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Learning to DO: The Jacobian: Finite Element Mesh Quality



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Friday, August 10, 2012

The Jacobian: Finite Element Mesh Quality

This is as technical as engineering comes. Bring up a Jacobian to a bunch of finite element
engineers and hopefully they will all know what you are talking about. This is so technical that it
it typically only covered in senior level college classes or graduate school classes. Although, if
you do cover it in college you will probably do the actual matrix equations, even though in real life
(the business world) a computer does it in fractions of a second.

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Isaiah Janzen

10 Sep

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Now more specifically the Jacobian, which is short for the Jacobian Matrix Determinate, is really
the best measure of finite element mesh quality. It is one number which defines how good or bad
an element is. The Jacobian is a measure of the normals of the element faces relative to each
other. Unfortunately, Hypermesh does not show the element face normals on solid elements, but
it is basically an arrow on each face pointing out perpendicular to the face. The range of
a Jacobian is from 1, a perfect cube, to something lower, -1 or even lower. The smallest Jacobian
I have seen was -1.45. When the element face normals start to cross, that is they are not
perpendicular to each other, your element quality gets worse.

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For several examples I created the image below. In all of the elements, except for the red one, I
simply translated one node (vertex) to a new location and kept the other seven in the original
cube positions. You can see that as the node moves farther away from the cube position the
element quality gets worse.

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Abaqus: Bottom-up mesh example

Sample Jacobians (J): Orange Cube J = 1.0; Blue J = .942 (z is .9 f or one point); Purple J = .883 (z and y are .9 f or
one point); Pink J = .398 (z and y are .5 f or one point); Green J = -.409 (z and y are -.1 f or one point); Tan J =
-.130 (z and y are .1 f or one point); Red J = 1.0 (z is 3 f or all f our end points); Light Blue J = .072 (x y and z are .5
f or one point)

The Jacobian: Finite Element Mesh Quality

Abaqus: Create Animations
Ansys: The Pinball Region

How bad is bad? Abaqus will not run a job with a Jacobian below 0, at least not for me. Ansys on
the other hand has less strict mesh quality requirements. Often times Abaqus will not run a solid
element Jacobian below 0.2 and a shell element Jacobian below 0.3. And yes, I have had one
element with a negative Jacobian prevent an Abaqus job with over 100,000 elements from
running. If you can get all of the Jacobians in your model above .5 you can typically say you have
a good quality mesh.

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Learning to DO: The Jacobian: Finite Element Mesh Quality


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Posted by Isaiah at 8:43 AM

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Labels: abaqus, engineering, finite element

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Damien Mesh April 25, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Hi, thx for this article, I always wonder what was this quality criterion because element with the
same jacobian could have different shapes.

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very good article

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Anonymous July 17, 2013 at 10:16 AM

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Thanks for the article. It is simple,clear and to the point.

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Richard Smith August 14, 2013 at 10:42 PM

Love it.

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Earl Finnegan September 25, 2013 at 1:16 PM

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Wow it seems finite element analysis is a bit over my head at the moment, I'll have to start a
bit simpler.

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well wishers September 28, 2013 at 3:02 AM
it is really good explanation, simple to understand, great work...

Bryan Osornio October 23, 2013 at 9:39 AM

very simple explanation, perfect information, thank you!

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nice article

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Ayatullah Khomeni June 12, 2014 at 9:51 PM

But how to see this jacobian value in abaqus??





Learning to DO: The Jacobian: Finite Element Mesh Quality

About Me

Iowa is now my tenth US state to live in after

California, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas,
Massachusetts, New Mexico, Colorado and
Wisconsin. I have a B.S. in Aerospace
Engineering and an M.S. in Materials Science
and Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic
Institute (WPI). I am currently employed by a
leading manufacturer of construction and
forestry equipment to do structures design
engineering. I used to have a patent pending for
an ice axe I designed and tried to market, but
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Peak and reaching 7000 meters (and spending
the night) on Broad Peak. In April 2014 I was
attempting Mt. Everest without supplemental
oxygen, when 16 people died in an avalanche,
and the rest of us went home. My Christian faith
in God is extremely important to me.

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