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ANSYS Nonlinear Technology


Powerful new capabilities are aimed at studying

complex nonlinear behavior in mechanical systems.
By Achuth Rao, Ph.D.
Product Manager

Nonlinearities are common in most real-world characterized by “large” displacements and/or

problems and represent some of the most challenging rotations. Small deflection and small strain analysis
aspects of engineering analysis. To help users model assume that displacements are small enough that
and solve these problems, ANSYS has a wide range the resulting stiffness changes are insignificant. In
of features and capabilities for handling the most contrast, large strain analysis account for the stiffness
common types of nonlinearity. changes that result from changes in an element’s
Changing status or contact nonlinearity — shape and orientation. The large strain feature is
Many common structural features exhibit nonlinear available in most of the solid elements (including all
behavior that is status-dependent. Status changes of the large strain elements) as well as in most of
might be directly related to load, or they might be the shell and beam elements. ANSYS also handles
determined by some external cause. Situations in two other types of geometric nonlinearities: stress
which contact occurs are common to many different stiffening and spin softening.
nonlinear applications. Contact behavior, such as For thin, highly stressed structures, such as
separation and sliding with frictional effects, cables and membranes, the out-of-plane stiffness of a
introduces nonlinearity into the analysis. structure can be affected significantly by the state of
Geometric nonlinearity — If a structure in-plane stress in that structure. Stress stiffness is the
experiences large deformations, its changing coupling between in-plane stress and transverse
geometric configuration can cause the structure stiffness. Spin softening softens the stiffness matrix of
to respond nonlinearly. Geometric nonlinearity is a rotating body for dynamic mass effects. The adjust-
ment approximates the effects of geometry changes
due to large deflection circumferential motion
in a small deflection analysis. Spin softening
is used in conjunction with prestressing,
which is caused by centrifugal force in the
rotating body.
Material nonlinearity — Nonlinear
stress–strain relationships are a common
cause of nonlinear structural behavior.
Many factors can influence a material’s
stress–strain properties, including load
history (as in elastoplastic response),
environmental conditions (such as
temperature) and the amount of time that a
load is applied (as in creep response).
ANSYS handles numerous material-related
factors that cause a structure’s stiffness to
change during the course of an analysis
ranging from anisotropic behavior, nonlinear
stress–strain relationships, dependency on
time, rate of strain and certain coupled
physics effects such as piezoelectric and
Seebeck effects, to name a few.

Nonlinear history tracking option monitors results in real time during solution.

www.ansys.com ANSYS Solutions | Volume 7, Issue 3 2006


Plotting Newton-Raphson residuals allows users to readily evaluate convergence difficulties.

Robust Solution Techniques Nonlinear diagnostics — The nonlinear diagnostics

tool in ANSYS can help you find problems in your model
ANSYS employs the Newton-Raphson technique to
when a nonlinear analysis has difficulty converging.
solve the previously mentioned types of nonlinearities,
Typically, nonlinear analysis fail to converge for the
in which the out-of-balance load (the difference
following reasons:
between the restoring forces and the applied loads) is
used to perform a linear solution. ANSYS checks ■ Too large a distortion
for convergence based on force, displacement or ■ Elements contain nodes that have near-zero
other criteria. If convergence criteria are not satisfied, pivots (nonlinear analysis)
the stiffness matrix is updated and a new solution
■ Too large a plastic or creep strain increment
is obtained.
A number of convergence-enhancement and ■ Elements in which mixed u-P constraints are
recovery features are offered by default such as not satisfied
line search, automatic load stepping and bisection.
For special cases such as nonlinear buckling, Tracking nonlinear residuals — As part of the
ANSYS offers an alternative iteration scheme, the nonlinear diagnostics, ANSYS allows tracking of the
arc-length method, to help avoid bifurcation points Newton-Raphson residuals during nonlinear iterations.
and track unloading. Plotting the residual forces helps identify regions of high
residual forces. Such a capability is useful when you
Latest ANSYS Capabilities experience convergence difficulties in the middle of a load
step, in which the model has a large number of contact
Recent releases of ANSYS have seen further advances
surfaces and other nonlinearities. Tracking the nonlinear
in nonlinearity and solution techniques for handling
residuals allows one to focus on the nonlinearities in area
these types of nonlinear behavior.
of interest, instead of having to deal with the entire model.
Manual rezoning — In a finite large-deformation
Nonlinear diagnostics also allows one to identify elements
analysis, mesh distortion reduces simulation accuracy,
that violate certain convergence criteria, such as
causes convergence difficulties and eventually can
plastic/creep strain increments and the like. The nonlinear
terminate an analysis. Rezoning allows you to repair
history tracking option allows one to monitor results of
the distorted mesh and continue the simulation.
interest in real time during solution. Before starting the
ANSYS offers a manual rezoning procedure that allows
solution, you can request nodal data, such as displace-
users to decide when to use rezoning and what
ments or reaction forces at specific nodes. You also can
region(s) to rezone, and then to generate a new mesh
request element nodal data, such as stresses and strains
on the selected region(s). During the rezoning process,
at specific elements, to be graphed.
ANSYS updates the database as necessary, generates
Brake squeal analysis — The QR damped
contact elements if needed, transfers boundary
eigenvalue extraction method now can be used in
conditions and loads from the original mesh and maps
problems with friction nonlinearities, in which an unsym-
all solved variables (node and element solutions) to the
metric stiffness matrix may be produced. An example of
new mesh automatically. Analysis then continues on
this type of problem is brake squeal analysis, in which the
the new mesh, with equilibrium achieved based on the
combination of ANSYS contact elements and the
mapped variables.
QRDAMP eigensolver provide an easy-to-use, efficient

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means of determining unstable modes. ANSYS offers

a two-step procedure in which the nonlinear
unsymmetric stiffness terms due to frictional sliding in
a static analysis are included in the eigensolution. In
brake squeal analysis, the effect of the coefficient of
friction (as well as other parameters) can be varied to
see the effects on different modes and the coupling
between modes. This can help to determine which
modes (frequencies) will be unstable and a source of
audible discomfort.
Coupled physics — Due to interaction of various
physics, coupled physics analysis is inherently
nonlinear in nature. The interaction between various
physics is typically either as a load or as a change in
the stiffness of the other physics. This type of inter-
action makes the coupled system of equations
nonlinear. ANSYS offers two types of coupled physics
capabilities: direct coupled physics and sequential
coupled physics.
The direct method usually involves just one
analysis that uses a coupled-field element type
containing all necessary degrees of freedom. Coupling
is handled by calculating element matrices or element
load vectors that contain all necessary terms. An
example of this is a coupled physics analysis using the
PLANE223, SOLID226 or SOLID227 elements. Users
can define material properties for these elements to Sequential analysis between ANSYS CFX and ANSYS
model interaction such as piezoelectric, piezoresistive, Multiphysics provides for nonlinear coupled physics
Seebeck/Peltier effects and the piezocaloric effect. analysis of a MEMS micro-pump.
The sequential method involves two or more
sequential analysis, each belonging to a different field.
The ANSYS Multi-field solver, available for a large
class of coupled analysis problems, is an automated
tool for solving sequentially coupled field problems.
It is built on the premise that each physics is created In addition to some of the recent advances
as a field with an independent solid model and mentioned in this article, ANSYS continues to
mesh. Coupled loads automatically are transferred enhance its nonlinear capability. The next version of
across dissimilar meshes by the solver. The solver is ANSYS will have further advances in areas of contact
applicable to static, harmonic and transient analysis, nonlinearity (line-surface contact, cohesive zone
depending on the physics requirements. Any number model using contact elements), material nonlinearity
of fields may be solved in a sequential (or mixed (Gurson’s material, anisotropic hyperelasticity),
sequential/simultaneous) manner. An application of element or geometric nonlinearity (higher order shell,
the ANSYS Multi-field solver (MFX-Multiple code rebar elements) and convergence enhancement
solver) used for simulations with physics fields techniques (stabilization). I
distributed between more than one product
executable is the ANSYS Multiphysics and ANSYS
CFX coupling for advanced FSI analysis. The solver The author wishes to thank development and technical
uses iterative coupling in which each physics is solved support personnel at ANSYS, Inc. and the various third-
either simultaneously or sequentially, and each matrix party solutions providers for their efforts and contribution to
this article.
equation is solved separately. The solver iterates
between each physics field until loads transferred
across the physics interfaces converge.

www.ansys.com ANSYS Solutions | Volume 7, Issue 3 2006