

3
0
0 5;
b0

0
R 4 0
a0
b0

2. Theory

J12 J22

a0

1
J11;Z J22 J22;x J21
jJj

1
J22;x J11 J11;Z J12 :
jJj

## 2.1. Transformation of coordinates

An arbitrarily shaped quadrilateral plate in the
Cartesian coordinates may be expressed simply by
mapping a parent square plate dened in the natural
coordinates by simple boundary equations x = 21
and Z = 21 (Fig. 1). This is achieved by the coordinate transformation
x

N
X

## The governing dierential equation of an isotropic

plate under distributed load p(x, y) is expressed by
Dr4 wx; y px; y

3
3

xi Ni x; Z;

i1
N
X

yi Ni x; Z

i1

## where, xi, yi; i = 1,2 . . ., N are the coordinates of N

points on the boundary of the quadrilateral region and
Ni(x, Z) are the interpolation functions for parabolic
boundaries given in Table 1.
Applying the chain rule of dierentiation, it can be
simply shown that the rst and second derivatives are
related by
 
 
@
@
J1 1
;
@xi
@xi
 2 
 2 
 
@
@
@
J2 1
R
2
@xi @xj
@xi @xj
@xi
where
 T
 2 T  2 2

@
@ @
@
@ @ @2
:

and
@xi @xj
@x2 @y2 @x @y
@xi
@x @y

Et
where H4 is the biharmonic operator, D 121v
2 is the
plate rigidity in which E, t and v are modules of elasticity, plate thickness and Poisson's ratio and w(x, y) is
out-of-plane deection. The bending moments, Mx and
My may be given as


@2 w
@2 w
v 2 ;
Mx D
@x2
@y


@2 w
@2 w
v 2 :
My D
@y2
@x
4

may write
M

Mx My
Dr2 wx; y:
1v

r2 M px; y
r2 w

M
:
D

6a
6b

## 2.3. Solution of the dierential equations

2.3.1. Straight edges.
For the solution to Eq. (6)a) and (6b), M and w, for
simply supported straight boundary conditions, are
assumed in an expanded form
M

K
X
i1

K
X
i1

bi fi x; Z;
ai fi x; Z

7a
7b

## in which fi(x, Z) are the basic functions which satisfy

at least the geometric boundary conditions, ai and bi

are unknown coordinates or so called generalized coordinates and K is the number of basic functions. In this
paper two types of basic functions are used to express
M and w. These are basic functions denoted as I and
II. The basic functions I are trigonometric functions
and given by Eq. (8a), while the basic functions II are
polynomial functions and given by Eq. (8b). The advantage of the basic functions II are the ease of dierentiation and integration. The functions are as follows:
fi cos

mpx
npZ
cos
;
2
2

fi 1 x2 1 Z2 xm1 Zn1

8a
8b

## M. Saadatpour, M. Azhari / Computers and Structures 69 (1998) 19

Table 2
Deection (a = wD/pa4) at center of parallelogram
f

0
10
20
30
45
60

Galerkin method

FEM 

0.01012
0.01009
0.00998
0.00983
0.00954
0.00925

0.01013
0.01009
0.00996
0.00967
0.0096
0.0094

0.01014
0.01012
0.01005
0.00993
0.00949
0.00840


 2

@2
@2
@
@
@
a0 b0
c1 2 c2 2 c3
@Z
@x @Z
@x
@Z
@x
K
X
^ Z 0
bj fj px;

j1

11

and

## in which the coecients c1, c2 and c3 are related to the

Jacobian matrix components as follows:
1
J2 J222 ;
j J j2 22
1
c2
J2 J211 ;
j J j2 12
2
c3
J12 J22 J11 J21
j J j2
c1

Z
Fi

1
1

^ Zfi j J j dxdZ:
px;

12

## Substituting Eq. (7b) into Eq. (6b) and following the

above procedure, the following simultaneous, linear
equation, Eq. (13), in terms of the unknown coecient
ai may be obtained:
K
X

## and p(x, Z) is the transformation of p(x, y) into the

natural coordinates.
In the Galerkin method, for determination of the
unknown coecients, the basic functions fi(x, Z) are
used as the weight functions. Multiplying Eq. (9) by
fi(x, Z) and integrating over the whole region results
in the following simultaneous, linear equation, Eq. (10),
in terms of the unknown coecients bi:
K
X

in which
Z1Z1
c1 fj;xx c2 fj;ZZ
Sij

Sij bj Fi

10

j1

Sij aj Qi

13

j1

in which
Qi

K
1X
Hij bj ;
D j1

Z
Hij

fj fi j J j dxdZ:
14

## For static analysis, the simultaneous equation, in

Eq. (10) is solved for bi and substituted into Eq. (14)
to obtain Qi for the deection equation Eq. (13).

Table 3
Deection and bending moments at center of a trapezoidal plate
c/a

a1
w

a2
Mx

a3
My

a4
Mxy

0.
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0

0.004062
0.004821
0.005466
0.006000
0.006437
0.006787

0.0479
0.0492
0.0498
0.050
0.0498
0.0495

0.0479
0.0551
0.0612
0.0663
0.0706
0.0740

0.00
0.0009
0.0015
0.0020
0.0025
0.0031

## 2.3.2. Curved edges.

The procedure presented in the above section can
not be applied to plates with curve edges since the
moment sum on the curved edges is non-zero in general. To expand the Galerkin method for curved edges
of the sector plates [Fig. 2(d)], the moment sum is
given by
M 1 x2 1 Z2

K
X
i1

1 x2 1 Z

## The unknown coecient vectors B1i and B2i are

determined so that the moment boundary condition
M = DH2w is satised at certain predetermined
points of boundaries Z =2 1. The remaining procedure is the same as presented in Section 2.3.1.

 x; Z
bi f
i

K
X
i1

1 x2 1 Z

K
X
i1

3. Numerical studies
B1i ci x; Z
B2i ci x; Z

3.1. General
15

where the rst term in the right hand side of Eq. (15)
is the expansion of M for homogeneous boundary condition M = 0 at all boundaries and the second and
third terms in the right hand side of the equation
express the non-homogenous boundary conditions at
edges Z = 1 and Z = + 1 respectively.

## The numerical algorithm using Galerkin method

proposed in this paper has been implemented in
Fortran computer code and applied to plates of various shapes (Fig. 2). Deections and bending moments
of skew, trapezoidal, triangular, and sector plates are
calculated under uniform distributed loads. Although
in the present study, only plates under uniformly distributed loads are studied, the program can handle any
applied loads.

## 3.2. Skew plate

In order to evaluate the accuracy and validity of the
method, a simply supported skew plate under a uniform distributed load, p with b/a = 2 is studied
[Fig. 2(a)]. Polynomial functions with 5  5 sentences
are used as the basic functions. Deections a = wD/
pa4 at the center of a parallelogram plate with dierent
angles at f are shown in Table 2. Column 1 shows the
computed deections by the Galerkin method, while
column 2 and 3 show those obtained respectively by
the Ritz method and the nite element method. As the
results show, the deections computed by the Galerkin
method are in very good agreement with the results
obtained from the Ritz method  and the nite
element method . It should be noted that the number of elements used in the nite element method was
16 with 39 degrees of freedom.
3.3. Trapezoidal plate
An unsymmetrical trapezoidal plate under uniform
distributed load is studied [Fig. 2(b)]. The results are
shown in Table 3. Column 1 shows the deection at
the center of the plate while columns 2, 3 and 4 show

## the components of the bending moment at the center.

The values in Table 3 are dened by
pa4
; Mx a2 pa2 ;
D
My a3 pa2 ; Mxy a4 pa2 :

wmax a1

## As the table shows for c = 0, the results are exactly

the same as the rectangular plate .
The deection and bending moments for the symmetrical trapezoidal plate [Fig. 2(c)] having various
c/a; 0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1 and b/a; 1 and are shown in
Figs. 3 and 4. The maximumpdeection
of the equilat
eral triangular plate b=a 3/2 and c/a = 0.) under
uniform load is also calculated and it is the same as
that replaced by Ugural .
3.4. Sector plate
Since the moment sum is not zero at the curved
edges of the plates, for theses plates, the modication
presented in Section 2.3.2 is applied. The maximum
deections and bending moments along the radial center line of fan-shaped plates with dierent aspect ratios
of interior to exterior radii ri/r0 [Fig. 2(d)] computed
by the Galerkin method are compared with those of

## Cheung and Chan  in Table 4. The table shows

that the results obtained from the Galerkin method are
in good agreement with the results reported by Cheung
and Chan . It should be noted that the number of
basic functions K was assumed to be 25 for the
Galerkin method while the eight equal strips with four
non-zero series terms were used for the nite stripe
model with 64 degrees of freedom.
The static behavior of sector plates with dierent
central angles of f under a uniform load p is studied.
Fig. 5 shows the deections of the central line for the
simply supported sector plate having various values for
f with ri/r0 equal to 0.9. In Fig. 6, the deection of the

## sector plate with various values of f and ri/r0=0 along

its radius is shown. It should be noted that in Figs. 5
and 6, x and Z are assumed to vary from 0 to 1.
4. Conclusion
The Galerkin method has been presented for static
analysis of general simply supported plates. Natural
coordinates have been employed to express the geometry of plates of arbitrary shape in a simple form. Skew,
trapezoidal, triangular and sector plates under uniform
statics loads have been studied. The accuracy of the

Table 4
Maximum deections and moments along the radial center line of fan shape plate f = 608
wmaxpr40/D

Mrmaxpr20

Mymaxpr20

ri/r0

This study



This study



This study



0.00
0.25
0.50
0.75

0.000988
0.000934
0.000502
0.000496

0.000984
0.000927
0.000500
0.000490

0.02511
0.02498
0.02234
0.00790

0.024944
0.024846
0.021236
0.007885

0.02560
0.02366
0.01249
0.00250

0.025060
0.023556
0.012204
0.002438

## method has been demonstrated. It has been shown

that the method is powerful and can be used for stability and vibration analysis of general plates. The problem has been worked out and the results will be
published soon.

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