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Understanding 2-D Plane Stress and Strain Page 1 of 2

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Concept: Understanding 2-D Plane Stress and Strain

Understanding 2-D Plane Stress and Strain
2-D plane stress and 2-D plane strain are approximations of real loading states valid under certain conditions.
They should be selected when stresses or strains normal to the surface or cross-section of interest are Zero,
or very small compared to the in-plane stresses or strains. Nonlinear problems like contact, large
displacement analysis, or hyperelastic material significantly benefit from the 2-D idealizations. While
maintaining or significantly increasing analysis accuracy, the model size and analysis time can be reduced to
just fractions of the time an adequate 3-D model would need.

Use the 2-D plane stress model type if stresses in the analysis Z-direction (normal to the surface of interest)
can be ignored: σz=0. This is the case for flat, thin plates which are only loaded in the XY plane. In this case,
for every point Hooke’s law is then expressed as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Hooke’s Law: 2-D Plane Stress

Usually we have εz≠0 in the model, which means a 2-D stress state creates a 3-D deformation state. Just at
points where σx= – σy, we have no resulting z strain.

In 2-D plane stress analysis:

• The thickness has to be entered manually when defining shell properties for the surface(s) to be
analyzed, so different thicknesses within the model are possible.

• Material, like the thickness, has to be assigned to the shell property, not to the analyzed surface.

• Loads can be entered as usual, but they must be in-plane.

Use the 2-D plane strain model type if strains in the analysis Z-direction (normal to the cutting surface of
interest) can be ignored, εz=0. This is the case for the cross-sections within infinitely long structures, where
the z strain is suppressed by the constraint condition. Hooke’s law is then expressed as shown in Figure 2.

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Understanding 2-D Plane Stress and Strain Page 2 of 2

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• The analysis is performed on a cross-section slice of the infinitely long structure having unit thickness.

• Loads have to be entered accordingly, for example, N per mm thickness.

• No shell properties have to be defined for the surface(s). Material has to be directly assigned to the
surface(s) of the analyzed cross-section.

• If you have selected edges or curves as references in 2-D plain strain, you have to define 2-D shell
properties for them, thickness and material, and take into account rotations around z when constraining.
These elements work analogous to 3-D shells.

Hertzian contact problems like a cylinder-cylinder contact also have to be analyzed with plane strain,
not plane stress.

General Procedure for 2-D plane stress or strain model definition:

• In Creo Parametric, create a material cut in the model to obtain the cross-section of the geometry which
shall be analyzed, if necessary.

• Enter Simulate and select the desired type of idealization using the Model Setup dialog box, Advanced

• Select a Cartesian coordinate system to define the WCS (world coordinate system), valid for the 2-D
cross-section to be analyzed.

• Select all surfaces (optional curves and edges for plane strain) of the geometry.

The analyzed geometry must be in the referenced WCS XY plane. Also all user coordinate systems must
have their XY plane in this plane. Define the model type at the beginning of the work in Simulate, since
changing the model type deletes all previously defined simulation features.

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