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This tutorial describes how to model a pin connection between crossing members. Instruction will
consider the structural system shown in Figure 1. The critical joint within this system is located as
point E. To induce structural response, a 100kN load will be applied, in the gravity direction, at
the end of the horizontal element.

Figure 1 - System with crossing member

To begin, use SAP2000 to create the model shown in Figure 2:
Figure 2 - SAP2000 model

This model may be generated through the following process:

1. Create a new model using the Grid Only template.

2. In the X-Z plane, draw the six frame elements shown in Figure 2.

3. Select members 3 and 5, then use the Assign > Frame > Releases/Partial Fixity command to
assign moment M33 end releases to member start-joints.

4. Select joint 4, the point of pin connection, then use the Edit > Edit Points > Disconnect command
to create four separate joints at this location, one for each of the coincident members. The new
joints will be numbered 4, 7, 8, and 9, as shown in Figure 3:

Figure 3 - Revised joints at the pin-connection

5. To model continuity between the horizontal and inclined members, merge joints 4 and 7, then 8
and 9 as follows:

a. Use the Select > Select > Labels command to select joints 4 and 7, known as the continuity joints
of the inclined member. Use the Edit > Edit Points > Merge Joints command to merge the two
joints selected. The inclined member will then be continuous.

b. Repeat the same procedure for joints 8 and 9 to establish continuity along the horizontal

6. Select the two resultant joints located at the pin connection. Assign an Equal constraint to all
translational degrees of freedom. This models the pinned connection. As an alternative,
a Link element may be used to connect the two joints.

7. Assign a pin support to joint 1, and a roller support to joint 2.

8. Use the Analyze > Set Analysis Options > XZ Plane command to constrain the structure within
the 2D plane.

9. Use the LOAD load pattern to assign a 100kN load, in the gravity direction, at joint 6. The
resultant configuration is shown in Figure 4:

Figure 4 - Load application

As a validation of successful modeling, analysis will then generate the moment diagram shown in
Figure 5:
Figure 5 - Flexural response


Does changing link length affect results?

Answer: The only difference which results from changing link length is an additional
moment which results from shear acting over the increased length. Likewise, the specification
of length location for shear deformation may change link response because this parameter
correlates with internal link deformation. Please note that link deformation occurs at a single
location specified on the Link Definition menu by the value Shear Distance from End J. The
equations used to calculate link deformation are available in the CSI Analysis Reference
Manual (The Link/Support Element > Section Internal Deformations, page 238). Changing
link length does not affect link stiffness since this value is based on the total force or moment.
Which link property is most suitable for modeling reinforced-concrete
shear behavior?
Answer: The multi-linear plastic-link property, with pivot hysteresis type, would be most
suitable for modeling the shear behavior of reinforced-concrete members.

Should I use a hinge or a link?

Answer: For response, please see the Hinge and link comparison article.

How is friction modeled between two surfaces?

Answer: We recommend using nonlinear link/support elements to model friction behavior
between two surfaces. The friction isolator is best for SAP2000 models, and the Isolator 2 is
best for ETABS models.
Use engineering judgement when deciding upon linear and nonlinear stiffness properties.

What are the Link Directional Properties?
Answer: Three options are available when defining Link Directional Properties. Their
descriptions are given as follows:

1. Leave the Direction option unchecked, as shown in Figure 1 with U1. This will keep the link from
contributing stiffness to the direction specified.

2. Select the Direction and Fixed option, as shown with U2. In this case, the link will not experience any
deformation in the direction specified because relatively large stiffness will be applied to that

3. Select the Direction and Nonlinear option, as shown with U3. Here, the link will contribute the
stiffness specified when Modify/Show is selected from below the Properties heading.
Figure 1 - Link directional properties

How is link stiffness calculated?

Answer: For the various link objects available, force-deformation relationships may be
defined along each degree-of-freedom (DOF), including axial, torsional, major and minor
shear, and major and minor bending. These properties may be specified to simulate the
behavior desired of bearings, isolators, soil springs, and other structural components modeled
using link objects.
The CSI Analysis Reference Manual (The Link/Support Element - Basic > Internal
Deformations and Link/Support Properties, pages 238 and 240) provides additional details on
force-deformation relationships and internal link deformation and forces. The Derivation of
link equations article may also be useful.