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COMPARISON OF SOME VARIANTS OF THE FINITE STRIP METHOD FOR ANALYSIS OF COMPLEX SHELL STRUCTURES
(2000)

The subject of this paper is to explore and evaluate the semi-analytical, analytical and numerical versions of the finite strip method (FSM) for static, dynamic and stability analyses of complex thin-walled structures. Many of bridge superstructures, some roof and floor structures, reservoirs, channels, tunnels, subways, layered shells and plates etc. can be analysed by this method. In both semi-analytical and analytical variants beam eigenvalue vibration or stability functions, orthogonal polynomials, products of these functions are used as longitudinal functions of the unknowns. In the numerical FSM spline longitudinal displacement functions are implemented. In the semi-analytical and numerical FSM conventional transverse shape functions for displacements are used. In the analytical FSM the accurate function of the strip normal displacement and the plane stress function are applied. These three basic variants of the FSM are compared in quality and quantity in view to the following: basic ideas, modelling, unknowns, DOF, a kind and order of the strips, longitudinal and transverse displacement and stress functions, compatibility requirements, boundary conditions, ways for obtaining of the strip stiffness and load matrices, a kind and size of the structure stiffness matrix and its band width, mesh density, necessary number of terms in length, accuracy and convergence of the stresses and displacements, approaches for refining results, input and output data, computer resources used, application area, closeness to other methods, options for future development. Numerical example is presented. Advantages and shortcomings are pointed. Conclusions are given.

The paper describes a development of the analytical finite strip method (FSM) in displacements for linear elastic static analysis of simply supported at their transverse ends complex orthotropic prismatic shell structures with arbitrary open or closed deformable contour of the cross-section under general external loads. A number of bridge top structures, some roof structures and others are related to the studied class. By longitudinal sections the prismatic thin-walled structure is discretized to a limited number of plane straight strips which are connected continuously at their longitudinal ends to linear joints. As basic unknowns are assumed the three displacements of points from the joint lines and the rotation to these lines. In longitudinal direction of the strips the unknown quantities and external loads are presented by single Fourier series. In transverse direction of each strips the unknown values are expressed by hyperbolic functions presenting an exact solution of the corresponding differential equations of the plane straight strip. The basic equations and relations for the membrane state, for the bending state and for the total state of the finite strip are obtained. The rigidity matrix of the strip in the local and global co-ordinate systems is derived. The basic relations of the structure are given and the general stages of the analytical FSM are traced. For long structures FSM is more efficient than the classic finite element method (FEM), since the problem dimension is reduced by one and the number of unknowns decreases. In comparison with the semi-analytical FSM, the analytical FSM leads to a practically precise solution, especially for wider strips, and provides compatibility of the displacements and internal forces along the longitudinal linear joints.

The paper presents a linear static analysis on continuous orthotropic thin-walled shell structures simply supported at the transverse ends with a random deformable contour of the cross section. The external loads can be random as well. The class of this structures involves most of the bridges, scaffold bridges, some roof structures etc. A numerical example of steel continuous structures on five spans with an open contour of the cross-section has been solved. The examination of the structure has used the following two computation models: a prismatic structure consisting of isotropic strips, a plates and ribs, with considering their real interaction, and a smooth orthotropic plate equivalent to the structure in the first model. The displacements and forces of the structure characterizing its stressed and deformed condition have been determined. The results obtained from the two solutions have been analyzed. The study on the structure is made with the force method in combination with the analytical finite strip method (AFSM) in displacements. The basic system is obtained by separating the superstructure from the understructure at the places of intermediate supports and consists of two parts. The first part is a single span thin-walled prismatic shell structure; the second part presents supports (columns, space frames etc.). The connection between the superstructure and intermediate supports is made under random supporting conditions. The forces at the supporting points in the direction of the connections removed are assumed to be the basic unknowns of the force method. The solution of the superstructure has been accomplished by the AFSM in displacements. The structure is divided in only one (transverse) direction into a finite number of plain strips connected to each other in longitudinal linear nodes. The three displacements of the points on the node lines and the rotation around those lines have been assumed to be the basic unknown in each node. The boundary conditions of each strip of the basic system correspond to the simply support along the transverse ends and the restraint along the longitudinal ones. The particular strip of the basic system has been solved by the method of the single trigonometric series. The method is reduced to solving a discrete structure in displacements and restoring its continuity at the places of the sections made in respect to both the displacements and forces. The two parts of the basic system have been solved in sequence under the action of single values of each of the basic unknowns and with the external load. The solution of the support part is accomplished using software for analyzing structures by the FEM. The basic unknown forces have been determined from system of canonic equations, the conditions of the deformations continuity on the places of the removed connections under superstructure and intermediate supports. The final displacements and forces at a random point of a continuous superstructure have been determined using the principle of superposition. The computations have been carried by software developed with Visual Fortran version 5.0 for PC.