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# Sign Convention Page 1 of 5

Sign Convention
Normal Axis 3

Local axis 3 is always normal to the plane of the shell element. This axis is directed towards you
when the path j1-j2-j3 appears counter-clockwise. For quadrilateral elements, the element plane is
defined by the vectors that connect the mid-points of the two pairs of opposite sides.

Default Orientation

The default orientation of the local 1 and 2 axes is determined by the relationship between the local
3 axis and the global Z axis:

 The local 3-2 plane is taken to be vertical, i.e., parallel to the Z axis

 The local 2 axis is taken to have an upward (+Z) sense unless the element is horizontal, in
which case the local 2 axis is taken along the global +Y direction

##  The local 1 axis is horizontal, i.e., it lies in the X-Y plane

The element is considered to be horizontal if the sine of the angle between the local 3 axis and the Z
-3
axis is less than 10 .
The local 2 axis makes the same angle with the vertical axis as the local 3 axis makes with the
horizontal plane. This means that the local 2 axis points vertically upward for vertical elements.

## Element Coordinate Angle

The shell element coordinate angle, ang, is used to define element orientations that are different
from the default orientation. It is the angle through which the local 1 and 2 axes are rotated about
the positive local 3 axis from the default orientation. The rotation for a positive angle value of ang
appears counter-clockwise when the local +3 axis is pointing toward you.

For horizontal elements, ang is the angle between the local 2 axis and the horizontal +Y axis.
Otherwise, ang is the angle between the local 2 axis and the vertical plane containing the local 3
axis. The following figures provide examples.

mk:@MSITStore:C:\PROGRA~1\COMPUT~1\SAP200~1\SAP2000.chm::/Keyboard_... 3/8/2018
Sign Convention Page 2 of 5