Rigidity of GAP elements in contact
GAP element rigidity will depend on the material of the parts in contact... and also on the mesh size! Learn how to calculate it!12 December 2022
I think that one of the most difficult things about FEA (or really any other form of analysis) is an interpretation of results. Unfortunately in my engineering work, I have found many examples where people completely misunderstood what is the outcome of the analysis they have performed.
I will use an example to illustrate what I mean: we are designing a silo and the question is how much material load is allowed. To make things a bit simpler let’s assume that our silo is not very slender and we are more afraid of plastic collapse rather than stability failure (as it is easier to show plasticity on pictures to show my point, for steel silo that is usually not the case!).
If we would adopt the simplest of approaches to this problem, we would perform a series of calculations for different loads in silo (assuming nonlinear material and linear geometry since for now we forgo stability issues). The outcome of some of those calculations could look like this (von Misses stress, yield marked in red):
At the first glance, it is obvious that on the left are outcomes from models that have smaller loads, while on the right the loads were bigger. This is however exactly how many answers we can obtain from results presented this way, as unfortunately such drawings rarely are a proper result of calculations. None of the shown figures gives a definite answer to our question, since we do not know how much yielding (red zones) we can allow (and “none” would be a very conservative answer). However, I have received such contour plots as an outcome for the design I had to verify more often than I care to remember.
There is no simple solution to this problem. In my engineering carrier I have found that in most cases where you have to verify the load-capacity of the model, stability path (force – deformation plot) is a tool that can give a satisfying result. I will describe this more and give a few examples in the following posts.
Have a nice day!
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