# The stiffness of an FEA model depends on the mesh resolution?

• feynman1
In summary, the stiffness of an FEA model decreases with a refined mesh because the nodes become less accurate.
feynman1
As is well known, the stiffness of an FEA model decreases with a refined mesh. What's the rigorous derivation of this?

Why not construct the stiffness matrix for $$\frac{d^2u}{dx^2} = -f(x)$$ for $x \in (0,1)$ using elements $[nh, h(n+1)]$ with basis functions $$\begin{split} f_0 : [0,h] \to \mathbb{R} : x &\mapsto 1 - \frac{x}{h} \\ f_1 : [0,h] \to \mathbb{R} : x &\mapsto \frac{x}{h} \end{split}$$ and see what happens as you reduce $h$?

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feynman1
feynman1 said:
As is well known, the stiffness of an FEA model decreases with a refined mesh. What's the rigorous derivation of this?
Euhrm... sources?

Considering that the stiffness of the construction decreasing with mesh refinement would be really silly, do you mean the stiffness of the differential equation? But even in this case I'm not sure about this, why would this be true in general? So again: sources?

Instead of an admonishment I will provide a tangential and perhaps incorrect annswer.
I recommend Galileo Galilei "Two New Sciences" where one of which is scale invariance and the strength of materials . To my mind these arguments point directly quantum mechanics which set the scale by which big and small are tto be measured
I believe the examination of FEA issues withion scale of the simulation are really a recapitulation of Galileo's arguments about his brave new world. Read the original!

.

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berkeman
hutchphd said:
Instead of an admonishment I will provide a tangential and perhaps incorrect annswer.
I recommend Galileo Galilei "Two New Sciences" where one of which is scale invariance and the strength of materials . To my mind these arguments point directly quantum mechanics which set the scale by which big and small are tto be measured
I believe the examination of FMEA issues withion scale of the simulation are really a recapitulation of Galileo's arguments about his brave new world. Read the original!

.

This answer and the relation to the OP's question is completely lost to me...

Arjan82 said:
This answer and the relation to the OP's question is completely lost to me...

My apologies. I was trying to be not very complete on purpose. I do not know the exact issues with FEA to which the OP alludes but my instinct is that they are related to issues of scale invariance vis. Galileo's discussion of scaling the size of animals and how the bones must modify shape). If one is not very careful issues of absolute scale can be changed with mesh size and subtle errors result. That Calileo fellow was pretty astute.

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Check the "Finite Element Procedures" by Bathe and "The Finite Element Method" by Hughes. There are mathematical proofs of that in these books.

bob012345, feynman1 and hutchphd
Arjan82 said:
Or does the OP mean shear locking?
no not shear locking in particular, though shear locking is due to stiffness being too high

FEAnalyst said:
Check the "Finite Element Procedures" by Bathe and "The Finite Element Method" by Hughes. There are mathematical proofs of that in these books.
many thanks, could you tell which chapter in Bathe's book?

feynman1 said:
many thanks, could you tell which chapter in Bathe's book?
It’s in the chapter 4.3. Convergence of analysis results. Especially paragraph 4.3.4. Properties of the Finite Element Solution.

feynman1
feynman1 said:
As is well known, the stiffness of an FEA model decreases with a refined mesh. What's the rigorous derivation of this?
I recently worked through the derivation of the FEA model (with the help of @pasmith , thanks) and I know the term stiffness matrix goes back to mechanical engineering application dealing with the literal stiffness of materials but what do you mean when you say stiffness of an FEA model decreases. What is decreasing?

For example I derived the node equations for the differential equation

$$\frac{d^2u(x)}{dx^2} = -f(x)$$

I got for linear test functions ##N_1(x) = \frac{x_2 - x}{\Delta{x}}## and ##N_2(x) = \frac{x - x_1}{\Delta{x}}##

$$\frac{1}{\Delta{x}}\begin{pmatrix} 1 & -1 \\ -1 & 1 \end{pmatrix} \begin{pmatrix} u_1 \\ u_2 \end{pmatrix} \\ = \begin{pmatrix} - u_1' \\ u_2' \end{pmatrix} + \begin{pmatrix} \int_{x_1}^{x_2} N_1(x)f(x)\,dx \\ \int_{x_1}^{x_2} N_2(x)f(x)\,dx \end{pmatrix}$$

So, as ##\Delta{x}## gets smaller, in what sense is the stiffness being reduced?

feynman1 and berkeman
bob012345 said:
I recently worked through the derivation of the FEA model (with the help of @pasmith , thanks)

It sounds like it could be an interesting thread...

bob012345 said:
what do you mean when you say stiffness of an FEA model decreases. What is decreasing?
What the OP meant is that FEM always converges from below (displacements and stresses increase with mesh refinement). This is proven in the aforementioned books, based on strain energy which is always underestimated in FEM.

bob012345
FEAnalyst said:
What the OP meant is that FEM always converges from below (displacements and stresses increase with mesh refinement). This is proven in the aforementioned books, based on strain energy which is always underestimated in FEM.
Like this simple example of a 1D temperature profile of a rod of length 10 units where the red is the analytic solution, the points are the FEM numerical solution and the lines are the linear interpolations between the node values?

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bob012345 said:
Like this simple example of a 1D temperature profile of a rod of length 10 units where the red is the analytic solution, the points are the FEM numerical solution and the lines are the linear interpolations between the node values?
Not really, such graphs are in fact commonly used to illustrate the concept of discretization. The plot showing what we discuss here (convergence from below) may look like this (from "A First Course in the Finite Element Method" by Logan):

bob012345
FEAnalyst said:
Not really, such graphs are in fact commonly used to illustrate the concept of discretization. The plot showing what we discuss here (convergence from below) may look like this (from "A First Course in the Finite Element Method" by Logan):

View attachment 298814
If I pick one point on my curve and plot the extrapolated solution vs. the number of elements used I get this where the red line is the exact value and the points are the extrapolated values between the node points for different numbers of elements;

bob012345 said:
I recently worked through the derivation of the FEA model (with the help of @pasmith , thanks) and I know the term stiffness matrix goes back to mechanical engineering application dealing with the literal stiffness of materials but what do you mean when you say stiffness of an FEA model decreases. What is decreasing?

For example I derived the node equations for the differential equation

$$\frac{d^2u(x)}{dx^2} = -f(x)$$

I got for linear test functions ##N_1(x) = \frac{x_2 - x}{\Delta{x}}## and ##N_2(x) = \frac{x - x_1}{\Delta{x}}##

$$\frac{1}{\Delta{x}}\begin{pmatrix} 1 & -1 \\ -1 & 1 \end{pmatrix} \begin{pmatrix} u_1 \\ u_2 \end{pmatrix} \\ = \begin{pmatrix} - u_1' \\ u_2' \end{pmatrix} + \begin{pmatrix} \int_{x_1}^{x_2} N_1(x)f(x)\,dx \\ \int_{x_1}^{x_2} N_2(x)f(x)\,dx \end{pmatrix}$$

So, as ##\Delta{x}## gets smaller, in what sense is the stiffness being reduced?
same question from me, how to see the stiffness being reduced?

FEAnalyst said:
It’s in the chapter 4.3. Convergence of analysis results. Especially paragraph 4.3.4. Properties of the Finite Element Solution.
many thanks really helpful, though it's not explained 100%, for all it says is that the solution is underestimated without saying why.

feynman1 said:
many thanks really helpful, though it's not explained 100%, for all it says is that the solution is underestimated without saying why.
I didn't have time to go through the whole section carefully but I think that the explanation lies in the equations presented there and the text that you are talking about is just a comment to these equations.

FEAnalyst said:
I didn't have time to go through the whole section carefully but I think that the explanation lies in the equations presented there and the text that you are talking about is just a comment to these equations.
I'm now looking for a comprehensible 2D example of a heated plate that I can learn and teach someone using the FEM analysis. I've looked but everything is either too complex and theoretical or uses triangular elements rather than square element which I need for a simple example by hand. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

feynman1
I suggest that as an example you choose a problem that can be solved analytically and compare it to various FEM approaches . Start in 1D ?. Do this several times.

hutchphd said:
I suggest that as an example you choose a problem that can be solved analytically and compare it to various FEM approaches . Start in 1D ?. Do this several times.
Thanks. That's a good suggestion but we did a couple different 1D examples both analytically solvable and now the student wants to see a 2D version.

So go to 2D? Rectangular should be easy. Maybe circular? Hexagonal? (I don't know how nasty this will get). Nonorthogonal axis can be tricky.

hutchphd said:
So go to 2D? Rectangular should be easy. Maybe circular? Hexagonal? (I don't know how nasty this will get). Nonorthogonal axis can be tricky.
I know. I want to avoid anything like those boundary value problems in Grad school.

Life is messy. Physics a little less so.

bob012345
pasmith said:
Why not construct the stiffness matrix for $$\frac{d^2u}{dx^2} = -f(x)$$ for $x \in (0,1)$ using elements $[nh, h(n+1)]$ with basis functions $$\begin{split} f_0 : [0,h] \to \mathbb{R} : x &\mapsto 1 - \frac{x}{h} \\ f_1 : [0,h] \to \mathbb{R} : x &\mapsto \frac{x}{h} \end{split}$$ and see what happens as you reduce $h$?
what can we imply from this derivation?

bob012345 said:
I'm now looking for a comprehensible 2D example of a heated plate that I can learn and teach someone using the FEM analysis. I've looked but everything is either too complex and theoretical or uses triangular elements rather than square element which I need for a simple example by hand. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Check "A First Course in Finite Elements" book by Fish. You will find such example there.

bob012345

## 1. What is the significance of mesh resolution in FEA models?

The mesh resolution in FEA models refers to the density of the mesh used to represent the geometry of the structure being analyzed. It is an important factor as it affects the accuracy and reliability of the results obtained from the analysis.

## 2. How does the mesh resolution affect the stiffness of an FEA model?

The stiffness of an FEA model is directly affected by the mesh resolution. A finer mesh with smaller element sizes can capture more details and irregularities in the structure, resulting in a more accurate representation of the stiffness. On the other hand, a coarser mesh with larger element sizes may not capture these details and can lead to a less accurate stiffness value.

## 3. Can a very fine mesh resolution lead to unrealistic stiffness values in an FEA model?

Yes, using an excessively fine mesh resolution can lead to unrealistic stiffness values in an FEA model. This is because the model may capture very small features or imperfections that do not exist in the actual structure, resulting in an artificially high stiffness value.

## 4. Is there an optimal mesh resolution for FEA models?

There is no one optimal mesh resolution for all FEA models. The optimal resolution depends on the complexity and size of the structure being analyzed, as well as the accuracy required for the results. It is important to perform a mesh sensitivity analysis to determine the appropriate mesh resolution for a specific FEA model.

## 5. How can I improve the stiffness accuracy in my FEA model?

To improve the stiffness accuracy in an FEA model, it is important to use a mesh resolution that is appropriate for the structure being analyzed. Additionally, using higher-order elements, such as quadratic or cubic elements, can also improve the accuracy of the stiffness results. Performing a validation study with experimental data can also help to improve the accuracy of the stiffness values in an FEA model.

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