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Problems with Some Common Plate Bending
Elements and the Development of a Pseudo-higher
Order Plate Bending Element

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Elements and the Development of a Pseudo-higher

Order Plate Bending Element

C W Law , Y M Cheng & Y Yang

To cite this article: C W Law , Y M Cheng & Y Yang (2012) Problems with Some Common Plate

Bending Elements and the Development of a Pseudo-higher Order Plate Bending Element,

HKIE Transactions, 19:1, 12-22

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1023697X.2012.10668240

Article views: 25

http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=thie20

Download by: [The National Library - Kolkata]

TRANSACTIONS PAPER

Paper T0824-201007; Received 29 July 2010; Accepted 4 March 2011

Elements and the Development of a Pseudohigher Order Plate Bending Element

Anomalous results from a number of raft foundation and pile cap designs in Hong Kong

employing the finite element analytical method have revealed the shortcomings of some popular

plate elements. For simple cases with these problematic plate elements, this paper proposes to

use simple interpolation functions to overcome the abnormalities. For more general cases, an

improved pseudo-higher order rectangular plate element has been developed in this paper.

The element possesses nine number of nodes which include the four corner nodes, four midside nodes and one centre node in the formulation of its shape functions. Such high order

polynomials can simulate the structural behaviour much better than the classical plate element

for both thin and thick plate configurations. In the formulation, the four mid-side nodes and

the centre node are turned pseudo by having their displacements incorporated into that of the

four corner nodes. Such static condensation can reduce the required computer capacities as well

as provide greater convenience for simulation of the structure and the boundary conditions.

Comparisons with the former eight node plate element by the authors and the analytical solution

by series have shown that this nine node element can perform well even when the mesh is

coarse. The merits of the proposed nine node element over other popular plate elements are

further illustrated by cross-comparison on a simple cantilever slab problem.

C W LAW

Housing Department, the HKSAR

Government

Y M CHENG

Department of Civil and Structural

Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic

University

Y YANG

Department of Civil and Structural

Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic

University

Introduction

Pile caps, transfer plates and raft foundations are important and expensive

thick structures. With the extensive use of computer methods nowadays,

the flexible plate assumption which has taken into account the out-ofplane flexibilities of plate bending structures have been extensively

employed in the structural analysis of thick plate structures. In the

analysis, even though the flexural deformations are often the most

important deformations, shear deformations cannot be ignored when

the plate thickness is appreciable, as otherwise the deformation will

be under-estimated. Whilst the mathematical formulation of the plate

bending model (by the finite element method) is relatively simple for thin

plate structures where the shear deformation is ignored (the Kirchhoff

plate), the formulation of the thick plate structures involving shear

deformation is more complicated. In the past few decades, many thick

plate elements have been proposed and used by different investigators

(Zienkiewicz and Taylor, 2000, 2005; Katili, 1993; Reddy, 2000; Szilard,

2004). A detailed review about the recent development of the thick plate

elements was conducted by Cheng and Law (2008). Among the various

plate bending finite elements, the thick plate element by Ibrahimbegovic

(1992, 1993) (termed IB element in the previous and this study) is one

of the most popular thick plate elements currently adopted by engineers

in Hong Kong. The IB element has been demonstrated to be good and

accurate by Cheng and Law (2005, 2008) and Law and Cheng (2006)

if the mesh is regular and the boundary conditions are normal. For

problems with highly irregular meshes, this paper has however identified

serious problems with the IB elements (2005, 2006, 2008) from some

projects in Hong Kong.

A thick plate structure is commonly simulated as an assembly of four

nodes or three nodes plate elements as shown in Fig 1(a). The elements

are joined together at their corner nodes. However, the most primitive

formulation (in terms of shape functions) of the four nodes or three

nodes element can at most yield linear or bi-linear variations of stresses

(the term stress is a finite element terminology referring to moments

or shears per unit width which will be used consistently in this paper) in

bending and shear within itself, and its simulation of the real behaviour

12

of the bending structure is therefore very limited unless the structure

is finely meshed. More complicated higher order elements with more

number of nodes can perform better as the stress variations are of

higher orders (in terms of mathematical formulation as polynomials).

Closer simulation to the actual structural behaviour can therefore be

achieved by the use of higher order element. For higher order element

where there are three or more nodes along an element edge (Fig 1(b)),

the boundary conditions of all the edge nodes must be prescribed, or

else there will be a locking problem (unstable) with ridiculous results

for the displacements and internal forces. If point loads are prescribed

on those internal nodes, the locking problem will also occur. Because of

these fundamental problems with higher order elements, such elements

are not commonly used for practical engineering analysis and design. To

reduce the size of computer storage and computation time, the deflections

of the side nodes can be expressed in terms of corner nodes and their

participation in the solution of nodal displacements can therefore be

eliminated whilst the higher order simulation of structural behaviour of

the element can still be maintained. Such elements can be described

as pseudo higher order elements. Law and Cheng (2006) and Cheng

and Law (2008) have demonstrated that such elements possess the

advantages of high accuracy even when the mesh is coarse, and they

can perform well in both thin plate and thick plate configurations.

It is also known that the shape function of the IB element is of high

orders through the use of side nodes. Nevertheless, there are diverging

analytical results when the mesh is coarse and the thickness of the plate

is relatively thin as identified and discussed by Cheng and Law (2008)

and Law and Cheng (2006). Further analysis with the IB element for a

simple problem with regular mesh will be demonstrated by a cantilever

slab in this paper which gives surprising results to the authors.

Under irregular meshing (which have to be employed for irregular plan

shapes of plate structures), it is noticed that the IB element performs

less satisfactorily in the analysis. The shear jump problem under some

circumstances emerges. This is a phenomenon of which a large difference

in shear stresses (constituting jumps) is noted at a node among the

adjacent IB elements meeting and the node is neither a support nor having

heavy point loads (Law and Cheng, 2006; Cheng and Law, 2008). Such

a large difference is obviously erratic by simple engineering judgment,

as although generally the finite element method does give different

stresses for different elements at the adjoining node, the variation of

the stresses should not be significant (unless there is an external point

load by an applied load or a support reaction) so that the variations of

stresses across them are smooth and such smoothness should increase

if the mesh is adequately fine. In fact, such a large difference implies

inaccuracy and poor performance of the element. For the IB element,

this problem is more critical when the mesh is highly irregular or at

junctions where quadrilateral and triangular elements meet.

To overcome the various limitations of the IB element and to further

improve numerical accuracy, methods are developed in this paper to

tackle the shear jump problem and a new thick plate element PLATE-9

is formulated. For comparison purpose, the DKT (discrete Kirchhoff theory)

element in ANSYS and the IB element in SAFE/SAP2000 were tried. The

DKT element ignores the shear deformations with orthogonality of the

normals to the mid-plane retained in its formulation. Babuska and Scapolia

(1989) have pointed out the inaccuracy of the Kirchhoff plate model which

occurs in the analysis of skewed plates, even when they are thin. The

well-known problems of deriving conforming C1 continuous thin plate and

shell elements motivated a number of authors to explore the applications

of the Reissner-Mindlin theory which relaxes the normal orthogonality

condition, thereby introducing the effect of shear deformation which is

of practical importance in thick plate formulations. Among them, the

IB element takes shear deformation into account. In the IB element, in

order to construct the displacement and rotation interpolation free of

shear locking, the Kirchhoff mode must be attainable. Therefore, the

displacement interpolation should be a polynomial of order of one

degree higher than the polynomial which interpolates the rotations. If

an isoparametric displacement interpolation is used, it is impossible to

have a constant shear strain and this will lead to an overly stiff bending

response, ie shear locking phenomenon. Ibrahimbegovic (1989) has

applied a special trick to force a special term to zero which is equivalent

to an assumed strain method to relieve the shear locking problem of the

element. This approach is less natural than the approach by Law and

Cheng (2006) and Cheng and Law (2008) where all the coefficients of

the interpolation polynomials are determined from the minimum energy

principle. It can be demonstrated that the PLATE-9 element can achieve

higher accuracy and convergence than the popular IB element and the

DKT element in ANSYS, even for analysis with coarse meshes. The more

important feature is that this new element can well capture the change

of internal forces near to supports while other existing elements need

finer meshing to achieve similar accuracy.

of the shear stresses. Method (II) is suitable for a case that there are

more nodes and points with shear jumps.

Method (I): Interpolation by Shears of Four or Six Nodes for a Single

Shear Jump

Fig 2 shows a finite element meshing in which five elements join at

node P which is neither a support nor having a joint load acting on it.

Originally, the shear stress of P is conventionally taken as the mean

value of the stresses at the same node at the elements A, B, C, D and

E, ie S P = (S PA + S PB + S PC + S PD + S PE)/5. If S PB and S PC are significantly

different from the others constituting a shear jump (likely due to the

presence of the triangular element, but can also occur in an assembly

of quadrilateral elements of large variations in geometric sizes), then

S P calculated will not correctly represent the actual shear stress at the

node and should be modified. Under this circumstance, S P should be

re-calculated by interpolating the shear stresses at nodes K1, K2, K3

and K4 which are at farther ends of the adjoining elements, provided

that these values are checked to be reasonable. For the interpolation,

the following equation is proposed:

If there are more node numbers available for interpolation, say six, the

equation proposed becomes:

In Eqn (1) and Eqn (2), x and y are the coordinates of the nodes. By

substituting the known values of the far end nodes, the A coefficients can

be determined and Eqn (1) or Eqn (2) can be used to solve for the shear

stress at P. The approach is applicable to the shear stresses components

on the faces parallel to both the x and y directions conventionally adopted

in analysis which can be determined separately.

Method (II): Interpolation by Mean Values along x-direction and

y-direction for Shear Jumps across a Few Nodes in Proximity

Since most of the engineers are still using the IB element in Hong

Kong in their daily analysis and design works, two simple methods

are proposed to overcome the shear jump problem (as described in

the previous paragraphs, and details are given by Law and Cheng,

2006) or similar problem in this paper. Shear jump is more critical as

shear involves derivative of the moment, and the problem will be more

pronounced if the derivative is carried out over a small region (moment

jump and torsion jump are less critical though they are also identified

by the authors from an internal study). Method (I) is suitable for a case

that only a few nodes give abnormal results (shear jumps) in the values

13

From Fig 3, an example is shown for the use of method (II) to interpolate

the shear stresses of P33 , P34 , P43 and P44 from the known and more

reasonable shear forces from Kij . Therefore the value of shear forces

from Kij must first be checked to be reasonable, otherwise a finer grid of

finite elements should be used instead. In method (II), the value of shear

force Pij is calculated by the mean value of interpolation along x-direction

and y-direction from the known points Kij. By considering the calculation

of the shear stresses on the faces of the elements perpendicular to the

x-direction, they can be expressed as follows:

SX(x) = A0 + A1x + A2x2 + A3x3

for six reasonable points Kij (4)

Kong (Law and Cheng, 2006)

can be calculated and Eqn (3) or Eqn (4) can be used to calculate

stresses at nodes which are dubious. Similarly for shear stresses on the

faces of the elements on the faces of the elements perpendicular to the

y-direction, it is shown as:

SY(y) = B0 + B1y + B2y2 + B3y3

for six reasonable points Kij (6)

0

1

building project in which a 700 mm thick raft footing with plan shape

shown in Fig 4 has been analysed with the use of the IB elements (Law

and Cheng, 2006; Cheng and Law, 2008). The shear

jumps will be corrected by the method (I) and (II) in

this paper. In the analysis, the structure is modelled

as an assembly of plate bending elements by the

programme SAFE which employs IB elements. The

support to the raft footing is modelled as surface

supports by uniform Winklers spring. A shear jump

is found in the location at coordinate (23.985,

7.725), where there is a very high shear forces by the

programme SAFE (employing IB element) as shown in

Jump Identified (Law and Cheng, 2006)

X = 23.75

X = 23.985

X = 24

X = 24.103

X = 24.23

Y = 7.9

28.511

373.729

457.633

256.585

1,515.668

Y = 7.771

-108.891

439.227

1,420.216

-1,362.12

1,217.982

Y = 7.739

-329.734

21,409.07

24,517.96

-1,684.63

-86.422

Y = 7.725

-1,217.07

77,918.23

57,522.08

-425.255

93.367

Y = 7.7

-648.822

11,662.24

12,376.36

157.152

16.887

Y = 7.6

11.977

-1,223.56

-554.453

960.752

198.497

Table 1 The Numerical Values of VXX before Correction; X,Y Indicate Coordinates of Locations

14

sharply along both x-direction and y-direction

despite the absence of point loads or supports at

these locations, indicating errors occured.

The shear stresses VXX (averaged over the elements

joined at each node) around the location (23.985,

7.725) are shown in Fig 5 and Table 1, and the

corresponding results along x-direction and

y-direction are indicated in Fig 6. In comparison,

the method (I) and (II) are used to correct the values

of shear stresses as shown in Fig 6. The values

after correction are more reasonable than before

Y = 7.9

X = 23.75

X = 23.985

X = 24

X = 24.103

X = 24.23

28.511

373.729

457.633

256.585

1,515.668

Y = 7.771

-108.891

439.227

1,420.216

-1,362.12

1,217.982

Y = 7.739

-329.734

-963.822

-464.462

-1,684.63

-86.422

Y = 7.725

-1,217.07

-449.238

75.1095

-425.255

93.367

Y = 7.7

-648.822

-196.528

306.103

157.152

16.887

Y = 7.6

11.977

-1,223.56

-554.453

960.752

198.497

Y = 7.9

-114.95

86.672

393.674

565.854

296.399

jump is eliminated. Thus the two methods are good

and effective in solving the problem of shear jump.

Even though this approach is tedious and requires

engineering judgment and the presence of good

results adjacent to the problematic location, it is

nevertheless a simple method to overcome the

unreasonable shear jump problem as discussed by

Law and Cheng (2006) and Cheng and Law (2008).

Order Shear Deformable Plate

can only be applied to the condition that the

mesh is relatively simple and accurate results

are available near the problematic locations. To overcome such

limitations, an improved pseudo higher order plate element which is

free of the shear jump problem is developed in this section. A number

of successful four-node quadrilateral Mindlin thick plate elements have

been developed in recent years. However, there are still many practical

cases in which the modern thick plate elements cannot perform well. A

quadrilateral PLATE-8 pseudo-high order element is developed with a

formulation based on four corner nodes and four mid-side nodes which

can perform very well even for a coarse mesh (Cheng and Law, 2008).

In the PLATE-8 element, the four mid-side nodes have been absorbed

(statically condensed) into the four corner nodes in the formulation of

the stiffness matrix. To further increase the accuracy, a centre node is

added to form a new pseudo-higher order element. It is well known that

a nine node element can perform much better than an eight (or lesser)

node element even when the element is highly distorted (Zienkiewicz

and Taylor, 2005). The advantage of the nine node element will be

shown in the latter sections.

Table 2 The Numerical Values of Corrected VXX ; X,Y indicate Coordinates of Locations

The rectangular plate of corner nodes 1, 2, 3, 4; mid-side nodes 5, 6,

7, 8 and a centre node 9; side lengths 2a and 2b is indicated in Fig 9.

In the figure, the coordinate system is x and y as shown whilst x and h

y

x

are the normalised values where

= x and

= h. The use of x and

b

a

h is for facilitation of mathematical manipulation. The moments (Mx

and My) are taken as positive when they act in the directions along the

positive x and y axes which is the popular convention adopted in finite

element analysis. In the mathematical formulation, the mid-side nodes

and centre node will be statically eliminated in the stiffness matrix.

Based on the Timoshenko thick beam theory (1959) as discussed by

Law and Cheng (2006), a thick and thin plate element PLATE-9 can be

formulated. The special feature about this element is that it will degenerate

to the classical thin plate element if the thickness of the plate is small.

For the plate as shown in Fig 9, the nodal displacement ae is given as:

THE HKIE TRANSACTIONS Volume 19 Number 1

15

3t (1 + m)

db =

following relations in regard to the structural behaviour of a shear

deformable beam (with end nodes i and j shown in Fig 10) are listed.

The derivations of these relations are found in Law and Cheng (2006)

and are listed as follows. They are useful in the formulation of the

proposed PLATE-9 Element.

10b + 6t2 (1 + m)

gx1 = gs12

gy1 = gs41

2d

gx2 = gs12

gy2 = gs23

2d

g0 =

wi +

w di dj

(8)

(13)

L j

L

gx3 = gs34

gy3 = gs23

where g0 is the shear strain in the shear deformable beam which is taken

as constant through the beam.

gx4 = gs34

d =

6t (1 + m)

r = 0.5 =

3 (1 2d)

2L

gy4 = gs41

wi

3 (1 2d)

2L

1 3

1 3

wj + + d i + + dj

4 4 (9)

4 4

gx

g =

gy

(14)

0

where

(15)

0

0

0

0

gy = gy1N1 + gy2N2 + gy3N3 + gy4N4

1

1

1

1

given by:

wr = 0.5 =

wi + wj Li + Lj

(10)

2

2

8

8

1

1

1

0

0

0

N1 =

(1 x)(1 h); N 2 =

(1+ x)(1 h); N 3 =

(1+ x)(1 + h);

where wr = 0.5 is the translation of the beam at mid-length.

4

4

4

0

N4 =

1

4

(1 x)(1 + h)

By substituting Eqn (12) and Eqn (13) into Eqn (15) and after simplification,

= B Sae where:

B S = [B S1B S2] (16)

and

Figure 10 Symbols and Sign Convention of the Shear Deformable Beam

The stiffness matrix of the element will be the sum of the shear stiffness

matrix and the bending stiffness matrix as:

e

K = K s + K b (11)

Shear Stiffness Matrix

e

The shear stiffness matrix K s is first derived. By Eqn (8), the transverse

(out-of-plane) shear strains g along the edges 12, 23, 34, 41 are listed

as follows:

(1 h)da (1 h)da

0

2a

2

B S1 =

(1 x)db

(1 x)db

0

2b

2

(1+ h)da

2a

B S2 =

(1+ x)db

2b

(1+ h)da

2

0

(1 h)da

(1 h)da

2a

(1+ x)db

2b

(1+ h)da

(1+ h)da

2a

(1+ x)db

(1 x)db

2b

(1+ x)db

2

0

(1 x)db

2

0

da

da

5t 1 0

1 0

E

gs12 =

w1 +

w da y1 da y2

5 1 0

5Et

t.

(17)

Ds = G .

a

=

a 2

=

2(1 + m) 6 0 1 12(1 + m) 0 1

6 0 1

d

d

gs23 = b w2 + b w3 dbx2 dbx3

b

b

The stiffness matrix for shear can be obtained as:

(12)

1 1

da

d

1 1

gs34 =

w4 + a w3 da y4 da y3

e

T

T

.

K s = Bs Ds B S | J | d x d h = ab Bs Ds B S . d x d h (18)

a

a

gs41 =

db

b

w1 +

db

b

w4 dby1 day4

where da =

3t (1 + m)

;

10a + 6t2 (1 + m)

t

5

(1 + m)

+2

6

2a

16

1 1

t

(1 + m)

2a

1 1

in Eqn (11), the normal (in the vertical plane perpendicular to the edge)

and tangential rotations (in the vertical plane containing the edge) at

mid-sides nodes and the centre node 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 in Fig 9 have to

be expressed in terms of the displacements and rotations of the corner

nodes. Whilst the tangential rotation can be expressed by Eqn (9), the

nodes. So the followings can be listed:

1

y y5 =

2

1

y x8 =

(yy3 + yy4 );

x =

4a

3 (1 2db)

y6 =

(yx2 + yx3 ); y y7 =

3 (1 2da)

x5 =

(yy1 + yy2 ); y x6 =

By substituting Eqn (21) and Eqn (22) into Eqn (24), the followings are

listed:

4b

w1

w2

3 (1 2da)

w2 +

4a

3 (1 2db)

w3 +

4b

3

2

3

2

da x1 +

db y2 +

3

2

3

2

da x2

3 (1 2da)

4a

w4

3 (1 2da)

w3 +

4a

3

2

da x3 +

3

2

db y3

da x4

3 (1 2db)

y8 =

4b

w1

3 (1 2db)

w4 +

4b

3

2

dby1 +

3

2

db y4

(20)

It should be noted that the displacements of node 9 are first expressed

in terms of that of nodes 5, 6, 7 and 8 by Eqn (9) and by substituting

Eqn (20) and then using Eqn (10), it is finally expressed in terms of the

displacements of the corner nodes.

3 (1 2db )

x9 =

w1 +

8b

3

4

3 a(1 2db )

16b

db x1

y1

3 (1 2db )

8b

w2

1 3

1 3

3 a(1 2db )

3 (1 2db )

y2

w3 + + db x3

+ + db x2 +

8 4

8 4

16b

8b

3 a(1 2db )

16b

y3 +

3 (1 2db )

8b

1 3

3 a(1 2db )

w4 + + db x4 +

y4

8 4

16b

y9 =

+

8a

3 b(1 2da)

16a

w1

3 b(1 2da)

x2 +

16a

+

3

4

x1

3 (1 2da )

8a

w3

3 b(1 2da )

16a

(22)

The shape functions of the nine node element can be listed as:

=

1

4

1

4

xh(1 x)(1 h) N 5 =

1

4

xh(1 + x )(1 h) N 6 =

xh(1 + x)(1 + h) N 7 =

1

4

1

2

1

2

xh(1 x )(1 + h) N 8 =

1

2

(1 x )h (1 + h)

(23)

i=1

i=1

3 a(1 2db )

N9 3 (1 2db )

w1

N9 x1 +

4b

16b

2

N 3 (1 2db )

N 1 3

N

N1 + 5 + N8 + 9 + db y1 + N6 + 9

w2

2

4b

2 4 2

2

3 a(1 2db )

16b

N5

N9 x2 + N2 +

N 1 3

+ N6 + 9 + db y2

2 4 2

N

N 1 3

N3 + 7 + N6 + 9 + db y3 N8 + N9 3 (1 2db ) w

4

4

2

2

2

2

4b

3 a(1 2db )

16b

N9 x4 + N4 +

N 1 3

+ N8 + 9 + db y4

2 4 2

2

N7

(26)

will increase the accuracy of the solution, and is better than the classical

Q8 Mindlin plate element (Zienkiewicz, 1991) and the pseudo 8 element

by Law and Cheng (2006) in many different real cases.

kx

k = ky

kxy

yx

yy

y

y

y

x

x

y

(27)

Ni yxi ; yy = Ni y yi

(25)

x(1 x )(1 h )

The nodal rotations for the pseudo nine node element are determined

by the classical element shape function as:

yx =

(1 x )h (1 h) N 9 = (1 x )(1 h )

N

3 (1 2da)

N7 + 9 w +

4

2

4a

16a

N9 y3 +

x(1 + x )(1 h )

3 b(1 2da )

y = N8 +

x3

1 3

1 3

3 (1 2da )

3 b(1 2da)

w4 +

x4 + + da y4

+ + da y3

8 4

8 4

8a

16a

N1

N

2

N3

N4

3 (1 2da)

N

N 1 3

N

N7 + 9 w + N3 + 6 + N7 + 9 + da x3

3

4a

2

2 4 2

2

3 a(1 2db )

N 3 (1 2db)

N9 x3 +

w3

N6 + 9

16b

4b

2

1 3

3 (1 2da)

+ + da y1 +

w2

8 4

8a

da y2

16a

3 (1 2da)

N

N5 + 9 w +

2

4a

2

N9 y1

N 1 3

N

3 b(1 2da )

N4 + 8 + N7 + 9 + da x4 +

N9 y4

2 4 2

2

16a

(21)

3 (1 2da)

3 b(1 2da )

N 1 3

N

N1 + 8 + N5 + 9 + da x1

2 4 2

2

N 1 3

3 b(1 2da )

N

N2 + 6 + N5 + 9 + da x2 +

N9 y2

2 4 2

16a

2

x7 =

N

3 (1 2da)

N5 + 9 w +

1

2

4a

(24)

yx h

yx 1 yy

yx

yy x

yy

.

.

.

,

=

=

etc

=

=

h y

h b

y

x

x x

x

Using

and by appropriately differentiating Eqn (25) and Eqn (26), the B matrix

for bending as equated by k = B Bae can be presented as B B = [B B1 B B2

B B3 B B4] where:

17

B B1 =

3(1 2da) x (1 h )

4a

(1 h)(1 3x + 6dax)

4a

3(1 2db) (1 x )h

4b2

8a

(1 x)(1 3h + 6dbh)

8b2

4b

8ab

8b

8a

4a

8a2

3(1 2da) x (1 h )

4a2

B B2 =

4b2

a

b

8ab

B B3 =

8b2

(1+ x)[1 3x 6da(1 x) ] + 3(1 2db ) x (1 h )

8b

8a

4a

4b

2

4b2

4a

3a(1 2db) (1 x 2)h

8b2

8a

4b

8ab

8b

8a

4a2

3(1 2db) (1 x )h

B B4 =

4b2

a

b

8ab

M

x

3

Et

M = D k and D =

y

b

b

12(1 m2)

Mxy

4a

8a

(1 x)(1+ 3h 6dbh)

8b2

4b

8b

8a

1 m 0

1 0

m

1m

0

(28)

(29)

b a

1 1

1 1

e

T

T

T

K b = B B DbB B dxdy = B B DbB B| J | d x d h = ab B B DbB B d x d h

(30)

b a

1 1

1 1

e

In this way, the user will only need to deal with four node element which

has no unstable behaviour of ordinary higher element as mentioned

previously, but the internal computation is actually based on a nine

node element with very high accuracy.

Numerical Examples

For demonstration of the performance of the PLATE-9 element, a cantilever

plate element of width 1.8 m, length 1.5 m, thickness 0.2 m formulated

in accordance with Eqn (28) to Eqn (30) is fixed at two adjacent nodes

(Nodes 1 and 2) as shown in Fig 11. Two point loads of 150 kN are

acting at the two free corner nodes, Nodes 3 and 4 at Case (1) and

additional moments are added in Case (2). For such a simple case, it

is surprising to find that the popular plate elements available in those

popular commercial finite element programmes cannot perform well.

This plate is analysed by the PLATE-8 Element and PLATE-9 Element. As

shown in Fig 12, the moment contours for the moment in the direction of

the cantilever span of the PLATE-9 Element are curved. By the restraints

18

PLATE Q-9 Element as Compared with PLATE Q-8 Node Element

of the limited power of the shape functions of the PLATE-8 Element, only

linear variation of stress can be demonstrated whilst that of the PLATE-9

can demonstrate non-linear variations even only one element is used.

The differences in effects are more pronounced in Case (2) where there

are end moments applied at the free corners.

For comparison purpose, an approximate analytical solution has been

derived. The cantilever slab is treated as a thin plate and analysed by

the Ritz W Method with its displacement function as:

n

w(x, y) = c i fi (x, y)

(31)

i=1

deflection curve can be expressed as:

w(x, y) = X(x) . Y(y) (32)

where D =

Et

12(1 m)

2w

Mx = D

+m

2

2

2w

w

w

; My = D 2 + m 2 and

2

y

x

y

2

Mxy = D (1 m)

Figure 12(a) Moment along Span of Cantilever for Case (1) of Figure 11

PLATE Q-8 on the Left and PLATE Q-9 on the Right

w

x y2

The external potential energy for Case (1) of Fig 11 will be:

V = Pw(0, b) + Pw(a, b) and for Case (2)

(36)

w

w

w

V = Pw(0, b) + MX x

+ MX x

+ Pw(a, b) + MY x

y (0, b)

x (0, b)

x (a, b)

+ MY x

w

y

(37)

(a, b)

where P, MX and MY are the applied loads and moments at the free

corners. To minimise the total energy = U + V, differentiation is

performed with respect to the coefficients c1 and c2 in Eqn (33) such that:

Figure 12(b) Moment along Span of Cantilever for Case (2) of Figure 11

PLATE Q-8 on the Left and PLATE Q-9 on the Right

where x and y are coordinates defined in Fig 13 and the functions X(x)

and Y(y) are:

x

2x3

x4

X(x) = c1 + c2 3 + 4

(33)

A

A

A

3y2

y3

Y(y) = 2 3

B

B

The Ritz W Method is carried out with minimisation of the sum of the

internal energy and external potential energy. For the plate structure,

the former is the sum of the bending and twisting energies given as:

y x

y x

y x

1 2

1 2

1 2

U=

M

dxdy

+

M

dxdy

+

M

dxdy

(35)

x

y

xy

2D y

2D

2D

y1 x1

(38)

can be solved for the Cases (1) and (2) of Fig 11. The complete deflection

and moment fields can be obtained. The moment contours along the Y

axis are plotted in Fig 14.

(34)

The X(x) function is chosen such that symmetry can be achieved at the

axis x = A/2 and the Y(y) is in fact the deflection shape of a cantilever

beam. c1 and c2 are coefficients to be determined. A higher order function

for Y(y) has been tried but it is found that the coefficients from 4th order

upwards are zero from Ritz energy minimisation analyses. Ge and Liu

(1999) and Yuan (1993) have demonstrated that for cantilever slab under

uniformly distributed load, the use of Eqn (32) will be adequate when

compared with infinite series solution (error around 2%).

= 0 and

= 0

c1

c2

y1 x1

x1

Figure 14 Moment along Span of Y-axis for Cases (1) and (2) of Figure

11 by the Ritz W Method with Case (1) on the Left and Case (2) on the

Right

Since only one element is used for the present study, the performance

of the element near location with high variation in internal forces is

clearly illustrated. It can be readily seen that the structural behaviour

of PLATE-9 element is closer to the reality than that of the PLATE-8

element. Finally, the shear jump problem in the raft footing (Fig 4) as

discussed in the foregoing is re-analysed by the PLATE-9 element with

results as shown in Fig 15. It is noticed that the unreasonable shear

jump of nearly 4,000 kN/m at x = 23.985m by the IB element does

not appear, demonstrating the good accuracy of the PLATE-9 element

for a problem with highly distorted mesh.

Numerical Examples

for comparison with that obtained from the proposed element PLATE-9.

As SAFE does not allow analysis of single plate element, the smallest

practical mesh of 4 x 4 is used. For more detailed analysis, higher

degree of meshing of 20 x 20 has also been tried. The moment per

unit width along the direction of the cantilever span are plotted in Figs

16(a) and 16(b).

19

Although the moment stress contours follow a similar pattern with that

of TMQ-9 element and that by series (demonstrating a well-known

phenomenon that results from finite element analysis can converge to

accurate values at fine meshing), SAFE gives high stress concentration at

nodes where there are applied moments. The stress concentration effect

becomes more pronounced with the increasing degrees of meshing which

is also a common phenomenon in finite element analysis. In comparison,

the proposed plate element PLATE-9 is a simple quadrilateral element

that can give accurate results even at a single element configuration.

Similar analysis by the famous large-scale finite element programme

ANSYS has also been carried out for the present problem, with the DKT

plate element. When four DKT elements are used, the moment contours

as shown in Fig 17 are practically straight lines without indication of any

corner effects. Since the results are poor, different meshes have been

tried, and it is found that a mesh with a minimum of 64 elements is

required before the curvature of the moment contours as shown in Fig 18

becomes obvious. The results in Fig 18 are also similar to the results in

Fig 12 by PLATE-9 and Fig 14 by the analytical solution by series. From

these results, it can be concluded that PLATE-9 has the best performance

as it can, such that by using one element, yield results similar to that

with 64 DKT elements in ANSYS with many elements.

Many thick plates have been developed (Zienkeiwicz and Taylor, 2005)

for the past 20 years. The current formulation of PLATE-9 possesses

Figure 15 Shear Jump Problem as Discussed by Law and Cheng (2006)

and Re-analysed by PLATE-9 Element

Using four Elements

Figure 16(a) Moment along Span (Y-axis) for Cases (1) and (2) of Figure

11 by the SAFE of Meshing of 4 x 4 with Case (1) on the Left and Case

(2) on the Right

Figure 16(b) Moment along Span (Y-axis) for Cases (1) and (2) of Figure

11 by the SAFE of Meshing 20 x 20 with Case (1) on the Left and Case

(2) on the Right

20

Using 64 Elements

artificial compensations in form of bubble function (Wilson and Taylor,

1973) or stabilisation matrices (Hughes, 1987). Even though the resulting

matrices from the present formulations are more complicated in the form,

the present formulation is easier to understand as compared with most

of the modern thick plate formulations. The PLATE-9 element can be

used in a way similar to any other classical thick plate elements with

only minor increase in computation effort as most of the computer time

is devoted to solution of stiffness matrix equations rather than stiffness

matrix formulations. When comparing the differences between PLATE-8

and PLATE-9, the only major difference is the B-matrix. For PLATE-8, some

of the entries in the B-matrix are zero while all entries are non-zero in

the B-matrix for PLATE-9. The increase in the computer time for such

a difference is minimal, but there is a much better improvement in the

accuracy of results. Hence, PLATE-9 is preferred to PLATE-8 for general

cases. The total time used by the IB element and PLATE-9 for a mesh

with 16,641 nodes is almost the same (which is 55 sec) by a computer

using 2.83 GHz Intel Xeon. So, without using extra computer time or

memory, a much better accuracy can be achieved by using PLATE-9

which is beneficial to complicated problems.

The proposed methods to overcome the shear jump problems are

considered straightforward and easy to apply, under the demonstration

by the worked examples in the paper. Furthermore, as the errors arisen

from the problem are localised, the interpolation technique (with the

use of high order polynomials) employed by the proposed methods is

considered appropriate and can yield good and correct results.

The PLATE-9 element developed by the authors in this paper is in

fact a further development of the PLATE-8 element proposed by the

authors (Law and Cheng, 2006; Cheng and Law, 2008). As similar to

the PLATE-8 element, PLATE-9 is formulated by energy minimisation.

The formulation of both is more direct to engineers as compared with

other elements employing bubble functions, substitution shear strain or

stabilisation matrices in their formulation. Nevertheless, with the increased

order of polynomials in the formulation of the shape functions, much

better performance than PLATE-8 in terms of internal forces change,

edge effort, and rate of convergence has been proven in the worked

examples as demonstrated in the foregoing sections of this paper and

in comparison with the Ritz W Method. Even very accurate solutions can

be effected under a coarse meshing. In addition, even the formulation of

the stiffness matrix is more complicated, there is no significant increase

in computation time as compared with the IB elements with the same

meshing. Summing up, it is more worthwhile to adopt this PLATE-9

element in finite element analysis in the future.

In addition, the current PLATE-8 and PLATE-9 elements differ from

the conventional eight or nine node elements by having the mid-side

nodes and centre nodes statically condensed into the corner nodes.

(Conventional eight or nine node element refer to an element with all

the eight and nine nodes participated in the final stiffness matrix, each

yielding three number of degree of freedom.) Such static condensation

has the merit of retaining the high order of polynomial functions in

the formulation of the shape functions (thus higher accuracy) but with

considerable reduction in the final stiffness matrix of an element.

That is the degree of freedom of a conventional eight or nine node

elements that falls from 24 or 27 to 12. Obviously, computation time

will be significantly reduced. In addition, instability may occur in these

conventional eight or nine node elements if their mid-side nodes are

restrained and have external application of loads. In order to cut short

the computation time and avoid instability problems, such condensation

is much preferred in finite element formulation.

auto-meshing by which the designers ability to mesh the structure is

very limited. Thus the designer may have to examine the results carefully

and identify any anomalies and try re-meshing if required.

Acknowledgements

This work is supported by the project Enhanced analysis and design of

thick plate structures 87T3 by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

References

1. Babuska, I., Scapolia, T., Benchmark computation and performance evaluation

for a rhombic plate bending problem. International Journal for Numerical

Methods in Engineering. Volume 28, pp155-181. (1989).

2. Bathe, K.J., Dvorkin, A Four node plate bending element based on Mindlin/

Ressiner plate theory and mixed interpolation. International Journal for Numerical

Methods in Engineering. Volume 21, pp367-383. (1985).

3. Cheng, Y.M., Flexible Pile Cap Analysis, internal report, Hong Kong Polytechnic

University. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. (2003).

4. Cheng, Y.M., Law, C.W., Some Problems in Analysis and Design of Thin/

Thick Plate. The HKIE Transactions. Volume 12, No 1, pp1-8. The Hong Kong

Institution of Engineers. Hong Kong (2005).

5. Cheng, Y.M., Law, C.W., Problems with a popular thick plate element and the

development of an improved thick plate element. Structural Engineering and

Mechanics. Volume 29, pp327-338. (2008).

6. Computers and Structures Inc 2002, Safe 7.0 Users and verification manual.

(2002).

7. Ge, X.S., Liu, S., Bending and stability of cantilever rectangular plants. Journal

of computational mechanics (Chinese Ed). Volume 16, No 3, pp362-365. (1999).

8. Hughes, T.J.R., The Finite Element Method. Prentice Hall. (1987).

9. Hughes, T.J.R., Hinton, E., Finite Element Methods for Plates and Shell Structures.

Volume 1. Pineridge Press. (1986).

10. Ibrahimbegovic, A., Plate quadrilateral finite elements with incompatible

mode.Communications in Applied Numerical Methods. Volume8,pp497-504.

(1992).

11. Ibrahimbegovic, A., Quadrilateral Finite Elements for Analysis of Thick and

Thin Plates. Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering. Volume

10, pp195-209. (1993).

12. Jirousek, J., Wroblewski, A., Szybinski, B., A new 12 d.o.f. quadrilateral element

for analysis of thick and thin plates. International Journal for Numerical Methods

in Engineering. Volume 38, pp2619-2638. (1995).

13. Katili, I., A new discrete Kirchhoff-Mindlin element based on Mindlin-Reissner

plate theory and assumed shear strain fields Part I: an extended DKT element

for thick-plate bending analysis. International Journal for Numerical Methods

in Engineering. Volume 36, pp1859-1883. (1993).

14. Law, C.W., Cheng, Y.M., Improved Thick Plate Analysis and Design. The HKIE

Transactions. Volume 13, No 2, pp49-58. The Hong Kong Institution of

Engineers. Hong Kong (2006).

15. Reddy, J.N., Theory and Analysis of Elastic Plates. Taylor and Francis. (2000).

16. Reismann, H., Elastic Plates, Theory and Application. John Wiley. (1988).

17. Sze, K.Y., Three-dimensional continuum finite element models for plate/shell

analysis. Progress in Structural Engineering and Materials. Volume 4, pp400407. (2002).

18. Timoshenko, S., Krieger, W., Theory of Plates and Shells. McGraw-Hill. (1959).

19. Wang, C.M., Reddy, J.N., Lee, K.H., Shear deformable beams and plates. Elsevier.

(2000).

20. Wilson, E.L., Taylor, R.L., Doherty, W., Ghaboussi, J., Incompatible Displacement

Models. Numerical and Computer Methods in Structural Mechanics. Academic

Press. (1973).

21. Yuan, Y.W., A polynomial method for solving the problems for lateral instability

of cantilever plates. Applied Mathematics and Mechanics (English Ed). Volume

14, No 2, pp163-168. (1993).

22. Zienkiewicz, O.C., Taylor, R.L., The Finite Element Method, Volume 1&2, 6th

edition. Butterworth and Heinemann. (2005).

element analysis are often originated from poor meshing of the structure if

the performance of the element employed is not good enough. Therefore,

as a general rule, rectangular elements of large length breadth ratios

should not be used if possible. In addition, triangular elements joining

rectangular elements do sometimes give erratic results and should also be

THE HKIE TRANSACTIONS Volume 19 Number 1

21

C W LAW BSc MSc MIStructE MHKIE MICE

Email: cw.law@housingauthority.gov.hk

Ir Law received his BSc and MSc degrees from the

University of Hong Kong in 1978 and 1995 respectively.

He obtained his professional qualifications in 1982. He

is currently serving as a Senior Structural Engineer in the

Housing Department of the HKSAR Government. Before

joining the Housing Department, he worked as a Senior

Engineer with Hyder Consultants. Throughout his career,

he has been engaged in design and administration of

various projects involving tall buildings, deep basements,

transfer structures and studies of various aspects

of theories and methods in reinforced concrete structures analysis and design

including the finite element method, concrete shrinkage and creep, ductility etc. He

has published 13 papers in both the HKIE Transactions and international journals.

CEng R.P.E.

Email: ceymchen@polyu.edu.hk

Ir Dr Cheng received his BSc, MPhil and PhD degrees

from the University of Hong Kong in 1981, 1990 and

1992 respectively. He has worked on the design and

construction of MTRC Island Line project, Eastern

Harbour Crossing project and Island Eastern Corridor

project and has worked in consultant, contractor and

client sector before joining the university. Currently,

his research interests include slope stability, pile

foundation, finite element/distinct element method,

plate analysis on pile cap and transfer plate. Ir Dr Cheng is currently an Associate

Professor of the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, the Hong Kong

Polytechnic University.

22

Y YANG MSc

Email: yangy30@hotmail.com

Mr Yang obtained his masters degree from the

University of Science and Technology, Beijing and is

currently a PhD research student at the Hong Kong

Polytechnic University. His research areas include

both geotechnical engineering as well as structural

engineering.

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