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FEMAP Tutorial 1: Simple Structures

500 lbs
1000 lbs

Uniaxial Rod

Simple Beam

In this tutorial, we will construct FEMAP finite element models of the above simple
structures, perform the analysis of the model, view the results, and compare those results
to the strength of materials calculations for each structure. We will first construct the
uniaxial rod, and then we will adapt this structure to represent a simple beam. In order to
accomplish this task, we have to describe four types of information about the
configuration using FEMAP:

Constitutive What the model is comprised of (materials, properties)

Geometry The shape of the model
Boundary conditions Loads and constraints acting on the model
Compatibility How the elements fit together

Explanation of Notation:
Navigating menus can be troublesome. I will give the correct path using a shorthand
notation, which is best described with an example. Consider the phrase
This indicates that one should click the Create menu item, followed by the load
submenu item, and then finally the nodal sub-submenu item.
When a dialog box is to be filled in, the label for each field will be given with the
required input in parenthesis. For example,
Youngs Modulus, E(30000000)
Indicates that you should put 30000000 in the field labeled Youngs Modulus, E
Many times in FEMAP it is easiest to select a feature of the model on the screen with
the mouse rather than typing in its ID number. This will be indicated by underlining the
action you should perform. For example,
Geometry.Curve Line.Points
Create Line from Points. Select the points X(-3) Y(1) and X(-3) Y(0)
Means that when the Create Line from Points box comes up, you should select the
points X(-3) Y(1) and X(-3) Y(0) with your mouse.
Sometimes you must select a checkbox. This will be indicated by label(check),
where label is the label for the checkbox.
Ctrl-Z is undo if you get into trouble and need to back up. There is no redo
Ctrl-D is redraw, which will clear away deleted features and redraw the model.
The screen may be zoomed in or out by using the scroll button on your mouse
A way to avoid getting in to trouble is to save the model under different filenames
as you complete major sections. When you are finished you should have seven or eight


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files of the model at the different stages of its construction to avoid having to start from a
clean slate in order to change one aspect of it.
File.Save As(FemapTut1)
Define the workplane
Defining the workplane is like creating a sheet of paper that you will draw on. This will
specify the location, size, and orientation of the space in which we will create the
model. It will give us a frame of reference for our model by creating a grid and
visible coordinate axes.
Tools.Workplane(or Press Ctrl-W) to bring up Workplane Management
Snap Options
Grid And Ruler Spacing.Uniform(check)
Grid And Ruler Spacing.X Grid(0.5)
Grid Style.Dots(check)
Snap To.Snap Grid(check)
Workplane Size.X from (-5) To (15)
Workplane Size.Y from (-10) To (10)
Adjust to Model Size(Uncheck)
Define Material Group
As we create our model, we will want groups of materials that we will use to build our
structure. To create materials in FEMAP, you simply assign specific material
characteristics (i.e. Youngs Modulus, Poissons Ratio, etc.) to a material ID number.
For example, Material ID # 1 might have the material characteristics of carbon
steel, and Material ID # 2 might have the material characteristics of 2024
aluminum. Then as we create our model we can specify elements that will be carbon
steel and others that will be aluminum. You may define materials by manually
entering in the values of those characteristics or by loading a saved material from
the material library, as we will do in this exercise.
AISI 4130 Steel (Select from list)
Define Property Set
We need to define element property groups that will determine what type of elements will
be used to build our model. We will complete this task in the same way that we defined
the groups of materials. Property data defines the elements geometry (thickness, areas,
radii, etc.), specifies mass, and inertia, and it selects a material for the element from the
groups you have previously determined. There are many different property types to
choose from: line elements (rods and beams), plane elements ( membranes and
laminates), and 3-dimensional solid elements. Although we will be modeling a rod and a
beam in this exercise, we will be doing so using membrane elements to view the internal
stresses in the structure.


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Title(1/4 Steel)
Material(select AISI 4130 Steel)
Elem/Property Type
Thicknesses,Tavg or T1(0.25)
Model Geometry
Geometry provides the framework for most finite element models. Think about it as if
you were drawing a picture of an object. First, you would draw the outline of its shape,
and then you would color in the outline to better describe it. Here we will use FEMAPs
geometry commands to create the outline, and then later we will color it in with
elements. Thus, we will have created our model.
Part 1: The Rod/Beam
X(0) Y(0) Z(0) OK
X(5) Y(0) Z(0) OK
X(10) Y(0) Z(0) OK
X(0) Y(1) Z(0) OK
X(5) Y(1) Z(0) OK
X(10) Y(1) Z(0) OK

View.Autoscale.All (or Press Ctrl A )

Here we create six points that

will become the rod, as shown
in the schematic below.

Autoscale is a useful command to memorize.

It automatically resizes the view of the screen
to contain a close view that contains the
whole model.

There are many ways to create rectangles in FEMAP. We will cover two of those ways:
drawing them from points and using the Rectangle commanding in the Geometry
menu. Regardless of the technique used, you are really just defining some lines.
These lines will be used later to define the regions to be meshed.


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Geometry.Curve Line.Points
Create Line From Points.Select the points X(0) Y(0) Z(0) and X(5) Y(0) Z(0)
Select the points X(5) Y(0) Z(0) and X(10) Y(0) Z(0)
Repeat this command until seven lines have been drawn using the six points created,
as is shown below.

Part 2: The Base

Now well use another method for creating rectangles. Please note that this command
creates a quadrilateral out of four curves that intersect at right angles.
Geometry.Curve Line.Rectangle
First Corner
X(-3) Y(-3) Z(0)
Diagonally Opposite Corner
X(0) Y(0) Z(0)
Geometry.Curve Line.Rectangle
First Corner
X(-3) Y(1) Z(0)
Diagonally Opposite Corner
X(0) Y(4) Z(0)
Geometry.Curve Line.Points
Create Line from Points.Select the points X(-3) Y(1) and X(-3) Y(0)
Autoscale the screen to fit the model. It should look similar to the picture below, without
the numbers 1-5.


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View.Autoscale.All (or Press Ctrl A )








Z -5.5


The five rectangles will be the five superelement members of our mesh. In FEMAP,
however, they are only the geometric framework where we will create our mesh. For
convenience, theyll be referred to as rectangles 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 as labeled above.
Creating the Mesh
Now that the shape of the model has been created, we can subdivide the superelements
to create our mesh. We will use the Mesh.Between command, which subdivides a
four-sided element by making divisions along the first and second directions defined.
The directions referred to are determined by the first and second node specified
(direction 1) and the second and third (direction 2) node specified. This is demonstrated
in the figure below:
Node 3
Direction 2
Direction 1
Node 1

Node 2

As you create these meshes, it is also important to make sure that the nodes along sides
of abutting superelements line up. Here are two examples, one that will work and one
that will return an error message:


These two superelements would NOT be

compatible. The nodes of the abutting
superelement sides do not coincide

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These two superelements would be

compatible. The nodes of the abutting
superelement sides do coincide.. but it is
dangerous to match partial edges.

Now use this command to mesh our 5 superelements

(or Control B)
Node And Element Options.Property(1..1/4 Steel)This selects what type of elements should be used
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir1(10)
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir2(15)
Meshes Rectangle 1
X(-3) Y(1) Z(0) OK
Direction 1 is from (-3,1,0) to (-3,4,0)
X(-3) Y(4) Z(0) OK
Direction 2 is from (-3,4,0) to (0,4,0)
X(0) Y(4) Z(0) OK
X(0) Y(1) Z(0) OK

Note: If the snap option is not set to Snap to Point, right click anywhere on the screen,
and select Snap to Point off the pop-up menu that appears. Now, instead of
manually entering in the coordinates in the meshing sequence below, you may
easily and accurately select them with your mouse.
(or Control B)
Node And Element Options.Property(1..1/4 Steel)
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir1(15)
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir2(5)
Meshes Rectangle 2
X(-3) Y(0) Z(0) OK
Direction 1 is from (-3,0,0) to (0,0,0)
X(0) Y(0) Z(0) OK
Direction 2 is from (0,0,0) to (0,1,0)
X(0) Y(1) Z(0) OK
X(-3) Y(1) Z(0) OK
(or Control B)
Node And Element Options.Property(1..1/4 Steel)
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir1(10)
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir2(15)
Meshes Rectangle 3
Direction 1 is from (-3,0,0) to (-3,-3,0)
Direction 2 is from (-3,-3,0) to (0,-3,0)


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X(-3) Y(0) Z(0) OK

X(-3) Y(-3) Z(0) OK
X(0) Y(-3) Z(0) OK
X(0) Y(0) Z(0) OK
(or Control B)
Node And Element Options.Property(1..1/4 Steel)
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir1(15)
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir2(5)
Meshes Rectangle 4
Direction 1 is from (0,0,0) to (5,0,0)
X(0) Y(0) Z(0) OK
Direction 2 is from (5,0,0) to (5,1,0)
X(5) Y(0) Z(0) OK
X(5) Y(1) Z(0) OK
X(0) Y(1) Z(0) OK
(or Control B)
Node And Element Options.Property(1..1/4 Steel)
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir1(15)
Mesh Size.#Nodes.Dir2(5)
Meshes Rectangle 5
X(5) Y(0) Z(0) OK
Direction 1 is from (5,0,0) to (10,0,0)
X(10) Y(0) Z(0) OK
Direction 2 is from (10,0,0) to (10,1,0)
X(10) Y(1) Z(0) OK
X(5) Y(1) Z(0) OK


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Now these superelements must be combined into one structure to satisfy our compatibility
requirement. To accomplish this task, we use the Check Coincident Nodes command,
which combines nodes that occupy the same location (coinciding in the same place).
By combining these nodes, the superelements are then connected by these shared
nodes. If you neglect to combine the nodes, it will be easy to notice that in the analysis
results, the model will be disjointed along those boundaries.
Tools.Check.Coincident Nodes
Entity Selection.Select All
OK to specify additional range of nodes to merge? Yes
Entity Selection.Select All
Options.Merge Coincident Entities(check)

After you complete this step, a

message should appear on the
gray bar below the main
window informing you how
many nodes were merged

Loads and Constraints

Loads and constraints are applied similarly in FEMAP as they are applied when we do
finite element analysis by hand calculations. To apply a load or a constraint to a model,
you first must create a set in which the load or constraint will exist. This allows you to
change the loading or the constraints on your model very easily and quickly by simply
defining a new set and only applying that set in the analysis. Once the load and
constraint sets have been defined, you may apply either in a variety of ways. In this
exercise, we will constrain and load individual nodes.
Create a constraint set
Model.Constraint.Set (or Shift-F2)
Specify the constraints
For this model we will constrain the nodes along the left side of the base of the rod,
fixing them so they may not move in either the x or y direction.
Entity Selection.Hold the shift key and drag a box over the nodes on the left boundary
of the model (A schematic is shown below.)


fixing translation in the x-direction

fixing translation in the y-direction


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Create a load set


(or Control-F2)

Specify the loading

For this model, we will place a single point load at the center of the right end of the rod.
The load will be axially applied to demonstrate the internal stresses inside a rod. At
a later point in the exercise, we will change this load to a transverse load. This will
allow us to model a beam and examine its internal stress state.
Entity Selection.Select the center node of the rods right side
This places a 1000 unit load in the xLoad.FX.Value(1000)
direction at the node(s) selected
Model Analysis
CAEFEM analysis using FEMAP generated models
File.Export.Analysis Model (or Press Ctrl T)
Export To.CAEFEM(check)
OK to save model? Yes

Importing and exporting files is also

covered in the FEMAP Installation

The CAEFEM analysis window will now automatically open. The following section
refers to commands in this window.
Analysis Options
Constraint Set(Select ConstraintSet1)
LoadSet(Select LoadSet1)
Results Generation.Linear Static(check)
CAEFEM will automatically import the results back into FEMAPMI/NASTRAN analysis
using FEMAP generated models. You may now go directly to the post-processing
section of this tutorial.


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Exporting Models from FEMAP to MI/NASTRAN... skip in 306

Once you have created a valid model in FEMAP, you must export that model in order to
perform the analysis so it can be used in the MI/Tools application. To do this, perform
the following commands:
Analysis Model
Select ME/NASTRAN off the pulldown menu
The program will now create a NASTRAN Input Deck (or .NID file). It will allow you to
name the file and place it in an appropriate directory. If possible, place the file in a new
subdirectory of the MITOOLS folder. It will then begin to write the Input Deck.
NASTRAN Executive and Solution Control
NASTRAN Case Control
Select 2..Print and PostProcess on the pull-down menu
Title (Describe the model)
The .NID file will now be ready to run in NASTRAN
Open the MI/Tools Application. Using the folder explorer open the folder the .NID file
has been placed in. Highlight the .NID file and click the MI/NASTRAN button. This will
run the job deck. A subdirectory to the current directory with the same name as the .NID
file will be created containing the results of the analysis. To see if the analysis was
completed successfully, open the results directory and open the .F06 file using the File
Editor button of the MI/Tools Application. If the analysis was completed successfully,
then there should be no major error messages and displacement vectors should be
Importing Data to FEMAP for Post-Processing
The displacement and stress data may now be imported back into FEMAP for postprocessing. To do this perform the following steps from FEMAP:
Analysis Results
Select ME/NASTRAN off the pulldown menu


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Find the output directory created in the directory in which your .NID file is located, and
having the same name.<= clarify Open that directory, select the .F06 file, and click
OK to begin reading filename? Yes
Message Review.Continue
Post-processing takes the raw data returned by the solver and converts it into visual and
quantitative results such as displacements, stress contours, and stress criteria.
Stress Contours
Stress Contours will give you a view
View.Select (or Press F5)
over the stress distribution throughout
Deformed Style.Deform(check)
the structure, but they do not supply
Contour Style.Contour(check)
specific details
Deformed and Contour Data
Output Set (Select most recent output set it will be the last one on the menu)
Output Vectors.Deformation(1..Total Translation)
Output Vectors.Contour(101..Avg Bot vonMises)
The final contoured model should look similar to this:


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Stress Criteria
View.Select (or Press F5)
Deformed Style.Deform(check)
Contour Style.Criteria(check)
View Options (or Press F6)
Options(Select Contour/Criteria Style)
Data Conversion.(1..Maximum Value)

Stress Criteria will label each element with

its average or maximum stress value.
These criteria are useful in determining
specific stresses in an element.
This option is normally preset to show
average stress, but for this problem,
you will want to see maximum stress in
each element.

However, if the stress state of a specific element is needed, queries may be performed to
retrieve this data.
Output Set (Select most recent output set)
Category (4..Stress)
Entity.ID(Enter element ID or place cursor in field and select element)
This prints the query but allows you to immediately request another query
If you are finished with queries
FEMAP will now print the stress state of that element in the active output set in the gray
bar at the bottom of the screen. To view the bar full screen, double-click on the gray bar.
To return it to its normal size, double click again in the middle of the screen.
Repeat this exercise using a beam configuration (i.e. change the load from axial to a
transverse load). To create a different load set, do the following:

(or Press Ctrl-F2)

Specify the loading

We will now create another load set that will become the active load set. It will contain a
transverse load, changing the structure from a uniaxial rod to a simple beam.
Entity Selection.Select the center node of the rods right side
This will place a 500 unit load in the negative yLoad.FY.Value(-500)
direction on the node(s) selected


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Q: What is different about the stress contours shown by the uniaxial rod and the contours
shown by the simple beam?
A: The unixial rod has a uniform state of stress throughout the rod. The beam has a linear
stress distribution that varies in the z-direction.
Q: The finite element program uses large systems of equations to solve for the
deformation and stress in a structure. Strength of materials methods such as the ones
learned in ENGR 214 and AERO 304 use a set of assumptions to simplify a problem to
the point that it can be solved by hand.
a) Calculate the maximum xx stress in the uniaxial bar. How does this calculated
stress compare to the answers given in the finite element analysis?
b) Repeat part a) for the simple beam.
c) What do these results tell you about the assumptions made for uniaxial rods and
simple beams?
d) For what two areas of the structure are these assumptions not valid?
A: a) The maximum stress given by the rod finite element analysis is right around 4000.
The strength of materials calculation is P/A =1000/.25 = 4000. The answers
b) The maximum stress given by the beam finite element analysis program is
roughly 117,000 and occurs at the point where the bending moment caused by the
load is largest. The strength of materials calculation for a beam in pure bending is
F*L*y/Izz. At y=.5, L=10 (point of max stress) this is equal to 120,000. The
answers are very similar.
c) These results show that simple beam and uniaxial rod assumptions are valid
d) Both the base of the rod/beam and the point at which the load is applied show
areas where beam and rod assumptions are no longer valid.