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Structural Analysis:

It is to determine the effects of loads on physical structures and their compone

nts. Structural analysis incorporates the fields of applied mechanics, materials
science and applied mathematics and by calculating the primary unknowns (nodal
degree of freedom) in structural analysis to compute a structures deformation, i
nternal stresses, forces, support reactions and stability. The results of analys
is used to verify a structures fitness for its deployment / use, which often sav
ing physical tests. It is thus a key part of the engineering design of structure
Structural analysis is further divided as follows:
Static analysis
This type of analysis is taken into consideration during static loading conditio
ns, while determining the displacements, stresses, etc. It is further divided in
to linear and non-linear static analysis; non- linearities can include plasticit
y, stress stiffening, large deflection, large strain, hyper elasticity, contact
surfaces and creep.
It calculates the effects of steady loading conditions on a structure while igno
ring inertia and damping effects, which are caused by time-varying loads. A stat
ic analysis can however include steady state loads (such as gravity), and time v
arying loads can be approximated as static equivalent loads (like static equival
ent wind loads and seismic loads).
Dynamic analysis
It allows us to understand the behavior of a structure under a time-varying load
. The time-varying load includes induces time-varying response (displacements, v
elocities, acceleration, forces and stresses). This characteristic of dynamic an
alysis makes them more complicated, but also more realistic than static analysis
. It includes the real time effects like inertia and damping. It is further divi
ded into modal analysis, harmonic analysis, spectrum analysis, transient dynamic
analysis, explicit dynamic analysis.
Modal analysis
It is the most fundamental type of all the dynamic analysis. This type of analys
is is taken into consideration while a machine structure or component while it i
s being designed to determine its vibrational characteristics (natural frequenci
es and mode shapes). The prime concern of modal analysis is to design the vibrat
ional modes of a system away from its known operating frequencies. The vibration
al characteristics are important parameters in the design of a structure for dyn
amic loading conditions.
Finite Element Method (FEM):
It is also known as finite element analysis. It is the most popular numerical me
thod. FEM is discretization of integral form of equations.
Boundary element Method (BEM):
It is a very powerful and efficient technique to solve acoustics problems. This
method also requires nodes and elements but it considers only outer boundary of
the domain. So in case if the problems is of a volume, only outer surface are co
nsidered. If the domain is area then only periphery is considered. By this way i
t reduces the dimensionality of a problem to one degree and thus solving it fast
Finite volume method (FVM):
All computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software s are based on FVM. Unit volume is
considered in finite volume method. Variable properties at nodes are pressure,
velocity, area, mass etc.
Finite difference method (FDM):
Finite difference method is discretization of partial differential equation. FEM
and FDM share many common things. In general FDM is described as a way to solve
differential equation. It uses Taylor s series to convert differential equation t

o algebraic equation. It is used in combination of FEM or otherwise FVM to solve

Thermal and CFD coupled problems.
Introduction to FEM
The Finite Element Analysis is a numerical procedure that can be used to obtain
solutions to a large class of engineering problems involving stress analysis, he
at transfer, fluid flow etc.
In general engineering problems are mathematical models of physical situations.
Mathematical models of many engineering problems are differential equations with
a set of boundary conditions.
The given engineering problem can be solved in different ways.
Analytical method: Classical approach, it provides 100% accurate results. Closed
form solution. This method is applicable only for simple problems like cantilev
er, simply supported beams etc. real life complicated problems cannot be solved
by this method. Though analytical methods could also give approximate results if
the solution is not closed form, but in general and broad-sense it is considere
d as closed form solution i.e. 100% accurate.
Numerical method: It is based on mathematical representation. In this approach a
pproximate assumptions are made. It can be applied even if physical prototype is
not available (during initial design phase). Real life complicated problems can
be solved. The results cannot be believed blindly it has to be verified using e
xperimental method or by hand calculation to know the range of results. Eg: Fini
te Element Method, Boundary Element Method, Finite Volume Method, and Finite Dif
ference Method.
Experimental Method: It employs actual measurement. It is a time consuming and r
equires expensive set up. This method can be employed only if physical prototype
is available. Results can be accepted only, by testing min 3 to 5 prototypes.
Eg: Strain gauge, Photo elasticity, Vibrations measurements, Fatigue test.
Steps in finite element analysis
The following are the steps involved in finite element method.
Discretization of the structure
Selection of a proper interpolation or displacement model
Derivation of elemental characteristics
Assemblage of elemental equations to obtain overall equilibrium equations
Applying boundary conditions
Solution for the unknown nodal displacements
Computation of elemental strains and stresses
Discretization of the structure
The first step involved in the finite element method is to divide the given cont
inuum or solution region into sub-regions called elements. Hence the structure i
s to be modeled with suitable elements. The number, type, size and arrangement o
f the elements are to be decided based on the accuracy required
Selection of a proper displacement model
Since the displacement solution of a structure or continuum under any specified
load conditions cannot be predicted exactly. We assume suitable solution within
an element to approximate the unknown solution. The assumed solution is known as
displacement model which need to be simple from computational stand point, but
it should also satisfy certain convergence requirement.
Derivation of element characteristics
The characteristic stiffness [k] and the driving force vector/load vector {f} ar
e to be derived by using either equilibrium conditions or suitable variations pr
inciple. In case of continuum problems such as fluid dynamics the terms used is
characteristics matrix and driving force vector, whereas in the case of the elas
ticity problem, the respective quantities are referred as stiffness matrix and l
oad vector.
Assemblage of elemental equations to obtain the global equilibrium equations
Since the structure is composed of several finite elements, the individual eleme
nt stiffness matrices, displacement and load vectors are to be assembled in a su

itable manner and the overall equilibrium equations have to be formulated as

[K] {Q} = {F}
Where [K] = Global stiffness matrix
{Q}= Global displacement matrix
{F}= Global force vector
Applying boundary conditions
A problem is incomplete unless boundary conditions are specified. In fact withou
t imposing boundary conditions, the element and global stiffness matrix becomes
singular. Thus boundary conditions are applied.
Solution for the unknown nodal displacements
Unknown solutions are found from the equilibrium equation of the continuum after
applying boundary conditions of problem. After employing boundary conditions, t
he equilibrium equations are solved by various methods which are capable of hand
ling boundary conditions such as Gauss elimination method, Penalty method, multi
constraint method.
Computation of elemental strains and stresses
From the solved nodal displacements, the elemental stresses and strains and stre
sses are calculated using classical reactions.
Advantages and Disadvantages of FEM
It can handle irregular boundary problems
It allows easy modification
It can handle nonlinear problems
It can handle complex loadings and geometry
It is an approximate solution
Element density and shape affect the solution
Wrong input by the user might cause fatal errors