Open Source Finite Element Software

Finite Element Software are indispensable in structural engineering. However, they’re not only expensive, but generally do not satisfy the needs of a specific project.Recently, open source packages have advanced considerably, and in many cases are even more powerful than commercial ones. And they’re typically free.

One such great alternative is OpenSees (Open System for Earthquake Engineering Simulation). It has been developed as the computational platform for research in performance-based earthquake engineering at the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center. The only down side is that it comes with a steep learning curve. While OpenSees can offer advanced analyses, modelling would not be worth the effort for most of the applications. For complicated structures, however, it provides great benefits, and in particular for frames in seismic areas. With OpenSees it is possible to analyze complex structures, due to the extensive library of relevant structural and loading features it includes. For more advanced users, being open source, it enables the user to review the code and modify it as necessary.

Here, the time history analysis for a reinforced concrete frame is shown as an example to illustrate its power and flexibility.

  1. The model starts with entering the number of spans and floors; done parametrically as a general template.
  2. The nodes are created, and the base ones fixed.
  3. Materials created: steel reinforcement, unconfined and confined concrete.
  4. Column and beam sections created; fiber-based sections.
  5. Frame elements created.
  6. Nodal loading applied and static analysis performed.
  7. Nodal masses applied and dynamic analysis performed, using the El Centro earthquake data.
  8. Various data may be recorded during the analysis – nodal displacements/velocities/accelerations, stress-strain responses, element forces, reactions etc. The stress-time history of the steel reinforcement of column #3 has been shown in Fig. 1, as an example (clearly yielded!).

Fig. 1 – Stress-time history of column reinforcement

All the input shown below is written in Tcl language. It might seem complicated to build a model in such a way, but it provides great flexibility. Any steps can be programmed to suit engineer’s needs. If a certain displacement or strain is exceeded for example, the dimensions of elements or amount of reinforcement may be revised and the structure reanalyzed automatically. Alternatively, elements may be removed and/or added during the analysis, including the possibility of progressive collapse analysis.

The possibilities are practically limitless and go beyond the introductory purpose of this blog. For more information, please check the OpenSees website and/or contact Delta Innoveering Inc.

By Dritan Topuzi, PhD, P.Eng., PMP, LEED AP  
Principal – Delta Innoveering


model basic -ndm 2 -ndf 3
set spansNo 3; #Number of Spans
set floorsNo 3; #Number of Floors
set spanL 5000; #Spans Length
set floorH 3000; #Floor Height
#Add Nodes:
set nodeNo 0;
for {set j 1} {$j < ($floorsNo+2)} {incr j} {
for {set i 1} {$i < ($spansNo+2)} {incr i} {
incr nodeNo;
node $nodeNo [expr ($i-1)*$spanL] [expr ($j-1)*$floorH];
}
}
#Fixing the Base Nodes
for {set i 1} {$i < ($spansNo+2)} {incr i} {
fix $i 1 1 1;
}
#Materials
#Core concrete (confined)
uniaxialMaterial Concrete01 1 -40.0 -0.004 -35.0 -0.014
#Cover concrete (unconfined)
uniaxialMaterial Concrete01 2 -35.00 -0.002 0.0 -0.006
#Reinforcing steel
set fy 400.; # Yield stress
set E 200000.; # Young’s modulus
uniaxialMaterial Steel01 3 $fy $E 0.01
# Column Section
set colB 400;
set colH 500;
set z [expr $colB/2];
set y [expr $colH/2];
set CAs 500;
set colCov 30;
section Fiber 1 {
# Create the concrete core fibers
patch rect 1 8 1 [expr $colCov-$y] [expr $colCov-$z] [expr $y-$colCov] [expr $z-$colCov]
# Create the concrete cover (top, bottom, left, right) fibers
patch rect 2 2 1 [expr -$y] [expr $colCov-$z] [expr $colCov-$y] [expr $z-$colCov]
patch rect 2 2 1 [expr $y-$colCov] [expr $colCov-$z] [expr $y] [expr $z-$colCov]
patch rect 2 8 1 [expr -$y] [expr -$z] [expr $y] [expr $colCov-$z]
patch rect 2 8 1 [expr -$y] [expr $z-$colCov] [expr $y] [expr $z]
# Create the steel fibers
layer straight 3 4 $CAs [expr $y-$colCov] [expr $colCov-$z] [expr $y-$colCov] [expr $z-$colCov]
layer straight 3 2 $CAs 0.0 [expr $colCov-$z] 0.0 [expr $z-$colCov]
layer straight 3 4 $CAs [expr $colCov-$y] [expr $colCov-$z] [expr $colCov-$y] [expr $z-$colCov]
}
# Beam Section
set beamB 300;
set beamH 400;
set z [expr $beamB/2];
set y [expr $beamH/2];
set BAs 300;
set beamCov 30;
section Fiber 2 {
# Create the concrete core fibers
patch rect 1 10 1 [expr $beamCov-$y] [expr $beamCov-$z] [expr $y-$beamCov] [expr $z-$beamCov]
# Create the concrete cover (top, bottom, left, right) fibers
patch rect 2 10 1 [expr -$y] [expr $z-$beamCov] $y $z
patch rect 2 10 1 [expr -$y] [expr -$z] $y [expr $beamCov-$z]
patch rect 2 2 1 [expr -$y] [expr $beamCov-$z] [expr $beamCov-$y] [expr $z-$beamCov]
patch rect 2 2 1 [expr $y-$beamCov] [expr $beamCov-$z] $y [expr $z-$beamCov]
# Create the steel fibers
layer straight 3 6 $BAs [expr $y-$beamCov] [expr $beamCov-$z] [expr $y-$beamCov] [expr $z-$beamCov]
layer straight 3 6 $BAs [expr $beamCov-$y] [expr $beamCov-$z] [expr $beamCov-$y] [expr $z-$beamCov]
}
#Add Elements
geomTransf Linear 1;
geomTransf Linear 2;
set elemType dispBeamColumn;
#Columns
set colNo 0;
set nodeNo 0;
for {set j 1} {$j < ($floorsNo+1)} {incr j} {
for {set i 1} {$i < ($spansNo+2)} {incr i} {
incr colNo;
incr nodeNo;
element $elemType $colNo $nodeNo [expr $nodeNo+$spansNo+1] 5 1 2
}
}
#Beams
set beamNo $colNo;
set nodeNo [expr $spansNo+1];
for {set j 1} {$j < ($floorsNo+1)} {incr j} {
for {set i 1} {$i < ($spansNo+1)} {incr i} {
incr beamNo;
incr nodeNo;
element $elemType $beamNo $nodeNo [expr $nodeNo+1] 5 2 1;
}
incr nodeNo;
}
#Add Vertical Loading on each Node
set nodeLoad 200000;
pattern Plain 1 Linear {
set nodeNo [expr $spansNo+1]
for {set j 1} {$j < $floorsNo+1} {incr j} {
for {set i 1} {$i < $spansNo+2} {incr i} {
incr nodeNo;
load $nodeNo 0. -$nodeLoad 0.;
}
}
}
#Perform Static Analysis
constraints Transformation
numberer RCM
system BandGeneral
test NormDispIncr 1.e-5 150
algorithm Newton
integrator LoadControl 0.1
analysis Static
analyze 10
loadConst -time 0.
#Assign masses to each node
set nodeMass [expr $nodeLoad/9810];
set nodeNo [expr $spansNo+1];
for {set j 1} {$j < $floorsNo+1} {incr j} {
for {set i 1} {$i < $spansNo+2} {incr i} {
incr nodeNo;
mass $nodeNo $nodeMass 0. 0.;
}
}
set accelSeries “Series -dt 0.01 -filePath elcentro.dat -factor 9810”
set nodeNo [expr $spansNo+1];
for {set j 1} {$j < $floorsNo+1} {incr j} {
for {set i 1} {$i < $spansNo+2} {incr i} {
incr nodeNo;
pattern UniformExcitation $nodeNo 1 -accel $accelSeries;
}
}
rayleigh 0. 0. 0. 0.05;
set nodeDispNo [expr ($spansNo+1)*($floorsNo+1)];
set nodeMax 0;
#Recorders
#Recording the stress-strain response of the steel reinforcement at the base of column no. 3
set z [expr $colB/2];
set y [expr $colH/2];
recorder Element -file steelCol3.out -ele 3 section 1 fiber [expr $y-$colCov] [expr $z-$colCov] 3 stressStrain;
recorder Node -file node$nodeDispNo.out -node $nodeDispNo -dof 1 disp
#Perform Dynamic Analysis (Time History))
constraints Transformation
numberer RCM
system BandGeneral
test NormDispIncr 1.e-5 150
algorithm Newton
integrator HHT .5
analysis Transient
set TmaxAnl 15.6;
set DtAnl 0.0001;
set controlTime [getTime];
while {$controlTime < $TmaxAnl} {
set controlTime [getTime]
set ok [analyze 1 $DtAnl]
if {$ok == 0} {
set nodeDispl [nodeDisp $nodeDispNo 1];
if {$nodeDispl>$nodeMax} {
set nodeMax $nodeDispl;
}
puts “Time: [getTime] Remaining Time: [expr $TmaxAnl-[getTime]] Node $nodeDispNo max Disp: $nodeMax”;
} else {
puts “Sorry: Analysis Failed”;
}
}