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A key strength of the FEM is the ease and elegance with which it handles arbitrary

boundary and interface conditions. This power, however, has a down side. A big hurdle

faced by FEM newcomers is the understanding and proper handling of boundary

conditions. Below is a simple recipe for treating boundary conditions.

The key thing to remember is that boundary conditions (BCs) come in two basic flavors:

essential and natural.

Essential BCs directly affect DOFs, and are imposed on the left-hand side vector

u.

Natural BCs do not directly affect DOFs and are imposed on the right-hand side

vector f.

The basic recipe is:

Q1. If a boundary condition involves one or more degrees of freedom in a direct way,

it is essential. An example is a prescribed node displacement.

Q2. Otherwise it is natural.

The term “direct” is meant to exclude derivatives of the primary function, unless those

derivatives also appear as degrees of freedom, such as rotations in beams and plates.

strain-type displacement derivatives). Support conditions for a building or bridge problem

furnish a particularly simple example. But there are more general boundary conditions that

occur in practice. Astructural engineer must be familiar with displacement B.C. of the

following types.

Ground or support constraints. Directly restraint the structure against rigid body

motions. Symmetry conditions. To impose symmetry or antisymmetry restraints

at certain points, lines or planes of structural symmetry. This allows the

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

discretization to proceed only over part of the structure with a consequent savings

in modeling effort and number of equations to be solved.

Ignorable freedoms. To suppress displacements that are irrelevant to the problem.

In classical dynamics these are called ignorable coordinates. Even experienced

users of finite element programs are sometimes baffled by this kind. An example

are rotational degrees of freedom normal to smooth shell surfaces.

Connection constraints. To provide connectivity to adjoining structures or

substructures, or to specify relations between degrees of freedom. Many

conditions of this type can be subsumed under the label multipoint constraints or

multifreedom constraints. These can be notoriously difficult to handle from a

numerical standpoint.

The finite element structure analysis is subject to a set of boundary conditions which, in

the case of mechanical field problems, have to at least cancel possible kinematic

displacements under the action of the loads placed.

The removal of kinematic movements of with the analyzing finite elements structure is

done by the cancelling possible displacements (usually shifts) associated during

preprocessing with geometric entities and, after meshing, with nodes in accordance with

the coordinate system axes (global or local), preliminarily adopted.

Choosing the geometric entities, nodes and degrees of freedom with canceled

displacements is done while modeling so that after the analysis it results an increased

closeness to the real model. Also, in the case of boundary conditions modeling, advanced

programs can perform analyses with several sets (variants) of boundary conditions, so by

comparison, the most unfavorable state of structure strain can be identified.

The visualization using the analysis model of canceled displacements associated to the

points (nodes) in relation to the straight or circular axes of the coordinate system used, can

be made by combining the appropriate symbols corresponding to rotation and translation

displacement in Table 3, page 39.

Combining these symbols leads to the synthetic symbols shown in Table 4, page 40. These

are used for visualizing links to the point (node) level in relation to a tri-ortogonal

coordinate system with the designated axes (straight line or circular) 1, 2 and 3. In addition,

Table 4 shows the forces of reaction and the corresponding displacements, each associated

to a symbol.

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

The boundary conditions ensure complete fixing of the base structure with respect to the

base of the settlement in order to preventing the rigid body movements of the ensemble

structure. In general, the boundary conditions imposed certain values of degrees of

freedom in the restraint points of the structure. If the structure does not have enough

circumstances bearing a certain load case can generate shifts with infinite value.

Regardless of the distribution of external forces, the boundary conditions must cancel the

shift in relation to the two axes in two plane structure (x, y) and rotation about the axis

normal to the plane of the structure (the axis z) - Fig. 89.

Regardless of the distribution of external forces, the minimum number is six and the

boundary conditions have to cancel the three shift in relation to the three axes (x, y, z) and

three rotations in relation to the axes correspond to those.

To fix the structure there are available numerous combinations of supports that ensures

that the structure rigid body movements are prevented. A possible example, see the figure

below (Fig. 90), where we used a hinged spherical bearing which block in point A the 3

possible translations of the body and three simple supports prevent rotation relative with:

the axis (z) - bearing B, axis (y) - bearing C and axis (x) - bearing D.

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

The following table shows the controls modeling of various geometric constraints

provided by the CATIA environment.

Clamp

Surface slider

Slider

Sliding pivot

Ball joint

Pivot

Isostatic restraint

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Finite element modeling and analysis of mechanical structures consider loads as initial,

known data that are introduced in various ways so as to achieve a low rate of errors. Most

advanced programs that are based on FEM allow the model analysis with the consideration

of multiple sets (variants) of possible loads, in order to highlight the most unfavorable

states of strain.

The loads acting on a finite element modeled mechanical structure, usually in the form of

forces (moments), movements and temperatures, variation in space can be concentrated or

distributed, using the variation in time - static or dynamic.

Concentrated loads are considered to be acting on the finite element structure nodes. They

are actually in theory quasi-singularities, next to them resulting cvasiinfinite stresses.

However, in computer-aided design, loads can be used as concentrated forces when

studying displacement fields, strains and stresses in remote areas from their application

nodes.

Distributed loads, with different laws of variation (constant linear, parabolic, etc.) may

interact externally - on a line or on a surface - or internally – in volume. Using these loads

allows modeling with reduced deviations from the real case, and thus, unlike the case of

using concentration tasks, the fields from the loading areas can be considered as reliable

for designing. The possibility of taking into consideration the distributed forces of inertial

type (linear, centrifugal and/ or mass) also leads to the increase in design accuracy and,

therefore, in the results obtained.

Loading is considered as being static when its value slowly increases from zero to the

nominal value (Fig. 101, a). The increase is so slow that inertial forces have extremely

low values and, therefore, they can be neglected for the finite element analysis.

Dynamic loads, variable in time, can present shock when large variations of intensity in

short periods of time (Fig. 101, b), regular (Fig. 101, c) or, generally, random (Fig. 101,

d) occur.

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

In some practical situations when the load values pertaining to the type of force cannot

be identified, but the displacement fields as a result of pretentioning montage or strain

restriction are partially or entirely known, as input data for the analysis of movements

can specify the structure nodes finite elements.

The following table presents modeling commands load type forces, moments, temperature

and movement provided by the CATIA environment.

Pressure

Distributed Force

Moment

Bearing Load

Imported Force

Imported moment

Acceleration

Rotation Force

Surface Force Density

Volume Force Density

Force Density

Enforced Displacements

Temperature Field

Combined Loads

Assembled Loads

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

While the pre-processing and post-processing phases of the finite element method are

interactive and time-consuming for the analyst, the solution is often a batch process, and

is demanding of computer resource.

The governing equations are assembled into matrix form and are solved numerically. The

assembly process depends not only on the type of analysis (e.g. static or dynamic), but

also on the model's element types and properties, material properties and boundary

conditions [47].

In the case of a linear static structural analysis, the assembled equation is of the form:

Kd = r, Eq. 15

where K is the system stiffness matrix, d is the nodal degree of freedom (dof) displacement

vector, and r is the applied nodal load vector. To appreciate this equation, one must begin

with the underlying elasticity theory. The strain-displacement relation may be introduced

into the stress-strain relation to express stress in terms of displacement.

Under the assumption of compatibility, the differential equations of equilibrium in concert

with the boundary conditions then determine a unique displacement field solution, which

in turn determines the strain and stress fields. The chances of directly solving these

equations are slim to none for anything but the most trivial geometries, hence the need for

approximate numerical techniques presents itself.

A finite element mesh is actually a displacement-nodal displacement relation, which,

through the element interpolation scheme, determines the displacement anywhere in an

element given the values of its nodal dof. Introducing this relation into the strain-

displacement relation, we may express strain in terms of the nodal displacement, element

interpolation scheme and differential operator matrix.

Recalling that the expression for the potential energy of an elastic body includes an

integral for strain energy stored (dependent upon the strain field) and integrals for work

done by external forces (dependent upon the displacement field), we can therefore express

system potential energy in terms of nodal displacement [47].

2

The content of this chapter (marked with [47]) was taken from the paper: Roensch, S. “The Finite

Element Method:A Four-Article Series" with the written consent of the author, whom I thank.

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Applying the principle of minimum potential energy3, we may set the partial derivative of

potential energy with respect to the nodal dof vector to zero, resulting in: a summation of

element stiffness integrals, multiplied by the nodal displacement vector, equals a

summation of load integrals.

Each stiffness integral results in an element stiffness matrix, which sum to produce the

system stiffness matrix, and the summation of load integrals yields the applied load vector,

resulting in Kd = r. In practice, integration rules are applied to elements, loads appear in

the r vector, and nodal dof boundary conditions may appear in the d vector or may be

partitioned out of the equation [47].

Solution methods for finite element matrix equations are plentiful. In the case of the linear

static Kd = r, inverting K is computationally expensive and numerically unstable. A better

technique is Cholesky factorization, a form of Gauss elimination, and a minor variation

on the "LDU" factorization theme. The K matrix may be efficiently factored into LDU,

where L is lower triangular, D is diagonal, and U is upper triangular, resulting in LDU d

= r. Since L and D are easily inverted, and U is upper triangular, d may be determined by

back-substitution.

Another popular approach is the wavefront method, which assembles and reduces the

equations at the same time. Some of the best modern solution methods employ sparse

matrix techniques. Because node-to-node stiffnesses are non-zero only for nearby node

pairs, the stiffness matrix has a large number of zero entries. This can be exploited to

reduce solution time and storage by a factor of 10 or more. Improved solution methods are

continually being developed. The key point is that the analyst must understand the solution

technique being applied [47].

Dynamic analysis for too many analysts means normal modes. Knowledge of the natural

frequencies and mode shapes of a design may be enough in the case of a single-frequency

vibration of an existing product or prototype, with FEA being used to investigate the

effects of mass, stiffness and damping modifications. When investigating a future product,

or an existing design with multiple modes excited, forced response modeling should be

used to apply the expected transient or frequency environment to estimate the

displacement and even dynamic stress at each time step [47].

This discussion has assumed h-code elements, for which the order of the interpolation

polynomials is fixed. Another technique, p-code, increases the order iteratively until

convergence, with error estimates available after one analysis. Finally, the boundary

element method places elements only along the geometrical boundary. These techniques

have limitations, but expect to see more of them in the near future [47].

3

See Annex A.3

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

determining the behavior of a system under the effect of external actions (Fig.

113);

which is the response (Fig. 114) of the system when subjected to external actions

(changes in the forces, temperatures and so on).

Fig. 114 Internal and external behavior of a system subject to a mechanical stress [44]

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Each time an FE model is solved, it can help create a vast amount of results data. The

ability to process the data and quickly gain an understanding of the model behavior is

important for a fast analysis turnaround. The postprocessor should therefore allow full

control of results selection and include a robust and varied set of tools to manage and

display results, while at the same time facilitate easy comprehension of the data. Results

viewing becomes more complex with highly idealized models, so the postprocessing tools

should provide the ability to easily view appropriate results quantities on shell and beam

elements [50].

processing phase

After a finite element model has been prepared and checked, boundary conditions have

been applied, and the model has been solved, it is time to investigate the results of the

analysis. This activity is known as the post-processing phase of the finite element method.

Post-processing begins with a thorough check for problems that may have occurred during

solution. Most solvers provide a log file, which should be searched for warnings or errors,

and which will also provide a quantitative measure of how well-behaved the numerical

procedures were during solution.

Next, reaction loads at restrained nodes should be summed and examined as a "sanity

check". Reaction loads that do not closely balance the applied load resultant for a linear

static analysis should cast doubt on the validity of other results. Error norms such as strain

energy density and stress deviation among adjacent elements might be looked at next, but

for h-code analyses these quantities are best used to target subsequent adaptive remeshing

[47].

Once the solution is verified to be free of numerical problems, the quantities of interest

may be examined. Many display options are available, the choice of which depends on the

mathematical form of the quantity as well as its physical meaning. For example, the

displacement of a solid linear brick element's node is a 3-component spatial vector, and

the model's overall displacement is often displayed by superposing the deformed shape

over the undeformed shape.

Dynamic viewing and animation capabilities aid greatly in obtaining an understanding of

the deformation pattern. Stresses, being tensor quantities, currently lack a good single

visualization technique, and thus derived stress quantities are extracted and displayed.

Principal stress vectors may be displayed as color-coded arrows, indicating both direction

and magnitude. The magnitude of principal stresses or of a scalar failure stress such as the

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Von Mises stress may be displayed on the model as colored bands. When this type of

display is treated as a 3D object subjected to light sources, the resulting image is known

as a shaded image stress plot. Displacement magnitude may also be displayed by colored

bands, but this can lead to misinterpretation as a stress plot [47].

An area of post-processing that is rapidly gaining popularity is that of adaptive remeshing.

Error norms such as strain energy density are used to remesh the model, placing a denser

mesh in regions needing improvement and a coarser mesh in areas of overkill. Adaptivity

requires an associative link between the model and the underlying CAD geometry, and

works best if boundary conditions may be applied directly to the geometry, as well.

Adaptive remeshing is a recent demonstration of the iterative nature of h-code analysis

[47].

Optimization is another area enjoying recent advancement. Based on the values of various

results, the model is modified automatically in an attempt to satisfy certain performance

criteria and is solved again. The process iterates until some convergence criterion is met.

In its scalar form, optimization modifies beam cross-sectional properties, thin shell

thicknesses and/or material properties in an attempt to meet maximum stress constraints,

maximum deflection constraints, and/or vibrational frequency constraints.

Shape optimization is more complex, with the actual 3D model boundaries being

modified. This is best accomplished by using the driving dimensions as optimization

parameters, but mesh quality at each iteration can be a concern [47].

Another direction clearly visible in the finite element field is the integration of FEA

packages with so-called "mechanism" packages, which analyze motion and forces of

large-displacement multi-body systems.

A long-term goal would be real-time computation and display of displacements and

stresses in a multi-body system undergoing large displacement motion, with frictional

effects and fluid flow taken into account when necessary. It is difficult to estimate the

increase in computing power necessary to accomplish this feat, but 2 or 3 orders of

magnitude is probably close. Algorithms to integrate these fields of analysis may be

expected to follow the computing power increases [47].

In summary, the finite element method is a relatively recent discipline that has quickly

become a mature method, especially for structural and thermal analysis. The costs of

applying this technology to everyday design tasks have been dropping, while the

capabilities delivered by the method expand constantly. With education in the technique

and in the commercial software packages becoming more and more available, the question

has moved from "Why apply FEA?" to "Why not?". The method is fully capable of

delivering higher quality products in a shorter design cycle with a reduced chance of field

failure, provided it is applied by a capable analyst. It is also a valid indication of thorough

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

design practices, should an unexpected litigation crop up. The time is now for industry to

make greater use of this and other analysis techniques [47].

5.3. Results

The primary results in a finite element analysis are grid point displacements and rotations.

Element results such as stresses, strains, and strain energy density are derived from those

results. Other results include element forces, MPC forces, SPC forces, and grid point

forces. Results of a finite element analysis are post-processed using a graphical tool [4].

Displacements and rotations are computed in linear static, and frequency response

analyses. In addition, in frequency response velocities and acceleration are computed.

Eigenvectors are the primary result in a normal modes and buckling analyses. In a normal

modes analysis, they are normalized with respect to the mass matrix or with respect to the

maximum vector component. In a buckling analysis, the latter always applies.

Displacements, velocities, accelerations, and eigenvectors are grid point results. They are

plotted as a deformed structure, or as a contour on the undeformed structure. Some post-

processors, such as Ansys or Catia, also allow the animation of the displacements [4].

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Stresses near notches and other sharp corners, point loads and boundary conditions, and

rigid elements are often unreliable due to the singularities in these points. A mesh

refinement in such places can improve the stress prediction. A theoretically infinite stress

cannot be predicted by finite elements.

Stresses are primarily calculated at the Gauss integration points. These give the most

accurate prediction. However, element stresses, corner stresses, and grid point stresses

are provided.

Element stresses are calculated at the centroid of the element. They should only be post-

processed using an assign plot. Contouring of element stresses vastly underestimates the

extreme values due to the smearing across element boundaries.

The stresses of interest are usually found on the surface of a structure. Mesh refinement

will actually not just improve the stress prediction but also change the location of the point

of stress evaluation. Therefore, it is common practice to use a skin of thin membrane

elements in 3D modeling, or rod elements in 2D modeling, to evaluate the stresses on

element surfaces or edges, respectively. This method is accurate since it considers the

correct condition of a stress-free boundary if no load is applied to the boundary. The

method of skinning a model also has the advantage of much faster post-processing of solid

models because only the membrane skin needs to be displayed.

Besides assign plots, elements stresses can be viewed in tensor plots that can help in the

evaluation of the load path in a structure by evaluating the principal stress directions.

Corner stresses are computed by extrapolating the stresses from the Gauss points to the

element grid points. Corner stresses are plotted in a contour plot. Corner stresses for solid

elements are not available for normal modes analysis.

Grid point stresses are computed by averaging the corner stresses contributions of the

elements meeting in a grid point. The averaging does not consider the condition of a

stress-free boundary. Further, interfaces between different materials, where a stress jump

normally can be observed, are not considered correctly because of the smearing of the

stress. Grid point stresses are plotted in a contour plot. For first order elements, grid point

stresses do not provide higher accuracy over element stresses. For second order elements,

the stress prediction might improve by using grid point stress over element stresses,

considering the weaknesses mentioned above [4].

The next step is to determine whether a part will break by comparing the stress values

from the analysis results to the strength of the material. Every metal and most plastics have

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

what’s called a yield strength and an ultimate strength. If the stress within the part exceeds

the material yield strength, then the part will not return to it’s original shape when the load

is removed. Although the part is still in one piece, it’s going to remain bent, which

generally isn’t good. If the stress exceeds the ultimate strength, then the part will fracture

and break. Ideally, the whole aim of the analysis is to make sure the stresses within the

part remain below the yield strength of the material [10].

In our suspension upright example, the stress contour shows a maximum stress of 325

MPa, which is above the material’s yield strength of 250 MPa, but below the tensile

strength of 345 MPa. Sothis means the part will bend under these loads, but won’t actually

break in two. Still, a bent upright is of no use to anyone so one possible change to make

to the part would be to increase the radius of the fillet in the high stress area to add some

extra material.

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Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

And after rerunning the analysis, it’s clear that the maximum stress in the part has dropped

to a much more acceptable value of 120 MPa. Much better to have figured this out now,

rather than after having parts made and tested (not to mention cheaper and safer!).

It’s clear that there are many benefits to using this type of simulation tool in engineering:

reduced costs; reduced design time; being able to assess a wide variety of designs; and

ending up with a stronger, lighter part.

Strains are secondary results. They are calculated as elements strains. Remarks made

above on element stresses apply here too.

Strain energy densities are secondary results in static and normal modes analysis. They

are calculated as element strain energy densities. Remarks made above on element

stresses apply here too.

5.3.3.2. Forces

Element forces, MPC forces, SPC forces, and grid point forces are printed as tabulated

output.

160

2. GENERAL PROBLEM

DEFINITION

The computer-aided design of a mechanical system involves identifying the shape and size

of its constitutive elements by using advanced software in solid modeling, in the analysis

of physical processes, in the synthesis and/or optimization.

The mechanical system of a vehicle, installation, machinery, robot, aircraft, etc. can be

divided in assemblies which in turn are made of subassemblies and distinct constitutive

parts, called machine parts. Subassemblies can also be made up of other subassemblies or

other distinct constitutive parts. Both the assemblies and the subassemblies of the

mechanic system are standalone entities, useful for the structural study of the system and

for the technical optimization of the assemblage. The components of a mechanical system

(or subsystem) are in permanent, direct fixed interaction (removable or non-removable) or

direct moving interaction (without lubrication) or indirect (with lubrication). There are

many types of such connections, in terms of design and depending on functional and

technological necessities.

The practice of designing and building mechanincal systems is in permanent development,

constantly updading any performance achievements regarding the means, methods,

possibilities and technologies available. In terms of functionality, different mechanical

systems present certain machinery elements and/ or subassemblies which have identical

or quasiidentical functions. Gradually, well-known design algorithms, as well as

technologies specialized in executing and assemblying have been developed for these

elements or subassemblies, seldom called machine parts.

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

The emergence and booming development of numerical computer performance in the last

decades allowed to obtain advanced software which implies new possibilities of

modeling, analysis and synthesis of subassemblies, of elements and/ or machine parts.

Most of these advanced programs rely on numerical methods, including the best knownn

one, the Finite Element Method in the practice field of physical phenomena analysis.

Fig. 11 presents a general outline of the main activities for designing and implementing

mechanical products, especially aiming at the identification of a hierarchy of the programs

based on FEM.

of mechanical systems process

Based FEM analysis of mechanical systems

MODELLING

Solid modeling is the sum of the activities describing objects in terms of geometry and

physics or even of spatial domains in order to create a representation of them using the

numerical computer. The geometric shapes of the systemic studied elements can be

modeled with certain degrees of idealization based on the current design stage. In the

primary stages of complex mechanical systems, the degree of idealization related to

modeling elements is increased, with the main objective of analyzing and sinthetizing on

a main (functional) level, unlike the final stages, when modeling is made with as little

deviations as possible from the nominal shape and size, where the main objective relates

to the aspects of designing in detail.

The structural, static, kinematic and dynamic analysis of mechanical systems implies an

ongoing study of the correlations between parameters and the actual characteristics and

those imposed to the mechanical system, considering models with an increased degree of

idealization for the constitutive elements. In order to arrive at the required characteristics,

22

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

optimization models. Consequent to these operations result the main dimensional and

physical parameters of the elements and the subassemblies pertaining to the mechanical

system.

The finite element analysis of simple elements or subassemblies of a mechanical system,

using the results obtained in the previous stage, implies geometric remodeling and a

detailed specification of the shape and in the same manner, finite elements modeling with

increased accuracy. Some advanced programs based on FEM have special optimization

and shape synthesis modules. Such programs allow generating geometric shapes which

respect conditions of equal resistance, minimum volume or minumum mass. Furthermore,

finite elements are commonly used also for the dynamic study of mechanic systems with

elastic deformable elements.

The CAD-CAM module interface (Fig. 11) connects the engineering design software and

the changes in shape and size in order to adjust to the technological processes available.

The study of such processes (deforming, casting, diffusion, etc.) using finite element

analysis allows to determine the shape and dimensional parameters necessary for design

devices and for the establishment of the optimal technological regimes.

It is possible to rapidly achieve mechanical material products with high performance by

massive introduction of numerical computers with advanced programs for both

dimensional synthesis and implementation. The stages of computer-aided design and

manufacturing of technical systems modifies perpetually and is constantly being updated

in accordance with the progress in the field of modeling, analysis, as well as the

development of techical performance of computing systems.

In order to obtain professional products, modeling and theoretical analysis of real

phenomena can be done through two main directions: by studying theories on general

situations and practical studies through the analysis of concrete practical cases. Fig. 12

outlines the main steps listed in both directions. It also shows that the theoretical analyses

aims at the practical results is performed based on fundamental studies. General theoretical

analysis of real phenomena are based on computational theoretical models that are

assigned appropriate mathematical models.

The computational theoretical model (Fig. 12) is an approximation of the real model

which involves identifying the shape and size of the geometric domain and the physical

parameters known as the qualitative indication of unknown physical parameters. For

known geometrical and physical parameters, the variational functions and their limit

values are being established.

The analytical mathematical model (Fig. 12), associated with the computational model

made, is in most cases a system of differential and/ or integro-differential equations, with

23

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

possible to describe mathematically physical phenomena, synthetized in the computational

model using a variational calculus through a functional. This description, often used due

to the simplicity of the methods and algorithms for solving the mathematical model,

developed in various forms, especially for mechanical engineering problems.

initial and boundary conditions, and material properties applied on theoretical models of

mathematical calculus, we obtain simplified analytical mathematical models which can be

processed using the manual calculus, slide rule or the calculator.

For example, the calculus model of bendable mechanical structures, with the methods of

the theory of elasticity and strength of materials, we obtain specific mathematical models

leading to simple calculus relationships (Navier, Juravski, etc.) for different geometrical

fields (bars, plates, shells, tubes, discs, etc..) and specific physical conditions.

In order to increase the precision of the results obtained by classical methods (Fig. 13),

numerical methods through small, usually controllable approximations in respect to

geometry, boundary conditions and material properties, lead to numerical modeling that

can be solved only by numerical computer. The practice of numerical modeling which

involves the study of physical phenomena in continuous environments by splitting them

into smaller subdomains called finite elements, developed and became a business

24

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

have pre and post-processors with advanced facilities of data input and processing.

Theoretical and practical studies applicable in the design of specific machine elements are

based on the techincal calculus model. Since advanced programs that are based on FEM

deal with analysis, preliminarily, sizing calculation is required (predimensioning) using,

in particular, traditional methods of strength of materials. In order to use advanced

software to analyze and optimize the shape of the machine elemet structure, predesigned

in both shape and size, it is necessary to complete one or more models of analysis adjusted

to the numerical method on which the program is based.

25

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

This paper particularly seeks to explore the finite element analysis software for the

advanced design of machine elements (organs) and/ or mechanical system subassemblies.

Various finite element analyses presented are based on the definition of the problem in the

general context of the design and ends with the visualization, analysis and synthesis of the

results.

These analyses are performed in a CATIA environment, characterized by a high level of

integration of CAD and CAE modules, as it was shortly highlighted in the first chapter.

So, as of late, thanks to this integration and high level of communication of the human

operator with the programming environment, the design engineers can easily access CAE

modules (Computer Aided Engineering) of finite element analysis. This requires that

designers have knowledge of dealing with finite element analysis models and processing

results. This chapter presents the general problems related to finite element modeling

including the geometry, the material properties, the boundary conditions and commonly

encountered difficulties in various situations in practice.

The “degrees of freedom” term, as well as “stiffness matrix” and “force vector,” originated

in structural mechanics, the application for which FEM was invented. These names have

carried over to non-structural applications. Classical analytical mechanics is that invented

by Euler and Lagrange in the XVIII century and further developed by Hamilton, Jacobi

and Poincar´e as a systematic formulation of Newtonian mechanics. Its objects of attention

are models of mechanical systems ranging from material particles composed of

sufficiently large number of molecules, through airplanes, to the Solar System. The spatial

configuration of any such system is described by its degrees of freedom or DOF. These

are also called generalized coordinates. The terms state variables and primary variables

are also used, particularly in mathematically oriented treatments [17].

If the number of degrees of freedom is finite, the model is called discrete, and continuous

otherwise. Because FEM is a discretization method, the number of DOF of a FEM model

is necessarily finite. They are collected in a column vector called u. This vector is called

the DOF vector or state vector. The term nodal displacement vector for u is reserved to

mechanical applications. In analytical mechanics, each degree of freedom has a

corresponding “conjugate” or “dual” term, which represents a generalized force. In

1

The content of this chapter (marked with [17]) was taken from the paper Felippa, C.A.:

Introduction to Finite Element Methods, lecture notes, with the written consent of the author, whom

I thank.

26

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

there is a similar set of conjugate quantities, which for want of a better term are also called

forces or forcing terms. They are the agents of change.

These forces are collected in a column vector called f. The inner product fT u has the

meaning of external energy or work. Energy is the capacity to do work. Thus energy and

work potentials are the same function (or functional), but with signs reversed. Just as in

the truss problem, the relation between u and f is assumed to be of linear and

homogeneous. The last assumption means that if u vanishes so does f. The relation is then

expressed by the master stiffness equations:

Ku = f. Eq. 1

consensus has emerged on different names [17].

The physical significance of the vectors u and f varies according to the application being

modeled, as illustrated in Table 1. If the relation between forces and displacements is

linear but not homogeneous, equation (Eq.1) generalizes to

Ku = fM + fI . Eq. 2

Here fI is the initial node force vector and fM is the vector of mechanical forces.

represents represents

Structures and solid Displacement Mechanical force

mechanics

Heat conduction Temperature Heat flux

Acoustic fluid Displacement potential Particle velocity

Potential flows Pressure Particle velocity

General flows Velocity Fluxes

Electrostatics Electric potential Charge density

Magnetostatics Magnetic potential Magnetic intensity

27

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

implements that model, or write the program yourself. This is explicit modeling. It requires

far more technical expertise, resources, experience and maturity than implicit modeling.

But for problems that fall out of the ordinary it could be the right thing to do.

Fig. 17 The Physical FEM. The physical system (left box) is the source of the simulation

process. The ideal mathematical model (should one go to the trouble of constructing it) is

inessential

problem to be simulated is broken down into subproblems. Those subproblems that are

conventional and fit available programs may be treated with implicit modeling, whereas

those that require special handling may only submit to explicit modeling.

element analysis of a mechanical subassembly

element

a mechanical element [40]. The continuous structure of this element, finite volume V and

surface S, is made of solid materials with different behavior (linear, nonlinear), described

by a specific laws. For the material or materials used, the values of density, the mechanical

properties (density, elasticity matrices, damping factor etc.) and thermal (thermal

expansion coefficient, specific heat, etc.) and the allowable resistances (traction,

compression, usually and shearing) are known.

31

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Over the structure of the analyzing element act the following external forces: generalized

forces (Pi forces and / or moments, i = 1, 2 ... m) concentrated in points, generalized forces

distributed on a line (forces or moments q, on the Cp line), on an area (the forces and / or

p moments on the Sp surface) and in volume (mass forces fg, centrifugal t and / or the

inertial fj).

The structure of the analyzing element operates in a limited temperature range between T0

initial temperature and Tf final temperature. In addition, the structure may be under the

action of thermal fields of temperature (on line distribution, on the surface or in volume)

and/ or external thermal fluxes.

In the category of external loads are also included the elastic deformations required from

certain areas of the structure through known values of δi displacements. This leads to an

imposed shape of the deformed state of the structure area, which in Fig. 18, is synthesized

by line Ci.

Direct interactions between the analyzed element structure with the structures of other

elements of the mechanical subassembly can also be simulated using finite element

analysis. These interactions may be permanent (void displacements usually imposed by

boundary conditions) and / or temporary, also taking into account the friction (measured

by the values of friction coefficients, μ) of the materials in the interacting areas and initial

distances, δ0.

The possibility of finite element analysis of the quasi-general model shown is conditioned

by the existence of a set of imposed boundary conditions, usually synthesized by canceled

shifts corresponding to certain points of the geometric field problem (e.g. surface area of

Fig. 18). The solvability of finite element analysis model with loads and boundary

conditions imposed is provided by the lack of possibilities in the structure’s kinematic

movement.

Under the action of loads and imposed boundary conditions, the analyzed structure is

deformed and within it, there are distributed internal forces called stresses. From a

geometric perspective, displacement fields, the strains and stresses, are quantitatively

described using the following displacement vectors:

[d] = [u v w]T, Eq. 3

[ε] = [εx εy εz γxy γyz γzx]T Eq. 4

[σ] = [σx σy σz σxy σyz σzx]T, Eq. 5

32

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

with the components connected to the tri-orthogonal straight coordinate system XYZ.

Study using advanced programs based on FEM quasi-general model presented above and

with given values for all input parameters, to constructively design the element to which

is associated, usually aims to determine the fields of displacement, strain, stress, thermal

and in addition, of parameters (force, displacement, temperature, etc.) from the connecting

areas with other elements. The values and variations of these parameters, the functioning

conditions and tolerated material characteristics make possible the evaluation of strength,

rigidity and thermal characteristics of the structure analysis.

33

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

an problem to which it is associated model described above. Usually, geometric shapes,

loads and boundary conditions imposed to practical elements of mechanical

subassemblies, are reduced to particular cases, leading to a simplified modeling, increased

accuracy and a faster computational process. Based on these considerations, in the case

advanced programs which are based on FEM, specific finite elements have been developed

and software modules that allow solving the problems making connections with different

possible particular cases.

analysis

M.E.F. - Approximate solving method using a computer for a wide range of engineering

problems:

o Equilibrum problems – determining unknown, time-independent parameters, for

a steady state (linear or nonlinear static analysis, heat transfer analysis, the fluid

flow or the magnetic field distribution).

o Custom values problems - determining certain critical values of the physical

parameters, time invariables, equilibrium configurations and given boundary

conditions (analysis natural frequency analysis, flexure, laminar flow regimes,

resonance...).

o Propagation problems - unknown time-dependent parameters - the study of

transient regimes (dynamic analysis of elastic and inelastic structures, heat

transfer, unsteady flow).

Formulating an engineering problems involves:

Identifying the type of problem;

Identifying the working hypotheses adopted (the geometry in the problem’s field,

the material properties, variation field of main sizes, the functioning mode);

Identifying the initial and boundary conditions.

In Table 2 are presented the main types of solvable problems with advanced programs that

are based on FEM, depending various criteria of quasi-general model customization. In

practice, these problems can be encountered separately or in combination, following

several criteria simultaneously customization.

Many practical applications with materializing in mechanical parts also include heat

transfer processes and so in order to design is necessary to know the specific fields through

34

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

thermal analysis. A part of the results of these tests, along with other types of loads can be

considered for the analysis of mechanical components and/ or, sometimes, system

subassemblies.

Table 2 Types of FEA problems

Quasi-general

Customization criterion Type of problem (analysis)

problem

Thermal

Type of fields

Mechanic

Unidimensional

Bidimensional

Type of domain

Tridimensional

Advanced

Combined

software

analysis based Static

Dependancy on time variables

on FEM of Dynamic

elements and Current

mechanical

Type of obtained values Custom vectors

systems

Stability

Liniar

Dependancy between parameters

Nonliniar

Possibility of considering No connections

connections With connections

The components of the mechanical systems have various three-dimensional (3D) shapes.

In many practical cases, the shapes of elements are or may be considere two-dimensional

(2D) - with one dimension much smaller than the other two - or one dimensional (1D) -

where one dimension is much larger than the other two . For the finite element analysis of

mechanical system assemblies with advanced programs based on FEM, without the

detailed consideration of direct interactions between parts, often components can be of

different forms (one-dimensional , two-dimensional and / or three-dimensional) . Starting

from the possible forms of the domain of the studied element, finite element analysis can

be three-dimensional, two-dimensional, one-dimensional or combined.

In terms of time-dependent loads, solving finite element model associated with the

mechanical system element is called static analysis - without considering time as a variable

- or dynamic analysis – with time-dependent unknown variables.

35

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

The study of the elements structure of mechanical systems with advanced software based

on FEM which leads to the determination of the field displacements, strains, stresses and

thermal as a result of the loads and the imposed boundary and the normal limit conditions,

is considered normal analysis. In addition, using the same types of programs, in case of

loading problems and abnormal boundary and limit conditions, limit states which may

occur during operation can also be analyzed. In this sense, it is very common in the practice

of design the stability analysis and also the analysis of vectors and their forms that lead to

the underlying causes of critical load flexure and, respectively, the custom frequencies

and the corresponding geometric configurations.

In terms of load-displacement dependencies and stress-strain can highlight the following

types of analysis : linear, geometrically nonlinear, physically nonlinear (material) or

geometrico-physically nonlinear. The first type of analysis is appropriate in cases of

structures with small displacements when loads remain invariable during deformation and

movement direction and can summarized, following a proportionality factor.

The second type of analysis corresponds to mechanical structures with large

displacements, disproportionate with the loads, with the variable directions during

deformation . The third type of analysis, unlike the first two, deals with the nonlinear,

elastic and plastic behavior of a material, by means of suitable stress-strain characteristics.

The last analysis is the general possible case when the two dependencies load-

displacement and stress-strain are nonlinear.

Most finite element analyses of several element (subassembly) structures usually do not

take into account the interactions between them, through the modeling of specific

connecting phenomena, considered "frozen" by the continuity of the whole finite element

structure at a nodal level. Starting from the importance of design processes (displacements,

strains, stresses and frictions) from the connecting local areas, in the last years, there have

been defined and implemented in many programs (including CATIA) specific connecting

elements (translation coupling, rotation, roto-translation, rigid or elastic) that take into

account the relative movements and contact elasticities that allow analysis links.

subassembly elements with advanced programs that are based on FEM, a specific analysis

model must be made. Finite element modeling, in many cases for analysis with the scope

of designing, as a consequence of some features related to the geometric configuration, of

the material behavior and physical phenomena, does not involve the consideration of the

whole structure.

36

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Minimizing the analysis models without sacrificing the accuracy of monitored parameters

can be achieved by customizing the geometric configuration of inferior shapes (a 3D

structure to a 2D or an 1D one, a 2D structure to 1D), by considering for modeling the area

from the domain of the problem where the variations of unknown physical parameters are

significant, and/ or by using symmetry.

degree with the model reality decreases differently, in relation with both the values and

variations of known and/ or unknown parameters. For example, for the 3D structure of the

cylindrical piece, can be analyzed by reducing it to a 1D model, the accuracy of loading

parameters at input and unknown parameters of the support and concentration area

(dimensional jumps and keyways) decreases.

Through this customization, the finite element model size (the number of nodes) decreases

considerably and considering the simplicity of the model in conjunction with the results

obtained, it is seldom considered to be effective for checking the shafts of the standard

broadcast. In the case of special transmissions for increased accuracy checks, a complex

model (3D) analysis of the entire structure of the tree is made.

Fig. 20 Antisymmetry

37

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

The structures of elements of mechanical systems to be analyzed with finite elements may

have geometric, material, loading and/ or boundary conditions to a plane, two orthogonal

planes, three orthogonal planes or even multiple plan symmetry.

For the purpose of creating a mechanical structure model analysis, taking into account the

symmetry, it is necessary for the model to have a common symmetry regarding the

geometry, the material properties and the imposed boundary conditions. In terms of

loading, it is possible to create models as a result of complete symmetry (Fig. 19, b) when

the loading has the same symmetry of geometry and boundary conditions (Fig. 19, a), or

models (Fig. 20, b) generated by geometric and boundary conditions symmetry, and

loading antisymmetry (Fig. 20, a).

Setting boundary conditions which take into account in the case of modelings which

consider symmetries is being made by monitoring the accurate simulation of deformation

processes from the initial structure. For example, the bar-like structure of Fig. 19,a, a full

symmetry with a YZ parallel plane, the displacement after X is being canceled (TX) and

rotations after the X and Y axes (RX, RY) or for the same structure (Fig. 20, a) but with

an anti-symmetric load, the X and Y translations (TX, TY) are canceled.

The analysis of an asymmetric loading model shown in Fig. 21, a, in the case of the

geometric symmetry structure and linear behavior, can be done by solving the model

analysis associated to the half of the geometric domain for two sets of loads and boundary

conditions corresponding to complete symmetry (Fig. 21, b) and the load antisymmetry

(Fig. 21, c). The final state corresponding to the initial structure is obtained by summing

the results for the two sets.

38

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

No. of

Canceled Displacement No. of free

Symbol canceled

displacements directions mobilities

mobilities

3 3

2 4

Straight line or

Rotation

circular line

2 4

1 5

3 3

2 4

Straight line

2 4

1 5

Translation

3 3

2 4

Circular line

2 4

1

5

39

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Symbol

Coordinate Free

Straight Circular Introduced reactions

system Displacements

axes axes

F1/F2/F3/M1/M2/M3 -

F2/F3/M1/M2/M3 T1

F1/F2/M1/M2/M3 T3

F2/M1/M2/M3 T1/T3

F1/F2/F3/M1/M2 R3

F2/F3/M1/M2 T1/R3

F1/F2/M1/M2 T3/R3

F2/M1/M2 T1/T3/R3

F1/F2/F3/M1/M3 R2

F2/F3/M1/M3 T1/R2

F1/F2/M1/M3 T3/R2

F2/M1/M3 T1/T3/R2

F1/F2/F3/M2 R1/R3

40

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Table 4 (cont.)

F2/F3/M2 T1/R1/R3

F1/F2/M2 T3/R1/R3

F2/M2 T1/T3/R1/R3

In the case of symmetry of the structure to be analyzed using a plane, two planes or three

planes (Fig. 22, a), the analysis model is reduced to half, a quarter or, respectively, an

eighth (Fig. 22, b) of the geometric domain.

Full symmetry to an axis, in a random case nonreductive to the axial-symmetric one (Fig.

23, a), involves the shaping of an angular sector (Fig. 23, b) or when the problem is of an

axial-symmetrical nature, it leads to a plane model determined by the axial semisection

by structure.

The problem of creating the optimal finite element analysis model is complex depending

on the type of physical phenomena, the aimed requirements and performance of the

program used

41

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

The following are a few models for analysis: one-dimensional model – bars structure (Fig.

24), two-dimensional model – surface (Fig. 25), three-dimensional model – volumes (Fig.

26), model for thermic analysis (Fig. 27).

42

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

In general, there are three phases (Fig. 28) in any computer-aided engineering task:

Pre-processing – defining the model and environmental factors to be applied to

it (typically a finite element model, but facet, voxel and thin sheet methods are

also used).

Analysis solver (usually performed on high powered computers).

Post-processing of results (using visualization tools).

This cycle is iterated, often many times, either manually or with the use of commercial

optimization software.

43

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

44

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

analysis. The next step in the pre processing stage is to apply loads and boundary

conditions to the model.

Loads are usually defined as forces acting on a certain point, but can also be torques,

pressures, temperatures, or even a velocity or acceleration such as gravity. Boundary

conditions are constraints that define how and where the part is held or bolted on, and are

required to stop the part flying off into space when a force is applied. They basically tell

the software which nodes aren’t allowed to move during the analysis.

Once the model’s been meshed, materials defined and loads and boundary conditions

applied, you’ve now got a pre processed FEA model ready for solving [10].

a variety of geometric shapes. In terms of the geometric shape of mechanical elements can

be one-dimensional (1D), two-dimensional (2D), three-dimensional (3D) or combined.

The one-dimensional elements are objects wich having two dimensions smaller than the

third. In practice, these elements come together, usually called as bars, beams, flexible,

axles, shafts etc.

Depending on the shape of the axis, the bars can be straight (see Fig. 32, a, b) or curved

(Fig. 32, c); from the point of view of the required applications, it can be traction-

compression rods and / or bars required in bending and, after such changes in cross-section

along the axis, the bars may be constant orbars variable section.

The bars can be divided as follows:

(i) depending on the form of the axis: straight bars (Fig. 32, a, b) or curved

(Fig. 32, c);

(ii) from the point of view of applications: bars required tensile-compressive and

/ or flexural bars required;

(iii) according to the cross-section along the axis: bar with a constant or variable

section.

Flexible elements - wires, bands, belts (Fig. 32, d) – wich have reduced bending stiffness,

made of metallic or non-metallic type are considered having bar type geometry. Axles and

straight shafts, as 1D-dimensional car elements, that support other elements in rotating

47

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

machine are applied to bending and shear, respectively, torsion, bending, shear and tensile-

compressive.

Geometrically, the 1D-elements are described using two elements: the axial curve and the

cross-sectional shape and size.

Two-dimensional elements, as well as the constituent bodies having a much smaller size

than the other two (Fig. 33,a), is found in practice that the tiles, membranes, coatings,

dishes, etc.

Geometrically, these elements are described by defining the (i) shape and size of the

median surface and (ii) width (Fig. 33,b).

Depending on the median surface, the plates can be flat or curved plates with single or

double curvature. Commonly, the thickness of the plats used in practice is usually

constant. For the small values of the thickness, the plats are called membranes.

48

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

dimensions about the same size and can not be reduced in any of the forms described

above (Fig. 34,a).

The combined elements have geometry domain composed by two or more parties who

framed the structures in the groups above presented. For example, Fig. 34,b shows the

structure of a body composed of two sub-domains, two-dimensional and three-

dimensional.

The concept of mechanical subassembly is primary, has general character, and is used to

identify and study the smallest components or parts thereof. Analytical calculation

methods of mechanical assemblies patterns associated to the elements are the same

methods used in the strength of materials, characterized by increased levels of idealization

and simplicity, in terms of the final design relationships.

In the field of design, to analyze the components of a mechanical system (trusses, frames,

platforms, tanks, machinery or equipment, etc..) those can be considered as one-

dimensional geometric shapes, two-dimensional or three-dimensional, often cases lead to

practical combinations thereof.

The modeled element or the subassembly in order to study based on FEM may be referred

structure. In computer aided design, a structure described oneself using basic geometric

entities: point, line, area and / or volume, relative to one or more previously defined

coordinate systems. In addition, structures of analysis models, in particular mechanical

systems, may include the idealized elements (typically, the rigid) provided by the used

application software.

In order to geometric define the domains and subdomains of a structure, to prepare the

finite element analysis model, you can use a Cartesian coordinate system (Fig. 35,a),

cylindrical (Fig. 35, b) and / or spherical (Fig. 35, c). Each of these coordinate systems,

depending of the geometric configuration of the structure domain, can be global reference

49

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

system, to which the whole area of the problem, and a local reference system associated

with each of a sub-domain thereof.

In the example of Fig. 36, the Cartesian coordinate system is a global reference system,

and the third cylindrical coordinate system are local system of reference.

Most FEM based application software have preprocessors that contain modules for

geometric modeling. In addition, these programs are able to import geometric models from

other programs mainly specialized in geometric modeling (AUTOCAD, EUCLID,

ProEngineering etc.)

Geometric modeling of the structure domain using advanced programs is performed using

basic geometric entities like lines, surface and / or volume that can be divided forming

finite element sets. In order to identify, for finite element modeling, basic geometric

entities have the following benchmarks: vertices, edges, and faces.

50

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

The structure domains and subdomains are generated by assembling the elementary

entities using the commands from software library used. The following are common

primary elementary entities: lines through points, arcs, circles, helix, involute, conic

(ellipse, parabola, hyperbola) for unidimensional domanin; surfaces by dots or lines for

surface domains; volume by points, lines or areas for volume domains.

Computer-aided geometric modeling of complex domains, based on elementary entities

primary, secondary implies elementary entities which are obtained by additional

operations (intersection, copy, offset, extrusion and so on).

Computer-aided geometric modeling of complex domains, based on primary elementary

entities, implies the secondary elementary entities which are obtained by additional

operations (intersection, copy, offset, extrusion and so on).

representation of any three-dimensional surface of object (either inanimate or living) via

specialized software. The product is called a 3D model. It can be displayed as a two-

dimensional image through a process called 3D rendering or used in a computer simulation

of physical phenomena. The model can also be physically created using 3D printing

devices.

Models may be created automatically or manually. The manual modeling process of

preparing geometric data for 3D computer graphics is similar to plastic arts such as

sculpting. Recently, new concepts in 3D modeling have started to emerge. Recently, a new

technology departing from the traditional techniques starts to emerge, such as Curve

Controlled Modeling that emphasizes the modeling of the movement of a 3D object

instead of the traditional modeling of the static shape [42].

3D models represent a 3D object using a collection of points in 3D space, connected by

various geometric entities such as triangles, lines, curved surfaces, etc. Being a collection

of data (points and other information), 3D models can be created by hand, algorithmically

(procedural modeling), or scanned. 3D models are widely used anywhere in 3D graphics.

Actually, their use predates the widespread use of 3D graphics on personal computers.

Many computer games used pre-rendered images of 3D models as sprites before

computers could render them in real-time [42].

Almost all 3D models can be divided into two categories.

Solid - These models define the volume of the object they represent (like a rock).

These are more realistic, but more difficult to build. Solid models are mostly used

51

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

From the point of view of the internal structure and implicitly the physical properties,

materials can be homogeneous, with the same structure and physical properties in all

points, or inhomogeneous, when this condition is not met. For homogeneous materials,

physical parameters are constant related to spatial geometric variables.

Depending on the type of variation of physical properties in the vicinity of each point,

there are isotropic materials, with properties independent of the direction to which it

relates, or anisotropic, with properties dependent to the direction by which it is considered.

The properties of isotropy and homogeneity are not mutually conditioned. A solid body

can be both homogeneous and isotropic, homogeneous and anisotropic, isotropic and

inhomogeneous or even inhomogeneous and anisotropic [40].

Solid materials which after deformation (change in shape) under the action of loads return

to the original shape and size are called elastic and those which do not comply with this

condition are called plastics. In the case of mechanical system elements, usually the

behavior of the material is elastic, or, sometimes, elasto-plastic. This occurred even at

mechanical system elements that, in order to obtain the final form, technological processes

based on plastic deformations cold or hot were used.

To determine the stress, deformation, thermal and displacement fields of a constant solid,

deformable under the action of external loads (Fig. 18,a), it is necessary to know the laws

of mechanical behavior of these materials.

The behavior of elastic materials can be linear, when the stress-strain dependencies are

linear, or nonlinear, when these dependencies are linear. Assuming linearity, for any

material, the variation of stress vector components (see Eq.5) between the initial state as

a reference (a random point P, Fig. 18,a) and the final state (point P ') is described as a

linear combination of the deformation vector components (see Eq.4), the relationship

in which,

70

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

E E yyyy E zzyy E yyyz E yyxz E yyxy

yyxx

E E zzyy E zzzz E zzyz E zzxz E zzxy

E yyxy Eq. 7

E yzxx E yzyy E yzzz E yzyz E yzxz E yzxy

E xzxx E xzyy E xzzz E xzyz E xzxz E xzxy

E xyxx E xyyy E xyzz E xyyz E xyxz E xyxy

is the material elasticity matrix. Therefore, in theoretical cases, the stress and symmetric

strain tensors (tangential stresses and angular deformations apply to the relations: τij = τji

and γki = γik), the material elasticity matrix contains 36 elements, called constants

(modules) of elasticity. These constants characterize the material response to tri-

orthogonal axial loads (traction, compression and torsion in both directions).

Considering the elasticity symmetry, the matrix (Eq. 7) takes the following shape

E xxxx E xxyy E xxzz E xxyz E xxxz E xxxy

E yyyy E zzyy E yyyz E yyxz E yyxy

E zzzz E zzyz E zzxz E zzxy

E

Eq. 8

E yzyz E yzxz E yzxy

Simetric E xzxz E xzxy

E xyxy

Consequently, for the linear elastic material it’s showing 21 virtually spring constants.

The materials consisting of parallel fibers embedded in a constitutive homogeneous mass

is characterized by the symmetry to a normal plane in the direction of the fibers. In this

case, the number of independent elastic constants is reduced to 13 and if OX is parallel

with the material fibers and the symmetry plane is OZY, the elasticity matrix (Eq. 8)

becomes

E xxxx E xxyy E xxzz E xxyz 0 0

E yyyy E zzyy E yyyz 0 0

E zzzz E zzyz 0 0

E

Eq. 9

E yzyz 0 0

Simetric E xzxz E xzxy

E xyxy

71

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

In the case of materials with two orthogonal symmetry planes, called orthotropic or

orthogonally anisotropic, describing the linear elastic behavior of a material is made with

9 independent elastic coefficients, such as the non-zero elements of the elasticity matrix

E xxxx E xxyy E xxzz 0 0 0

E yyyy E zzyy 0 0 0

E zzzz 0 0 0

E

Eq. 10

E yzyz 0 0

Simetric E xzxz 0

E xyxy

In this case, implicitly, there is a third plane of elastic symmetry, orthogonal with the first

two. The elastic constants corresponding to the attached tri-orthogonal coordinate straight

system directions are called main elasticity constants. The determination of these elasticity

constants is achieved by experimental tests on test tubes, taking into account the

hypothesis of the inexistence of "coupling" between normal and specific shear stresses

corresponding to the orthotropic axes.

Isotropic materials are characterized by some invariable types of behavior for every

defining direction and, therefore, the elasticity matrix, with the same form, regardless of

the direction of the reference axes of the coordinate system adopted in the practice of

design has the following configuration:

2 0 0 0

2 0 0 0

2 0 0 0

E

Eq. 11

2 0 0

Simetric 2 0

2

E

Eq. 12

1 1 2

E

Eq. 13

21

where E, the longitudinal elasticity module and ν, the transverse contraction coefficient,

are the technical elasticity constants of the material.

72

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

In many practical situations, the elements of mechanical systems are working at different

temperatures of those considered as normal, as a consequence of the existence of internal

or external heat sources. As a result, in the structures of these elements occur thermal stress

and strains that overlap with the mechanical ones which appear as consequence of requests

during functioning..

To consider the finite element analysis of thermal effects, it is necessary to know the

thermal characteristics of the structure materials to be analyzed. Usually, for

thermomechanical analyses of structures it is requisite that for the materials from which

they are made, to know the specific heat and the conductivity coefficients and thermal

expansion related to the directions of a tri-orthogonal straight coordinate system.

The specific heat is the characteristic parameter which quantifies the heat storage capacity

of the material and it is measured in J / kg K.

The coefficient of thermal conductivity, measured in W/mK is a material constant variable

with temperature. This variation, generally, is quasi-linear and can be described with the

relationship [40]

0 1 bT Eq. 14

experimentally determined constant.

The linear thermal expansion coefficient , expressed in K-1, quantifies the distortion

ability of the material under the action of the thermal fields, which also varies with

temperature.

73

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

elements 3D, 2D, 1D

Mathematical modeling is a simplifying step. But models of physical systems are not

necessarily simple to solve. They often involve coupled partial differential equations in

space and time subject to boundary and/or interface conditions. Such models have an

infinite number of degrees of freedom.

At this point one faces the choice of going for analytical or numerical solutions. Analytical

solutions, also called “closed form solutions,” are more intellectually satisfying,

particularly if they apply to a wide class of problems, so that particular instances may be

obtained by substituting the values of free parameters. Unfortunately they tend to be

restricted to regular geometries and simple boundary conditions. Moreover some closed-

form solutions, expressed for example as inverses of integral transforms, may have to be

anyway numerically evaluated to be useful.

Most problems faced by the engineer either do not yield to analytical treatment or doing

so would require a disproportionate amount of effort. The practical way out is numerical

simulation. Here is where finite element methods enter the scene.

To make numerical simulations practical it is necessary to reduce the number of degrees

of freedom to a finite number. The reduction is called discretization. The product of the

discretization process is the discrete model. For complex engineering systems this model

is the product of a multilevel decomposition.

Discretization can proceed in space dimensions as well as in the time dimension. Because

the present book deals with static problems, we need not consider the time dimension and

are free to focus on spatial discretization.

Fig. 16 conveys graphically that each simulation step introduces a source of error. In

engineering practice modeling errors are by far the most important. But they are difficult

and expensive to evaluate, because model validation requires access to and comparison

74

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

with experimental results. These may be either scarce, or unavailable in the case of a new

product in the design stage.

Next in order of importance is the discretization error. Even if solution errors are ignored

— and usually they can—the computed solution of the discrete model is in general only

an approximation in some sense to the exact solution of the mathematical model. A

quantitative measurement of this discrepancy is called the discretization error. The

characterization and study of this error is addressed by a branch of numerical mathematics

called approximation theory.

Intuitively one might suspect that the accuracy of the discrete model solution would

improve as the number of degrees of freedom is increased, and that the discretization error

goes to zero as that number goes to infinity. This loosely worded statement describes the

convergence requirement of discrete approximations. One of the key goals of

approximation theory is to make the statement as precise as it can be expected from a

branch of mathematics

The most popular discretization techniques in structural mechanics are finite element

methods and boundary element methods. The finite element method (FEM) is by far the

most widely used.

The boundary element method (BEM) has gained in popularity for special types of

problems, particularly those involving infinite domains, but remains a distant second, and

seems to have reached its natural limits.

In non-structural application areas such as fluid mechanics and electromagnetics, the finite

element method is gradually making up ground but faces stiff competition from both the

classical and energybased finite difference methods.

Finite difference and finite volume methods are particularly well entrenched in

computational fluid dynamics spanning moderate to high Reynolds numbers.

The finite element method (FEM) is the dominant discretization technique in structural

mechanics. The FEM can be interpreted from either a physical or mathematical viewpoint.

The basic concept in the physical FEM is the subdivision of the mathematical model into

disjoint (non-overlapping) components of simple geometry called finite elements or

elements for short. The response of each element is expressed in terms of a finite number

75

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

a set of nodal points. The response of the mathematical model is then considered to be

approximated by that of the discrete model obtained by connecting or assembling the

collection of all elements.

The disconnection-assembly concept occurs naturally when examining many artificial and

natural systems. For example, it is easy to visualize an engine, bridge, building, airplane,

or skeleton as fabricated from simpler components.

Unlike finite difference models, finite elements do not overlap in space. In the

mathematical interpretation of the FEM, this property goes by the name disjoint support

or local support.

Just like members in the truss example, one can take finite elements of any kind one at a

time. Their local properties can be developed by considering them in isolation, as

individual entities. This is the key to the modular programming of element libraries.

In the Direct Stiffness Method, elements are isolated by the disconnection and localization

steps. The procedure involves the separation of elements from their neighbors by

disconnecting the nodes, followed by referral of the element to a convenient local

coordinate system. After that we can consider generic elements: a bar element, a beam

element, and so on. From the standpoint of the computer implementation, it means that

you can write one subroutine or module that constructs, by suitable parametrization, all

elements of one type, instead of writing a new one for each element instance.

Following is a summary of the data associated with an individual finite element. This data

is used in finite element programs to carry out element level calculations.

The numerical methods (including FEM) of physical phenomena analysis occurring in

continuous geometric domains involve replacing them with idealized domains

(approximate) assemblies of smaller domains, in the case of FEM called finite elements.

The borders of finite elements consist of points (nodes), straight lines or curves (nodal

lines) and/ or flat or random planes (nodal surfaces).

The choosing operation of the number of nodes and the type of line or surface while

respecting continuities on a nodal level, with the scope of finite element modeling

geometric domains, is called meshing. Fig. 75 shows, for example, the two-dimensional,

D, meshed in triangular finite elements with straight side lines (Fig. 75, a) and curved

lines sides (Fig. 75,b). In the first case, that of finite elements with straight side lines, the

meshing error can be reduced by increasing the number of nodes and so, implicitly, the

76

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

number of finite elements. In the second case, the meshing error can be decreased also

thanks to the curved borders of the finite elements.

Continuous development of advanced software that are based on FEM was achieved by

diversifying the types of finite elements in association with various physical phenomena

analyzed. Although FEM is a general method for solving differential or integro-

differential equations of governing different physico-technical phenomena with various

initial and boundary conditions, from reasons of productivity and economy, finite

elements with an increased degree of generality have not been developed but were defined

and modeled finite elements customized for different domains (1D, 2D, 3D), low levels

of approximation (linear and parabolic algebraic functions), materials (linear, nonlinear)

and types of problems (static, dynamic, and so on).

Generally, in terms of types of geometric domains to model, finite elements can be one-

dimensional for the linear type of geometric domain, two-dimensional, for surfaces; three-

dimensional, for volumes. These finite elements in terms of approximation function may

be linear, straight edge lines, or non-linear, with curved edges. Typically, nonlinear finite

elements by the type of polynomial approximation used, there may be quadratic parabolics

(of second order), with one intermediate node, or cubic (third order) with two intermediate

nodes.

77

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

Elements can have intrinsic dimensionality of one, two or three space dimensions. There

are also special elements with zero dimensionality, such as lumped springs or point

masses. The intrinsic dimensionality can be expanded as necessary by use of kinematic

transformations. For example a 1D element such as a bar, spar or beam may be used to

build a model in 2D or 3D space.

Each element possesses a set of distinguishing points called nodal points or nodes for

short. Nodes serve a dual purpose: definition of element geometry, and home for degrees

of freedom. When a distinction is necessary we call the former geometric nodes and the

latter connection nodes. For most elements studied here, geometric and connector nodes

coalesce.

Nodes are usually located at the corners or end points of elements, as illustrated in (Table

5). In the so-called refined or higher-order elements nodes are also placed on sides or

faces, as well as possibly the interior of the element.

From the point of view of geometrical or physics features required by analysis questions,

the finite element modeled and implemented in a libraries of specific software

applications, are different.

78

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

In some elements geometric and connection nodes may be at different locations. Some

elements have purely geometric nodes, also called orientation nodes to complete the

definition of certain geometric attributes.

Table 5 Main finite elements

shape

Linear Quadratic Cubic

–line (Spring,

truss, beam,

pipe, etc.)

- plane

(Membrane,

plate, shell,

etc.)

Quadrilateral

– solid (3-D

fields -

temperature,

displacement,

stress, flow Pentahedron

velocity)

Hexahedron

some of the FEM based software applications used mixed finite element in terms of the

approximation (nodal lines straight and curves lines). Thus, Fig. 76 shows the plan area

79

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

of the mesh of finite elements and non-linear; to achieve continuity of the structure of

finite elements between the nodal areas discretized at the two types of finite elements is

interposed an intermediate mixed discretized by finite elements having common sides of

the same numbers of nodes.

The geometry of the element is defined by the placement of the geometric nodal points.

Most elements used in practice have fairly simple geometries. In one-dimension, elements

are usually straight lines or curved segments. In two dimensions they are of triangular or

quadrilateral shape. In three dimensions the most common shapes are tetrahedra,

pentahedra (also called wedges or prisms), and hexahedra (also called cuboids or

“bricks”).

The element degrees of freedom (DOF) specify the state of the element. They also function

as “handles” through which adjacent elements are connected. DOFs are defined as the

values (and possibly derivatives) of a primary field variable at connector node points. Here

we simply note that the key factor is the way in which the primary variable appears in the

mathematical model. For mechanical elements, the primary variable is the displacement

field and the DOF for many (but not all) elements are the displacement components at the

nodes.

freedom. In mechanical elements the correspondence is established through energy

arguments.

For a mechanical element these are relations that specify the material behavior. For

example, in a linear elastic bar element it is sufficient to specify the elastic modulus E and

the thermal coefficient of expansion α.

For mechanical elements these are fabrication properties which have been integrated out

from the element dimensionality. Examples are cross sectional properties of MoM

80

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

elements such as bars, beams and shafts, as well as the thickness of a plate or shell element.

For computer implementation the foregoing data sets are organized into data structures.

These are used by element generation modules to compute element stiffness relations in

the local system.

Table 6 Finite element types

Geometry Specifics Input parameters Output

type characteristics parameters

1D Straight or curved bar Sectional parameter Nodal

subjected to traction- (area) displacements

compression The set of material Elemental

parameters stresses

Straight or curved bar Sectional parameter Efforts

subjected to traction- (area and inertia Reaction forces

compression, shearing, moments)

torsion and bending The set of material

parameters

2D Flat plate in a flat state of Thickness Nodal

stresses The set of material displacements

parameters Elemental

Flat plate in a flat state of Thickness stresses in

strains different plans

The set of material

parameters Nodal forces

Reaction forces

Spatial plate Thickness

The set of material

parameters

Shell Thickness

The set of material

parameters

Layered plate Thickness

The set of material

parameters

Spatial structure in The set of material Nodal

asymmetric stress state parameters displacements

3D Spatial structure The set of material Elemental

parameters stresses

Nodal forces

Reaction forces

In (Table 5) illustrates the main finite elements contained by commercial advanced

analysis programs with FEM, indicating the main input and output parameters. As a result,

81

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

specific finite element are found, imposed by the type of geometric domain (bars, plates,

membranes and massive spatial structures), the resistance of structures (bars resistant to

traction-compression or traction-compression, shearing, torsion and bending), the stress

and deformation states (surfaces in a plane state of stresses deformations or axisymmetric

spatial structures), the type of input/ output parameters and the internal configuration of

the material (massive, laminated structures) [40].

In addition to these types of finite elements that have a structural nature, most advanced

programs also have specialized unstructural elements (Rigid, Spring, etc.) for modeling

mechanical bond problems and increased degree of idealization modeling (mass

concentrated rigid spring, spring-damper etc.), and for total or part modeling of structures,

when accuracy and cost are appropriate. Table 6 shows the main unstructural element

groups, contained in the groups mentioned above, which are frequently encountered in

commercial software for the analysis of the mechanical fields.

Type of finite Output

Characteristics Input parameters

element parameters

Nodal

Masses, inertial moments

Inertial, mass Mononodal displacements

and inertial matrixes

Nodal forces

Degrees of liberty with Nodal

Rigid Multinodal canceled relative displacements

displacements Nodal forces

Arc Binodal Linear and torsional rigidity Nodal

displacements

Rigidity and dampering Nodal forces

Damper-arc Binodal

constant

Internal forces

parts of it by reducing it to a material point to which it is assigned mass properties and/ or

inertia equivalent properties.

Simplified modeling of mechanical structure areas with increased rigidity can be made

with rigid finite elements that introduce one or more nodes with invariable relative

positions as degrees of freedom defined above, to another node. In contrast to this

possibility of modeling of mechanical system elements or parts of them can be replaced

with elements that reduce their structure down to two material points (nodes) connected

82

Analysis of Mechanical Structures using Finite Element Method

by an arc (arc finite element) or through an damper-arc system (finite element of a damper-

arc type) which are inserted as input data accordin to the corresponding characteristics.

the “closeness” of the element with respect to the original physical structure. It is given

here because it clarifies points that recur in subsequent sections, as well as providing

insight into advanced modeling techniques such as hierarchical breakdown and global-

local analysis.

These resemble fabricated structural components. They are often drawn as such; see (Fig.

77). The qualifier primitive distinguishes them from macroelements, which is another

element class described below. Primitive means that they are not decomposable into

simpler elements.

83

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