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Basic Structural Analysis

Basic structural analysis consists of:

Linear Static Analysis
Normal Modes Analysis
Linear Elastic Buckling Analysis

Linear Static Analysis

Linear static analysis represents the most basic type of analysis. The term linear means that the
computed response--displacement or stress, for example--is linearly related to the applied force. The
term static means that the forces do not vary with time--or, that the time variation is insignificant and
can therefore be safely ignored.

An example of a static force is a building's dead load, which is comprised of the building's weight
plus the weight of offices, equipment, and furniture. This dead load is often expressed in terms of
lb/sq ft or N/sq m. Such loads are often defined using a maximum expected load with some factor of
safety applied for conservatism.

In addition to the time invariant dead load described above, another example of a static load is an
enforced displacement. For example, in a building part of the foundation may settle somewhat,
inducing static loads. Another example of a static load is a steady-state temperature field. The applied
temperatures cause thermal expansion which, in turn, causes induced forces.
NX NASTRAN is based on the displacement method where the equations of motion are written with
displacements as the unknown.

The static analysis equation in matrix form is:

where K is the system stiffness matrix (generated automatically by NX Nastran for FEMAP, based on
the element geometry, properties and materials), f is the vector of applied forces (specified by the
user), and u is the vector of displacements that NX Nastran computes. This linear static solution
requires that rigid body motion be constrained for all 6 directions (3 translations and 3 rotations).
Once the displacements are computed, NX Nastran uses these to compute element forces, stresses,
reaction forces, and strains. Since this is a linear static analysis, the principal of linear superposition
applies, and the applied forces and the calculated results may be used independently or combined
with each other (i.e. timing of the forces is not important). The loads can also be applied in multiple
loading subcases, in which each subcase represents a particular loading and/or boundary condition.
Grouping multiple loading subcases which share the same constraint condition in a single analysis can
allow a more efficient solution. A change in the constraint condition will force NX NASTRAN to
perform a new stiffness solution for each constraint case.

Normal Modes Analysis

Normal modes analysis computes the natural frequencies and mode shapes of a structure. When a
structure is disturbed or excited, its motion will be a linear combination of the natural frequencies of
the structure. The natural frequencies or normal modes are a fundamental characteristic of the
structure and are a function of the stiffness and mass of the structure. For example, the strings of a
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piano are each tuned to vibrate at a specific frequency with a specific input. The deformed shape at
a specific natural frequency is called the mode shape. Normal modes analysis is also called real
eigenvalue analysis.

Normal modes analysis forms the foundation for a thorough understanding of the dynamic char-
acteristics of the structure. Normal modes analysis is performed for many reasons, among them:

Assessing the dynamic interaction between a component (such as a piece of rotating
machinery) and its supporting structure; if the natural frequency of the supporting structure is
close to an operating frequency of the component then there can be significant dynamic
amplification of the loads.
Assessing the effects of design changes on the dynamic characteristics.
Using the modes in a subsequent forced response analysis.
Using the natural frequencies as a guide to selecting the proper time or frequency step for
transient and frequency response analyses, respectively.
Assessing the degree of correlation between modal test data and analytical results.

In normal modes analysis we solve for the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the model. For each
eigenvalue, which is proportional to a natural frequency, there is a corresponding eigenvector, or mode
shape. Normal modes analysis solves for the undamped free vibrations as follows:


This can be rewritten to the following:

for i = 1,2,3

where K is the system stiffness matrix, M is the system mass matrix (generated automatically by NX
Nastran, based on the element geometry, properties and materials), is the circular natural frequency,
and is the eigenvector or mode shape. Mathematically, this is an eigenvalue problem and the
eigenvalues are related to the natural frequencies as follows:


NX Nastran uses various user selectable eigenvalue solution techniques to find the roots to this
equation. Each mode shape is similar to a static displaced shape in that there are displacements and
rotations for each grid point. However, there is one important difference between the mode shape and
the static displacements: the scaling. In static analysis the displacements are the true physical
displacements due to the applied loads. However, because there is no applied load in normal mode
analysis, the mode shape components can all be scaled by an arbitrary factor for each mode. In NX
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Nastran this scaling can be done so that each mode has a unit modal mass, so that the maximum
displacement in any mode is 1.0, or that any user specified degree of freedom has a modal
displacement of 1.0. The first option, unit modal mass, is generally preferred, though the scaling of a
maximum displacement to 1.0 is useful for comparison to modal test data.

Element forces and stresses and reaction forces are computed in the same manner as for static
analysis, with each mode shape treated the same as a set of static displacements. Due to the scaling
of each mode, the resulting modal forces and stresses are on a per mode basis and cannot
necessarily be compared from one mode to another.

Because no single eigenvalue extraction method is perfect for all models, several methods are
available in NX Nastran. These eigenvalue extraction methods are:
Lanczos method (preferred method)
Givens method
Householder method
Modified Givens method
Modified Householder method
Inverse power method
Sturm modified inverse power method
The Lanczos method is the best overall method due to its robustness and ability to handle large
models, but the other methods (particularly the modified Givens method and the Sturm modified
inverse power method) have applicability for particular cases.

Normal modes can calculated for unrestrained models, such as an aircraft in flight. These unrestrained
models give rise to stress free, zero frequency, rigid body modes which NX Nastran can calculate
without any special modeling or analysis techniques.

Linear Elastic Buckling Analysis

In linear static analysis, a structure is assumed to be in a state of stable equilibrium. As the applied
load is removed, the structure is assumed to return to its original, undeformed position. Under certain
combinations of loadings, however, the structure continues to deform without an increase in the
magnitude of loading. In this case the structure has become unstable; it has buckled. For linear
elastic buckling analysis, two key assumptions are that there is no yielding of the structure and that
the direction of applied forces does not change.

Linear elastic buckling incorporates the effect of the differential stiffness, which includes higher-order
strain displacement relationships that are functions of the geometry, element type, and applied loads.
From a physical standpoint, the differential stiffness represents a linear approximation of softening
(reducing) the stiffness matrix for a compressive axial load and stiffening (increasing) the stiffness
matrix for a tensile axial load.

In buckling analysis we solve for the eigenvalues that are scale factors that multiply the applied load
in order to produce the critical buckling load.

Start with the static analysis equation:

Include the differential stiffness and let = arbitrary scalar multiplier

We now have the buckling equation:

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Which we can rewrite as an eigenvalue problem:


To obtain a non-trivial solution, the following must be true:

where | | is defined as the determinate of the matrix

The values of that satisfy this equation are the critical buckling loads. This is now an eigenvalue
problem and we can use the available eigensolvers in NX Nastran to find the eigenvalues which are
actually multipliers of the applied load that represent the critical buckling load.

In other words:

Where Pcr are the critical buckling loads and Pa are the applied loads. Usually only the lowest critical
buckling load is of interest.

Because no single eigenvalue extraction method is perfect for all models, several methods are
available in NX Nastran. The Lanczos method is the best overall method because it provides the most
accuracy for the least cost, but the other methods have applicability for particular cases. Lanczos is
therefore the default method.

Buckling analysis requires the creation of two subcases. The first subcase defines the applied static
loading and the second subcase defines the eigenvalue solution. Femap creates the second eigenvalue
subcase automatically when the user selects buckling as the analysis type.
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