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181

NOTE

Load-induced stiffness matrix of plates


Shi-Jun Zhou

Abstract: In this paper, a rectangular plate element for the finite-element method, which takes into consideration the
stiffening effect of dead loads, is proposed. The element stiffness matrices that include the effect of dead loads are de-
rived. The effect of dead loads on dynamic behaviors of plates is analyzed using the finite-element method. It is shown
that the stiffness of plates increases when the effect of dead loads is included in the calculation and that the effect is
more significant for plates with a smaller stiffness. The validity of the proposed procedure is confirmed by numerical
examples. Although the finite-element results obtained are in agreement with the approximate closed-form solutions,
the proposed method based on a finite-element formulation is more easily applied to practical structures under various
support conditions and various types of dead loads.
Key words: load-induced stiffness matrix of plate, stiffening effect of dead loads.
Résumé : Dans cet article, il est proposé d’étudier un élément de plaque rectangulaire par la méthode des éléments fi-
nis, en tenant compte de l’effet de raideur provenant des charges mortes. Les matrices de rigidité de cet élément sont
dérivées. L’effet des charges mortes sur le comportement dynamique des plaques est analysé par la méthode des élé-
ments finis. Il est montré que la rigidité des plaques augmente lorsque l’effet des charges mortes est pris en compte
par les calculs, et que cet effet est d’autant plus significatif sur les plaques dont la rigidité est moindre. La validité de
la procédure proposée est confirmée par les exemples numériques. Bien que les résultats obtenus par la méthode des
éléments finis soient en accord avec ceux obtenus par celle des solutions fermées approchées, la méthode proposée, qui
est formulée en terme d’éléments finis, peut être plus facilement appliquée dans le cadre de structures réelles soumises
à différentes conditions de support et à différents types de charges mortes.
Mots clés : matrice de rigidité d’une plaque liée au chargement, effet de raideur dû aux charges mortes.
[Traduit par la Rédaction] Note 184

Introduction Zhu (1996) developed a conception of load-induced stiffness


Plates or shells, like structures in general, are always sub- matrix and a beam element for the finite-element method.
jected to dead loads. When plates are subjected to live loads Takabatake (1992) extended the elementary plate theory and
in addition to dead loads, the plates deflect from a reference analyzed the effects of dead loads in dynamic plates. How-
state caused by the initial dead loads. The deflection should ever, it is difficult to use Takabatake’s approaches for com-
include the effect of the conservative initial bending stresses. plex plate or shell structures.
This effect of dead loads is more significant for plates and In this paper, the finite-element formulation for plates,
shells than for beams because of the smaller stiffness of the which takes into consideration the stiffening effect of dead
plates; nevertheless, it was ignored in most previous studies. loads, is proposed. The element stiffness matrices including
A better understanding of the dead-load effect will lead to a the effect of dead loads are derived. The validity of the pro-
more accurate estimate of the effects of live loads; thus the posed procedure is confirmed by the numerical examples.
safety factors for heavyweight structures and lightweight
structures will be equalized, and truly safe structural designs Finite-element formulations
will be possible. Hibbitt (1979) considered the load stiffness Zhou and Zhu (1996) presented the following dynamic
associated with pressure loading, and in ABAQUS the pres- equation for beam elements, which takes into consideration
sure load stiffness is implemented as a symmetric form. the stiffening effect of dead loads:
{F} = [M ]{&&δ} + ([K ] + [K ] − [K ]){δ} − {F }
Takabatake (1991) studied the effect of dead loads on the
[1] c g eq
natural frequencies of beam and proposed a governing equa-
tion of beam including the effect of dead loads. Zhou and in which {δ} is the element nodal displacement vector, {F}
is the element nodal force vector, [M] is the consistent mass
Received 2 October 2000. Revised manuscript accepted matrix, [Ke] is the elastic stiffness matrix, [Kg] is the geo-
26 September 2001. Published on the NRC Research Press
metric stiffness matrix, [K] is the load-induced stiffness ma-
Web site at http://cjce.nrc.ca on 14 December 2001.
trix, and {Feq} is the element equivalent concentrated force
S.-J. Zhou. Department of Civil Engineering, Lanzhou vector.
Railway Institute, Lanzhou, 730070, P.R. China. The dynamic equation for plate elements is of the same
Written discussion of this note is welcomed and will be form as eq. [1] for beam elements; they differ only in the
received by the Editor until 30 June 2002. content and volume of matrices connected with the equation.
Can. J. Civ. Eng. 29: 181–184 (2002) DOI: 10.1139/L01-064 © 2002 NRC Canada

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182 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 29, 2002

For a plate element, it is assumed that the external forces are transverse loads only and the axial forces are neglected. De-
flections w are produced by the dead loads p of the plates. The deformed state by dead loads p is considered as the reference
state. The dynamic deflections w by live loads p are measured from the reference state. The element strain energy U* can be
expressed as
[2] U* = U + U
where U is the strain energy produced by live loads p and U is the additional strain energy resulting from the conservative ini-
tial bending stresses produced by dead loads p.
Different types of strain–displacement relation for U and U are used to include the effect of dead loads. For the strain en-
ergy U, the linear strain–displacement relations are used; for the strain energy U, the nonlinear strain–displacement relations
are used. Thus, the strain energies U and U can be written as
D
[3] U = ∫ ∫ {(w , xx + w , yy ) 2 + 2(1 − ν)[(w , xy ) 2 − w , xxw , yy ]} dx dy
2
[4] U = D∫ ∫ [w , xxw , xx + w , yyw , yy + 2w , xyw , xy + ν(w , yyw , xx + w , xxw , yy − 2w , xyw , xy )] dx dy
Eh
4(1 − ν2 ) ∫ ∫
+ {(w , x ) 2 (w , x ) 2 + (w , y ) 2 (w , y ) 2 + 2w , xw , yw , xw , y + ν[(w , y ) 2 (w , x ) 2 + (w , x ) 2 (w , y ) 2 − 2w , xw , yw , xw , y ]} dx dy

in which h is the thickness of the plate, D is the bending rigidity of the plate, and ν is Poisson’s ratio (Takabatake 1992). The
strain energy U is a function of both the unknown displacement w due to live loads and the known displacements w due to
dead loads.
Equations [3] and [4] can be expressed as
1
[5] U = {δ}T[Ke ]{δ}
2
1
[6] U = {δ}T[Ke ]{δ} + {δ}T[K ]{δ}
2
where
1 T D
[7] {δ} [Ke ]{δ} = ∫ ∫ {(w , xx + w , yy ) 2 + 2(1 − ν)[(w , xy ) 2 − w , xxw , yy ]} dx dy
2 2
1 T Eh
4(1 − ν2 ) ∫ ∫
[8] {δ} [K ]{δ} = {(w , x ) 2 (w , x ) 2 + (w , y ) 2 (w , y ) 2 + 2w , xw , yw , xw , y
2
+ ν[(w , y ) 2 (w , x ) 2 + (w , x ) 2 (w , y ) 2 − 2w , xw , yw , xw , y ]} dx dy
in which [Ke] is the element elastic stiffness matrix of the plate element and [K] is the load-induced stiffness matrix of the
plate element.
Suppose the element displacements are expressed as follows:
[9a] w = [N ]{δ}
[9b] w = [N ]{δ}
where [N] is a shape function.
The element elastic stiffness matrix can be written as
[10] [Ke ] = ∫ ∫ [B]T[D][B] dx dy

in which [B] is the element strain matrix and [D] is the elastic matrix.
Therefore, the load-induced stiffness matrix is
Eh
2(1 − ν2 ) ∫ ∫
[11] [K ] = {({δ}T[N , x ]T[N , x ]{δ} + ν{δ}T[N , y ]T[N , y ]{δ})[N , x ]T[N , x ] + ({δ}T[N , y ]T[N , y ]{δ}

+ ν{δ}T[N , x ]T[N , x ]{δ})[N , y ]T[N , y ] + (1 − ν){δ}T[N , x ]T[N , y ]{δ}([N , x ]T[N , y ] + [N , y ]T[N , x ])} dx dy
From eq. [11], we can see that it is somewhat complicated to calculate the element load-induced stiffness matrix [K], although
a simple shape function can be selected. For convenience, a simple expression for the transverse displacement w is used to
calculate [K].
Figure 1 shows a 4-node plate element. The element nodal displacement vector {δ} and element nodal force vector {F} can
be defined as
[12] {δ} = [w1, θx1, θ y1, w 2 , θx 2 , θ y 2 , w 3, θx 3, θ y 3, w 4, θx 4, θ y 4 ]T
[13] {F} = [Q1, M x1, M y1, Q2 , M x 2 , M y 2 , Q3, M x 3, M y 3, Q4, M x 4, M y 4 ]T

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Note 183

Fig. 1. A 4-node plate element. stiffness matrix [Ke] can easily be obtained.
For convenience, in calculating the element load-induced
stiffness matrix [K ], the dead load displacement function is
simply selected as
[18] w = c0 + c1x + c2 y + c3xy
Applying the boundary conditions, we have
c0 = w1
w − w1
c1 = 2
a
[19] w 4 − w1
c2 =
b
Suppose
w1 + w 3 − w 2 − w 4
[14] w = [H ]{α} c3 =
ab
where
From eq. [18],
[15] [H ] = [1, x, y, x 2 , xy, y 2 , x 3, x 2 y, xy 2 , y 3, x 3y, xy 3 ]
w , x = c1 + c3y
and [20]
w y = c2 + c3x
[16] {α} = [α1, α 2 , K , α12 ]T
Equation [11] can simply be expressed as
Applying the boundary conditions, the constant {α} can
be expressed as Eh
[21] [K ] = ([C ]−1) T[ S ][C ]−1
[17] −1
{α} = [C ] {δ} 2(1 − ν2 )

Thus the element shape function [N] and the element elastic in which

[22] [ S ] = ∫ ∫ {[(c1 + c3y) 2 + ν(c2 + c3x) 2 ][H, x ]T[H, x ] + [(c2 + c3x) 2 + ν(c1 + c3y) 2 ][H, y ]T[H, y ]
+ (1 − ν)(c1 + c3y)(c2 + c3x)([H, x ]T[H, y ] + [H, y ]T[H, x ])} dx dy

By evaluating the integrals in eq. [22] and from eq. [21], we 1


cx = (w 2 + w 3 − w1 − w 4)
obtain [K ]. Numerical results show that [K ] computed from [24] 2a
eq. [21] is sufficiently accurate. However, in practical appli- 1
cations, the expression for [K ] given by eq. [21] is somewhat cy = (w 3 + w 4 − w1 − w 2 )
2b
complicated and the formulations need to be simplified.
Let then
w , x = cx = constant Eh
[23] [25] [K ] = ([C ]−1) T[T ][C ]−1
w , y = c y = constant 2(1 − ν2 )

and in which

[26] [T ] = ∫ ∫ {(cx2 + νc2y )[H, x ]T[H, x ] + (c2y + νcx2 )[H, y ]T[H, y ] + (1 − ν) cx c y ([H, x ]T[H, y ] + [H, y ]T [H, x ])} dx dy

Evaluating the integrals in eq. [26] gives all the elements of simply supported plate with the following reference proper-
the symmetrical matrix [T]. ties (Takabatake 1992) are calculated: lx = ly = 5 m, h =
0.05 m, E = 20.59 × 1010 N/m2, v = 0.3. A reference dead
Example analysis load p0 is assumed to be p0 = 3825 N/m2. In Figs. 2 and 3,
∆ = [(ω n – ω 0n)/ω 0n] × 100%, where ω n is the nth natural
In the following analysis, the calculated values obtained frequency including the effect of dead loads and ω 0n is the
from the proposed element are compared with the approxi- nth natural frequency excluding the effect of dead loads.
mate closed-form solutions. The natural frequencies of a Figure 2 shows the closed-form approximate solution
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184 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 29, 2002

Fig. 2. Comparison of calculated results (simply supported plate: require too many elements, and the number of elements used
8 × 8 elements) (lx = ly = 5 m, h = 0.05 m, E = 20.59 × in the analysis depends only on the accuracy of the frequen-
1010 N/m2, v = 0.3, p0 = 3825 N/m2). cies ω 0n, which also shows that the calculation of the load-
induced stiffness matrix is sufficiently accurate.
Figure 3 shows the effect of the concentrated load P at the
center of the plate on the natural frequencies of the simply
supported plate. The reference concentrated load P0 is as-
sumed to be P0 = 5000 N, while p0 = 3825 N/m2 = constant.
It is shown that the effect of dead load is more obvious for
the first natural frequency and that it can be negligible for
frequencies higher than the first five natural frequencies. The
larger the dead load is, the more apparent the effect will be.
The improved analysis shows that the effects of dead
loads on bending stiffness are determined by the following
factors: dead loads, thickness of plate, span of plate, and
boundary conditions. In other words, the load-stiffening ef-
fects are related to the dead loads and the stiffness of the
structures. The load-stiffening effects are more apparent in
plates than in beams (Zhou and Zhu 1996), since the bend-
ing stiffness of plates is smaller due to their thin thickness,
and should be considered in the design of plate or shell
structures for which the geometric nonlinearity is not negli-
gible.
To improve the accuracy of plate elements, we can select
other types of plate elements, such as a serendipity 8-node
Fig. 3. Relationship between ∆ and P/P0 (simply supported plate: isoparametric element. In this case, the proposed method for
8 × 8 elements) (lx = ly = 5 m, h = 0.05 m, E = 20.59 × calculating the load-induced stiffness matrix is also useful.
1010 N/m2, v = 0.3, p0 = 3825 N/m2, P0 = 5000 N).
Conclusions
The load-induced stiffness matrix of a rectangular plate
element has been developed for the finite-element method
and the validity of the proposed procedure is confirmed by
the numerical examples. Although the results obtained by
the finite-element method are in good agreement with those
given by Takabatake, the proposed method based on a finite-
element formulation is more easily applied to practical struc-
tures under various support conditions and various types of
dead loads. The calculated results also show that the bending
stiffness of plates is obviously increased when the effect of
dead loads is considered. This effect of dead loads on bend-
ing stiffness should be included in the design of plate or
shell structures for which the geometric nonlinearity is not
negligible.

References
Hibbitt, H.D. 1979. Some follower force and load stiffness. Inter-
national Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, 14:
937–941.
Takabatake, H. 1991. Effect of dead loads on natural frequencies of
given by Takabatake(1992) for the three lowest frequencies beams. ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering, 117(4): 1039–
and the finite-element solutions from eqs. [21] and [25]. 1052.
From Fig. 2, we can see that the results obtained using the Takabatake, H. 1992. Effects of dead loads in dynamic plates.
proposed method are in good agreement with those given by ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering, 118(1): 35–51.
Takabatake. The simplified formulation (eq. [25]) is suffi- Zhou, S.J., and Zhu, X. 1996. Analysis of effect of dead loads on
ciently accurate for the calculation of load-induced stiffness natural frequencies of beams using finite-element techniques.
matrix K. In addition, the calculation of the ratio ∆ does not ASCE Journal of Structural Engineering, 122(5): 512–516.

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