Archive of Applied Mechanics

, Volume 83, Issue 5, pp 723–742

A powerful force-based approach for the limit analysis of three-dimensional frames



For the estimation of the strength of a structure, one could avoid detailed elastoplastic analysis and resort, instead, to direct limit analysis methods that are formulated within linear programming. This work describes the application of the force method to the limit analysis of three-dimensional frames. For the limit analysis of a framed structure, the force method, being an equilibrium-based approach, is better suited than the displacement method and results, generally, to faster solutions. Nevertheless, the latter has been used mostly, since it has a better potential for automation. The difficulty for the direct computerization of the force method is to automatically pick up the structure’s redundant forces. Graph theory concepts may be used to accomplish this task, and a numerical procedure was proposed for the optimal plastic design of plane frames. An analogous approach is developed herein for the limit analysis of space frames which is computationally more cumbersome than the limit analysis of plane frames. The proposed procedure results in hypersparse matrices, and in conjunction with the kinematic upper bound linear program which is solved by a sparse solver, the proposed method appears computationally very efficient. It is also proved that it is much more effective than any displacement-based formulation. The robustness and efficiency of the approach are testified by numerical examples for grillages and multi-storey frames that are included.


Numerical methods Limit analysis Force method Graph theory Grillages Multi-storeyed frames 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil Engineering, Institute of Structural Analysis and Antiseismic ResearchNational Technical University of AthensAthensGreece

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