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A comparison of Ansys Shell181 and Solsh190 elements

Please find attached a report on a comparison between ANSYS SHELL181 and SOLSH190 elements with particular emphasis on applicability to linear elastic sandwich panels.

Title: Comparison of Ansys elements Shell181 and Solsh190


 Plate and shell elements are indispensable for the study of the mechanics of complex structures. Two classes of shell elements are commonly used in finite element analyses of thin structures, classical two-dimensional lements and three-dimensional continuum elements. Users of commercial finite element software, such as ANSYSTM , are often unsure of the relative strengths and weaknesses of these elements and of the appropriate use of these elements. This report provides data that can be used as a basis for the selection of shell elements for engineering analysis and design. The displacements and stresses predicted by two ANSYSTM shell elements, SHELL181 and SOLSH190, are compared with exact solutions and full three-dimensional simulations for several geometries and boundary conditions. We conclude that classical shell, SHELL181, elements and solid shell, SOLSH190, elements behave in a similar, though not identical, manner for many situations. For instance, SHELL181 elements generate poor solutions compared to SOLSH190 elements for sandwich plates with isotropic layers and small core to facesheet stiffness ratios. However, for low stiffness cores of moderately high shear stiffness, both SHELL181 and SOLSH190 elements perform adequately. We also note that plates modeled with a single layer of SOLSH190 elements are extremely stiff in bending and we recommend at least three elements through the plate thickness for reasonable results. Also, boundary conditions have to be applied to all the nodes of SOLSH190 elements to achieve the correct mid-surface deformation behavior. The solid shell element provided by ANSYSTM can be used to replace standard shell elements provided care is taken during its use.

PDF icon AnsysShellCompare.pdf1.29 MB


Dear Biswajit,

Thanks for sharing this report. It is really useful. I still have to go through it; just gave section 2 a real rapid browse.

A couple of quick points. 

1. In the simplest case of the simply supported isotropic plate under uniform load (section 2), it was amazing to note that for SOLID185, just three elements through the thickness are adequate. Is it really a linear element, as you note on p. 10?

2. Has anyone ever tried this "real dumb" thing, plain out of curiosity: model a thick plate with the simplest brick/tet elements (i.e., in ANSYS: SOLID45, SOLID95, or even SOLID72, SOLID92)? Know of any references in the literature? Thanks in advance.



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Thanks for your interest.  I hope the work gives some useful guidelines for simulation engineers.

1)  The SOLID185 elements use an enhanced strain formulation, but there is no geometric or material nonlinearity.

2)  I'm sure many other people have done similar studies.  However, I haven't been able to find any that have been shared with the world. That was one of the reasons for posting this study on iMechanica.

-- Biswajit

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