i have a question about a FE problem im working on. I made a finite element model of an linear elastic block of material (double striped block) attached with a rigid connection to the environment (colored block). A force is applied in the bottom right node.

The nodal displacements are calculated according to the Direct Stiffness Method. The system of equations is simply KU = F or U = CF with C=K^-1.

The displacement of the top right node needs to be constrained to a specified trajectory. By adding lagrange multipliers to the global stiffness matrix i have succesfully constrained the possible displacements of the top right node to a line. To be clear the force is the input, the displacement is the output.

The new system of equations is:

enter image description here

I want to extend the problem and therefore it is needed for me to specify a nonlinear trajectory. As far as i know the direct stiffness method with lagrange multipliers does not work in this case for it only allows to add constraints of the form y = a*x+b.

What is the best method to add a nonlinear displacement constraint to this system of linear equations?

I have been searching and reading papers in the subject but so far i have not found a sound answer.

I hope you guys can help me and i am lloking forward to your answer,



enter image description here


1 Answer 1


The key point to recognize is that the Lagrange multiplier method is applicable to both nonlinear and linear constraints.

Assuming you can write your nonlinear constraint equation as $$g(U_s) = 0$$ you have a set of N+1 nonlinear equations to solve as follows:

$$ K_{ss}U_s + \lambda\frac{\partial g}{\partial U_s} = F_s$$ $$ g(U_s) = 0$$ where N is the number of finite element equations.

These can be solved for $U_s$ and $\lambda$ using the Newton-Raphson method. If you are not already familiar with using Newton-Raphson for solving a system of nonlinear equations, you can find many references on the web.

Introductory FEM courses almost always emphasize linear formulations and so present the Lagrange multiplier technique as you show above. In intermediate rigid body dynamics courses, in either physics or engineering departments, the equations of motion and constraints are almost always nonlinear, so the Lagrange multiplier method is presented from that point of view. So, if you want to learn more, I suggest taking a look at a dynamics text used in such a course.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.