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G.17.2.7 Nonlinear Cable or Truss Analysis

Note: This feature is available in limited form.

When all of the members, elements and support springs are linear except for cable and/or preloaded truss members, then this analysis type may be used. This analysis is based on applying the load in steps with equilibrium iterations to convergence at each step. The step sizes start small and gradually increase (15-20 steps is the default). Iteration continues at each step until the change in deformations is small before proceeding to the next step. If not converged, then the solution is stopped. You can then select more steps or modify the structure and rerun.     

Structures can be artificially stabilized during the first few load steps in case the structure is initially unstable (in the linear, small displacement, static theory sense).

The user has control of the number of steps, the maximum number of iterations per step, the convergence tolerance, the artificial stabilizing stiffness, and the minimum amount of stiffness remaining after a cable sags.

This method assumes small displacement theory for all members/trusses/elements other than cables & preloaded trusses. The cables and preloaded trusses can have large displacement and moderate/large strain. Cables and preloaded trusses may carry tension and compression but cables have a reduced E modulus if not fully taut. Pretension is the force necessary to stretch the cable/truss from its unstressed length to enable it to fit between the two end joints. Alternatively, you may enter the unstressed length for cables.    

The current nonlinear cable analysis procedure can result in compressive forces in the final cable results. The procedure was developed for structures, loadings, and pretensioning loads that will result in sufficient tension in every cable for all loading conditions. The possibility of compression was considered acceptable in the initial implementation because most design codes strongly recommend cables to be in tension to avoid the undesirable dynamic effects of a slack cable such as galloping, singing, or pounding. The engineer must specify initial preloading tensions which will ensure that all cable results are in tension. In addition this procedure is much more reliable and efficient than general nonlinear algorithms. To minimize the compression the SAGMIN input variable can be set to a small value such as 0.01, however that can lead to a failure to converge unless many more steps are specified and a higher equilibrium iteration limit is specified. SAGMIN values below 0.70 generally requires some adjustments of the other input parameters to get convergence.      

Currently the cable and truss are not automatically loaded by selfweight, but the user should ensure that selfweight is applied in every load case. o not enter component load cases such as wind only; every case must be realistic. Member loads will be lumped at the ends for cables and trusses. Temperature load may also be applied to the cables and trusses. It is OK to break up the cable/truss into several members and apply forces to the intermediate joints. Y-up is assumed and required. 

The member force printed for the cable is Fx and is along the chord line between the displaced positions of the end joints.

The analysis sequence is as follows:
  1. Compute the unstressed length of the nonlinear members based on joint coordinates, pretension, and temperature.
  2. Member/Element/Cable stiffness is formed. Cable stiffness is from EA/L and the sag formula plus a geometric stiffness based on current tension.
  3. Assemble and solve the global matrix with the percentage of the total applied load used for this load step.
  4. Perform equilibrium iterations to adjust the change in directions of the forces in the nonlinear cables, so that the structure is in static equilibrium in the deformed position. If force changes are too large or convergence criteria not met within 15 iterations then stop the analysis.  
  5. Go to step 2 and repeat with a greater percentage of the applied load. The nonlinear members will have an updated orientation with new tension and sag effects. 
  6. After 100% of the applied load has converged then proceed to compute member forces, reactions, and static check. Note that the static check is not exactly in balance due to the displacements of the applied static equivalent joint loads. 

The load cases in a nonlinear cable analysis must be separated by the CHANGE command and PERFORM CABLE ANALYSIS command. The SET NL command must be provided to specify the total number of primary load cases. There may not be any Multi-linear springs, compression only, PDelta, NONLINEAR, or dynamic cases. 

Also for cables and preloaded trusses:
  1. Do not use Member Offsets.
  2. Do not include the end joints in control/dependent command.
  3. Do not connect to inclined support joints.
  4. Y direction must be up.
  5. Do not impose displacements.
  6. Do not use Support springs in the model.
  7. Applied loads do not change global directions due to displacements.
  8. Do not apply Prestress load, Fixed end load.
  9. Do not use Load Combination command to combine cable analysis results. Use a primary case with Repeat Load instead.