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Analysis limitations and assumptions

Added August 6, 2019 by Admin admin

Software version: 
Tekla Structural Designer 2019

Analysis limitations and assumptions

Analysis limitations and assumptions

Certain specific limitations and assumptions relating to the various analysis types are expanded upon below:

Linear analysis of structures containing material nonlinearity

If a structure containing nonlinear springs or nonlinear elements is subjected to a linear (i.e. 1st or 2nd order linear, 1st order vibration, or 2nd order buckling) analysis, then the nonlinear springs/elements are constrained to act linearly as described below:

Nonlinear spring supports

In each direction in which a nonlinear spring has been specified, a single value of stiffness is applied which is taken as the greater of the specified -ve or +ve stiffness.

Any specified maximum capacities of the spring are ignored.

Tension only, or compression only elements

If either tension only or compression only element types have been specified, they are constrained to act as truss element types instead.

Nonlinear axial spring, or nonlinear torsional spring elements

If either of these element types have been specified, they are constrained to act as linear axial spring, or linear torsional spring element types instead.

A single value of stiffness is applied which is taken as the greater of the specified -ve or +ve stiffness.

Any specified maximum capacities of these spring elements are ignored.

Tension only X braces

It is essential that the "X Brace" pattern is used to input cross braces as brace pairs rather than creating them individually. For linear analysis one of the braces in a brace pair is automatically inactivated, ensuring that the model's lateral stiffness, and hence lateral drift, is reasonably correct. If braces are input individually this will not be the case.

To determine which brace in each pair is inactivated the program pushes the structure simultaneously in the positive direction 1 and positive direction 2. The brace that goes into tension retains its full stiffness, while the compression brace becomes inactive.

If the above process fails to determine which of the pair goes into tension and which is inactivated then a shear is applied to the structure and the braces are re-assessed.

Analysis of structures containing geometric nonlinearity

It is assumed that where secondary effects are significant (for example the structure is close to buckling), the engineer will elect to undertake a 2nd order analysis. If a 1st order analysis is performed any secondary effects will be ignored.

Analysis of structures containing curved beams

The member analysis for curved members in the plane of the curve is approximated by joining the values at the nodes, which are correct. For detailed analysis of curved members it is your responsibility to ensure sufficient discretization. More refined models can be achieved, if required, by decreasing the maximum facet error.

Analysis of compound (plated) steel beams and columns

Compound (plated) sections are 2 chords or more connected by battens, lattice or welded.

  • Static calculations for these section types are the same as for solid sections. The section characteristics are calculated in the basis of the actual section.
  • The torsional constant of a compound section is calculated as a total of torsional constants of the chords in a compound section.
  • Plane section remain plane.
  • The material is homogeneous, isotropic and linearly elastic.
  • Saint Venant's principle applies.

Story shears

The story shears that are output are obtained by resolving the loads at column nodes horizontally into Direction 1 and Direction 2. Any loads associated with V & A braces are not included because these occur at mid-beam position and not at column nodes.

Member Deflections

There is a known issue when calculating member deflection profiles in combinations which can affect the following analysis types:

  • 2nd Order Linear
  • 1st Order Nonlinear
  • 2nd Order Nonlinear

This occurs when the structures behavior is significantly nonlinear because the deflection profile is currently based on linear superposition of the load cases within it. Clearly as structural response becomes more nonlinear the assumption that deflections can be superposed becomes less valid. This can cause a deflected profile to be calculated which deviates from the correct profile. The deviation can become significant if load cases fail to solve, but the combination succeeds in solving, as components of the deflected shape are missing entirely. It is suggested that for the three analysis types listed member deflections in combinations be used with caution and engineering judgment.

It should be noted that this limitation only affects member deflection profiles between solver nodes. All other results, including member force profiles and deflection at the solver nodes are correct.

Torsion load analysis - relative angle of twist

Any section that is subject to torsional moment will rotate through an angle, θ. If the cross-section is non-circular this will also be accompanied by warping.

To be able to determine stresses on members subject to torsional moments it is necessary to determine θ (and for "Open" sections its derivatives also).

For single span pinned steel beams only: a torsion load analysis is performed which enables θ (and its derivatives) to be calculated and made available in the Load Analysis View.

For open sections: a more accurate approach is used to determine θ and its derivatives. The 'cases' in DG9, SCI P057 & SCI P385 being used which depend on the end conditions and loading conditions on the beam.

This more accurate analysis is carried out for the following open sections:

i. I Symmetric

ii. I Asymmetric

iii. I Plated (including Westok Plated)

iv. Channel

v. Westok cellular beyond scope

For all other sections not mentioned above (including compound sections): a "Standard" analysis is carried out to determine θ only using the following equation:

1 / GI T * ∫ T(x)


I T = torsion constant

G = shear modulus of steel

T(x) = function of torsion moment

  • 2nd Order Linear
  • 1st Order Nonlinear
  • 2nd Order Nonlinear

Vibration analysis - active mass

Vibration analysis - active mass

In a 1st order vibration analysis mass is assigned to nodes of the analysis model. In simple terms (neglecting rotation terms for the consistent mass matrix) half of each element mass is assigned to each node it is attached to.

Mass that is assigned to a translational support cannot go anywhere - i.e. it is not "active".

Summed Active Mass

Reported in the Dynamic Masses table, this is the actual total active mass for each direction, but expressed in terms of force units rather than mass.

Summed Total Translational Mass

Reported in the Dynamic Masses table, this is the total system mass for each direction, again expressed in terms of force units rather than mass.

Translation %

Reported in the Summed Mass table, this is the proportion of mass that is active for each direction. For a building this will usually be close to but not quite 100% as some mass always goes to the supports.

Translation % = (Summed Active Mass / Summed Total Translational Mass) x 100

Participation Translation %

Reported in the Summed Mass table, this is the sum of Mass Participation (reported in the Vibration frequencies table) for all modes for each direction. Design codes stipulate this should be >= 90% for seismic analysis usually for two orthogonal lateral directions.

Vibration analysis - modal mass

After running a 1st order vibration analysis, modal masses for each mode are available in the Vibration Frequencies tabular display.

Modal Mass

In Tekla Structural Designer the modal mass, M i is given by the following matrix equation:


Where { Ψ} i is the unity-scaled mode shape (often termed mode vector) of the i th mode (i.e. any single mode) and [M] is the mass matrix. The meaning of the unity-scaled mode shape is that the (numerically) largest modal displacement is set to unity and all other displacements are scaled accordingly. The term {Ψ} i is used to differentiate this mode shape from the mass-normalized shape {Φ} i which is the mode shape actually reported by Tekla Structural Designer.

This equation comes from vibration theory. It may also be termed "generalized mass".

Another way to state this equation, which is found in some design guides, is a summation equation for point masses and their associated modal displacements for a system of discretized mass distribution:

We have from CCIP-016:


where i is each on N points on the structure, having mass m i at which the mode shape μ j,i is the j th mode is known.

According to this reference - "Conceptually, the modal mass can be thought of as the mass of an equivalent single degree of freedom system... which represents the j th mode."

It can be seen how this is equivalent to the matrix equation given above. Actually Tekla Structural Designer makes use of a shortcut calculation since it already has mode shapes which are normalized to mass.

The mass-normalized mode shape { Φ} i and the unity-normalized mode shape { Ψ} i are related as follows:


From this we can state the following, where Φ 2 is the largest modal displacement from the mass-normalized mode shape (which we already have from the Tekla Structural Designer Vibration Analysis):




Unstable Structures

Flat Slab Structures

If a concrete structure exists with only flat slabs and columns (i.e. no beams and no shear walls), and the slab is modelled with a diaphragm this is an unstable structure, assuming that the concrete columns are pinned at the foundation level (current default).

To prevent the instability you should mesh the slabs, as the resulting model does then consider the framing action that results from the interaction of the slabs and columns.

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